my most cherished handmade family heirloom
The sweater in the photo above is hand knit by my Grandmother. She was the best knitter I've ever met and her stitches are seriously inspiring. She knew exactly how to knit a sweater to fit her body (thankfully we're similar sizes so I can wear some of what she made!) But perhaps, the most inspiring thing about my Grandma's knitting is that she wore what she made. In so many of our old family photographs, she's got on one of her perfectly fitting, handmade sweaters.
I don't do this that often.
As much as I love and believe in this craft, so many of my handmade treasures get pushed to the back of my closet. This is not ok.
One of my goals for this season was to set aside a week to wear my handmade items. In the end, I decided not to do it in one week, in large part because, aside from my Oatmeal sweater and one dress that I "sewed" together with my mom (wow, we're diving deep into the archives for that one...) I mostly have handmade accessories. And a girl can only wear so many accessories at one time... But I have slowly been going about wearing my handmade items more and more.
So far, this has mostly involved my own hand knit mitts, hats & scarves. But I've also been wearing socks knit by my mom, jewelry made by a friend, a belt I crocheted this summer, my handmade moccasins, and of course, my grandmother's sweater.
handmade Moccasins from home & armband by my lovely friend Mone
So, why does all this matter? For me it goes beyond the idea of wearing what I make, although that's also important. I think that the things we choose to wear can really say something about who we are and what's important to us.
Waldi and I volunteer with a wonderful group of people here in Marburg that work to end extreme poverty and to educate others about issues of global social justice. (If you're interested, the organization is called the Micah Initiative and you can read more about them here: German & English)
In October we organized a week centered around the textile industry and Fair clothing. It's been all over the news recently that many of the people who make our clothes suffer under horrible working conditions and extreme low wages just so we can buy new clothes for cheap. And so, in hopes of stirring up change, we organzied film evenings and seminars and at the end of the week, hosted a big clothing swap party. It was a really great time of learning more about the changes we can make when we think a little more about what we wear and what we buy.
This blog will never become a fashion blog, and I will never start doing outfit posts, because let's face it: I just don't care that much. But I do care a lot about where my clothes come from. I care about mending them when they rip or tear or just wear down. I care about who made them and if they were paid and treated properly in the process. And I want to make sure that what I'm wearing I can wear with confidence, pride and joy (whether that be a sweater handmade to fit me perfectly or a pair of jeans purchased from an ethical and fair brand or even a plaid shirt found at a clothing swap party...) I am, of course, by no means perfect at this. But I want to make better choices and to wear things that truly reflect who I am and what I believe in.
So I am starting small. But I believe each small decision and act makes a difference and I want to celebrate that. So. I'm going to keep sharing my adventures in wearing handmade on Instagram under the hashtag #wearhandmadeproject. Feel free to join in and wear your handmade items (and if you want, share your photos under the hashtag too!)