Saturday, August 4, 2012

'Overdressed': Shopping with Intention

Today's paper copy of the Globe and Mail features an excerpt from Elizabeth L. Cline's book, 'Overdressed' (note that I could not locate this article in the online version of the Globe). In a nutshell, Ms. Cline argues in favour of ditching our addiction to cheap, disposable fashion and spending our money instead on fewer quality pieces that not only last longer, but support designers and labourers with prices that reflect their skill. She argues that "we are all stewards of our clothing, responsible for seeing it through its different phases of life." She points out that we can shift our spending without paying more by shopping less and "with more intention", and she reminds us that as consumers we need to educate ourselves about quality construction and good fabrics, so we know when we're getting our money's worth. Bravo!
One of the side-effects of moving to a pre-Confederation house in Kingston has been that we've had to ditch a lot of our possessions in order to squeeze into a house with small rooms and no closets. This has meant an inevitable culling of our wardrobes. No room for non-essentials. Two years after the move, I find that I have far fewer items, and I'm paying much more attention to what I buy. Before each purchase I ask, "Will I wear this a lot, can I wear this in several different ways, is it well made, how many years will it last?" I'm looking forward to my trip to Rhinebeck next fall just so I can visit Haldora, a shop that perfectly fits this approach to shopping and dressing.
 I do think these same principles can apply to wool purchases. I've always had a passion for classic wools, ones that might seem boring or scratchy to many knitters. I naturally tend to look for wools that have been grown and processed in North America. It's why I love Green Mountain Spinnery yarns and BT's Shelter and Loft. I'm working with Shelter right now. The yarn is airy, elastic, tweedy, all the things I adore. I don't mind having to pick bits of VM (vegetable matter) out of the strands--it's a sign that the wool hasn't been abused by over-processing, and I don't mind having to mail order it because I'm supporting shepherds, a New England woollen mill and Brooklyn Tweed, the company bringing it all to us. I urge you to give it a try, if you haven't already.
Yesterday I had tea with Deb White, who was happy to buy the skeins of Madelinetosh I was trying to unload.


We chatted about knitting, publishing designs, yarn shops, ... Thanks, Deb, for a fun time and great advice.

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