A few months ago… or maybe a little longer than that, I had dinner with my mum, sister, mother-in-law and sisters-in-law. We took a few pictures, and they all looked great, and I looked… less great. I’ve never been good at that whole scene – outfits, hair, makeup. I do okay in the shoe department, thanks to a tiny little fetish for well made, totally comfortable shoes that look as good as they feel, but when it comes to the rest of it, I tend to be the lady wearing old jeans, a tee-shirt with a hole in it and mismatched (but very well made) knitted stuff.
I mentioned it to Joe, who usually looks similarly scruffy, and we decided somehow that we were going to take it up a notch. Joe bought three new shirts, and a jacket that doesn’t look like he got it at a thrift shop (but he did) and I started to think over how I could dress a little better. I’m a textile artist. That’s how I think of myself (and most of you) rather than simply a knitter. I’m interested in the fabrics I make, the shapes I construct with knitting… The more I thought it over, the more I thought that I should look like that – like a textile artist and writer, rather than like someone who rolled out of bed, grabbed enough clothing to stay warm and covered, and launched a day- Which is totally what I do, and I don’t see that changing, so the answer was to have better stuff to grab. I’ve been working on it, little by little. Every time I need a new shirt, I spend a little more time choosing it, give a little more thought into how it all could eventually pull together into a wardrobe, instead of just a collection of stuff.
It turns out that the onset of winter is a really, really good time to start thinking about all of this, because mostly the “outfits” that I wear for the next six or seven months will all involve a coat. Pulling together a wardrobe that looks ok in public is a lot easier, if you only need to worry about coats. They delightfully cover the rest of what I’m wearing, so I have lots of time to think it over. I own three (almost four – I’m about to buy a new one) coats. This is a pretty low number for a Canadian, I think, considering that you’ll wear one every day for about 200 days a year. I have a light, waterproof coat, a warmish dress coat, and a warmer parka. (I’m saving up to buy a super-warm coat. I’ve been missing one for a year.) They are respectively lime green, autumn orange, and brown. (I’m thinking about black for the new one, but know that my mum disapproves of black on me, on account of my fair skin. She says it makes me look dead. I’m almost 50. I’m thinking about letting her opinion go a little. Sorry mum. I’ll wear a scarf- put a little colour by my face like you keep saying.) So last week when I realized that I had no mittens for this year and decided to do something about that, I did something radical. Instead of choosing yarn that I love and making mittens, I chose yarn that I loved that went with all my coats, and made mittens.
Behold! A pair of Cloisonee that match all my things. (Except possibly the hypothetical black coat. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.)
I love them on their own, but I love them with my coats even more.
See that? One step closer to sort of well-dressed. Then I needed a new cowl. (That is a total and absolute lie. I have about nine scarves and cowls. I am in no danger of freezing to death anytime soon, but only… um… all of them totally match my coats, so I needed a new one.) I wanted a specific colour, and while I was at Rhinebeck I went on a hunt, and came up with Watershed in Eastview. (God, I love those Harrisville Yarns.) Then I found a pattern I loved – Winterlong, and started knitting.
The thing took almost no time at all, and I love the result. I wanted something a great colour, sculptural… interesting to knit, but would reliably lie flat. A big cozy thing to wrap round my neck and keep out the wind and snow, and this project was perfect.
The thing knit up in a flash. It seems to me that it took longer to dry after it’s bath than it did to work it.
I’m totally in love. It matches all of my coats perfectly, and about 3/4 of my wardrobe (if you can call tee-shirts and jeans a wardrobe, which I am)
and the best part? It matches the mittens.
I’m one step closer to being someone in an outfit – not just clothes. As long as I have a coat on, I’m good.