Most of you know that I am a huge fan of the handknit wardrobe concept. Creating a capsule collection of garments that fit and flatter us is not only satisfying, it is the antidote to the problem of fast fashion. Fast fashion – cheap clothes worn once and tossed in the trash – is a major issue in the fashion industry. Trends change constantly, and the production of new garments to meet the demand creates staggering textile waste and a huge environmental problem for the planet. Let’s look at how knitting can help.
Knitting promotes sustainable fashion
Unlike fast fashion, knitting is a slow process that requires time and patience. When we knit our own clothes, we know what went into the creation of every piece. We value and care for the things we create are we’re not going to simply throw them away after just a few wears. Knitting also allows us to customize our clothes to our exact specifications which means that they are exactly what we want, fit perfectly, and suit our body and our personal style, so we feel great in them and want to wear them for longer periods of time.
Because knitting takes so much time, we automatically have a smaller, more curated wardrobe. We’re less likely to buy clothes that we don't need or won't wear. We think through what we’re going to make and how it will work with the rest of our wardrobe and with our lifestyle. Our handknit wardrobe is tailored to our specific needs and tastes and is more sustainable than buying stuff we don’t need.
Knitting reduces textile waste and pollution
Fast fashion garments are not designed to last. They rip and tear, or the fabric wears through in just a few washings. They’re literally not worth mending, and they end up in landfills where they take hundreds of years to decompose. As knitters, we are in control of the materials we use. We can choose quality wool, cotton, linen, and other fibers designed to last. Every decision we make is designed to ensure our garment will last. We join yarn only at the beginning of a row, we work our seams to hold, and we weave our ends to stay put. These garments will last a lifetime, or several. The can be mended and darned and patched - remember how Arne and Carlos talked about their generational Norwegian sweaters? This.
We also tend to choose to knit with natural fibers and natural fiber blends which are more sustainable than synthetic fibers. Natural fibers like wool, cotton, and linen are biodegradable and can be composted at the end of their life. Synthetic fibers, on the other hand, are made from petroleum and do not break down easily. Choosing natural fibers for our garments further helps reduce our environmental impact and be more sustainable
Knitting supports local and ethical yarn production
Knitting allows us to be mindful of the materials that we use and the businesses we support.
With fast fashion garments and even cheap synthetic yarns we have no insight into the sourcing of the materials. Yarns in a local yarn store are labeled by country of origin. Like many yarn store owners, I am careful about sourcing the yarns I put on the shelf. I know where the original wool comes from, and I don’t purchase by price, because cheap typically means that corners are being cut when it comes to environmental sustainability and animal husbandry. This is why I like yarns like Noro who personally visit every single source for all of their raw materials to ensure ethical treatment of animals, workers, and the environment. I also love yarns like Rowan Moordale, which is 100% British produced with a relatively small carbon footprint and Denim Revive which addresses textile waste head on by recycling denim fabric into yarn.
Knitting is a community that cares
As knitters we are part of a community with a shared passion and an unspoken commitment to sustainable fashion. Through this community, we support one another and grow our collective awareness of the impact that our choices have on the world around us.
Knitting is not just a cool hobby and an artistic outlet - it is a sustainable life skill and a creative antidote to fast fashion made one tiny stitch at a time