Working as a designer, knitter and activist, I set out with the intention to explore amateur making – specifically, hand knitting – as a strategy for sustainable fashion. Motivated by the call by Kate Fletcher and Lynda Grose for ‘fashion that helps us flourish’, I aimed to take a holistic view of fashion, focus on well-being as an integral element of sustainability, and question the seemingly inextricable bond between fashion and consumption [read more: blog post].
From my experience as a designer-maker, I felt that amateur making – folk fashion – could provide a more diverse, satisfying and sustainable means of participating in fashion. However, I identified the need to understand the experience of wearing homemade clothes in a culture dominated by mass-produced, shop-bought clothes. I was particularly interested in the issue of creativity; from conversations with knitters, I knew that many were frustrated by a dependence on patterns. Hence, I wanted to open up my design practice to share design skills and investigate the impact of this experience on the participants.
Inspired by a recent resurgence in mending amongst a new generation of makers, I chose to explore the potential of knitting as a means of reworking existing garments; I felt this could challenge the linear production-consumption model of the fashion industry. In order to explore all of these ideas, I initiated re-knitting as a new ‘craft of use’, and worked with a small group of female amateur knitters to study how it developed.