A Short Lesson in Modern French Slang

Bon Chic Bon Genre. Observe the first letter in each word and say them as one word. "Baysaybayzhay." Say that more quickly and there it is, "Baisebeige!" Translated, it refers to people who think they're all that. I am exploring the changing values of world culture and expressing through dress the evolving image of the pillar of our modern society.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Knitting Vintage Yarns for Fall

I recently acquired a large amount of vintage craft supplies including vintage hand knitting yarns. It was a trip down memory lane for me because I had just reached my stride as a hand knitter when these yarns were news on the market. So many people are purists about crafting materials, but I have become quite practical in my own knitting experience through the years. When synthetic thermoplastic textile fibers were introduced into the hand knitting market, they were warmly received by knitters. The companies which made them were mostly American owned with manufacturing right here in America. I'm not sure if anyone noticed that fact at the time, but we are certainly noticing the rarity of American knitting yarns now.

There was a lot to love about these yarns beginning that they are durable, resistant to insects and biological (mildew, molds, fungus, etc) pests and allergy ( and itchiness -) free. Crafters embraced the easy care of the items knitted from them starting with no blocking required in the finishing steps of the articles as well as the ability to machine wash and dry the items. These yarns will seriously last forever. Which may be a good thing or not. It's a good thing if we reuse the materials that already exist. It's not good if they find their way to the landfill.

I am a believer in 'practical green'. I think that although these vintage yarns are made from petrochemicals, their attributes make them 'greener' than some of the new ecofriendly fibers that are currently flooding the market many of which are already short-lived. it is also interesting to observe that many of these "green" modern yarns are produced in countries which have very poor human rights policies and practices. This makes them not at all "green" in my opinion.

About 15 years ago, I bought a quantity of modern synthetic craft store yarn and have been recycling it through the years into trend items in my wardrobe. One curious property of the "art of dress" is the wearer's desire to occasionally update style with new
items. By raveling and reknitting, I have been able to add new interest to my wardrobe in a 'zero waste' way. This sweater has had previous lives as an ankle length filet crochet vest and a ribbed pencil skirt. After wearing and washing for years the fiber still looked and behaved as if it were new. This is the recycling end-of-the -road for this yarn. I'm pretty sure after six years of wearing this jacket, it will be one of my favorites forever. I'm also pretty sure it will last as long!

The vintage yarns I acquired have remained
in pristine condition after being stored for many years. They also have some notable label quirkiness about them which I appreciate. When the synthetic yarns came on the market, manufacturers competed with each other trying to find the most exotic combinations possible. These yarns are predominately acrylic, but there are also polyester, polypropylene and olefin fibers in some of them. The labeling on the yarns was also interesting to see. In fact, United States textile fiber product labeling got so out-of-control and confusing, laws were updated to help consumers navigate the new world of fibers. Notice this label has Orlon and Dacron which are confusing trade names for forms of acrylic and polyester, which are generic fiber names now required by the law. It's interesting that the quality of "performance" is noted. I'm still wondering what that means! These yarns have lasted much longer than the store where the were purchased. Eventually, Michaels started acquiring Lee Wards in 1992 and had completely swallowed the chain by 1994.

I knitted a set of swatches to use when designing the clothing and accessories I plan to make for my Etsy shop and to determine how well they interchange for combining into single pieces. Swatches are also very portable when shopping for second hand items to upcycle when finishing the pieces. Most owners will probably NOT ravel the articles and reuse the yarn in the future so I'm going to be clever and design many pieces more artfully that will fit a range of sizes and work with a variety of styles. One of the principles of slow fashion is that style gradually evolves and lasts longer.
The physical nature of having no natural insect or biological enemies will naturally extend the life of the garments. They will also appeal to persons who choose now or may choose in the future to shun animal products. Easy care garments are often favorites in a person's wardrobe and NOT dry cleaning keeps harmful chemicals out of the environment. I hope the
new owners of these items will be as pleased with them as I am with my "button front" sweater pictured above. Consuming less during a person's lifetime - by depending on treasured items with long life - is greener in the long run.

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