The Elusive Wearable FO?

E (of Poking My Eyes Out) had a visit from GD (of Chez Davis) yesterday and had a chance to show GD all of her fantastic FOs.

Except E had this to say about it:

Oh look at my finished garment that I never wear … Rogue, which is like ten pounds of llama and wool.. Big Wool that is fit for an artic winter, and look, Corset that has sleeve/shoulder issues. I am so embarrassed. Not to mention the mohair that’s fit for a blanket.

We make items all the time that we enjoy making and we like the final product, but then we don’t actually wear them for one reason or another. Maybe they’re too big, too small, too warm, not warm enough, too complicated for everyday wearing, have sleeves that get caught on things (but look really cool!), whatever.

I’m going to ramble a bit about design and what I like to make and wear behind the cut.

I am trying to be more conscious about what I like to wear regularly so I don’t end up with another Big Wool sweater that looks fine, but has floofy sleeves that get in my way and in my food and irritate me beyond compare. Or another Klaralund that looks fine, but is way too big for me.

While I was out of town last week, I opened up my duffel bag and noticed that I had packed three handknits as good vacation clothing: Soleil (a gift from E), my ribby top, and some cotton stripey socks. I wore all three items while I was on vacation(not at the same time!). I have worn all three items regularly since finishing/receiving them. They are proof that the regularly wearable handknit exists for me.

What ties all three items together? Simplicity and fit, with good details. Soleil has the lace pattern along the bottom and a good neckline. Ribby top is a simple raglan with interesting ribbing (I love ribbing). The stripey socks are, well, socks. I like cute socks.

For a garment to be wearable for me, it is very much a concern of fit and simplicity. I want it to fit well (I look bad in boxy stuff, so waist-shaping! or ribbing) and I want it to not be incredibly elaborate — simple clean lines are good.

There is a balance though — why would I make a plain stockinette grey wool raglan top if I can buy one for about as much as the yarn I purchased? I realize that I like to wear simple tops, but I also want them to be interesting to knit, and with good details so that the top isn’t just like something I could buy at Gap or Eddie Bauer.

The lace cardigan I am working on right now might be slightly more elaborate than I normally wear, but I have some hope that it won’t be too elaborate for me to actually wear it.

Kathy aka Grumperina just finished a fantastic sweater from Norah Gaughan’s Knitting Nature. It fits my requirement of interesting-yet-simple because the construction and the neckline (as she worked it, not as the pattern specifies) is interesting.

The Green Gable pattern from ZephyrStyle is simple enough for me to wear, yet has the interesting lace detail at the neckline. It fits my definition of jess-wearable.

Wendy of Knit and Tonic‘s Somewhat Cowl is another interesting-yet-simple pattern. Mostly stockinette, but a fantastic “somewhat cowl” neckline. Wendy has another pattern I like a lot — Something Red — slightly more detail to it (yarnovers at the raglan seams, wide ribbing at the bottom, one button to bind it), but still overall, wearable for me.

As I plan out what I would like to do with the garment stash I have, these are my new considerations: Is it interesting? Does it have interesting details (wide ribbed cuffs, an interesting neckline, interesting construction, interesting colorwork)? Are its lines simple? Is it shaped (or can I add shaping)?

I think everything on the current stash-to-garment list satisfies these requirements. But I am also going to keep the above-mentioned patterns in mind as well — and hopefully we will have more everyday wearable garments finished around these parts!

3 Comments so far

  1. E on May 18th, 2006


    I really enjoy complex complicated intricately detailed garments. They are wonderful and purty and makes me feel good. But at the end of the day (or un-g**ly hour of the morning), I reach for garments that I dont have to fuss with. I have enough trouble matching the different shades of black.

    At the same time, part of the handknit charm for me is to make such ‘non-everyday’ special treat garment. (for those special visits to the Artic circle and cold nights when the heater goes out. Er.)

  2. jess on May 18th, 2006

    la la

  3. Sara on May 19th, 2006

    i hear you. i have a closet full of garments i never wear. i think that a lot of enjoyment for me goes into the process of making it, but it is slightly disappointing to put so much work (and $$$) into an item i don’t wear.

    maybe i should examine my closet and make my own set of guidelines. thanks for the idea.