Thinking About: Cross-Crafting

For years now, I’ve been knitting to create wardrobe pieces that I can’t find ready-made, either because of color, or design, or fit.  One of the wonderous things about knitting - particularly sweaters - is that you can create exactly what you want.  Of course, many times I knit a piece because I’m in love with a particular yarn - its fiber or its color - or because I love a designer’s pattern.  Then, the issue often becomes "what do I wear this with?"  I particularly run into this problem with cardigans.  I love cardigans, but I’m always frustrated with the fact that once they’re done, I don’t have the “just right” piece to wear under them.  My shirts/tank tops/tunics/dresses are either too long or too short, the wrong color, the wrong neckline . . . it just isn’t the look I was going for.  

In pursuing the idea of wardrobe basics, I began to find that I had a lot of good signature pieces, but I wasn’t liking how they combined.  Or, that I was knitting a lot of sweaters out of pure yarn or pattern love, but then not wearing them because I didn’t have the right shirts, pants, or dress.  This has led to a lot of lonely sweaters stacked in my closet and looking forelorn.

I recently began thinking about cross-crafting and partnering knitting and apparel sewing.  Many knitters are also basic sewers, or if not, are interested in learning how.  What if I could design two complementary pieces - a knitted piece and an sewn piece - that together, made the perfect wardrobe basics outfit?  No more looking for the right thing to go with my new knitted masterpiece.  Instead, I’d simultaneously design and choose materials for a cardigan and dress, or a pullover and pants, or a cardigan and shirt, or a tank top and skirt - you get the idea.  Instant wardrobe staple!  Of course, if I really got rolling, I could expand on this idea even more - design a small collection of knitting and sewing patterns that, when combined, comprised an entire basics wardrobe.

I've started playing around with this idea of pairing knitting and sewing patterns a little bit already.  For example, several months ago I re-wrote a Shibui pattern for a different gauge/yarn base, and then matched it with a pants pattern (photo above).  These were ready-made patterns that I just tweaked a little.  Taking it a step further, I took a dress that I designed a pattern for several summers ago and wrote the Tritone Cardigan design to pair with it (photo below).  I've really loved these "prototypes" and gotten so much wear out of both pieces because they were designed to go together and I don't have to search my closet every time I wear one or the other.

My initial challenge is that while I know a little about apparel sewing, and a little about designing sewing patterns, I don’t know anything about making a sewing pattern I’ve created for my own use into something that is commercially useable.  Luckily for me, Portland is one of the best places in the country to find DIYers - if you don’t know how to do it, you can find someone who not only has the skills, but is eager to share them!  I'm hoping to find a partner in crime who is as excited by this concept as I am.  Keep an eye out here for updates on my progress!