In Kyoto, it is easier to find independent makers than in Tokyo, or in fact, than anywhere else I know. There are lots of crafters' ateliers and select shops that sell locally produced clothes and crafts.
One of such places is Tezomeya, a dyer's atelier and shop at the heart of the city. I have found their online shop several years ago by chance, when I was doing some research on organic cotton and decided that I need an organic cotton T-shirt myself. I became truly excited when I realized that they dye those T-shirts with traditional Japanese natural dyes. All of their colors are based on what Japanese people have been wearing for hundreds of years (some were only accessible to noble or rich people in the old days). Their products are not cheap, or I should say, their products are fairly priced, but I went ahead and ordered one.
My first purchase was a long-sleeve indigo-dyed T-shirt. It's thick and warm, and very comfortable.
A couple of years ago, while I was traveling, I remembered about their shop and decided to drop by. They are located on the second floor of a small building, a little out of the way from the main shopping area. I wanted to look at the colors in person, and wanted to pick the right fitted size for me. This time, I decided on Kakishibu (persimon dye) color. In Japan, you can find indigo-dyed T-shirts here and there, but Kakishibu one is pretty rare. It smells like (relaxing but strong) ash, and the color faded quite a bit over time, while the fabric became softer.
So, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that their atelier/shop was actually on the same street as our shop (before we moved a couple of weeks ago), and it was on my way to work. Naturally, I bought another indigo one, this time, a short sleeved one.
The fabric of this T-shirts is reversed and biased jersey, and does not stretch very much. It's sturdy and endures many years' of wears.
(On the front is indigo-dyed one, and the brownish one is very faded Kakishibu. It was burned dark brown color before.)
What I like about them even more is that they over-dye your old Tezomeya T-shirts for free, as any times as needed (and it doesn't have to be the same color). It's a small operation of a few people, so sometimes it takes months until you get your T-shirts back, but that's not a big deal. Slow fashion, right? It's like, you grow old with your T-shirts, and occasionally, they take care of you and your clothes. They are like your partner, connected through your T-shirts.
The idea fascinates me.
I already have enough, so from now on, I'll just return to them with my worn-out cotton tees many many times, I expect.
(On behind is my newest T-shirts, and in front is the oldest one I own. It used to be the same/similar color!)
As I've written at the end of Karen's article in the Fall Issue of amirisu, we'd like to contribute our little stories (more or less my personal stories, since I'm the only one writing them), and a lot of thoughts around the topic.
The relocation of our shop and office at the beginning of October caused this delay, but here I am, finally on a few days of vacation, having plenty of time to wander my mind over and around the slow fashion movement that is happening everywhere.
As an owner of a knitting company (whatever that word entails), we come across the question many of you may have been asked at least once - "why do you bother to knit? "
Why we bother to knit or sew our own clothes is the question we ask ourselves almost everyday. Thanks to Uniqlo and Chinese manufacturers, a price of a decent quality 100% wool sweater became so low that most people buy and throw away sweaters almost every year. This is the reason why we want to design the whole experience of knitting more worthy and enjoyable - from choosing the yarn, choosing tools, to finishing and caring them. Yarns need to be pleasant on our hands, while at the same time create better fabric than store-bought sweaters that last longer.
Up until a little over a year ago, I worked in a corporate environment and my everyday attire were grey and navy suits. I had my suits made a couple of times (I still keep them for rainy days - if our current business should go astray, at least I have well tailored suits) and learned a shocking and sad fact. My tailor told me that women's clothes never use good quality fabrics, even very expensive suits and jackets sold at high fashion brands, because the trends change every year and it's wasteful. This confirmed my suspicions. At boutiques, I always wanted to buy clothes that last longer, as my male friends did, but I rarely find things that satisfy me. Why women cannot enjoy well made clothes with quality fabrics? What's wrong with the fashion industry?
This was about the time I picked up knitting, and soon afterward I really got into spinning and yarn making. This new skill, which is very flexible, mobile and forgiving, excited me more than anything, and opened my eyes. I learned to sew my own clothes back in high school, and now that I can knit, I can make any clothes I want.
I have been knitting quite intensively in the last 10 years while spending very little time on sewing, made only two dresses perhaps, and the last time was at least three years ago. My personal goal for this Slow Fashion October is to reconnect with sewing. And I know what I want to make - a set of pajamas.
Well designed and comfortable sleeping wears are hard to get these days, if you ever noticed. I imagine most Japanese people are wearing things from Uniqlo or other fast fashion brands. Proper pajamas became very expensive, while we were not paying any attention.
I saw this set of pajamas on a cover of a Japanese lifestyle magazine, and was fully intended to buy them however expensive they might be (indeed, they were expensive), but alas, they were already out of stock. Then I remembered - I know how to sew them myself! The first thing we made in high school Kateika class were pajamas. Kateika is a subject taught in Japanese schools, generally only for girls, to train them to become effective and capable housewives. We learn about our bodies, nutrition, cooking, sewing, how to wear kimonos, etc. Although the idea is quite outdated and frustrating, I quite liked the class, especially because the teacher I had was totally a woman rib type of a person. She was a part of the movement to push Kateika to be for both genders, so that men can also become independent and educated.
Anyway, making pajamas was a memorable project for me, because I changed the basic pattern provided by the school to have a proper collar and shirt cuffs with buttons. The alterations had taught me a lot, which became a basis for my sewing skill.
So, back to the pajamas on the cover, I have found 5 meters of red plaid cotton fabric on the Internet, and let it collect dusts for almost a year. I see this is a great opportunity to get started and have my hand made pajamas for the first time in this 20+ years.
|Photo courtesy of Wildcraft Studio School.|
In the latest issue of amirisu, I was able to realize the idea I've been wanting to try in the last couple of years - a craft city guide. I have been pretty crafty all my life, and knitting is not the only craft I keep my hands busy with. Majority of our readers are similarly interested in diverse types of crafts. That's why our guide is not a yarn shop guide.
I've been to Portland, Oregon, a few times in the recent years, and always felt truly inspired just by being there and walking around. During the recent trip, we had lords of fun taking the macramé workshop and a day trip to Wildcraft Studio and spent a day with Kayla and other fellow participants. This is the fruit of such inspirational trip.
You can view the full list of shops and places to visit in Portland, but for those of you who wish to have a more "readable" map, here are the download links.
Hope they help your travel planning.
Issue 8 is out (for a few weeks now - we had been super busy)! For this issue, we came up with a collection of knitwear in neutral colors. The feature article is on craft travel to Portland Oregon. It's a great companion for your travel!
Copies are available at our Etsy shop, as well as from your local yarn shops (list of stockists here).
To celebrate the launch, KALs are ongoing at amirisu group on Ravelry. This time, there are two KALS - one for garments, and the other for accessories.
These boards are for general chats. If you have any question while knitting these patterns, please feel free to ask here. Our staff will answer them.
There is a separate FO board to post your photos - and there will be prizes!
- Garment KAL: amirisu project bag (1 winner) / Patterns of your choice from UandIknit and Lete Knits (2 winners each)
- Accessory KAL: amirisu project bag (1 winner) / Patterns of your choice from Melanie Berg (3 winners)
We look forward to seeing your FOs!