7 Reasons Why You Should Knit Your Own Basics

My favourite basic sock pattern: Hermione's Everyday Socks

When I first learned how to knit as a teenager, I wanted to make all kinds of weird and wonderful pieces. The more unusual, the better. Lace slip dress? Sure. Why not? (Thankfully, I got as far as buying the yarn, but never actually knitted it.)

As I've gotten older and matured in my own personal style, I've come to realise that these statement pieces (whether handmade or shop-bought) are not the pieces that I wear day-to-day. Yes, they might be fun to look at, but they are rarely worn. These days, I am much more intentional about the knits I choose to make for myself since I have a clear idea of what is needed in my wardrobe. I would hate to waste time and money knitting something that will not be useful.

As you might know, my mission for this blog is to encourage you to knit a more wearable wardrobe, which is exactly why I suggest that you start focusing on knitting your own basics as much as possible.

Here's why you should be knitting your own basics

  1. They are the foundation upon which the rest of your wardrobe is built. If your goal is to have a wardrobe of, primarily, handmade clothing that you can be proud of, basics are the perfect place to start. Since these are the pieces that you will wear every single day, it makes sense to spend your time and money on making high-quality basics in a style you love.
  2. They stand the test of time. My philosophy is that the majority of your wardrobe should be made up of high-quality, timeless basics that you know you will wear for many years. The rest should be the 'trend' pieces that give your wardrobe a boost. By focusing on making your own basics, you are investing in the garments that will get the most wear.
  3. You can use a yarn that meets the practical requirements for the intended garment. Because you are making the fabric, as well as the garment, you have complete control over the yarn it is made from. This means that you can be very practical about choosing the right fibre for your needs. Are you making a classic winter crewneck that you plan on layering with other pieces? Knit it in a cosy cashmere blend DK yarn. What about a drapey summer t-shirt? Opt for a linen/silk 4ply yarn.
  4. You can knit them in any colour that you want. Have you ever walked into a store and fallen in love with a sweater, but the colour doesn't suit you? The best case scenario is that you walked away disappointed. The worst is that you bought it anyway, immediately regretted it and hid the jumper at the back of your wardrobe ever since. The beauty of knitting your own basics is that you can make them in any colour that you want. I like my wardrobe to feature a simple colour palette, so that I can mix and match. Choosing a colour that works with the rest of your wardrobe, as well as your own complexion, is important.
  5. You can replicate it as many times as you want. Your favourite clothing will never be discontinued! For some basics, such as socks, it really doesn't matter if you own a few versions of one design. Once you've found your perfect sock pattern, it makes sense to continue knitting it in as many colours as you need. If you're interested, my favourite sock pattern is Hermione's Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder. They're simple and elegant - the ultimate basic!
  6. You can adjust the pattern to fit your unique body shape. Whilst this is not one for beginner knitters, those who are experienced in knitting can start to adjust knitting patterns to fit their own bespoke measurements. What a luxury it is to be able to knit a pair of gloves that fit my piano fingers comfortably! Likewise, if you are bigger over the bust, but have a small waist, you can use shaping to make sure that your sweater fits everywhere - you are never going to experience that with shop bought clothing.
  7. You can finally quit the over-consumption cycle! We all know that fast fashion is not good for the world, neither is it good for us. More than ever before, we are buying huge amounts of clothing that gets worn once and thrown into landfill. This is a habit that can be tricky to break after many years of consumption, however, making your own clothing teaches you to be patient. Most garments take many hours to knit, so we learn to be intentional about the projects we commit to and we wait patiently to wear them. Over time, this helps us to think more carefully about the remaining garments that we purchase, reducing that impulse to buy, buy, buy.

Margaret Howell AW15. Image: Disney Roller Girl

Get Inspired

So, have I convinced you that it's time to stop focusing all of our efforts on those statement pieces and go back to basics? If so, I have made a Pinterest board full of beautiful basics that would look fabulous in any wardrobe. It features a lot of Margaret Howell...! Take a look and be inspired. Then, make a board of your own, too! I'd love to see it.

Additionally, my favourite, Karen Templer of Fringe Association, has a great series called 'Make Your own Basics', where she shares a variety of timeless knitting and sewing patterns. There's a huge amount of inspiration there to get you excited about planning your own basics, so go and explore.

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