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The hardest cull of all

How many clothes does a person need, anyway? I hate having too much stuff, and clothes fall into the ‘stuff’ category.  I have too many: even post-purge, I could easily go for a month or two before I had to wash anything. It would be awesome to get rid of everything except yoga clothes, black t-shirts and a single pair of jeans — but then, what about the clothes are already in my drawers? Don’t I have some sort of responsibility to use them up? I could donate them to the second-hand charity shops, but that’s just a guilt-saving measure. Rumour has it that most of the clothes you donate to charity end up in landfill in developing countries, partly because people give utter gack to charity — seriously, that torn Hypercolour muscle shirt that doesn’t change colour anymore because you tumble-dried it? — and partly because there’s just very little demand compared to the volume of stuff people give.

Since I knit, I’ve got a lot of things I made and working out what’s worth keeping from that group has a whole extra set of questions. I have a sweater that I made well and that I quite like, but it’s not perfect and the arms are too tight — am I just wearing it out of obligation? I have another with drapey bell sleeves that get in my lunch. It’s perfect if I’m just reading or typing or walking through a cold field of flowers (provided said flowers don’t have any kind of burr, seed, dandelion puff or grabby branches), but sometimes I have to do the washing up. I like it but I don’t love it: I suspect I only keep it because I made it and I can’t imagine anybody else loving it the way I think it should be loved. Should I unravel and rework them? Is it worth it? Oy.

First-world problems, yo. When you’re daily pissed off by all the rummaging it takes to find something for work, it’s time for a cull. Starting with socks: lots of handknit socks, retained out of sentimental attachment. Knitter’s landmarks. Then I realised I was moping about socks and had to pull my head out of my arse. Firstly, they’re great, but they’re hardly sex-and-candy awesome. Secondly, all that sock yarn in the stash? Getting antsy in there. Thirdly, these socks? They actually sucked.

The fallen: watermelon socks

Background: bought the hand-dyed yarn on eBay, complete bargain. These socks were awesome: watermelon stripes with little black pips! Loved it. Totally made up for the way they sagged, stretched, and generally lacked all the properties of wool that socks need. And then, hoo boy! They faded, and how.

For the purposes of comparison:

Pale and wan

Yep. That yarn is the same ball from which these pale babies sprang. Not cool.

And then there’s these:

The first fallen

Aw, cute little beaded hearts! I was experimenting with making socks flat. God knows why: knitting on DPNs is as easy as complaining about taxes. You might have thought I’d catch on to the fact that people have been making socks that way for a bajillion years: that maybe, just maybe, other options have actually been explored and rejected for some reason — like, oh, I don’t know, that having a whacking great seam on the middle of your sole is totally uncomfortable and stupid. Plus, 100% cotton is not a good sock yarn. Double plus: they wore through at the heel damn quick.

Finally: oooh, this one hurt. Stung, even. Alert readers may recognise my Skew socks. Then again, maybe you won’t, because THEY FELTED. ARGH.

Serious heartbreak here

Oh, Araucania Ranco Multi, why did you say “gentle machine wash” if you didn’t mean it? Didn’t you know I would take you at your word? There is no saving these babies. At least, being 100% wool, I can theoretically compost them. No nobler burial. RIP.

The sock drawer — and its compatriots — open and close easily now, and despite my misgivings, a swag of clothes will be making their way to the second-hand store. Feels good to have less.

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