“Glow in the margins” Knitting memories Sweater production diary (9/Final episode)

STORY | 2023/11/09

This summer was really hot. The average summer temperature was the highest ever recorded, and central Tokyo had the highest number of midsummer days on record, with summer days still being observed in November. However, since the beginning of winter, the weather is finally approaching where we can wear knitwear. This year's sweaters have started arriving one after another at Yuki's atelier.

“From around October, cardigan pockets were knitted one after another and began to arrive at the atelier. We compared the pockets and buttons with everyone's order sheets and added foil. At the meeting, we offered two options: ``NOW'' and ``AFTER.'' We asked customers to choose whether they would like the item to be delivered with foil in it from the beginning, or if they would like the foil to be added several years later. Some of them wanted to put it in just one side of their pocket first, like the eyes of a potbellied doll, so I was happy that they accepted the idea of ​​taking time to grow it.''

As the number of factors to choose from increases, the number of tasks increases. Compare the order form with the knitwear and carefully check that the combination of pockets and buttons is correct. Yuki says that although it takes more time, she wants to increase the number of items that customers can choose for themselves.

``I felt this while traveling alone, but when you travel you wake up in a different place than usual.When you wake up in the morning and want to peel and eat fruit, for example, all you see is a jagged knife. My hands weren't used to it, so I couldn't cut it properly, but I thought maybe I didn't need to peel the skin in the first place.Everyday events felt fresh, and when I went on a trip, I was able to get used to that kind of everyday life. The sense of discomfort inside is interesting. Even though my Airbnb room is not my home, just by changing the arrangement of the alarm clock a little, it becomes like my own home. There is a sense of making it your own by making changes to it.”

Deciding on the placement of furniture and the color of the curtains have the power to transform a space into your own. However, above all, the clothes that are close to our bodies also have the power to transform that place into a place of our own.

``Just yesterday, I received a sweater that was different from the one I ordered, and even though I had it knitted for me, it couldn't be delivered, so I decided to make it my own.I attached the buttons of my choice to the sweater and went to the subway at night. When I looked at my reflection, I thought, ``I'm wearing the best sweater in the world right now!'' When I say good, I don't mean the price or anything like that, but the sweater that holds the most energy. , Even if I have a nervous day, I can do my best if I wear this sweater.I think that existence that goes beyond the value of an object also consists of the act of choosing the buttons yourself.When I was a university student. When I started making things with textiles, I felt that adding color to pure white cloth brings it to life, and I think that hand knitting also has that kind of power.''

⁡This year's knitwear takes an enormous amount of time to knit one piece. When you look closely into the eyes of a knitted sweater, you can see the passion of the knitters on the other side.

``The more I do it, the more I realize that clothes are treated as expendable items,'' Yuki says. “When you think about that, I think a sweater that costs more than 250,000 yen is a very expensive purchase. With 250,000 yen, you can buy furniture, home appliances, and do a lot of other things. That's what you're paying for. That's why I feel that I have a responsibility to make clothes that pass time in a completely different way than clothes that last for one season.Hand-knitted wool sweaters have a long lifespan, so even after I die, I hope that time passes like that, when someone in some country finds this sweater and picks it up and says, ``What kind of knit is this?'' ⁡

When I looked at the wall of the atelier, I saw an old knitwear hanging on it. Yuki's father bought it overseas nearly 40 years ago, and these days it's a knit that Yuki has been wearing all the time. She says that spending her time wearing the knitwear she inherited from her father made her become more aware of how time passes.

However, Yuki told me that they try not to ask customers who buy the products to ``please pass them on to your children or grandchildren.'' Of course, there are sweaters that will be passed down to children and grandchildren, but you can also give them to friends, and they try not to say things like ``this is the ideal'' that would limit anyone.

“When I go on a trip, I don’t have to plan too much for the day, I go to bed and wake up wherever I want, I walk whenever I want, and I stop when I see a scenery that catches my eye—I need that space. As a result, I met a hand-knitting grandmother at the market, and from there, a different time began.I like that way of spending time, and I also like that way of making things.I make things with my hands. When I do something, I sometimes end up in an unexpected place, and that feels good.When there is room, elements of someone different from myself come in.It takes on an unexpected shape, It's interesting to see a sequence of buttons chosen by someone else. I've always wanted to be the kind of person who can accept that."

Ceramic buttons are sewn by hand onto the knitwear that arrives at the atelier. There are ten different people in line. Those who attended the unveiling of the new knitwear were able to choose the buttons of their choice. People who ordered online weren't able to choose their own buttons; instead, Yuki chose them for them. Yuki told me that they look at their preferences based on their past purchase history, and if it's a first-time orderer, they choose the buttons based on the inspiration they get from the name. Each sweater looks somewhat like a letter.

``When I travel, I write letters to friends and people I care about, and I think the time difference is interesting when it comes to letters.With LINE, you can send words in an instant, but if you post them from Estonia, they can be sent to Tokyo. It took two weeks. It's not like I'm writing a very heavy message, but I think the time difference in how long it takes for it to arrive is interesting."

Press the foil onto the finished knit with practiced hands. For a pink and green knit, the first layer is gold and the second layer is silver. If it's a navy knit, stamp the first layer with navy blue foil and the second layer with light blue foil. Once pressed, the foil looks beautiful and shiny. Its beauty is the reflected light shining into my eyes. Why do we feel that the light that shines into our eyes is beautiful?

Hikari travels at a speed of approximately 300,000 kilometers per second. As I watch the newly completed hand knits being carefully packaged, I imagine the moment when the light emitted here now reaches somewhere far, far away.

“Knitting Memories: Sweater Making Diary” Completed

WordsToshifumi Hashimoto

Photo Kazuhei Kimura