The old cardigan

This is the story of a journey that hasn’t ended. Not yet. I think I am right in the middle.  When I started I thought it would be simple. It could have been, and yet… How to peel the skin and not see the flesh?  How to not-know the bones are right underneath? 

What started as a drafted path is still drafting…. I pulled a loose thread from the rim of one of the sleeves of an old cardigan, to find myself with various yarns at my feet, halfway through. I am aware if I continue pulling, my old cardigan will become… I don’t know what. 

Maybe fabric?  

At the end of 2020 I made a decision: I will jump out of the cycle of the fashion industry. 

By that time, I had a foot in and a foot out of the food industry already. The paradox is that I work within that industry, but after all these years, I have created an evolving functional, relational, local network that enriches my life in ways that an exile like me never would have imagined. What started as a challenge given the differences in culture [Mediterranean gastronomy is difficult to beat] has become an entanglement of gardens, allotments, people [definitely people], parks, forests, sea… learnings, creativity, and deliciousness.  

I thought I would give it a go to the fashion industry. 

To find the thread of my old cardigan, where to start pulling, the first step, wasn’t difficult, I had it crystal clear: Stop shopping. So I did. The covenant was signed in a beautiful ritual a cold morning of December 2020. A sensible voice told me… what about leaving the door ajar? Not pulling all the thread? Okey, okey… The decision was to buy ONE garment a year. That includes shoes and accessories, not socks or gloves [one day maybe I will knit my own ones]   

The first year was fun. Pulling the thread, watching it becoming colourful yarns, the sensation of freedom, the warmth of the old cardigan was still there… What did it make it to my wardrobe? I thought a lot about it. A beautiful new cardigan? Or something that I really need? My sense of responsibility won and a very useful rain trousers came home. 

At the end of the year, some of my friends were part of an interesting workshop about letting go, I watched them. In January 2022, after a process of listening to every dress, every skirt, every t-shirt, even every sock [every single one of them], I became a donor. More than half of my wardrobe moved homes. Rituals to say goodbye, happy friends. I felt light. 

Too light maybe? I was not a big shopper, fast fashion never seduced me, but fabrics, awww fabrics… wild silks, hand knitted cardigans, leather, cottons, wools, linens… the textures, the beauty! 

Beauty? after a few months in 2022 I felt… like something was fading. I became aware that a different process had started knitted in the fabric of my being, definitely I had tap into something more complex, something deeper was going on, I spent time observing myself… I was disappearing!

I realised I didn’t look myself at the mirror anymore, I mean, to wash my teeth I would look at my face, at my mouth, at the parts… but not at the whole. I had stopped the deliciousness of warm baths, the laughter of trying new combinations with old cloths, the pleasures of textures, the beauty of fabrics. 

What if my identity is weaved so intrinsically within the culture I live in that my mind doesn’t know how to find alternative ways of looking at myself? I have peeled my skin to discover there is flesh showing through the tears of modernity. It feels like my body is paralysed inside a ‘camisa de fuerza’, and I don’t know how to look at me, I can see the flesh, but my brain is not communing, not yet… 

My body is falling apart.

My body feels unseen. Invisible.

Three days ago, I told this story in our OpenMic. I mean it is still a draft, but the outlines now are both penciled and erased at the same time, like a connection that was missing, or numbed, is now looking for new neural pathways. The conversation, the questions, the shared invisibility. Something shifted. I don’t know exactly what yet… but I know it has something to do with fabric… and conversations.