There is often a sense in our knitting community that each of us fits neatly in one of two boxes — the process-oriented or the product-oriented. While there are indeed knitters who knit for tactile joy and those who knit to fulfill a certain vision for a finished product, there are also many knitters who fall somewhere else on the spectrum. One of these knitters is Korina Yoo, the Marketing Coordinator here at Brooklyn Tweed. Korina sees value in both process- and product-oriented perspectives and applies a balanced approach of both to her making practices. In this balancing act, Korina has created her own internal creative space wherein she works toward honing her skills through process, while enjoying the curatorial powers afforded by the production of a slow fashion wardrobe.
Korina happened upon knitting quite by accident during her first winter here in Portland, Oregon. At the time, the crafty renaissance was well underway, with online knitting resources, patterns, and yarns easily within a beginner’s reach. Having come from a family of generational makers, it was only a matter of time before the world of fiber arts would draw her in. “I find a lot of strength in making with my hands,” Korina says after reflecting on her introduction to the world of handmaking as a child — which comes as no surprise considering the legacy of talent that exists in her family.
After years of exploring a range of hobbies, Korina really didn’t expect much when she first took up knitting. The first few things she made after watching instructional videos on YouTube were scarves and cowls for other people, usually close friends. But this craft suddenly became so much more than a transitory activity when Korina realized that she could, like her grandmother, make nice clothes by hand. After having finished her first, actual garment, Korina thought, “Hey! I made a top and it actually looks pretty all right.” It was in this moment that she found the confidence to really dive into her knitting and begin making more garments for herself.
Product by Process
When considering process- and product-oriented making habits, Korina is swift to point out that there is not any inherent value in prioritizing one or the other. “It depends on the kind of experience you want out of it,” Korina notes, acknowledging that some knit to soothe, some knit to fill holes in their wardrobes, and some knit for reasons that fall somewhere in between. At one point in Korina’s making process she was making to make, which is why many of her first projects were gifts for other people.
In the short few years Korina has continued on with her knitting practice, this focus on process-only knitting shifted to product-focused as her skillset grew. The things she enjoys making now are often garments that have clever details requiring a more thoughtful and skilled approach.
But this growth didn’t happen overnight, nor did it happen in isolation. The shared knowledge that circulates through our making community are ever present and ever valuable to new and veteran makers alike. Korina explains that “hearing other people’s stories was so influential to [her] growth,” since she “learns best by example.” Makers like Melody Hoffman, Eva of The Charm of It, and her fellow members of the BT Team introduced her to quality materials and a deeper understanding of how process- and product-oriented practices dovetail into the creation of a single handmade garment.
There are many reasons why we make our own clothes. For Korina, the inherent value of making and the opportunities presented to hone her skills through practicing her craft are ever present when she sits down with a project. While external factors, like ethical and environmental reasons, ring true for Korina, the majority of her drive to make comes from the empowering internal knowledge that she can.
Korina’s focus on both process (developing quality craftsmanship) and product (working towards quality garments) has naturally developed into a curatorial, slow fashion approach to her making and wardrobe. She has learned exactly how much time and work handmaking requires and often has clear ideas on what kinds of educational challenges she wants to take on next, and so, carefully plans how a project will fit into her life well before casting on. When asked about her feelings on the current state of her slow fashion wardrobe, after a little over a year of focused making and refining her tastes and preferences, she is happy to state, “I’ve reached a point where I’m really good with what I have and where I am.”
When thinking of newly-finished makes and future projects, now that “the basics are covered,” Korina finds herself wanting to incorporate projects that are still utilitarian, but more fun, with interesting stitch patterns, shapes, and clever construction that keeps her mind engaged — like Jared Flood’s Sonobe Cardigan and Scott Rohr’s Ellsworth Wrap. As a very recent convert to stranded colorwork, she’s also eagerly diving back into the world of colorful yokes.
Korina’s current project: a mash-up of Marie Wallin’s Raven Fairisle Yoke Pullover and Tin Can Knits’s Strange Brew Round Yoke Recipe, knit using six colors of Loft (Cast Iron, Soot, Pumice, Yellowstone, Sap, and Cinnabar).
Thanks to a clever ratio, Korina feels confident moving forward with her plans to incorporate these quirky items from project basket to closet. For Korina, the trick is to pick a neutral color to form the foundation of your wardrobe, and then select two or three other “pop” colors for variety: black, rust, and ochre are her choices. The same idea can be applied to garment types for outfit-building as well. For example, Korina has a profound love for clothes, but what she enjoys most are pants with interesting construction details like asymmetrical tie waistbands, voluminous pleats, or clever pin tucks (“I’m a pant connoisseur!”). So, her favorite recipe is “to pair an outlandish pant with a basic top and coat.” Regardless of how minimalist or adventurous the individual pieces in her closet may be, following a ratio of 2 neutral colors to 1 pop color, or 2 basic pieces to 1 adventurous piece keeps an outfit looking balanced and cohesive.
This summer, Korina refocused her efforts into sewing as well, and has enjoyed exploring ways to incorporate bold patchwork — which she loves (“It’s like knitting; you’re making your own fabric as you go!”) — into unassuming utilitarian garments. She put her 2:1 ratio to good use in the above project, a black-and-red patchwork kimono jacket.