Road Tripping The Northeast During A Global Crisis, And the Knits that Got Me Through It.

Updated: Mar 12, 2021


 

A simple & sweet project for William Kommalan's Knitwear Class

 

After three and a half weeks in quarantine, which consisted of being trapped in my 800 square foot apartment that overlooks Manhattan, I realized I couldn't take it anymore. There had to be a way for me to "social distance" properly and still take this opportunity of free time with my boyfriend and turn it into something adventurous and fun. The two of us always find a way to make the best out of any situation together. We left our apartment and headed to Joe’s parents in upstate

NY. During our two days of self-isolation in a little-known town we did many activities outdoors with each other. Together we explored the woods, rode quads together, hiked to the lake with his parent's dog, rode our bikes, and most importantly, we spent time outdoors.


This seemed like a perfect way to spend our time together. The weather was beautiful and the trees were barren, buds and flowers peeking into every nook and cranny of the open forest. However, the lingering feeling of being in your parents home as a grown adult followed us around for that little time. We decided that we would rather be quarantined alone with each other, doing our own thing; as we always like to do.


My mom suggested that we rent an RV which translated immediately to us as "Go Explore." We called the first company on our Google Search page and were able to rent an RV with 1500 miles for a week at a dirt cheap price.






It was like hitting the lotto. We immediately packed belongings that we deemed "essential" for our trip. We were going to live in a van for seven days; so you pack what you need. As it turns out, no one cares if you wear the same shirt three days in a row if you’re living in a van. If you’re living on the road, you don’t even see the same person three times. We encountered maybe five people total so far and it’s only day three. We haven’t even stood 30 ft near anyone; nevermind 6 ft.

The perfect, yet cliché, spring weather has accompanied us so far. There have been chilly mornings, sunny afternoons, and chilly nights.


My “power outfits” on this trip consist of jeans or leggings and layered tops. I packed a little more than I needed, but pieces that I figured would be most comfortable for hiking, sitting in the RV and biking. As far as pants were concerned, I packed my Free People Cotton Joggers, two pairs of old cotton leggings (jersey knit) , black, faded denim Free People high waisted jeans with flare ankles (which were woven) , a fairly new pair of Lululemon leggings, and yoga pants (nylon stretchy jersey knit) to sleep in at night.

My top options consisted of a Mac Miller band tee, one of my boyfriend’s oversized work shirts to sleep in, a striped Urban Outfitter’s from the men’s department, a blue patched thermal that was my moms, a canary yellow Izod sweater that I “borrowed” from Joe’s dad’s closet, one of Joe’s work sweaters, an Anthropologie “Wildflower” printed graphic tee shirt, and a few more oversized big shirts for layering.

This wasn’t our first road trip, nor was it our first time hiking and traveling. We know what clothes we like and what clothes we don’t like. We know that if you wear layers, you only technically get the base shirt dirty.

The day before we departed, the CDC made an announcement that all people should be wearing a facemask or face covering. Since Joe works in HVAC, he had an n95 mask that he could use if we had to encounter other people. I, on the other hand, did not have a mask or a bandana. As we were running out the door on Friday morning, I grabbed some extra fabric, a hand needle, white thread, a scissor, and elastic. I figured if we were going to be traveling, we might as well be prepared to enter a store if need be. Anyway, we had to stop at and get some fresh produce and snacks for our “home; either way we needed a face covering to go with our gloves before entering the store.


“Welcome to West Virginia”



The purple trees of Shenandoah.


In the car on the way to West Virginia (we were inspired by the John Denver song), I cut the sleeves off an old, electric-green work shirt that belonged to Joe. I cut and hand sewed a mask out of the tee shirt sleeves, which happened to be a knit tee. Its construction is a super tight and tiny jersey knit stitch.



Me, wearing my handmade mask.



Up close with my “tee shirt mask”.

I kept the sleeve as a whole piece, so it would be double-thick when wearing. I hand sewed the edges and shaped it to be more like a mask, then sewed elastic to fit our heads. I plan on making more masks after our week of “van life”, when we return to our apartment quarantine. At my apartment I have the convenience of being able to use my sewing machine and proper sewing supplies. In this case, I used what I had.



Quarantined in a van with my boyfriend and mask.

For day three ( and honestly every day so far) my go to outfit has been either leggings or jeans, one short sleeve shirt, one long sleeved shirt, a crewneck sweater, socks and sneakers. On day three I wore my striped men’s tee, which was purchased by me in high school at Urban Outfitters. UO is a fast fashion brand that I do not shop at as much as I do Free People and Anthropologie. All companies are technically part of the URBN brand umbrella, but Free People and Anthropologie are a bit higher end, and to made to last. However, this shirt is extremely comfy and cozy and aged well. The striped tee shirt part of the shirt is simple jersey knit.



Detail of My Striped Shirt Jersey Knit

There is also a connected long sleeve shirt that is navy blue with jersey knit stitches. However, at the sleeve opening by the hand, the construction switches to rib knit.




Detail of My Sleeve


I wore my Align Lululemons on day three as well, with a pair of Andy Warhol Intarja flower “Happy Socks”. My socks are a jersey knit with intarja flower motifs. Intarja is a type of knitting where you switch the yarn or colored yarn being fed into the machine to make a motif, texture or shape. At the top of my socks is a band of thicker rib knit.




Andy Warhol Intarja Socks



My leggings were a tight-fitting jersey stitch made of 80% Nylon and 20% Lycra. Lululemon calls this fabric “Nulu” a patented term by them. The characteristics of this are supposed to be sweat wicking, four way stretch, lightweight, and shape retentive.



Detail of Lululemon leggings

The one sweet and sunny crewneck that I have been wearing is as simple as the rest of the garments with me.



Canary Yellow sweater, borrowed from Joe’s Dad.


There is a band of rib knit canary yellow fabric at the edge of the sleeves and at the bottom of the sweater, as well as the top of the crewneck. The rest of the sweater is tiny jersey knit. Its content is 55% cotton and 45% polyester.



Me in front of the White House

Going on this trip, I knew I had to pack light, yet pack items that could be re-worn, and that would keep me comfortable and warm, or easily removed if its too hot. So far, we have stayed in Virginia in a valley of the Shenandoah River at a campground with a creek.



Creekside Campground, Shenandoah, VA

We have also biked through Washington DC, which was desolate. Joe & I wore our masks and parked the trailer on the street between the White House & the Washington monument with no problem.



At the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. Joe’s Dad is a Vietnam Vet.

We were the only two people in the Lincoln Memorial!




Me , in the empty Lincoln Memorial



Social Distancing at the National Monument

We decided to take advantage of this rare opportunity with no work, no physical “school” and no people. We still are managing to keep our “social distance” and self-isolate, except we are doing so in a home on wheels.

All in all, I find it to be quite fascinating seeing “clothes of a quarantine era”. People are wearing "day pajamas" and switching into "night pajamas" to sit at home. Workout clothes are more prominent, as are pajamas and “cozy brands” like Lou & Grey. My personal “Quarantine Outfits” that I wore while on the road and in the woods, are even more interesting. The way people are beginning to dress when no one is looking is reflective more of their personal style, I believe. People will get dressed up if they want to, and wear their favorite outfit just for fun or boredom. Others will take the advantage to dress comfy and cozy. My lack of care while packing, stylistically, is quite funny and clearly evident while I look through my clothing bags. If you had to live out of a bag, what items would you deem essential? What would you want to wear in the woods? Would you be doing it for the Instagram, or just to escape into nature?



Ducks in Virginia



“Welcome to Vermont” sign



Side of an Old Tobacco Store in Upstate, NY


 
Sources:
CDC Face Covering Guidelines (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html )
Lululemon Fabric Description https://shop.lululemon.com/p/women-pants/Align-Pant-2/_/prod2020012


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