Whirlwind upcycling update

January 10, 2008

There have been a number of thrifted sweaters falling prey to the liberating snip-snip of my little Swiss Army scissors since last I wrote, so let’s catch up.

First: I’ve bought seven sweaters to upcycle. I think. They’ve ranged in cost from $1.25 to $5.00, and I finally did branch out to the two other thrift shops I’d heard about.

I can already see that I’ll need to learn self-restraint when it comes to this activity –big surprise! It’s very easy to feel as if I must leave the shop with something to unravel, and yet when I’m curled up here at home and I think about it, I prefer to trust that there will always be sweaters to unravel in the shops, and that it’s nicer to have space in my flat. There are lots of reasons why a person who is prone to hoarding would feel extra justified in hoarding sweaters to upcycle; there are potent virtues such as being extra green & eco-friendly, being a careful & thrifty shopper, etc.

So far I don’t believe that I have collected beyond the pale, but I want to keep an eye on it..

The sweaters!

Yesterday I had a nice harvest.. One huge uber-fugly 100% wool Ralph Lauren Polo Sport sweater in what looks like a heavy worsted weight wool, predominantly black with a bit of red and a bit of blue. The seams look yummy, and I expect this will be a quick unravel, except for the stupid patch, which will be fiddly to remove.

Ugly Ralph Lauren sweater

One really exciting find: a small sweater in the softest blend of 75% silk and 25% cotton, in white. I started working on it yesterday evening, and it was surprisingly difficult to disassemble. The seams were good but hard to get started, and I didn’t get to the fun part of ripping fast and winding onto my nøstepinde for a couple of hours.

I got a strong strong sense of this sweater having been hand-knit by some person, in this case, a person in China. The number of hand-knit sweaters I’ve seen coming out of China has really stunned me, and gotten me to thinking about how trade economics and knitting converge. More on this at some later point, once I’ve had a chance to think about it.

Silk cotton blend sweater

At any rate, this silk-cotton blend is delicious to touch, and I’m all excited about knitting with it. The yarn is, like so many of the (relatively few) yarns I’ve recycled, made up of multiple threads –in this case it’s 6 threads, and only plied in the crudest sense. What mostly seems to be keeping this yarn together is the soft fluffy character of these little threads, sort of like flannel threads which want to stick to one another.

I’m also eager to dye this yarn. My rough understanding is that the silk and the cotton will take the dye differently, and this might add lots of visual interest if, say, the cotton core dyes real dark and the silk more muted.. I really don’t know, but I’m excited!

I seem to have come home with a sweater made of mystery fiber, and how I did so is a bit of a mystery. It’s a pleasant wooly-ish sweater, and it’s the dark grey color that I’m so fond of, but all the fiber-identifying tags are gone, and I can’t figure out why I would have taken it. I’m going to explore it..

Then a nice 100% Shetland wool sweater by J. Crew in a lovely dark sagey green, with a bit of my favorite dark grey and a bit of buff/creamy white. I note upon closer examination that I overpaid for this one, a good lesson learned: look at the frackin’ price tag. D’oh. Ahem.

Sage green J.Crew sweater

Another quite similar sweater in 100% lambswool, by American Eagle Outfitters. This one is also a darkish green, but with really gorgeous almost coppery fibers mixed in. Can’t wait to disassemble this one.

Yet another green sweater.  American Eagle brand.

And last but not least yesterday: I had two major button scores. One set of 5 is made from some sort of animal horn, I think. The other 9 (6 big 3 small) are just lovely soft tortoiseshell lookin’. Super happy.

I did a trip to the thrift shop at some point between christmas & the NH primaries, and got a few really great sweaters:

One that I’ve been knitting into new objects as quickly as I’ve been unraveling it: a really great sweater: hand-knit at a local fancy-shmancy knitwear place, and all good seams, made from this great sport-weight 100% wool; predominantly black, with bits of red and white. I LOVE this stuff. So far I’ve knit 1.5 little bags/cozies, and the finished one got felted and turned out great. Yay!

Excellent Stowe Woolens sweater

I found an absolutely gorgeous angora-wool blend in white. Can’t wait to start unraveling it (bet it’ll be sweet to touch for hours at a time), and I can’t wait to dye it.

Creamy white angora sweater

There was a bag of really -great- crewel or needlepoint yarn, maybe 70 little skeins of 10 meters each. 100% wool, and really lovely and soft.

Beautiful score of sandy colored crewel yarn

Then my one disappointment, which is morphing into a really delightful project: it was a big fat dark grey sweater, and I remember thinking: “hmm, these seams are bad. that’s interesting,” but then just shoving the sweater into my shopping bag. My thinking was like this –the fiber was yummy, 100% oiled Irish wool, and it was My Color, and it would be a good lesson in how and why bad seams are bad (I hadn’t examined a fully serged sweater before). And somewhere in the dark recesses of my brain, I thought: felting project.

grey sweater felting project

Sure enough, the seams were really bad. Yucko bad serged seams! However, the felted knapsack project I’m making with it looks really promising. I felted it partway, enough to be able to cut without the fabric unraveling wildly, and then I cut it up into pieces which I’ll sew together, and then I’ll keep on felting the wabinkus out of it. So far, I really love how cables and other textured stitches turn out when felted. Yum.

I found a cute little Old Navy skinny scarf knit from fine 100% lambswool. I think I might felt it into a strap or straps for a future bag project..

multi-hued skinny scarf

I found another lovely sweater, an EMS 100% wool sweater with great seams for unraveling. It was cute as a sweater –knit in reverse stockinette, which I always figured I’d hate, but it’s kind of handsome.

Nice EMS sweater

Lastly, a lovely heathery sage-y green sweater in soft 100% wool.

Oh, and some nice buttons:

Thrifted buttons

So, many hours of happy yarn recycling lie ahead.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: