Welcome 2020!!. I’m excited to write new posts this year and a have a more consistent blog to share! I enjoy shopping for “finds”, that is, sweaters that are screaming to live a second life. I started doing this to create my own supply of fibers that are not readily available where I live, and to keep my costs low. Maybe you do this too, or are curious about the process, read on! I am happy to share tips and tutorials.
I am a process person by nature, “it’s about the process not the product” is something I usually tell people when they ask me what I knit. Over the years I have found when I experiment with new knitting methods or projects, once I learn a new technique, I tend to outgrow it pretty quickly. So, having different materials at hand in smaller inexpensive quantities appeals to me.
I enjoy recycling sweaters, there is something satisfying about paying a little over a dollar for a cashmere, or other natural fiber sweater and being able to unravel, clean, dry and reknit that yarn into something else. It is time consuming, (especially if you are lucky enough to find a long,extra large sweater) but it is a process that I haven’t outgrown, and continue to improve upon in the 4 years that I have been doing this.
I’m drawn to cashmere or cashmere/silk blends, though the unraveled yarn is very thin, I can use several strands at a time if I like. To me, the best use for these threadlike strands is lace knitting, (another challenging process I love), and works equally as well when testing hand manipulated lace patterns on the knitting machine. Of course you can never go wrong with an angora blend or super bulky alpaca/wool blend that can be remade into boot cuffs, hats, mittens, and squishy aran style wrap- (have a look at the inspires–me photos in the footer of the blog its Okmin Parks Everyway Wrap – Interweave Knits Fall 2009 knit with a recycled wool sweater)
Vibrant, deep colors, (purples, teals and orange) jump off the rack and I also look for shades of white. I do dabble in natural dyes from time to time and have found my backyard is full of dyestuffs, acorn, spruce bark, pokeberry, creeping charlie, bladder hibiscus. In the spring, summer and fall I dye recycled yarns to shades of yellow, purple, pink, blue, and green.
I don’t have any objections to acrylic yarns, and I knit with them when I know the end product needs to be in the washing machine regularly (baby and young children’s items). They are abundant in supply and I have a stash like most knitters do.
The first thrift store sweater I ever purchased has never been unraveled or repurposed. It was a find, for sure and is what sparked this idea, I was at the Salvation Army one day several years ago and found a vintage black cashmere cardigan labeled “made exclusively for Saks Fifth Avenue. Pretty sure I paid one dollar for it 😉