If you are tuning in to find out which sweater I chose as my donor, thanks for coming back!! you are probably guessing the grey cabled cashmere. Well you were correct! The tan tagged softy was 25% off, I paid $4.01!
You don’t need a lot of skill or supplies to unravel a thrift store sweater. It’s really easy if you have found a decent sweater to start with, that has crocheted seams. (see https://raszyfibers.com/2020/01/12/5-cashmere-challenge/ ) A pair of scissors or a seam ripper (preferred) will get you started. What comes next is optional first laundering. Garment Care symbols and instructions on the label should be followed for this step. You can buy a dry cleaning kit at any grocery store, or you can hand soak instead. I prefer hand soak in Woolite or Euclan, inside out, in cold water with no agitation- Cashmere is a natural fiber and the structure of the fiber will cause it to felt if agitated. Place the sweater in the sink and add cold water, drizzle a tablespoon of Woolite into the basin. Soak 30 minutes, pull the stopper, and let the water drain out. Replace the stopper and fill with cold water and a tablespoon of white vinegar. Drain, remove from sink and gently press the water out. Then roll up in a towel to press more water out. Lay flat to dry, do not wring. A flat sweater drying rack is handy and easily made from cardboard boxes, or pvc and an old cotton sheet. Once dry, you’re ready to start.
Turn the sweater inside out, use your stitch ripper to remove manufacturer’s tags, by carefully removing each sewn stitch, so not to tear the yarn. Then at the join of the armpit, locate the end of the chain stitch, it will likely be woven or knotted at this join or tucked into the last edge stitches of the side seam.
Once you have located this look for another, sometimes the seam is linked around the armhole and then down the side seam, and sometimes this is done in two steps, one around the armhole, one from the end of the side seam lower edge to the armhole.
Cut the knot at the end of the chain stitch and pull to unzip the chain stitch. Repeat this process for the opposite side. You now have removed the sleeves. At the cuff of the sleeve look for the end of the chain stitch, cut and pull as before to lay the sleeve flat. Next use the same steps to separate the side seams and collar.
You now have a back, collar, front (left and right if applicable) and two sleeves. At the top of the sleeve, will be the cast off row, use your scissors to cut the top two rows of stitching, and then pull the end of the yarn to unravel about a yard of yarn, cut this piece and look at it carefully. Is the yarn plied? How many plies? What is the wpi? Is there a thread of synthetic nylon or spandex? Use this sample to identify as much as you can to decide if you want to unravel as one strand. If there is a synthetic ply, I usually pull this out as I am unraveling, and wind only the fiber onto the ball winder. The synthetic strand I set aside as I go, then discard. This is up to you. Is there several plies of yarn in the strand?
In the case of this grey cashmere, there are 3 strands of 2-ply cashmere. This sweaters single strand is 15 WpI and each lace weight ply is 45 WPI. I can either separate into three balls of lace weight yarn or one DK weight one. For this project I will unravel as one strand, and if I decide later, can separate into equal strands, using three ball winders at once, (I line them up on the edge of the table and tie a dowel rod to each handle, enabling me to wind all three at the same time. Its slow going but fun to do!)
Check back next week for Part II, initial winding, separate strand winding, skeining, washing, measuring, and labeling! Have a great week!