R-R-R

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Today is all about the joys of reducing, reusing, and recycling. Well, mostly about reusing and what is refered to as recycling yarn.

The best place to locate sweaters for unraveling? Goodwill or your local thrift shop. Generally speaking, you can find 100% Wool, Cotton, Linen, Silk, Bamboo, Cashmere, and pretty much anything your heart might desire for under $5. And I’m not talking about a few measly skeins. I’m talking 1000+ yards. Ounces upon Ounces from one sweater.

The trick? You’ve got to spend the time to unravel and know the signs for a sweater for unraveling. If you have those, then I can bet that you’ll become just as fascinated with unraveling as I. Sometimes, I just want to destroy something and sweaters are the best way to go!

 

How long is it going to take?

Several hours from start to finished ball. You’ve got to take apart the seams of the sweater, find the ends of the body pieces, and unravel those.

What am I looking for?

You’re looking for a sweater that is seamed by way of slip stitch crocheting. You’ll need to find the end of that on the seams, snip, and pull (it should unravel in one long piece, for the most part).

You’re also looking for one that fits your wishes. Look for something that addresses your need for a fiber content, approximate yarn weight, and color. If you’re a yarn squirrel, like I, and feel the need to build the stash for lean months between paychecks, look for interesting stuff that you can’t find for sale in yarn stores (and good god there’s a lot of those).

So, what are the pros and cons of yarn recycling?

 

Cons: 1.) It takes time to unravel. 2.) Most of the time you won’t be able to get more of a specific yarn (though there is the rare occasion where a store has several of the same sweater that has been donated and you can get a whole BUNCH in the even of a blanket project) 3.) The yarn weight is not always a “standard” and you’ll have to make an educated guess at the usefulness applied to a specific project, or knit a test gauge (which you should be doing anyway…). 4.) You are going to have more knots than what you’d get with a store bought skein

 

Pros: 1.) It’s considerably cheaper than purchasing un-used skeins at full price (and often even discount) and considering the available fiber contents. 2.) It’s really fun, I swear there’s this little kids joy you’ll probably experience whilst unraveling like a madman 3.) You get some really cool yarns that you won’t get in stores 4.) It encourages/forces you to uphold the gauge rule (Seriously, KNIT A TEST SWATCH) 5.) Most of your projects, barring another sweater for someone of the same size or larger size than the sweater you purchased will be easily made with just one sweater 6.) You’re recycling and who doesn’t like that?

 

I’ve unraveled 5 or 6 sweaters so far, all of fabulous fiber content including a blend of silk and merino, 100% cotton, etc. I’m in the midst of using them in several projects, including a set of 18th century working woman’s cotton stockings (they were from an old man’s sweater and are all snuggly soft), a metallic silver shawl with leaves, and soon to be a blanket.

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Time Between Finally Catches Up

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Clearly it has been a long while. I can explain, I swear!

Right before Halloween I took on knitting a vest for my work appropriate Slytherin costume. I managed to finish that in record time, record because I’ve never knit a vest before. Then I had to finish hand sewing my candlelight costume while also knitting and crocheting Christmas presents, almost all of which I got done on time. Then, as if I wasn’t exhausted enough, I was asked to design and construct the costumes for a local production of Crumbs from the Table of Joy. On my own. Which was god awful to costume considering I was asked to NOT borrow costumes from other theatres in the area, even though it would have been free. I ended up having to make two dresses, one that was whole and one copy of that that could be taken apart. I also ended up having to fabric paint little polka dots all over off-white chiffon because no fabric store in the area carried anything like what I needed.

Once that was finished in early January, I faced the daunting task of cleaning up my craft room. That took about a week and a half. Yes, it was that bad. I rearranged, improved storage, and finally added my new-to-me 1898 treadle sewing machine as well as my Bernina 2000DE serger that I most recently acquired via a painfully slow estate auction. That little gem has been named Sue in honor of her previous owner and in the hopes that she’ll be good to me. She’s been well taken care of and she came with a bunch of add ons. Sue joins Jean-Grey (my Pheonix automatic), Mini (my lightweight serger), and Bertie (my portable Brother). The treadle hasn’t been named yet. Any suggestions?

As for the knitting and crocheting front. I will  be updating with the belated Christmas gift I will be sending to my nieces once I complete it. They’ll be getting dress-up accessories to play with. I also have a hat for my cousin-in-law and a baby blanket for my, I guess, second cousin (my first cousin’s kid). I think that’s right, second cousin….

Beginning at the Beginning

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I’ll be honest, I spent several years of my life claiming, over and over, that I could not knit or crochet.
Then one day, during a mind-numbing day of winter break, I really thought about my claims. The truth was, I hadn’t really tried. Or I had, but I’d never been very good at learning something by merely reading a book on it. I’ve always had to at least be listening to music or doodling to facilitate my education (who wants to study in silence anyway?). So I thought some more.
And I got out my google-fu, a set of knitting needles, a crochet hook, and some spare yarn my parents bought for me on a steep discount from an estate sale (I’m talking $10 for a large container of yarn ranging from Red Heart to $40 per skein fancy stuff, they cashed in good).
In this day and age, there should be no excuse for not knowing how to knit or crochet. There can be plenty for not actually doing it: your hands are arthritic, you don’t have time to even attempt it much less go out and get the supplies, etc. etc. But not for being able to accomplish it, given the right situation. We’ve got so many helpful people in our own towns that would absolutely LOVE to show you how and if you don’t have the courage to ask them, there’s always youtube.

And geeze did I youtube. If you ever find yourself questioning a stitch, youtube it. My favorite youtube channel for basic and advanced knitting techniques? http://www.youtube.com/user/knittingtipsbyjudy?feature=g-user-c
Judy is a lovely woman who’s spent the past umpteen years knitting for the film industry. She’s a no nonsense, precise teacher with a decent pace.

As for crocheters, just take your pick. If you’ve found a stitch you’ve never met before, YOUTUBE IT! There’s at least ONE good video out there for you. And if there’s not, then there just might be a nice live person in town who could help. Just ask around!

I’ve now picked up knitting and crocheting so fervently that I am rarely found during down time without some sort of project in my hand. Right now, it’s all Christmas gifts and Halloween times. Inbetween trying to finish a hand-quilted petticoat and 18th century ladies’ jacket for Candlelight at Tryon Palace, which you should certainly look into attending, whether at Christmas or as part of your vacation! See us here: http://www.tryonpalace.org/

Next up, currently finished project photos, WIP photos, and a collection of free projects, mostly from Ravelry, that could make a young child in your life very, very happy.