Friday, December 9, 2011

Unravelry :)

Some months back, I watched a youtube video on how to unravel old sweaters for the yarn, and I became obsessed with finding just the right sweater for unraveling. My first victim was this men's extra large multi-colored sweater, which I thrifted for $2. 
 I learned a lot from this sweater. First, if you're going to unravel a sweater, have a plan for how you're going to roll it into balls before you start pulling on that first loose piece of yarn . . . because once you get started, you won't want to stop. Seriously. It's like picking at a peeling sunburn. It's so much fun! But if you don't have a plan, you'll end up with a little thing I like to call "yarn ramen," or "yarn carnage," or better yet, "Yarnage."
Second, if you're looking for your sweater to yield nice long pieces of yarn, pick a sweater that is both one color AND doesn't have surged seams. You want seams that have been hand-stitched together, because a surger just cuts the ends off the sweater pieces, leaving lots of little yarnlets that you can't do much with except throw at the cat. Here is the yarn my sweater yielded. As you can see, there are quite a few smaller balls, and they are all multicolored, because I didn't have patience to separate the colors. This yarn is still sitting in my stash, and I don't really know what to do with it. Any suggestions?
So now that I've grown a little wiser, I waited for the right unraveling sweater to jump out at me, and it just so happens this purple number was the one. No surged seams, no felting of the fibers (it's 100% acrylic. I have yet to try and unravel a wool sweater), and oh, what a lovely color!
Now some of you might think, "what a waste of a good sweater!" But it just isn't my style. Or my mother's. Or grandmother's. So here we go! First, take your sweater apart at the seams. You can do this carefully with a seam ripper or small pair of scissors. This sweater was so chunky, I could do it with my fingers. Once you have the sweater in pieces (this one had three - one back and two fronts), find the "sweet spot" where the knitting ends and the magic begins. Get yourself a toilet paper roll, cut a slit on the top, and wedge the yarn end into the slit. This will make it possible to pull the yarn from the CENTER of your ball when you're all done (fantastic!). Then, have a blast unraveling!
Here is the finished product. Four lovely balls of lavender yarn, all for $2 and about an hour of work.
You will most likely still have some yarnlets from the collar. You can use these for doll hair, stuffing for a toy, or just throw them at the cat. He'll thank you.
Look what else I salvaged from our sweater? Four wooden buttons! Score! These probably would have cost 50 cents each at the craft store.
Unlike the first sweater, I knew exactly what I wanted to make from the unraveled yarn this time. Purple is Hannah's favorite color, so matching Milo vests for Hannah and her dolly were my choice. Within 30 minutes of unraveling this sweater, I had already cast on for something new and exciting. :)
And here is my progress as it stands now. This is the biggest garment I've knit thus far. In fact, it's ending up WAY bigger than I'd hoped due to the doubled-up chunkiness of the yarn. So I'm thinking it will end up more like a dress than a vest, which will thrill Hannah to no end. It's hard to believe that my sister taught me how to knit only a year ago. The human brain is truly an amazing thing. It makes me think, "what else can I learn in a year?" Notice the little heart detail. First cable knitting, too!
I hope to get this finished by Christmas, and a matching one for the beautiful doll she's getting for Christmas (more on that later). I better get to work!


Mami Dearest said...

How awesome is that! I don't know if I would have the patience to unravel a sweater, but your new project is so much better than what the original sweater was!

EMMA said...

Well done! I got in a HUGE mess the first time I unraveled a sweater.

Suzie said...

Thank you for stopping by, ladies! And thank you for your compliments. :)

Adventure Academy Mom said...

I love this. Great idea! I never would have thought of it.

Bethany said...

That is really neat and the new piece is soo beautiful.