Saturday, September 6, 2008

Thrifty Knits

I've never been a big garage sale person or thrift stores either. In fact until last month I had never even been in a thrift store and I had never bought clothes at a garage sale (at least not before I had kids - now I know what great finds they are for children's clothing!). Since I've been learning about thrifty knitting (from Ravelry of course) I've actually been to both a thrift store and a rummage sale in the last month. I think you can say I've been bit by the thrifting bug!

Thrifty knitting to me means recycling/reclaiming wool from sweaters and knitting with it or felting (intentionally shrinking) a sweater and re-purposing it into something else; i.e. a purse or a bag.
This was one of eight sweaters I found at a church rummage sale today (I paid $1 each). This sweater was cute in real life but huge for my daughter and much, much too small for me. Plus it had some signs of age, such as pilling, etc. I decided to felt it (washed it in hot water with a lot of agitation and threw in a pair of jeans for extra friction) to see what I would get. The measurements started out as 19" wide (from armpit to armpit) and 17 1/2" high (from top of the shoulder to bottom of waist ribbing).
This is what I got after washing it two times. The measurements are now 13 1/2" wide and 11" high. I cut the arms off in anticipation of making the body of the sweater into a bag of some sorts but when I saw what it looked like I thought "wait, that would be an adorable vest for my daughter" but when she tried it on it was actually too small after all that shrinking, but it would have been perfect for the cool fall weather. So I'm going to let the ideas percolate for a few days before I go any farther and see what I come up with. I've also found a book called "Second-Time Cool: The Art of Chopping Up a Sweater" that I have requested from my inter-library loan; I'm excited to see what ideas it will give me too .

The great thing about felting is that once the wool is felted you can cut it up with no worry about unraveling; once the wool becomes felt it's just like cutting fabric. I will have to do some sewing but I am looking forward to learning more about this technique and seeing what I can come up with.

My thrift store find was a beautiful men's LL Bean Fisherman's sweater made of 100% wool and imported from Ireland. It was a thing of beauty and I grabbed it for $2.99. It is a size large, which is what size my husband wears, so I've decided to let him wear it for a year before I consider recycling the wool. It appears to have never been worn, so felting it feels wasteful. At the most I will harvest the yarn and re-use it, if I even do that. I'm guessing if I had bought that much 100% irish wool from a yarn shop I would have spent atleast $80 if not more.

I'll post more before and after pictures on my knitting blog and will update this post with a link once I get that done.

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