Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ten Upcycling Tips

Want to turn this?

Into this?

If you like to visit thrift stores, you could have 1000+ yards of nice wool, alpaca, or cashmere for only a couple of bucks! Wouldn't that be sweet!

Here are ten tips for finding sweaters that are suitable for unraveling.

1. The seams must be sewn together a certain way. Look for seams that have been chain-stitched together. If a seam has been serged or over-locked, it cannot be unraveled. You can see a picture of a good seam here.

2. Pullovers will generally provide a greater harvest of yarn than cardigans. The fronts of cardigans are sometimes unusable. It's impossible to tell until you remove the zipper or buttonhole banding along the fronts.

3. Buttonholes, zippers, or pockets generally reduce the amount of usable yarn.

4. Name brand sweaters generally provide the best yarn, but some of my favorite finds have been unknown brands. If you like the look of the yarn, the color, and weight, you'll like the yarn.

5. However, if you like everything about the yarn, but not the color, you can consider dying it.

6. And if you like everything about the yarn, but not the fact that it is lace weight or fingering, you can double or triple the yarn to create a worsted weight yarn as you knit.

6. If the yarn has pilled from wear, your finished project will probably pill too. Look for yarn that appears to have good wear-ability.

7. Look also for felting. Any felted areas (such as in the underarm area) cannot be unraveled.

8. Remember to look in the men's clothing section. The bigger the sweater, the more yarn you'll have.

9. Start at the underarm. Clip a piece or two in the chain until you can just rip it all the way down to the cuff or waist band. It takes some practice and experience. Just try to cut as little as possible.

10. You can knit directly from the sweater, but I like to unravel the sweater pieces directly onto a ball winder. Then onto a swift to form hanks that can be handwashed and hung (unweighted) to dry. This removes most of the waviness.

Now go out there and find that worsted weight cashmere sweater for $2!

Friday, September 13, 2013

When I was much younger and people used to mention "hobbies" I would sometimes ask myself...what are THOSE?  To me, every hour of the 24 hour day had a certain and specific amount of things to do within each one and there never seemed to be enough of them...hours that is!   Being an eighth grade English teacher, having 3 boys and a husband that worked nights, I couldn't imagine having any extra time for those crazy things called hobbies!

 Fast forward to grown children, 10 years into retirement and all of those household items on your bucket list you swore you would do when you stopped working (cleaning out drawers and closets, window washing, carpet cleaning, becoming a "better" housekeeper, becoming a gourmet cook)  done and redone several times, well all except the gourmet cook part,  I finally realized I did have time for that strange and illusive animal called a "hobby".

Being the second of 4 girls, my older sister Tommie and I were the only 2 of the sisters that had reached that beautiful age of "retirement".  When Carol, the third sister, began working at a new job that was very close to Tommie's house, they began meeting a day or two a week and having lunch together.  During this chat, chow time Carol would bring her knitting projects and in a short time Tommie was hooked and Carol had created her first of 3 very serious what we call "little monsters".  Carol has always been a knitter and had tried over the years to generate in her 3 sisters an interest in this "hobby". Our Grandmother had taught Carol to knit at a young age and Carol had worked with yarns and needles and all things fiber arts for many years. During these fun lunch dates, Tommie became the second of the 4 Campbell girls to get infected with the "knitting bug"!

 To be honest, when they began talking about their "projects" and their "yarns'" and the fun they had at their  "knit, chat, chow"  sessions  I wanted to join basically for the "chow".  Did I mention that the Campbell girls, (well 3 of them anyway) are wonderful cooks.  At my first lunch meeting of "knit, chat, chow" I had a great lunch and thought, "Oh, OK, if I want to keep coming for lunch I better learn to make a scarf or something easy".  Needless to say...Carol's second little monster was born!  It took the 3 of us about a year to talk the baby sister, Trish, into giving it a go.  Now as Carol said earlier, the 4 of us meet once a week and share our projects, our lives, and our love for each other.  Some days we take field trips and visit local yarn shops, sheep shearings, thrift stores and other fun places.  Our knitting fever has morphed and expanded into a love of weaving, crocheting, spinning, dyeing and all things YARN!!

Until next time,

Saturday, September 7, 2013

One Sassy Sister and Three More

Only one of us could actually be (and many times has been) called, "sassy." That would be Trish--the "baby"-go figure. But the four of us (Tommie, Barbara, Carol and Trish), are all super-seriously selective about the yarns and fibers we use for knitting, crocheting, weaving, spinning, dying, unraveling, felting and fondling. Yep, between the four of us, we pretty much do it all!

We get together weekly for what originally was called "knit-chat-chow" because knitting is how we all got started. We'll take turns posting here about our antics and our seriously-selected yarns!