Monday, November 28, 2005

Recycling Hand-Knit and Ready-to-Wear Sweaters

recycled sweater: raspberry cardigan recycled sweater: Icelandic cardigan

It's been a long time since I've made an interesting knitting project "from scratch." Aside from knitting hats for other people and socks for my household, most of my knitting would come under the heading of "recycling." I've unraveled several sweaters, skeined and washed the yarn, and put it back in my fiber library. I've shortened three over-sized 80's sweaters which I used to wear with leggings, converting them into sweaters for topping jeans or slacks. I reknit shoulders, neckline and sleeves on a "big-shouldered" sweater, and then dyed it blue, and I cut some favorite old pullovers down the front and knitted on button bands, to expand my cardigan collection. The raspberry sweater with gold buttons is a all-wool Laura Ashley number I found for $5 in a thrift shop (like new, but with a raveling hole in the shoulder--easily and invisibly repaired twelve years ago), and the Icelandic style sweater knit of pencil roving is my first color work project, knitted in 1979 or 1980.

Last fall, it struck me that my collection of turtlenecks was starting to make my own neck appear a little too turtle-like. recycled sweater: grey V-neck I cut the collars off a dozen old cotton and silk tops, cut them down to size, and machine-stitched them back on to face new and potentially more flattering necklines. This fall, I was emboldened to cut into a couple of my old favorite ready-to-wear wool turtlenecks. I cut deep V-necklines, hand-finished the raw edges, and used sport-weight yarn to pick up stitches and hand-knit new ribbed finishes. I've been pleased with the results. So far, I've finished this grey ribbed wool/angora blend, and a nice but un-photograph-able black merino pullover. I'm about to cut into a white wool/angora blend, and after that, I'm going to try one of my treasured but unwearable cashmere T-necks.

For me, this is more fun than shopping, although perhaps less fun than designing and knitting a new sweater. At this point, the sweater recycling has the added advantage of decreasing the volume of my fabric scraps collection, which is currently outweighing my fiber, fabric, and wardrobe collections. Coming soon: More Projects Featuring Scrap Collection Reduction!


Anonymous said...


Finally somone who have the corrage to do somthing seroius about all thos turtlenecks!
Please make a photo tutorial of what you do to them.

Rebecca Clayton said...

Thank you for reading! Since you asked, I have started a tutorial. Unfortunately, my sewing machine pulled up lame, so pictures are delayed. The repair shop called yesterday to say my machine's fixed, so as soon as I can make the two hour trip to Randolph County, I'll be back in business. I hope to post a complete tutorial by the end of this week. I've been really pleased with my newly-de-turtlenecked sweaters.