Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sweater Recycling

Nope, these aren't sweaters I've knitted. These are sweaters I'm unravelling. Last week when I was on the prowl for a planner, I also stopped in at Goodwill and spent a bit of time looking through the men's sweater section in order to buy some yarn. :)

This one is actually a bit greener than it shows in the photo. It's a really soft cotton blend.
One of my knitting goals this year is to knit myself a sweater. I knit a cardigan for myself last year and while it turned out pretty nicely, I have learned more things and I feel like I could make a sweater with a nicer fit. I'm HOPING to do that anyway.

I'm prett sure this sweater is acrylic. I'll need to do a burn test on the fiber to be sure.
Of course, when you live as frugally as we do, purchasing a sweater's worth of inexpensive yarn can cost $40.00 and finer quality yarn will cost you even more. Someday, perhaps, I will treat myself to that kind of expenditure, but it is certainly not a priority at this point in time. Still, I want to knit a sweater, and guess what? The men's sweaters at Goodwill cost me $3.99 a piece and $2.99 for the vest above!

This one is 100% cotton - 3 fibers twisted together - a nice oatmeal color

And just why men's sweaters? Well, the first thing is that you get more yarn. I am guaranteed to have enough yarn to make a sweater for myself. Another thing I spotted in the women's sweater section was that, while the women's sweaters were generally in better condition (we seem to treat our clothes a bit more gently on the whole), many of the sweaters were made with incredibly fine guage fibers. That's fine for a machine to knit, but not for me, personally.

I followed the directions here for beginning to unravel a sweater. The only one I've done so far is the sleeve of the oatmeal-colored sweater above. From the sleeve alone - and not even the whole sleeve, I've already gotten about 200 yards. This sweater is 3 very fine strands, twisted together. Given that this is cotton, though - and recycled - some of those very fine fibers have broken in the unraveling. I'm not too concerned about it; there will be tiny knots holding these fibers together. I won't be using it for my sweater, but it will be fine for washcloths, hats, and/or a casual throw.

Another 100% cotton. This is the one that I have the greatest hopes for knitting into a sweater.
I'm going to try unravelling this navy blue sweater next and have higher hopes for it; it is definitely a single fiber and very soft.

Of course, another thing that men's sweaters provide are darker colors. While I'm fond of neutrals and do enjoy wearing browns, blacks, and grays, the next step for me in being able to knit with more feminine colored recycled yarn will be dyeing. I did see white and cream colored sweaters there, but that will be something I try in the future. I have a lot of yarn, still, that was given to me last summer, with which to make plenty of gifts - the pinks and lavenders not really being colors I wear.
Like the first sweater, this color is greener than the picture shows. It looks like it will be another one with fibers twisted together.
I may use it combined with the oatmeal fiber.

I don't know how these will all turn out, but the price is right for having some fun experimenting for a while. When I first learned to knit, this was one of my original goals: to be able to knit with recycled yarn. I wanted to feel confident in my skills before I tried it, but now I am ready for this next phase and it feels really good to be able to have one of my passions align so nicely with my values of voluntary simplicity and living lightly.


Mary Ellen said...

I can't wait to see your end product!

kelli said...

I was just going to write exactly what Mary Ellen did! I love this idea, and while I'm nowhere near this point, I'm taking notes for later:)

Also...thanks for your thoughts on the dishwasher. Bosch has been on the top of our list, and it helps to hear of someone who actually has one!

Enjoy your new-found yarn:)

Misty said...

hey mrs p! (don't know if you remember me from the rav ccc group) i've had my recycled sweater tutorials bookmarked for several months... i can't wait to go to GW later this week (half day is friday here) and see if there are some sweaters i can find! i'm very eager to do this project myself!! and i'm getting quite expert at unraveling yarn as i have a dog bent on eating it!!

Amy said...

I do this too! It's kind of fun. Good luck! A sweater for myself is on my list of goals for this year as well.

tonia said...

oh my goodness! i am in the middle of reclaiming yarn from a sweater and have been taking pictures to post when i get it done. :)

you won't mind if i copy you, will you? pretty soon i can just say "go to golightly place to see what i'm doing these days."


i love the idea of using men's sweaters!

i am going to knit bunnies from my reclaimed sweaters yet for me.

Marie said...

I saw this website when googling recycled yarn. I wanted to share it because this person created a PVC pipe contraption to wind her yarn on. I thought you might be interested.

Jessica C said...

I find this facinating. Thanks for sharing. Miss talking with you through our blogs. I need to leave more comments. xoxo.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. P--i was gifted with some yarn and would love to pass it along to you if you are interested. just let me know...onedeepdrawer{at}

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