Sunday, April 1, 2012

Another 'How I Do It'... Recycled Sweater

I'm always interested in knitting with something different and finding deals in my hobby.  A great idea I'd read some about and wanted to try was reusing a sweater.

One day I found myself near by local thrift store and decided I'd read enough and should try my hand at this.  I'd tried unraveling sweaters we'd had in the house that someone outgrew or got a hole in, rather unsuccessfully.  Lessons learned included the yarn was very small (probably fingering or less) and the original construction created short pieces of yarn instead of long strands.  I decided I would look for heavy yarn (hopefully worsted or more) and make sure the seams were not surged.  I learned after reading some that factory sweaters are often made by cutting large pieces of knit material and surging the seams, which results in the short pieces of yarn I'd experienced myself.  A super cheap price was also a must, I wasn't sure how this would turn out so I needed a real deal!

I ended up with two sweaters that fit the bill.  One tan and the other pastel, they were $2.00 or less a piece and a large women's size so I would get a good amount of yarn out of the deal.  I've managed to find the time to work with the pastel piece so far and the pictures below will be based on that.

This is the sweater, a rather 80s styled pastel with brown

It even had puffy sleeve caps!

These are the inside seams, looked rather hand done

This is a sleeve section of yarn, I found out the brown was from one skein and the others a variegated skein 

This is the entire sweaters worth of yarn

I had one variegated ball and one brown ball for each sleeve, a front and a back

I soaked all the yarn with some Eucalan

And wrapped it around my swift to dry and hopefully get some kinks out

Then I wound it into a cake 

This is all of the variegated yarn from the sweater

In one huge cake
I left the brown yarn in hanks for now and got to work on a project with the pastel variegated yarn cake.  After knitting up a gauge swatch (gasp! This may be a first... but since this was an unknown yarn, it was a necessity) I went to Ravelry to see if there was an existing design; a top down raglan style top, in a girls size (for my daughter), that got a 4.5 st to 1 in gauge.  I wanted it fairly simple with a touch of interesting pattern.  As seems to be my usual result, I found one or two that were constructed and sized right but not having the patterning I was looking for, or some that had the patterning but were the wrong gauge or sizing, constructed in pieces instead of the round... on and on it went until I decided to just start from scratch on my own.

Remembering that the Vouge knitting book I'd bought a while back had a designing chapter I pulled it out and started reading, only to find that top down raglan style in the round was not covered.  After skimming through my other books and magazines I decided I had enough information to get started on my own.

I'm now maybe 1/4 into my second attempt and feeling like I may be on to something.  More than just in this top, I have an idea for creating a formula of sorts for making top down, in the round, raglan tops/sweaters.  This will need to be tested with another top before I can be sure, but I look forward to posting my formula soon!