Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tips of the Trade - on Recycling Sweaters

More from the sweater obsessed, recycling savvy, simple living girl currently buried under a pile of yarn. I've been doing nothing but working and spinning. Get up. Drink coffee and spin. Check email. Spin. Unravel sweater. Spin. Go to work and think about spinning. Come home and spin.

A year or so ago I posted some great links on how to unravel sweaters. Unfortunately I can't find that post now so I thought this topic was worth revisiting! So many of us are self-professed thrift store addicts, including whole groups on Ravelry dedicated to this very topic. Yet, if you are just joining the dark side, er, the thrift store loving crowd it can be frustrating. Where to do you get the best sweaters? How do you know which ones are worth it?
You may be thinking, "This isn't fun! I just spent an entire episode of "Lost" trying to unravel a shoulder seam. I'm surrounded by pieces of yarn, scissors, and empty beer bottles. How am I ever going to get a skein of yarn out of this #$%^ing sweater?"
This is normal. First, pick up the beer bottles and put them in the recycling. Then, get more beer. We don't want people to think you're a lush or weird sweater crazed cat lady (glances at cats), so cleaning up is key!

Second, check out these links. Read them. Take them to heart. You don't have to learn from your mistakes, learn from ours.

Third, get another beer. Put on another episode of "Lost," and dive in. Here are some tips from the cave of sweaters past, and yarny goodness present!
  1.  It is okay to cut sweaters. Seriously. If you have weird shoulder angles, or a neckline that just won't cooperate don't beat yourself up over it. Shears are your friend. In drastic cases I'll cut a straight line across a sweater and just start unravelling from right above the armpits. The remainder can be felted and used for cat toys, quilts, or other small projects. It can even be *gasp* thrown away. Keep in mind wool can also be composted, and scraps can be thrown out for the birds to use in their nests!
  2. Don't unravel sweaters you don't love. It's just a chore. If you can't wait to get the balls of yarn skeined and in your grubby little yarn loving hands, don't bother. Save the time for that deep blue, heavily cabled Aran sweater in men's XXL you saw at the Salvation Army. That is worth it.  
  3. Speaking of cables, they are your friend. As a knitter you know how much yarn cables take. So, if you can find a cabled sweater in a nice quality wool you've hit gold. Buy it. Have fun.  
  4. It is alright to buy sweaters with surged shoulder seams. You've already learned how to spot serged seams, and don't buy sweaters with surged side seams. Shoulder seams, can, however, be chopped off. See 1. 
  5. This is a great time of year to dive in. Everyone is going through their clothes and downsizing. Salvation Army and Goodwill are overflowing with clothing, furniture, and sweaters. Ask me how I know this. 
  6. . Most importantly, have fun. If you're unraveling sweaters and dreaming of Malabrigo, even your simple-living heart might not be contented by the outcome. However, if you can enjoy the process, save some money, and still love your new knitting yarn, recycling sweaters may be a new addiction.

No comments: