Posted by: mick | November 10, 2007

Getting creative with the yarn

As you know from my recent post and general lack of regular posting, my life has been pretty hectic lately.  I’ve had papers due almost weekly, I’ve been out of town, and I’m having a hard time keeping up with schoolwork.  That translates to precious little knitting time.

One thing I’ve discovered, however, is the joy of thrifting yarn.  I bought two sweaters from a local thrift store a few weeks ago, at the bargain price of two for $4, and I set about unraveling them.  I had a hard time at first, but after some valuable “trust your gut” advice from Cosy, I hit my ripping stride.

thrifted sweaterThe sweaters, pictured here in their full sweater form, were not exactly my style.  Since they were rather dated, I felt less guilty about tearing them apart.  Also, neither is handmade, though they definitely have mostly “good seams.”  The red one is 55% wool and 45% acrylic.  It’s an XL sweater and, after ripping out both sleeves, I’d estimate I have at least 1000 yards of usable, happy fingering weight yarn.  It’s a really bright primary red.  At first I tried to subdue the color by overdyeing with tea, but the acrylic content was too high for it to take any color.  I’m hoping to invest in some acid dyes with my Christmas money but, until then, I’ve made peace with the brightness.  I’ve been dying to do some color work, and this yarn will make great socks and mitts galore.  I could even do a shawl (or five, judging by the hugeness of the body).  It was a great score!

The second sweater I have yet to rip with success.  It’s actually a beautiful sweater, though outdated with the pearl beeds and shoulder pads.  It’s definitely a circa 1980’s grandma sweater.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  The yarn is a pretty light mint green, which though I wouldn’t wear in sweater form I’m sure I’ll love in bits and pieces.  It’s also about a fingering weight, and the blend is mostly angora and wool with a tiny bit of nylon.  So soft and fluffy.  When I tried ripping it, though, the yarn itself looks like it might be a bit felted.  This is odd since there are no signs of felting or pilling on the sweater and it still maintains its gorgeous halo.  I don’t think it’s even been worn.  However, I’m hoping it will fluff back up with a good washing.  Either way, it’ll be a good learning experience.  Also, I’ve realized that ripping out thrifted sweaters is a fantastic form of stress relief.  I’ll sit for a little while and rip away, simultaneously winding a few balls of yarn, and it’s so cathartic.  As each row goes by I find myself zoning out, forgetting for a minute the million papers I need to write and grade.

tea orange dyeMy final, and perhaps most rewarding, yarn play experience is with dyeing.  I returned the pastel blue and green Sisu I had orignally bought for endpaper mitts.  Though the colors are lovely, they’re just not really “me.”  I prefer darker, spicier colors, if that even makes sense.  So I got a skein of Sisu in a nice loden green colorway, and then some Baby Ull in a bright melony orange.  I overdyed it with black tea, which was easy as pie, and now it’s this gorgeous pumpkin color.  I couldn’t be happier, and I think the two colors will look fantastic together.  I loves me a nice spicy orange.

So that’s that in yarn world for me.  I have been knitting when I can on Mom’s shawl for Christmas.  Holding the two strands together is working great, and I’m pleased with my slow but steady progress.  I’m taking photos as I go, but I won’t post them until after I hand the shawl over to Basia.  I want her to be relatively surprised.  I’m not a lace knitter by a long shot, but I think this is turning out lovely.  And the Zephyr wool silk is definteily calming the mohair into submission, making all that fuzz a little more bearable.  I can’t wait to see it transform in blocking.



  1. Love that you are re-purposing old sweaters and so glad that the Zephyr is treating you well . . . I love working with it!

    Not sure if I can wait for photos . . . feel free to e-mail me 🙂


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