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Archive for the ‘Unravel’ Category

I haven’t written for a long time. To get going again I thought I start with the most recent on my needles. It’s a true recycling project, when it comes to the yarn as well as the patterns.I have both ‘A Stitch in Time’ books by Susan Crawford and Jane Waller. I leaf through them a lot but have not tried any of the models although they are deliciously gorgeous. I don’t know which to do first which prevents me from making one at all. I looked up a few vintage patterns on the web too and decided to make a jumper with a vintage take but not one exactly as prescribed. I can come back to the ‘A Stitch in Time’ books later.

I like these two-tone models from the 1930s on the Faded Splendour website, one sporting a brick pattern, the other combining an eyelet pattern with stripes.I prefer the lower v-neck of the stripey jumper but am not so sure I like its combination of eyelet pattern and stripes, though I’ll certainly try the leg o’ mutton sleeves at some point. The brick pattern I had to try. So brick pattern with v-neck it is.

I got two old jumpers from my stash that make for a nice vintage colour combination of dark red and light blue. I think the Jaeger jumper is genuine Shetland wool. With the other I’m not so sure because it says ‘super’ Shetland, whatever that means, but it certainly knits well.

I think the colours work well together with the brick pattern. It’s a slip stitch pattern, so no unnervingly tangled threads because you only need to knit one colour at a time. I hope the jumper will go well with the tartan skirt shown in the swatch picture.

Reading vintage patterns isn’t as complicated as I thought, though it does take a bit getting used to that half of the information usually provided in modern patterns is missing. It takes a bit of maths too to convert things to my size. I knit front and back at the same time and am now up to the armholes.

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The equation of unravelling

How to buy yourself a second hand item you can turn into something else.

You will need to find a something that you can actually unravel, obviously, and get a quantity of yarn from you can work with. There are basically two ways of machine knit jumpers: either they are exactly knit to pattern or, and that is bad, the pieces are cut out of a big piece of knitted fabric. The latter you cannot unravel unless you just want short pieces of yarn.

So when you skim charity shops for useful stuff check the inside seams exactly. Are the pieces cut out and sewn together (you will find the pieces are sown together with thinner yarn around both edges) or are the pieces knit and you can actually see knitted edges that are sewn together just some millimeters away from the edges.

The next thing to look out for is the quality of the garment. A garment can be worn and washed so much that it is either felted and then would not lend itself to unraveling or worn out in certain places, especially the arm pits. If it’s felted too much I would not recommend buying it. If it is just felted or worn out here or there it might still be worth unraveling, i.e. you would still get enough yarn.

Different wools unravel differently.

Cashmere, as I have mentioned earlier, is usually easy to unravel even if it has been worn and washed quite often. Although, even cashmere can get to the state of no return. it would then be noticably shrunk and/or felted. But with most cashmere items you should be on the safe side and get good results.

If it’s wool (as in sheep) it felts easily. Even after a couple of washes it can be useless for yarn retrieval. This is especially so when the former owner gave it a good spin in the washing machine. But that is not to say that it is impossible. Very often very careful unravelling is possible though you might have to live with lots of small balls of yarn sometimes. It is best to look out for jumpers that are, if 100% wool, brand new, or contain a certain amount of nylon. They felt less easily. A good bet is always superwash, if you like superwash. The wool is treated so that you can wash and spin it in a washing machine and therefore unravelling should be quite easy.

Angora is tricky. When it’s felted in the armpits because of wear it is felted no matter what you do. Even very careful unravelling will not show results. Another problem is that not all angora jumpers are the same. It usually is mixed with nylon which in itself is not a bad thing. There are unfortunately two types. Either the nylon is spun mixed together with angora in one ply and then gives angora the necessary durability. But sometimes the nylon and angora are in different plies. If you unravel such a garment the nylon thread will be fine but the angora ply with disintegrate between your fingers, well almost. What is more, it is very often hard to make out whether nylon and angora are in separate plies. Be prepared for disappointments. I had at least a couple.

I have never attempted to unravel a mohair piece. I don’t even try. I find even opening up my own knits with bought mohair skeins are difficult. If you have any experience with second hand items, please let me know.

Holes in a garment usually don’t matter. It actually will be cheaper or you can try and get such a garment cheaper when the management did not notice the fault in the first place and you think that it is therefore overpriced. Moreover, you will find that you will rarely be able to unravel a piece in one go, anyway. Threads tend to break especially on the edges and when you do not concentrate on the job. The equation is that what you save by buying cheaply you need to invest in time unravelling.

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The Great Gatsby

My latest project is a pink cashmere jacket. It once was a jumper from Tesco. I think I paid £2 or something. Not in Tesco, in a charity shop.

Cashmere is relatively easy to unravel even if it has been washed and worn quite a lot. This one was no problem. I like pink because think it goes with my skin colour but it’s a bit hard to get in charity shops if you want good quality. There are tons of pink acrylic jumpers out there but cashmere is rare.

I went for a design with flared short sleeves and empire line. I’m usually not the frilly type but I couldn’t resist this frilly edging I had found in an old knitting magazine. The yarn is almost cobweb and hence the garter stitch took me ages. I managed not to compute the necessary stitches incorrectly and had to open up the body after I had already spent 2 weeks on gartering away in front of the telly. Actually, during that time I listened to an audio tape, The Great Gatsby. I remember listening to it while growling at myself for not having thought the main body part through properly before starting it. The weird thing is that listening to a book is completely different from reading it yourself. You pick up completely different things along the way. The grass seemed to be so much greener when listening.

I started knitting sleeves and main body together yesterday. Ya, I know looks unrecognizable but that will change in a few centimeters. I don’t like seams and therefore tend to knit sleeves and body together as a sort of raglan with shaped arm holes further up. Whenever I sew sleeves onto bodies I find they don’t fit properly. They look much better when I knit them together.

I’m already thinking about the buttons for the front. I think I will go for
crocheted ones, but then, I’m sure something else will cross my mind or path.

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