In Recycling on
April 19, 2016

Hidden gems

Greek Icelandic sweater

I spend a lot of time in thrift stores, trolling for yarn (trapped in sweaters). I’ll be honest that while there is a lot of nice yarn out there in mostly fairly unremarkable sweaters, I do tend to see similar sweaters over and over – plenty of plain shetland pullovers in lovely heathery shades, cotton cardigans, and ribbed turtlenecks. But every once in a while I run across a truly spectacular sweater that combines a perfect storm of elements like color, traditional construction techniques, fine craftsmanship, and beautiful yarn. The best of these special sweaters combine these elements in extremely unexpected ways that might not always make for a wearable garment, but yield lovely yarn and a great adventure.

Greek Icelandic sweater

Greek Icelandic sweater on thrift store rack

I came across this sweater on a fairly typical thrift-store rack, amongst a mish-mash of dark-colored garments. Its blindingly intense colors stood out in comparison, and it was a much larger-gauge yarn than anything around it. When I pulled it out, I was originally guessing it was acrylic or at best a wool-acrylic blend, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the 100% wool label. The clearly Icelandic-style construction with the very bright colors made no sense to me until I saw the label, which said:

100% wool

handknitted

Made in Greece

…and the cross-cultural pieces started to fall into place! This was clearly a sweater made for tourists visiting Greece from colder climates (which explains the heavy-weight yarn and wintry shape), with the crazy-bright colors that look at home in the Mediterranean. It’s a Greek Icelandic sweater! Of course!

So, since that deal special snowflake looked supremely gaudy in a drab Boston thrift store in the winter, I decided it needed to be liberated so it true beauty could shine out. Yeah, totally altruistic.

So… Long story short, I brought home that sweater (and a few dozen compadres), Broke it into pieces (note: not knit in the round! So not terribly Icelandic after all! But probably much easier to make.) and started winding into balls

Floats inside Greek Icelandic sweater

Floats inside Greek Icelandic sweater

Greek Icelandic sweater in pieces

Greek Icelandic sweater in pieces

(Please notice how gorgeous the floats are on the inside! This is a supreme piece of craftsmanship.)

And I wound those balls into skeins, gave them their final bath

Greek Icelandic sweater yarn in final bath

Greek Icelandic sweater yarn in final bath

And OH MY GOD look at this yarn!! So beautiful in its restored glory!

Giant skein

Giant skein of yarn from Greek Icelandic sweater

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