Do you have old sweaters that are no longer in style but are holding gorgeous yarn hostage? All of our closets, attics, and basement, not to mention local thrift stores, are great sources for some fun yarn experimentation and exploration. In this class, we’ll do a hands-on tour of the full process, including tips for selecting an appropriate sweater, deconstruction techniques for maximum yarn harvest and minimum frustration, proper washing and winding techniques for various materials, how to prep your yarn for knitting/crochet/weaving, and project ideas for using your freshly-harvested yarn (some sample pieces will be shared). Each participant will apply the techniques to their own sweater during the class, and a lively discussion is encouraged.
Recommended tools: small sharp-pointed and large sturdy scissors, spare double-pointed knitting needle or small crochet hook, ball winder, and self-winding swift or niddy-noddy.
Bring a sweater of your own to recycle or for a $10 materials fee we’ll provide a suitable washed sweater.
**This workshop has been cancelled for this date.**
Recycle those old sweaters to “knew” ones.
Do you have old sweaters that are no longer in style but are holding gorgeous yarn hostage? All of our closets, attics, and local thrift stores, are great sources for some fun yarn experimentation and exploration. In this class, we’ll do a hands-on tour of the full process, including tips for selecting an appropriate sweater, tricks for undoing commercial seams, deconstruction techniques for maximum yarn harvest and minimum frustration, proper washing and winding techniques for various materials, how to prep your yarn for knitting/crochet/weaving, and project ideas.
Siobhan Kelleher, from Boston Wool Works will guide us through this.
We’ll have sweaters here but you’re encouraged to bring your own for analysis.
- Small, sharp scissors or seam ripper
- Large sewing scissors
- Spare knitting needles (small sizes, missing their partners) or crochet hooks
- Ball winder & swift if you have them
- A good sense of humor 😉
Cost: $60 (includes a $10 material fee)
While you’re here, might as well make a day of it and take a yoga class in the morning!
Developing new products is always both fun and terrifying at the same time. Sometimes I have an inspiration for a piece and need to struggle through figuring out how to make it and all the details about the design (because for me, they need to be both aesthetically pleasing and practical). Other times I get so excited about working with a particular material that I try to figure out what I can do with it that will make sense.
As any maker will tell you, often you come up with ideas that don’t work, but if you stick at it long enough you usually will have a few winners. It’s such an amazing feeling when you’ve been struggling through trying to figure out how it will all work, and suddenly it just falls into place! And then, of course, you need to figure out all the manufacturing details to make sure you can make it consistently and profitably over and over… but I actually really enjoy that part. Throw in a little left brain, a little right brain, sprinkle with a heavy dose of wool…
I recycle a lot of sweaters. A LOT. Just in the past few days I took five of them from being wearable men’s cotton garments to washed skeins of cotton yarn, which I will use to weave towels for sale. I also recycle sweaters made from wool, cashmere, silk, and other materials to sell as yarn, remanufacture into pieces for sale, and use in personal projects. It is wicked fun to transform these often boring and certainly unloved sweaters into freshly-freed, beautiful yarn, and the fun aspect keeps me going despite sometimes significant obstacles and surprises. Using recycled materials is a mission of mine, but even the most fervent can have their faith tested on a regular basis.
I’m always looking for ways to make my work more efficient – especially the non-creative tasks – so I have more time to do the creative and deep-thinking work. There’s definitely some happiness that comes out of brainless tasks like winding yarn, but when you’re doing them on a large scale, it can get physically and mentally tiring. I probably should have been a mechanical engineer (if I had known what that was when I was applying to music school!) – I love tools and I love to figure out how to rig up the tools I need. Oh, I’m also wicked cheap, a bit of a packrat (hoarder?), and a pathological reuser, so I like to either use stuff I already have in my basement or get someone else’s old stuff from a thrift store to make these tools. The more I can reuse, the less I can buy or bring new stuff into my house, the happier I am.
So the latest tool I decided I needed is a motorized yarn winder.
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.
Okay. This may be too rough for you, but I like murdering sweaters. Especially evil sweaters that are trapping beautiful yarn in an ugly shape or pattern.
For example, I found one terrifying 80’s sweater — cropped, mock turtleneck, hideous stitch pattern — at a Goodwill near my house, and it was holding hostage a ton of absolutely gorgeous white 8-ply baby alpaca yarn. Sweater? Hideous. Yarn? Gorgeous.
This may be obvious, but you can get a full sweater’s worth of yarn for the cost of one Goodwill sweater (or for free, if you already own the sweater).