January 2008


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I was tagged by Jenn at Enjoying the Ride.

Five things about myself:

1.  I hate okra.  More than any other vegetable on the planet.  Even more than peas; which I’ve hated since I was a baby.

2.  I pop my knuckles.  I mainly do it when I’m nervous or when I’m working with my hands a lot and need to stretch them.  I do it despite the fact that my mom has told me since I was a kid that I’d have gnarly hands when I was an old lady because of it.

3.  I’ve had a fascination with Joan of Arc since I was a kid.  I wrote a twelve page essay on her when I was in sixth grade and even though it was REALLY REALLY good, my teacher failed me because he didn’t think I’d written it myself.

4.  I love office supplies.  New pens, stationery, book clips…I’m like a kid in a candy store when I go to Staples!

5.  When I can’t sleep  but I don’t want to get up, I’ll start going through knitting patterns in my head.  I’ll count through lace stitches and fair isle patterns.  Mainly because all the counting makes me sleepy.

I’m tagging Hammie and Midgie for this, if they choose to do it.

I’m still trying to decide what to work on now that I’m finished with the afghan.  There’s several things I have planned and a few things already in the works.  I’m about halfway through Orno Abaci, I need to finish my dad’s hat (which I’ve run out of steam on and DO NOT want to finish!), a pair of gloves for the guy that my mother in law takes care of, Bombshell for myself (which I’m not sure if I want to finish).  I don’t want to work on any of them though.  I have a house dress pattern I wanted to try out for my mother in law but I just keep dragging my feet.  Ugh.

I managed to get my kitchen cleaned this morning and a steak marinating for dinner.  Paul went to rent Cars since we’ve never seen it and we’ve been on a kids’ movie kick.  We watched Ratatouille the other night and it was so cute!

I’m still working on unravelling the sweaters from week before last.  I’ve given up on the body of the light blue one because it’s just too felted to pull apart.  I got good yarn out of the sleeves though and it was a decent amount.  I’ll felt the body more and cut it up to make a purse or something.  The light pink sweater has a nylon thread running with the yarn and it’s stretching at a different rate than the yarn and breaking and ugh!  I’ll use that for something else as well.  It just goes to show that even after recycling tons of sweaters that I can run in to a not so great one every once in awhile.

I’m off to find something to work on, start dinner and let the dog in.

It took just two weeks of dedicated crocheting to finish this afghan! Now Hammie can stop hounding me for an updated picture 😀

Picture 214

I battled with a migraine on Friday and Saturday and that slowed me down tremendously.  I’m feeling a bit better today though and I was able to finish the afghan in the wee hours of this morning.

Try as I might, I couldn’t get a picture of the entire thing.  This one was taken on my bed with me standing on a folding chair above it, with my camera all the way to the friggin’ ceiling.  You get the idea though I’m sure.

The pattern was pleasingly accurate on yarn specs.  I didn’t use quite as much as the pattern called for, but it was really close.  Three of the six yarns called for I got from my stash, so that made me doubly happy because I really do want to use up some of this yarn!

Now that I’m finally allowing myself to work on something else, I can’t decide what to work on!  I’ve got three or four projects that are in progress and I don’t know if I want to work on those or start something new.  Sigh…decisions, decisions!

A bit early, because I’m baking bread tomorrow.

***Warning***  This is a very photo-heavy post!

Since starting my blog, a few people have shown interest in learning how to recycle sweaters for the yarn.  I spent the weekend working on a tutorial!

On Friday, I went to our local Salvation Army and struck gold.

thrift store sweaters

Five sweaters.  The teal sweater on top is a cotton/ramie blend, the green, pink and light blue sweater are all a blend of wool/angora and nylon and the darker blue sweater is merino. 

reclaim sweater

I chose to use the darker blue one for this tutorial because it was the smoothest yarn and was a little thicker than the rest.

Label

The first thing you need to do is turn the sweater inside out and remove all the labels.  A seam ripper is good for this job, but a small pair of scissors will work as well.  Be very careful to only cut the thread that the label is sewn on with.  pick any thread that is left over after you get the label off out of the knit stitches.

Seam

This is a good seam.  It will kind of look like an extra thick row of knit stitches. 

no no

This is a BAD/serged seam.  I took this picture on a different sweater.  Technically you can still reclaim yarn from a sweater that’s been serged, but you’ll wind up with little bitty pieces and unless that’s what you’re going for, it kind of defeats the purpose.  There are a lot of sweaters that will have good side seams but serged shoulder seams.  These are still reclaimable, but you’ll have to cut the shoulder seams and unravel until you have a continuous piece of yarn.

zip cord

I like to call these pieces the zip cords.  These are the end of the seam.  They’ll look like little crocheted chains.  If you look at the end of your sweater (on the hem, cuff or collar) you’ll see a thicker area of seam.  This is where these will be.  You can usually give the seam a little tug to be able to see where they’re woven in.  Pull them out and this is where you’ll start.

zip

This was the hardest picture to take for this tutorial!  It’s very hard to see because it’s so small, so I’ll try to explain it.  At the seam you’ll see a very small chain.  It’s harder to see when there’s ribbing on your sweater, so make sure you’ve got the right chain.  See the arrow?  That’s where my chain is.  If you clip the chain on the upper part of the loop and then go under the next loop with a scissors/seam ripper, you’ll create a little loop of yarn you can use to unzip the seam.  This took me a LOT of practice, but I learned that if you follow the way the chain progresses up the seam you’re on the right track.  If you can find the “zip cord” you can clip it close to the start of the seam and it’s much easier to unravel.

taking pieces apart

Begin taking your sweater apart!  Most sweaters are constructed the same way and this is how I usually do it; start at the neck and remove the collar.  Then start unzipping a sleeve cuff…you can usually follow the seam all the way down to the hem of the sweater.  From there, remove the sleeve from the body of the sweater.  If it’s anything other than a raglan, you’ll finish by taking the shoulder seams out.

pieces apart

Ta-da!!!  This was a sleeveless sweater, so there was only the collar, body and some small amounts of ribbing on the arms.

Now you’re ready to start unravelling your sweater!

begin unravelling

I start with the smaller pieces of the sweater and work my way to the larger ones. 

wind

I wind the yarn directly on to my niddy noddy.  Now, I’m a little paranoid about a hank of yarn coming apart so I tie it in eight places when I’m finished winding it.  It also makes it a lot easier to keep the yarn from sticking together from the different hanks while you’re washing it.

crinkly skein

There’s one!

close up crinkly

The yarn will be very crinkly/crimped at this stage.  That’s perfectly normal and it WILL come out once you wash it.  It’s been in the same position for who knows how long!

Keep going!

all crinkly skeins

When you unravel all your sweater pieces into hanks you’ll have a big squooshy pile of yarn.  Into the bath it goes!

into the bath

I use a large tote filled with just barely luke-warm water to soak.  I don’t do a full wash when I’m first preparing my reclaimed yarn, just a soak to help get the kink out. 

***WARNING***

If you’re reclaiming yarn from a wool sweater, DO NOT use hot water and DO NOT agitate the yarn!  This is very important!  Wool felts, which means if you do the above mentioned, you will wind up with big hunks of felted wool and not yarn.  So don’t do it!

I fill the tote first and then drop the yarn in.  Push it down gently into the water and let the yarn soak the water in.  I usually leave my yarn for ten or fifteen minutes just so it’s got plenty of time to soak up the water.

Now hang it!

drying

(Pardon the yard!)  Squeeze the excess water out of the yarn.  Do not wring!  Hang it on a hanger and use a weight of some sort to pull the yarn downward.  This will help get the kinks out.  I just use whatever canned good is handy…in this case, soup!  The weight doesn’t need to be super-heavy, just something heavy enough to pull the yarn down enough to take the kinks out.

Allow your yarn to dry thoroughly.

When dry, twist it into a hank and you’ve got beautiful yarn on the cheap! 

all in a hank

There are approximately 1650 yards of fingering weight yarn here.  I spent $2.00 apiece on the sweaters.  THAT is a good buy!

Reclaiming yarn is labor intensive.  It takes work and it can be tedious, but if you’re on a budget or concerned about recycling for your craft it is completely worth it.  This was an easy sweater to unravel and not counting soaking and drying time only took about an hour to unravel.  Some sweaters are easier than others and if a sweater is filthy, felted or full of holes it’s not worth it to me.  Be sure to check the sweaters carefully before you leave the store with them to make sure that there are no signs of fleas or moths.  If you’re set on getting a sweater that looks moth damaged, bring it home, put it in a bag and place it in the freezer for a few hours.  It will kill any moth larvae that may still be in the sweater.

I was tagged by Jenn to do this meme.

1. Name one thing you do everyday.

– Check my email/go online. 
2. Name two things you wish you could learn.

– Spinning (yarn) on a wheel.

– How to do intarsia (knitting technique) properly!  (And learn how to love it, because I HATE it right now)
3. Name three things that remind you of your childhood.

Garbage Pail Kids (Loved those!)

Pop Beads

Teddy Ruxpin

4. Name four things you love to eat but rarely do.

– Cordial Cherries.  Most people I know hate them, but I love them!

– Crab.  I go to Laughlin for seafood buffet a couple times a year…LOVE crab!!!

– Fried Cabbage.  Sounds gross, tastes great, and my husband can’t stand the smell!

– Ben & Jerry’s Karamel Sutra.  So effin good, but so rich!

5. Name five things/people that make you feel good.

– Coffee with Hammie.

– Zombie movies.

– Knitting.

– My pets.

– Finding great deals on craft stuff!

I’m tagging Hammie, Midgie and Katia.

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