Sunday, January 20, 2019

About a week ago, I went to a couple local thrift stores and bought some clothing.  Not too unusual, right?  But I didn't really look at size, color, or general style of the items I bought.  I only bought knit fabrics with a particular type of seam, and with what I deemed a "good" fiber content.

I found four pieces of clothing (two cardigans, one sweater, and a dress) that fit my criteria.  I was hoping to find more, but four turned out to be quite enough!

You see, yarn is quite expensive.  I knit quite a bit, and that requires a sizeable stash of yarn.  When the amount of quality yarn it takes to knit a hat hits about $25, the amount of yarn I would need to make a shawl or sweater makes me uneasy (hint: easily over $100).



So I thrifted some clothes and unraveled them.  I pulled each item apart at the seams, wound each resulting piece into balls, wound those balls into hanks, washed the hanks (thrift stores are not known for their cleanliness), then wound the hanks back into balls.

Doesn't sound like too much work, right?  I was eager to start, envisioning a few hours' work to produce lots of cheap yarn to play with.

It's been about a week, and I've so far only processed three of the four items of clothing.  I didn't make great choices picking these items.  The dress was made of super-fine yarn, but it was a beautiful orange, and 100% alpaca!  For $6.  I couldn't say no...

But unraveling it was a nightmare.  It had a few rips and tears that were clumsily patched, and the yarn tangled easily.  I spent more than half my time picking out knots and joining broken threads, rather than actually unraveling it.

And one of the cardigans was made of a one-ply wool blend that was already pilling before I bought it.  That yarn quite enjoyed breaking and producing vast amounts of fuzz.

But I think it's worth it.  I've unraveled, washed, and balled up about 3,500 yards so far.  And the total cost has been less than $20, not counting the hours I voluntarily dedicated to this task.

Pictures and general process for the dress below (sort of skips some steps in the middle!):   



Original dress.  100% alpaca!

All unraveled, wound into hanks, and soaking. 

Hanging up to dry.  Note the tiny, tiny, center skein.  I think it was a cuff. 

After drying, a clean hank of yarn! 

The fruits of my labor, 207 grams/1725 yards of beautiful alpaca wool.