Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Knitting Thrifty

Between my gradual move from Brooklyn to Northampton (which includes simultaneous employment in both places) and my frantic holiday gift preparations, things have really screeched to a halt around here, and for that I am sincerely bummed. But with a mere 7 days 'til Christmas, I should be back in blogland soon. I have so many ideas that I just can't wait to get out of my head and into reality. And once my move is complete, I will even have a studio space that isn't my bedroom! And for that I am truly grateful.

But in the meantime, I thought of a fun tidbit to share with all you yarn-crafters out there.

With my new job at Northampton Wools I'm feeling pleasantly reacquainted with the knitting community. And as a prospective board member at my favorite place on Earth, Rowe Camp & Conference Center, this weekend I attended the board meeting there where in February, Debbie Stoller of Stitch & Bitch fame is leading a fabulously exciting workshop, which you should all go to, because it will probably blow your mind. Needless to say, I've got knitting on the brain.

New knitters often choke at the cost of knitting. They think that since you are doing the labor yourself, knitting a sweater ought to cost less than buying one. Sorry to say, it just ain't so. Unless, perhaps, you're knitting with a behemoth skein of Red Heart from Michael's... but no one wants to wear anything made from that crap, really. But I have here another option, if you're willing to go the mile for thriftiness. Or if, perhaps, you're already an obsessive thrifter, in which case you'll find yourself at Goodwill anyways, and you might as well know a good find for frogging when you see it.

Frog (v.) to disassemble knitwear into reknitable yarn.

Tips for determining whether your thrift store find or closet disappointment is frogable:

1. The bulkier the knit, the easier the frog.

2. Look for yarn you like, no matter the style of the garment. 

3. Look for like-new garments with little wear. Make sure it hasn't felted at all with improper washing. When a wool garment has felted, it shrinks, and the stitches fuse together. If the stitches look fuzzy and not clearly defined, it will be difficult to pull them apart.

4. Knit to shape, NOT cut to shape. This is 100% the most important.
If this a garment is not knit it shape it is simply not frogable.
Knit to shape means that the pieces of the garment were knit to precisely the correct size and shape, just like you would do if you were knitting it by hand. Cut to shape means that the pieces were cut from yardage of knitted material, machine-edged so it won't unravel and then sewn together.

To determine whether a garment was knit or cut to shape, simply look at the inside of the seams. They should look something like this:

Just like anything hand knit, the edges of each piece are knitted, self contained. There is no sewing machine thread, no serged or merrowed edge, no knit stitches sliced in half.

So you found a sweater to frog. Now what?

Wonderful! This is mine. I got it for $2 at Salvation Army. It's 100% cashmere. Made in Italy. Soooo soft. Fun color. Super frumpy potato sack of a sweater.

Start by taking apart the seams. Be careful to only break the yarn that the pieces are sewn together with, without breaking the yarn the sweater is knit with.

Once all the pieces are apart, determine where the cast off edge is and pull out the end of the yarn. It's okay if you don't get it right the first time. The knitting will pull apart very easily from the cast off edge, and it will be a pain in the ass from the cast on edge, you'll be able to tell immediately. And if you can't get the end of the yarn out, cut it! You might lose a row or two worth of yarn, but that's okay. Once you get it going it should pull out real easy.

Roll it into a ball! 

Sitting in a ball for a couple days should straighten out that kinkiness just fine. If you feel like going above and beyond, however, another way to do it is to roll it into a hank (a big circle, wrap it around the back of a chair, for example), wet the hank and hang dry.


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