To start with, let me explain my absence from my blog –I am cleaning my garage! Great googly-moogly, what a mess! It seems to be the collection point for things that no one knows what else to do with. I decided that I wanted to get it cleaned out before the weather gets too warm. I think a garage sale is in order for the not-too-distant future.
While the garage clean-up is absorbing my days, my evenings have been filled with unraveling the sweaters that I bought during the sales back in at the end of February. This requires some patience, but the rewards are a lot of great yarn for a fraction of the cost to buy it new. To unravel a sweater, I start at the neck. Most sweaters are knit in four pieces: two sleeves, a front, and a back. After all four of these pieces are completed, they are joined together, and then some sort of collar piece is added to complete the sweater. There is normally a place in the center back of the collar where the yarn has been tied off. The easiest thing to do is to cut through the final row of knitting on the collar and pull out the cut threads until the longer, uncut yarn of the row beneath is found. Once that is found, the unraveling process is easy -just pull on the yarn strand and roll the yarn up into a ball as it is freed from the sweater. However, there are sweaters like the one pictured at right with a much more involved neckline. Here there is a section of ribbing that has been folded in half and sewn in place, enclosing the raw edges of the body of the sweater. The stitching holding the collar down would have to be ripped out to expose those raw edges in order to unravel this sweater. The collar on a sweater is generally the shortest piece of continuous yarn on a sweater. I save it in a ball by itself and use it in my up-cycled projects to stitch up seams.
Once the collar has been removed, the four sweater sections have to be separated. If the label on the garment did not come off in the collar-removing process, I remove it now. I save this and store it with the yarn balls so that I know the fiber content and wash-care instructions when I decide what I want to do with the yarn later. The seams that join the sections are most often joined with a chain stitch like the one seen in the photo to the right. A loop of yarn is drawn up through the center of the loop just ahead of it. To undo this kind of seam, I look for the side of the fabric where the loops are visible. (The back looks like normal stitching.) I follow the rounded end of the loops until I find the end of the seam. Using a seam ripper, I slice through one of the last loops in the row. Then I pull the next two loops in the seam free from each other. In the photo to the left, my seam ripper is in the first freed loop and the one to the right of it is the second freed loop. When those two loops are free, I can pull on the first loop and the whole seam should come out in a matter of seconds. It does not always happen quite as easily as that, but in theory, it should!
After the pieces are separated from one another, most plain sweaters can immediately be unraveled the same way the collar was above. Working from the top of each piece, I cut through the top row of stitching and remove the cut pieces until I find the longer piece of yarn that pulls out in a continuous strand. (Sometimes, the yarn breaks. When that happens, I start a new ball so that I have an idea how long any given strand will be, but that is a personal choice.) If, however, I determined to pull apart a sweater with some additional features (like a zipper, buttons, or embroidery), I will have to remove those first. I consider these features when I determine if a sweater is suitable for unraveling. The sweater pictured at the top of this article had some embroidered accent yarn going through it that I had to sit and pick out before I could unravel the pieces. I don’t like to do that kind of work, but in this case, I was able to save some really nice yarn (pictured above) that I will be able to use as accent on my up-cycled projects.
Unraveling the sweaters takes some time, but the effort is worth it. Reducing the sweaters back to yarn balls not only makes them available for use, but also means that they take up less space. There are about eight different sweaters represented by the balls of yarn pictured here. The plastic containers are the shoe-box size! One of the saved labels is visible in the lower portion of the upper right-hand container.
Sometimes it seems as if life is like one of the sweaters that I am unraveling. You lose your job, a loved one dies, and after that “seam” comes lose, your whole life starts to unravel. But it’s not over yet. I’m not done with those balls of yarn in the shoe boxes. I have a plan for them–a plan to make them into something better and more useful to me than they were when I purchased them. Since I belong to Christ, I know there is Someone in control of what happens in my life and that He has a plan for me as well. He uses my afflictions to help make me into a better and more useful person in His kingdom and to conform my attitudes and actions to look more like Christ’s. It may not be pleasant when I am going through them, but I trust that He is able to make “…all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11