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Topic: Sweater Reincarnation UPDATED with semi-tutorial  (Read 4923 times)
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she of the sea
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« on: January 19, 2009 02:11:45 PM »

Here's my newest sweater:

Once upon a time, I bought a sweater from a thrift store. It was a large, light olive turtleneck with a fiber content of wool, viscose, angora and cashmere, and was priced at $6.99. I love buying sweaters to unravel because I can usually find some really good quality yarn for really cheap, and I always end up with enough to make at least one sweater.

The sweater in question

In the midst of a yarn dyeing frenzy, I came across a cheap pattern for a really cute sweater

Despite my dislike of cropped sweaters and short sleeves, there was something about it that just screamed knit me now! When I was looking at the yarn requirements for this sweater, I noticed that called for yarn of the exact same weight as that green sweater I'd bought several months earlier. There was one problem, however. Olive green is one of my favorite colors, and as such I tend to accumulate lots of things (such as yarn) in it. The yarn I'm going to be making shrug out of soon is the exact same color as the sweater in question. What did I do? I dyed it

Unraveling the sweater went very smoothly, and I ended up with 1423 yards of very high quality DK weight yarn. This is A LOT, considering the sweater it came from was three sizes bigger than I typically wear.

Dyeing it, on the other hand, was more complicated and labor intensive than I expected. Because I had so much yarn, I needed a LOT of dye. I actually dyed it all once, and then realized it wasn't nearly as dark as I wanted, and had to dye it all again. My dye pots aren't big enough to hold that much yarn, so I had to do all the yarn in several batches, requiring some very careful measurements and calculations to make sure each skein got the same amount of dye to ensure they were all the same shade.

I used Wilton's cake dye paste, in color Teal to dye over the olive color and get more of an emerald tone. This tutorial was a great help in dyeing yarn with this type of dye.

Not quite the color I wanted, but close enough. I ran out of dye and didn't feel like attempt #3
Determined to be the first person to finish this sweater on Ravelry, I cast on as soon as my yarn was dry, on Christmas Day. It wasn't as simple as just following the pattern, though. I don't like cropped sweaters, so I basically had to write a pattern for the bottom half of this cardigan, and I completely re-wrote the sleeves. Things went better than I could have possibly imagined: the additions to the pattern came out exactly as I hoped they would and the sweater fits perfectly. Since the sweater is knit in separate pieces, I had to do a lot of seaming, and setting in the sleeves was pretty labor-intensive, but the results were perfect. For buttons, I went back to the thrift store and found an old button-up dress from the early 90's, and stole the buttons off of it. I ended up with 14 3/4" abalone buttons for $6.99. I don't even want to think what I would have paid for buttons like that new.

I'm surprised this pattern isn't more popular than it is. On Ravelry, it's only being knit by one other person, and is only in two other's queues. If anybody here likes my mods and wants to take a crack at this sweater, let me know and I can let you know what I did. The sweater itself was pretty easy to knit, but the seams might be somewhat daunting to somebody without much of a sewing background. The cable pattern is easy as cake and I had it memorized after three repeats.

I got asked by some people in a different place I posted for info on how I modified it, and I figured it's only fair I share on Craftster too.

The modifications for the body were really easy for me to figure out because my high hip measurement and my bust measurement are the same. I'm a visual thinker, so the first thing I did was draw a schematic. It looked like this:

The row gauge for the sweater is 8 rows per inch. I wanted the sweater to be at my high hip, which is 5" down from my waist. This would be 40 rows. I looked at the pattern for the bust increases, and realized that the increases were done over slightly under 40 rows. The sweater is knit from the bottom up, so as the pattern is written, you'd cast on at the waist, and after the ribbing, immediately start doing increases for the bust. Since my hip and bust measurements are the same, this meant I could just mirror the shaping. I looked ahead in the pattern to see the stitch count when the increases were done (the stitch count at the bust) and cast on that number minus 4 for the back and minus 2 for the fronts (there's a set-up row with these stitches added after the ribbing).

I worked in 2x2 rib for 2", making sure to write down how many rows this was for the other pieces, and then followed the pattern more or less as it was written, except instead of doing increases at first, I did decreases. When I finished the decreases and had the number of stitches the pattern said I should have after the set-up row, I worked even for 17 rows before doing the increases. This area took the place of the ribbing in the original pattern. After that, I followed the pattern as stated. Because of the alterations, the instructions to "knit until piece measures X inches" wasn't helpful to me, so I wrote the number stated + the length I had added in my alterations. For me, this ended up being 6 inches instead of the 5 I had measured originally.

The sleeves were a lot more labor-intensive. I measured my arms at my wrist, my elbow, and around the highest part of my bicep, and added around half an inch to an inch of ease, depending on where it was (the elbow got more ease). I measured the distance from my wrist to my elbow, and from my elbow to my armpit. And then I drew another picture:

I made sure that my bicep measurement and stitch count would be the same as the pattern would have it be to ensure that the sleeve cap would fit into the armscye. Then I used the gauge given in the pattern to figure out how many stitches I would need at my wrist and elbow, and found out how many rows would be in between them. This way, I found out how many stitches I would need to increase over how many rows. For example, I had to increase from 42 sts at the wrist to 62 sts at the elbow over 68 rows. This meant 10 paired increases over 68 rows, or 1 paired increase every 6.8 rows. I rounded up to 7. I had a different rate of increases between my elbow and my bicep, because I'm pretty scrawny and the two measurements are only 1.5 inches apart.

When I was picking up stitches for the button band, I figured out that the pattern has you pick up 2 sts for every 3 rows. So instead of picking up the number the pattern said to, I took the number of rows I had (it was very helpful to take so many notes in the end!) and multiplied it by 2/3 to get the number I'd need to pick up.

And that's pretty much it. One thing I would HIGHLY recommend doing is knitting the fronts at the same time. You'll have to wrangle two strands of yarn, but you will be certain that they are both the same length and you won't have to keep really anal notes like I did. I knit the sleeves at the same time, and it really helped. If I did this sweater again, I'd knit the fronts at the same time as well.

ALSO!! People have been requesting sweater recycling tutorials. I found this really good one, complete with pictures of pretty much every step imaginable. Recycling sweaters can be a little bit of work sometimes, but keep in mind, I paid $6.99 for enough wool-viscose-angora-cashmere to knit a full sweater AND still have 400 yards left. Even at LYS clearance sales, I wouldn't be able to get over 1400 yards of a similar yarn for that cheap. And if I could, please tell me where. Cheesy
« Last Edit: January 20, 2009 12:48:05 PM by fishie » THIS ROCKS   Logged

If it lives in the water or flies in the air, I'm in love with it. In New Zealand I saw a flying fish and almost wet myself.

« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2009 02:19:45 PM »

oh wow that's gorgeous!
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2009 02:32:43 PM »

That looks great.  I love your modifications, as I am not really into cropped sweaters either. The color is gorgeous, too.   Cheesy

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« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2009 02:44:16 PM »

Nice dye job! I love that color, and the fit is perfect on you. I'm so jealous, my thrifted sweaters always turn out to be knitted fabric cut to size, so they unravel in 1-row segments!

she of the sea
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« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2009 02:53:28 PM »

Nice dye job! I love that color, and the fit is perfect on you. I'm so jealous, my thrifted sweaters always turn out to be knitted fabric cut to size, so they unravel in 1-row segments!

This is the guide I used when I first started thrifting sweaters.  One of the things to check for is the seams: it's pretty easy to tell when a sweater has been surged (which ends up giving you lots of short pieces) or seamed, where each piece is knit flat and you can unravel it into one long piece.  It's also good to check for felting, which can make unraveling near impossible.

If it lives in the water or flies in the air, I'm in love with it. In New Zealand I saw a flying fish and almost wet myself.

« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2009 03:42:24 PM »

Wow!  I had no idea that people unraveled old sweaters to get yarn to knit new sweaters - amazing!

Yours looks much nicer than the project shot.  Good call on making it longer.  I love the color too. 
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« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2009 04:27:03 PM »

That's really cute, and it reminds me that I really need some cardigan love in my life.  I'd have to put in a steek though- flat knitting turns me into the wicket witch of the unfinished project basket.  It's great that you have vision when it comes to pattern potential!
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2009 05:19:17 PM »

That is just fab on you.
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2009 05:49:35 PM »

That is freaking incredible! And thank you for the link about recycling sweaters for yarn...I've been wanting to try that but don't know what the heck I'm doing.
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2009 06:16:18 PM »

So pretty! you really made a silk purse out of two sow's ears.

Question: would it work to dye the yarn before you unraveled the sweater? (Or "rescued the yarn" as I think of it.)

"For what do we exist, but to laugh at our neighbors and be laughed at in our turn?"

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