Tuesday, January 26, 2016

For a Good Time—Have a Sweater Day!

I have a theory that certain inanimate items have the ability to breed. I'm positive that mugs do this; put two mugs in a cabinet, close the door, and when you next open it there will be five or more. (Admit it, you’ve noticed this phenomenon too.) Stuffed animals do it. Small picture frames. Lots of things.

Wire hangers multiply, yes, but I ran across another explanation for those. Several years ago I was at a yard sale in California and got into conversation (as I am wont to do), and the guy explained his theory to me: socks have a tendency to disappear, while wire hangers increase. So he decided that socks are the larval form of wire hangers. Made total sense to me.

Of course I am inordinately fond of a good crackpot theory.

Anyway, I realized recently that sweaters might possibly be another category of multipliers. I admit I do buy them and bring them home and felt them, and that Judy has given me several from her closet clean-outs. But I actually went through my garaging spread sheet that now dates back ten years (ten years! how is that possible?!), and the data there does not support the amount of sweater material in my stash.

Too much! Too many! Let’s have Sweater Day!

And so I gathered together my buddy & SIL Linda and pals Judy and KK last Thursday to make things with sweaters. My goal, I told them, was to drastically reduce these three chock-full boxes. And to have a good time.

Oh my, did we have a good time. And we made things. But my sweater stash still fills three large boxes. They all brought more sweaters with them!

Judy arrived reminding us that she does not sew. No matter, we kept saying. And within five minutes she had come up with the first upcycle – a new hat from one of the sleeves I took off of Zoë’s latest garment.

I just whapped a rubber band around it for the moment and later cut off the top and gathered and stitched the top shut. It can be worn at least two ways, and the rest of the sleeves can be matching fingerless mitts.

Judy was also the inspiration for another idea we’ve all embraced. She mentioned a while back that she wears an old holey cashmere sweater for an undershirt when it's cold. I had picked up a kitten-soft cashmere from the Goodwill bins a while back and found I just kept petting it. Too small for me to wear, but then that light bulb went off. Undershirt! 

I removed the sleeves and opened them along the seam, opened up the side seams of the sweater, and sewed in the sleeves to make it big enough for me. It's the perfect extra layer of warmth and took all of about ten minutes to make. We all now have cashmere undershirts. Linda liked a two-toned look for hers.

Judy spied a little cream color cashmere that already had one short sleeve missing. (I have no idea where that sleeve went!) Since you want your undershirt to fit close to the body, all she had to do was snip off the other sleeve and voila, hers was ready to go. (I told her she would be able to upcycle without sewing.)

KK brought a too small, too short black wool that had some holes. She also brought her felting tool (gotta get me one of those). A few snips from a scrap of an old wool blanket (most of which was used in my husband’s car to replace the felt under the carpet that a certain young dog joyfully shredded) and she had leaves to felt onto the sweater. 

A pale green cabled cashmere became sides and sleeve cuffs. Can’t wait to see what else she does with it!

Linda worked on another undershirt (pale gray, 85% silk, 15% cashmere)—we’re all interested to hear how warm that one turns out to be.

She also began a sweater upcycle that includes a felted wool from Peru and a long alpaca muffler.

Judy brought along a few favorite sweaters that didn’t fit just right. This one was easy, cute but just too boxy. A couple of tucks in the back, secured with buttons she chose from my stash, and now it feels perfect to her.

This V-neck we pulled this way and that, trying for something asymmetrical, but finally realized all it really needs is to be taken in under the arms.

Another cashmere had three little holes in one sleeve. 

Turns out that cashmere fibers are so smooth they don’t really felt well, so KK’s felting tool didn’t work for an applique. But I took this little cashmere cord that was just the seam trimmed off of Linda’s undershirt

and couched it over the holes. Goodbye holes, hello artsy sweater!

There is SO much you can do with felted sweaters. I’ve barely scratched the surface over the years with slippers, 

mitts (fingerless mitts are ideal for reading in bed at night!), hats and mufflers. My cameras have cases of felt.

One year all my friends got felted roses for Christmas.

My cats are quite fond of felted wool pillows.

Noll particularly liked the alpaca one.

If you go on Pinterest or Flickr and search for felted sweater projects you’ll find a lifetime of inspiration. I have to admit, making that first cut into a lovely piece of wool or cashmere can be hard. But since none of our materials had cost more than a dollar, we went for it, and had a ball.

We even had a fabulous lunch. I made soup and bread, KK brought fresh fruit salad, Linda brought homemade brownies. And Judy brought wine!

After lunch, KK found a twin set in the pile of sweaters, and we thought she was putting together an undershirt for herself. But no. She was making a KK Original for Judy. Two short sweaters became a long artsy tunic and bolero.

So my goal of reducing the sweater stash was not realized, but everyone wants to have another Sweater Day soon. We may even make it a slumber party! And oh my goodness, did we have fun.


  1. Such great ideas and so much fun was had. I just learned how to make mittens out of sweaters so I am off to pintrest look for more ideas.

    1. From the look of all that snow where you are you're going to need those mittens!

  2. Ok, that's it I am coming to OR on vacation for garage saleing with all of you, sweater day and of course the wine. ��

  3. What a creative bunch! I'm inspired!

    1. Let me know if you need any sweaters to be inspired with...I still have three boxes full!

  4. Oh what fun, and some genius ideas. Love the arm design on the green cashmere. Great undershirts too!

    1. Oooh, I love being referred to as genius! :-)
      I think we did come up with some great stuff though. And three boxes of sweaters left to play with!

  5. What a wonderful time you all must have had! Keep sharing as you upcycle!

  6. Whaaaaaaaa! I want to find friends like you guys! Love to thrift & recycle........and act goofy!! :-) LOVE IT!! Great job with the cashmere undershirts!


I really love your comments. Thanks for coming along on my thrifty adventures!

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