Sweater Recycling, Part One: Collection

Long time blog readers may recall that last year, I started collecting sweaters. I shopped my local thrift stores, and with very little effort found sweaters in great colors made out of high quality natural fibers- wool, angora, and lots of cashmere! My plan was to recycle them or, more specifically, to felt them.

Important things to keep in mind when shopping for sweaters to felt:

  • Is the sweater's fiber content mostly animal fiber? (Wool, cashmere, mohair, angora, or some blend of those.) I was successful in felting a sweater that was 15% Nylon. Depending on the sweater, I think you could go up to as high as 50% synthetic fiber content and still felt it, but keep in mind you are taking a risk. Theoretically, you might run into the odd machine washable wool sweater, but I haven't seen on yet.
  • If you find some holes, it's not really a big deal. You can always cut around them! Do ask for a discount! I got two of my favorite sweaters for a dollar a piece because they had itty bitty holes. No big deal if you're not planning to wear them!
  • If you can't find a tag with the fiber content in the back of the neck, check the side seam. Sometimes it's hiding there!
  • If the sweater doesn't say what it's made out of, but has a label that say "Dry Clean Only" or something like that, it's a pretty safe bet that it will felt.
  • Go where the money is. Thrift stores in fancier parts of town will be likely to have the nicest sweaters for sale.

If you're interested in recycling sweaters by frogging them and reclaiming the yarn, I suggest looking here and here. Also, Megan of the Stitch It Podcast has been talking about frogging old sweaters lately, so give her a listen! I don't have any personal experience with it, but I'd like to try it soon!

Come back tomorrow for Sweater Recycling, Part Two: Harvesting

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