Monday, November 16, 2015

Sweater-saver: reknitting the cuffs of a purple sweater

Poking around some drafts of blog articles written through the years, I came upon a sweater-saver  project from several years back. Although I thought this got posted a long time ago, I can't find it online anywhere, so here it is (again?)
* * *
This purple cabled store-bought sweater was beloved of its owner, but the cuffs were baggy and the sleeves too short.  I put on my "Garde Tricot"* hat and fixed it like this---

Below: The start, one cuff removed.  You can see how short the sleeves are.
 first cuff removed    

Below: A little known fact about commercial knits is that they are often knit of several strands of thin yarn simply held (not twisted, not plied) together, much like three-strand "Persian" needlepoint yarn or six-strand embroidery floss. It is possible that the thin yarns which are held together are themselves plied, but until the thin strands are knit together, they remain separate strands. This particular sweater was knit of three stands of two-ply.
three strands of 2-ply

Below: After unraveling the yarn, it was severely kinked.  I made each cuff's worth into a mini-hank, knotted in several places to prevent tangling, then reclaimed the yarn from both cuffs via steam un-kinking.

One cuff's worth of unraveled, kinked-up yarn
wound into a mini-hank 

Below: The problem was, the sleeves were so much too short that the unraveled cuffs contained not enough yarn to significantly lengthen the sleeves.  Further, there was no possible chance of a match.  I could match color with Persian yarn (with over 400 colors, you can come pretty close to matching most solid colors) but Persian yarn was the wrong texture. So, instead of using the reclaimed yarn as it was originally knit (one 3-stranded yarn) I separated ("stripped") one strand of the thin two-ply yarn out of each of the cuff-mini-hanks and  re-did the two hanks of 3-strand into three mini-skeins of 2-strand.  This magically yielded 1/3 more yarn.  Remember: the 3 thinner strands of yarns were not twisted nor plied together, merely held together, meaning it was possible (although tedious) to separate them.

Yarn skeined up as two strands of 2-ply

It is true that the two-strand yarn resulting from this trick is thinner, but there was no choice about this.  There simply had to be more yarn or the sweater sleeves would still be unwearably too short.

Cuffs re-knit narrower and waaaaay longer

Above: The cuffs were reknit narrower and much longer. They feature a rolled edge for sturdiness. I seem to recall there was so little yarn left over that I had to bind off part of the second cuff with a single strand of two-ply.

 Below: Overview of the reclaimed sweater.

Perhaps you know someone whose favorite sweater has a little problem?  What with the holidays coming up, you do realize that as a hand knitter, you are uniquely positioned to reclaim a favorite and beloved sweater?  Also that re-knitting a small part of a sweater takes a whole lot less time (ahem, cough, cough) than knitting a new one?

Good knitting--TK

PS:  Here is another sweater reclaimed several years ago

*In the classical French kitchen, there are various stations, like a battleship, and one of these is "garde manger" which means "guard of the food."  Among other duties, this chef recycles high end food: yesterday's filet mignon becomes today's Beef Salad Pareisienne.  In the same way, I think there should be a "garde tricot," or "guard of the knitting" who takes yesterday's beloved sweater and turns it into a whole new fave. (That could be you!)

8 comments : said...

You are clearly a whizz and I feel very inadequate,. Perhaps some day I can be a garde de knit, but for now I've lost all hope!! Beautiful job, you clever knitter.

TECHknitter said...

If you can knit a sweater, you can fix a sweater. Maybe invest a couple of bucks into a thrift store sweater and mess around a little? Here is a post which might help you get started:

(Cut and paste URL into browser window.)

K Birkenwasseranhöhe said...

I love it! It always warms my heart when something that was waiting to be thrown away is saved and can be used again. Garde tricot par excellence!

Anonymous said...

So very glad to see you back! I do hope this marks the beginning of regular blogging! Welcome back! You have been missed.

Fiber and Color said...

Very nice to see you posting and thanks for this useful info. Great advice on grabbing a thrift store sweater to mess with. Think I'm going to take it!

ly said...

I, too, am so glad to see your posts again. You have no idea how your site has encouraged, supported and inspired me over the years. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Yes, welcome back!!!

Chris Wells said...

I'd love to try this to tighten up the ribbing on the bottom of a store-bought sweater. do I start? Do I just clip it anywhere to unravel? Thanks!