Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Harvesting Yarn from a Thrift Store Sweater

Good yarn can be expensive, especially if one is working on a large project like an afghan or a sweater.  An alternative source for yarn can be found by repurposing sweaters from your local thrift store.

I do this from time to time, whenever I'm out junking and find a suitable sweater ... rarely with a specific project in mind.  If the sweater is in decent shape, made of quality yarn (wool, cashmere, silk, etc.), and isn't abused or felted, I buy it.

The subject of this example is a 100% wool sweater from Goodwill, brand new with the original store tag, in a fantastic greenish-brownish-gray.  It's enormous ... which means that it will yield a LOT of yarn.

First thing is to disassemble the sweater by unraveling the seams.  I only buy sweaters with chain-stitched seams, which are fairly simple to identify and take apart.  

With the sweater taken apart, all that's left now is find the yarn end on each piece, work it free, unravel the pieces, and roll up the yarn,

Alice was helping.

When I'm unraveling, I roll each piece of the sweater into its own ball.  For this sweater, there is a yarn ball for each sleeve, the collar, and the front piece.  The back piece was rolled into two balls because it had a hole in it, which broke the yarn at that spot.  

How much yarn did I get from this enormous sweater, you ask?  Exactly 856 grams ... which equals seventeen 50-gram skeins, if I bought this at a yarn shop.

Before I use this yarn to make something, I will roll it into skeins and wash it ... to relax the kinks and make it easier to work with.  For now, though, it's stored away in balls, just like you see it, with the rest of my yarn stash in the sewing room, along with the label from the sweater so I remember the fiber content.  

If you're inclined to do this yourself, and you need more detailed instructions, you can find a really great tutorial HERE.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Flowers on Friday: Hellebores!

My second favorite flower in my garden (after roses, of course) is Hellebore. 

The foliage in the foreground is Colchicum bulbs that I have planted among the Hellebores.

Hellebore is a wonderful perennial that requires very little care and loves to live in the shade ... where it rewards the gardener in late winter with graceful flowers that last for months.

Most of the Hellebore plants in my garden are seedlings, because they can reseed with wild abandon.  While this may be a problem with other plants, which can spread and take over a garden, that's not the case for me with Hellebores.

Look at all these tiny new seedlings!  The larger leaf at the top of the photo is a seedling from last year that's large enough to move, if I want to.

Hellebores promiscuously interbreed with each other, and it's exciting to see what the new seedlings look like when they are old enough to flower ... usually when they are two or three years old. I leave the tiny seedlings in place to grow and get established, and I carefully transplant some of the larger, yearling seedlings to other spots in the garden.

This is 'Pink Frost', one of the few named cultivars that I have.

I want to pollinate some of the 'Pink Frost' flowers to see if I can make my own hybrids with it.

Hellebores are wonderful pass-along plants!  Many of my original ones came from friends and/or plant swaps ... seedlings of seedlings from their gardens.  I continue the tradition, sharing seedlings from my garden with others who are interested.

Weather has been unseasonably warm for us this winter, and my garden is incredibly confused.  Some plants are budding and growing right on schedule (like the Hellebores), and some are very, very early.  Many of my roses have broken bud are starting to sprout, weeks and weeks earlier than normal.  Others are still dormant, like they're supposed to be in late February.  It's going to be a weird garden year.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


Winnie went to Mexico yesterday afternoon.

Her little old-dog body just gave out.  My husband and I decided that it was best to send her on her way.

My heart is broken.  Grief is as deep as the love that she and I shared, and right now it's pretty overwhelming.

RIP, and vaya con Dios, Bitty Dog.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Women's March on Washington

I was there, with my sister and two friends.  Sit back while I share some photos that show what I saw, accompanied by a few thoughts that describe how I felt.

Pink isn't my favorite color, but I knitted a hat and wore it proudly ... to put myself and my head in the sea of pink for the March.

We took a photo in the Metro station as we arrived in DC.

That's my sister in the pink hat and black jacket right in front of me.

Both sides of the escalator exiting the station were set in the outbound direction, to move more people.

This was our first view of part of the crowd.

So many satellite trucks along Independence Avenue.

A sign propped in a rose bush ... you knew that I had to get a photo of it.

Video screens allowed those of us in the thick of the crowd to hear the people who were speaking from the stage.

Gloria Steinem

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser

There were so many people!

Other times, we had a bit more room.

Yarn bomb, quietly left behind by a marcher.

This was my favorite sign of the day.  When I told that to the man who was holding it, he put his hand on his chest and told me that it comes from his heart.

These two police officers with a PA system on top of this ambulance, were directing marchers at an intersection.

Madonna did not reflect the view of anyone that I spoke to during the day.

The 'After' photo, as we waited for the train to take us home.  

Exiting the station, on our way home.

This panoramic photo that gives a good look at the crowd where we were.

To see how much space 500,000+ people occupy in downtown DC, watch this video (which, coincidentally, appears to have been taken from the top of a building near where we were standing when I took the panorama.)

It was a l-o-n-g day ... I left home at 5:30am to be at my sister's house at 6:30am, and I got home after 9:00pm ... but it was profound.  I can't adequately express the feeling of being in a crowd like this, a peaceful, respectful crowd, who gathered to show what we hope is not a minority view of our country.  My United States respects all of its citizens, and is a melting pot for foreigners who come here to make a better life for themselves and their families.  We met so many people, visited with out-of-towners, local residents, young women, old folks like me ... I am very, very proud to have participated.

Been there, done that, ordered the T-shirt.  It was surreal.

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