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Friday, October 12, 2012

Dichotomy

I am a hard woman to figure out most days.  Certain pieces of my personality and my life would appear impossible to co-exist peaceably, but this is not the case.  For example, I have a rather intense need for things to be very neat and tidy.  It brings me peace. Now insert 7 children in my life and you have everything BUT neat and tidy, and I'm okay with that.  And the 7 children thing (I've actually had 8 children, another story for another day) is in place because I do not use birth control of any kind.  However, it phased me none to help my bestest friend research what her best birth control options were after she started having issues with the patch.  My life is uber-conservative, my politics, not so much.  Dichotomy. 

Which brings me to the point of this post: I'm a cheapskate who LOVES cashmere!  Did you know it takes a goat (from which cashmere derives) four years to produce enough wool to knit an adult sized sweater?  It's a beautiful fiber and one I find divinely beautiful to knit with.  But it ain't cheap by any stretch of the imagination.

Here's is some fabulous cashmere yarn for knitting purposes (some people weave or use knitting machines, so I wanted to link to a typical hand knitting type yarn)  Let's do some math.  Each hank of this is $52.00 and you need approximately 1000 yards for a smallish women's sweater.  So that sweater would cost you approximately $520.00 NOT EVEN MADE.  There are less expensive cashmere yarns to be had, but if you're a cheapskate, the price will always make you gasp.  Not happening.

But still, I like to knit with cashmere.  It's absolutely gorgeous and besides that the properties of the fiber make it all the more desirable.  And even though I could never pay exorbitant amounts for my fiber fetish, I still have quite a good supply of cashmere yarn in my stash.  How so you ask?

Unraveling ;)  Yup, some knitters see yarn and think "sweater.." I see sweater and think "yarn."  (To be turned into another sweater, but I digress)  It's still stunning to me how many cast offs are available to be had at thrift stores.   Just languishing among all the acrylic clown sweaters, you can find some real gems.  Cashmere.  Silk.  Merino.  CAMEL (yes, I have found 100% camel and am saving it for something special).  It's just mind boggling to me.  Cashmere sweaters aren't cheap, anywhere (except where I find them) and that anyone would donate them is crazy to me.  Ever priced a cashmere sweater?  Let's have a looksee:

Lord and Taylor has some pretty ones....  so does Ann Taylor and even Ebay

Lawd have mercy.  Beautiful.  Expensive.  Out of budget.  Must find better way.

Two Words: Thrift Store (or Goodwill to be more specific)  All sweaters are priced at $4.50, no matter what size or fiber they are.  Miles and miles of luxury yarn for less than a skein of cheapass acrylic from Wal-Mart.  Winning!!

Another source I use is Resweater which is a bit higher price wise (I've never paid more than $10) but only when she has a color and weight I've been searching for. I recently bought these:

 
Not the greatest picture, but trust me, these are Very Good!  They are currently being morphed into these:
 
These are Salem Fingerless Mitts, pattern available for purchase on Ravelry.  I am doing two pair in the long version.  One pair with the tweedy light blue and charloal (cashmere!!) and another with a rich, deep purple (I dyed a sleeve on that cream sweater to get a really great purple) paired with the charcoal.  Pretty, pretty!! (And SO soft...heavenly soft....)

So next time you cruise by a thrift store, you might want to take a bit of a detour and see if you can find something fabulous among the cast offs.  If cotton if your thing, you will always find something among the racks.  If you are like me, and only bring home the best of the best, sometimes you will come home empty handed, but there's that thrill of the hunt thing that is fed by coming home with nothing every so often.  Makes the times you do find something a really cheap, unharmful high ;)  And remember even if what you find is a color that would look better on someone post-living rather than living (you know what colors I'm talking about...different for everyone, but we all have our hated colors) you can totally dye over pretty much any color, other than black.  It's really easy.  Here's how I did my cream-to-purple deal:

I started with just one sleeve of the cream sweater. It's plenty enough for the project!

Put sweater sleeve in a bowl with water and a bit of vinegar to soak.  I did around 15 minutes.

I had this food dye leftover from Mallory's birthday cake.  I am happy with how it works.  Very happy.

A big squirt of the dye, and then add about 1/4 vinegar and mixed until well blended.  Added water, then put sleeve in.

This is the magical part.  All that murkey water will be TOTALLY clear after the dye is set, having soaked completely into the fibers.  I did about 30 minutes on 250 in my oven.

Sleeve all done and ready to tink (You know, knit spelled backwards!!)

Dude, I TOTALLY forgot that when you dyed a blank rather than a hank of yarn, you get little white spots when you unravel.  I really like this effect but it wasn't what I needed for the project I have in mind, so I wound the sleeve (blank) into to small skeins for a redo in the dye bath.

Ended up with this, which is much deeper in real life.  The flash washed it out, but without the flash it didn't look purple. 
 
I LOVE dyeing yarn.  Fast, safe and easy way to change yarn from a boring color to something fabulous...
 
Next time, I'll be doing a show and tell with all my recycled sweater stuff and give you a little peek at my fabulous package (dude, if I was a guy that would have sounded so totally perverted....x rated even),  that arrived yesterday from The Netherlands!!

 
 














Lord and Taylor Cashmere

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