Raising Knitwear from the Dead: The Sweater with No Name

It took a while, but my yarncromantic magic worked and I now have a finished sweater, made using the remains of a sweater I ripped back. And maybe another knitted T-shirt. And a skein of yarn I had to buy after losing at yarn chicken…But! It’s complete, I love it, and I have no regrets. So here’s the lowdown.

The reverse of purple colourwork knitting being unraveled
From this…

First off, I took scissors to my Sunset Highway sweater, and ripped it back into 2.6 skeins of Chromatic Yarns Sturdy Sock yarn (and some smaller balls of yarn used for the colourwork elements). I then reskeined the yarn, gave it a good wash and whack (literally whacked it against the side of the bath as I was taught to when I briefly handspun my own yarn), and voila! Yarn brought back to life and ready to knit. I also repeated this process with yarn from my rarely-worn Magpie Tendency, knit in the spring of this year. It didn’t fit my wardrobe, so no point leaving that to gather dust at the back of the wardrobe!

I settled for the Sweater With No Name pattern by Paige Parkin (@knitdiaries on Instagram), and promptly began knitting. I mis-judged the amount of yarn I had, and ran out just before the shoulders, so ordered some more from Chromatic Yarns. I’d estimate that I used a total of 2500 yards of yarn in total. This pattern eats yarn.

…to this…

The finished object is big, slouchy and my new favourite item to wear. I’ve never worn cold shoulder jumpers before, but this has me tempted to start! Not to mention eyeing up other yarns to make another in (a) different colour(s).

So. The moral of this story? Rip back knits and raise those lovely yarns from the dead in the form of something newer and better.

All images copyright Cia Jackson 2020


Purple and grey knit fabric

I think I’ve found my calling in life. Forget the PhD, the CV, the traits that, depending on who you ask, make me either a wonderful employee or not nearly sociopathic enough an employee (I’m looking at you, civil service screening tests). Nah. Stuff that. My calling is now that of the yarncromancer.

But Cia, what the hell is a yarncromancer?

Well, random reader, I’m glad you asked. We’re all familiar with necromancy, yes? The magical practice of raising the dead (found in fantasy settings, I’m not talking actual…oh nevermind) Well think that, think your friendly neighbourhood Grave domain Cleric, only for yarn.

Or, in layperson’s terms, on Friday morning in a coffee-induced haze of madness, I took a pair of scissors to a sweater and over the course of the day, unravelled it so that I could turn the yarn into something better. I raised the yarn from its grave of the sweater I hadn’t worn 12 months so that it could live again as something new. Necromancy, but for yarn. You’re welcome (I had contemplated Knitcromancer but it excluded crochet, so consider yourselves doubly welcome that I went with the grand title of Yarncromancer).

The stranded underside of some purple colourwork knitting as it is being unraveled

In all seriousness though, the sweater in question was one I loved. Until it turned out the designer wasn’t that fantastic a person and I felt that, ultimately, I didn’t want to wear what was essentially that person’s ideas and values on my body*. So the beautiful yarn used to make that sweater sat in a box, unloved and unworn. Yes, I suppose I could have gifted it or donated it to a charity shop. But, in my mind, that was simply shifting the problem and my feelings of discomfort elsewhere. Plus I really liked that yarn (and how I looked wearing it!) So out came the scissors. As an aside, I would be interested to know what others have done with projects designed by problematic designers. Do you still wear/use them? Donate/gift them? Unravel them? Equally, if you’re unsure what to do, I’d love to hear your thoughts too!

First cut is the…hardest?

It took me a while to work up the courage to make the first cut. The sweater did sit in a box for months before this moment arrived. But, once I started unraveling strand after strand of now-crimped yarn, I rapidly became drunk on my own power. It turns out there’s something weirdly invigorating about unraveling (and kinda destroying) 6 weeks’ worth of hard work. I can understand why some would balk at the idea of rapidly undoing something they’d worked on for such great periods of time.

Purple and grey speckled handknit fabric

However, I’d counter that with the fact that something beautiful has since gone unused and unloved. And in my case, the annoyance that I’d used some darn fine yarn to make something by someone with some pretty shitty values combined with the knowledge that the yarn could still be repurposed far outweighed any feelings of fear or potential for regret. Key thing here: the sweater was gone, but the yarn was not. This wasn’t an act of total destruction; only partial. That lovely 4ply yarn was freed to be raised from its knit-up, sweater-shaped grave and given a new and better life. Yarncromancy, y’all.

Several hand-wound balls of purple, and purple and grey speckled yarn on a wooden background

All in all, I advocate being honest with ourselves when it comes to our finished objects and the happiness they bring us. If life is too short for [insert thing here], why is it any different for handknits (or crocheted items) that don’t satisfy us or make us feel anything close to the brilliant beings we are? Having done it once, I’m certainly less afraid of hitting Level 2 Yarncromancy and doing it again to another knitted item that doesn’t bring me joy. Have courage and raise that yarn.

*I am not naming the designer or sweater. They do not need or deserve what essentially boils down to free advertising by me mentioning them here and y’all going to check out their spaces online.

Images copyright Cia Jackson 2020

Help, it’s a sweater again

2020 is apparently my year of doubling up when it comes to knitting. I’ve just got my 6th sweater of the year off the needles and it…looks remarkably like some of the others already in my wardrobe. So much for finding repeat knits boring! However, it’s a global pandemic, up is down and it’s 146th March, right?

A close up of marled knit fabric on chunky purple perspex knitting needles and a D20-shaped pink, purple and teal stitch marker

Cards – and knitting needles – on the table, this sweater didn’t turn out entirely as planned. I made an AquaMarline last year, and it’s one of my favourite sweaters – cropped, cosy, massive dramatic sleeves. I’m going through a phase of enjoying slightly longer knits (what can I say, it means I don’t need to worry about having clean black vests and doing laundry so much) so decided that this AquaMarline would be a tad longer. Just an inch or two.

And then it somehow became a dress.

A chunky pink purple and blue sweater on a wooden hanger

It’s not what I envisioned but I am actually in love with this sweater. It’s got 10 beautiful skeins of yarn from some amazingly talented designers, and it gives me serious Jem & the Holograms vibes. Are the sleeves impractically big? Yes. Do I love waving my arms around to make the fabric swing back and forth? Also yes. Is it way too warm to wear this behemoth of a jumper?Most certainly.

As Ravelry has gone to hell in a bad LiveJournal aesthetic with a side order of rendering itself inacessible, I thought I’d include some details for the curious.

A close up image of the cuff of a bell sleeve

I made the 5th size. I tend to knit things that are listed as 46inches at the bust and upwards because I like a little positive ease in my garments.
I did not measure anything because I am a chaos merchant. I couldn’t tell you how long the body was before I joined the sleeves, or how long the sleeves were – I simply knit until I ran out of yarn. I probably used the correct sized needles… I just grabbed what looked like the right size from my needle case. I know, I’m the worst.

The yarns. Are you ready for this? I used:

1 x GamerCrafting BFL 4ply in Fuck Cancer Operation Social Justice Warrior colourway. The yardage wasn’t listed but I’d estimate it to be about 400yards. (@gamercrafting)

1 x Down Sheepy Lane BFL/Nylon 4ply sock set in Paint Splattered. (@downsheepylane)

1 x HeyJayYarn Sparkle Sock in Queer & Cosy Operation Social Justice Warrior colourway, (@heyjayyarn)

2 x Countess Ablaze Lady Persephone Sock (BFL/Nylon) in Ministry of Truth Twisting and I’m Good, Thanks. (@countessablaze)

2 x Twisted Squirrel Merino/Nylon sock in De Rolo. (@twisted.squirrel.yarn)

2 x Chromatic Yarns Sturdy Sock (BFL/Nylon) in Necromancy and Hamster Unicorns. (@thecornerofcraft)

Plus assorted remnants of skeins used in other projects including more Chromatic Yarns Sturdy Sock, Skein Queen Blush and FibrePunk Lustre.

A close up image of marled pink, purple and teal knit fabric

If you’re looking to stashbust or use up leftover half skeins from other projects, AquaMarline is a magnificent stash buster. It’s cleared a lot of single skeins from my stash that I was struggling to find projects for that would show them off. The beauty of AquaMarline is that the marled effect of holding so many strands of yarn together gives each yarn a chance to shine, as colours pop against each other or tone together. It’s great for gradients, or “fades” if you’re an Andrea Mowry fangirl.

If it’s not clear by now, this pattern is simple and well-written, and extremely easy to adapt. If you’re looking for a first garment, this is a good option. I’ve knit it twice, and I may knit another.

All images copyright Cia Jackson 2020