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

Unraveled: 5 reasons to rip back your knitwear

The reverse of purple colourwork knitting being unraveled

I recently did what most knitters consider unthinkable and ripped back a sweater. Some may see it as a destructive act, but I see it through the nerdy lens of necromancy; bringing the yarn back from the dead (the finished jumper) by re-purposing it into a new garment that will give it a new life, and me something I’ll actually enjoy wearing. As far as I’m concerned, good yarn shouldn’t go to waste, so here are some reasons on why you should have courage and join me on my unraveling crusade of yarncromancy.

  1. It’s not quite your style anymore
    You might still be an emo at 29, or your style tastes might have changed. Where you were once into neon knits, you might be more about the neutrals now. You might prefer more fitted garments. Or looser ones. It’s okay for styles and tastes to change. If there’s still something about that shawl or garment that you love and want on your body, rip it back and transform that yarn into something that better fits your personal style.
  2. It doesn’t fit
    There’s myriad reasons why this might be the case. Your body may have changed, your gauge might have been off, or the yarn grew like crazy when you washed it (looking at you, Drops Merino Extra Fine!) so now your fitted cardi could fit 12 people in one sleeve alone. Whatever the reason, your knits should fit you how you want them to fit. You wouldn’t wear shoes that are too big or that give you blisters, and I’m willing to bet you’re not going to be wearing a hat that barely fits over your head, or a cropped jumper that wouldn’t even cover a nipple. If such items are at the bottom of a drawer or back of your wardrobe because they don’t fit either anymore or they never did… rip them back!
Purple and grey knit fabric
  1. The designer is a bigot
    In as polite terms as I can manage, you won’t want to wear the ideas of someone who turns out to be a bully on your body. It’s the main reason I frogged a sweater recently. The design was very identifiable, and I didn’t want to hurt people who had been hurt by that designer by wearing her ideas on my torso.
  2. There’s a “mistake” that bothers you
    Mistake, error, design element – whatever you call it, sometimes a section using the wrong technique like mixing up your brioche rows, dropped stitches, or a few stitches in the wrong colour might really bother you. I’m pretty laidback and have left in purl bumps and such as it makes my items personal to me. But I can see why having sleeves of different lengths or a section of lace that doesn’t match up would be an annoyance. In which case, rip back – nobody has time to feel slightly resentful of the shawl they’re wearing.
  3. It doesn’t meet your expectations
    I get this feeling a lot when shopping. I fixate on how that dress will somehow make my life infinitely better and I’ll look beautiful in it… Then I try it on, and I feel ridiculous. Sometimes, garments or accessories don’t live up to the vision or expectations we had once they’re off the needles. They might not fit the need we had for them – fabric that’s too transparent may not be your ideal work jumper, for example. You just might not be able to pin down why it’s not making you feel wonderful. If you try it on in a shop and you don’t like it, you wouldn’t buy it. Apply the same logic to your knitwear. Then add scissors.

Chances are, you used some beautiful yarn in those projects – colour, fibre, texture, whatever – and it deserves to be in a project that you wear and adore; to be shown off, not hidden away at the back of your wardrobe!
You deserve knitwear that brings you joy and comfort. Get frogging.

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