Nice yarn made of really nice fiber costs lots and lots of money. Take this Ravenwood 3-ply 100% cashmere yarn, for example. Clara Parkes calls this yarn:
Quite possibly the loveliest and most substantial cashmere yarn I’ve ever touched.
220 yards for $70. Probably more than worth it for every last luxurious strand.
I can’t afford to buy this sort of treat very often. Or, if I must be honest, ever. Unless I am buying one precious hank to make a small project, like a special pair of fingerless mitts or a glamorous hat.
I certainly can’t afford to buy enough of this glorious cashmere to knit a multiple hank project. A whole sweater? Forget it!
But that doesn’t keep me from wanting it. It doesn’t keep me from lingering over the cashmere displays at the local yarn store, dreaming of what will never be.
A friend recently turned me on to a method of obtaining large quantities of cashmere, silk, and other expensive fibers for a fraction of what they would normally cost: sweater recycling.
I picked up the following sweater at a local thrift store and gave it a good hand washing to remove any lingering second-hand skeevies. It’s 100% cashmere in a perfectly acceptable color. And most importantly, it had friendly construction and good seams. You want to avoid serged seems like the plague. You’ll end up with lots of little strips of yarn. And who wants to spit splice all of those little pieces? Not me. Not even cashmere is worth that kind of aggravation.
To learn more about taking apart sweaters, take a look at this awesome blog post at Crafstylish.com.
After taking it apart with a seam ripper, I wound the various pieces of the sweater into balls on my ball winder.
And here are the results. A sweater’s worth of 100% cashmere yarn. I’m not exactly sure of the yardage, but I could estimate fairly easily using a digital scale and a calculator. The cost: $4.99.
I feel pretty smug. And empowered. I can’t afford to buy luxury cashmere yarn very often. But I can certainly afford to buy $5 sweaters and take them apart. The greatest part of the cost, really, is the time require to shop, wash the sweater, take it apart, and wind it: About 5 hours, all told (although some of that time could be shortened in the future, now that I know what I’m doing).
Confession time: Not only do I feel smug and empowered, I also feel a little bit guilty. There’s nothing wrong with being thrifty and there are lots of very, very good things about recycling. But I know that, in doing this, I am taking business away from my LYS and from the good folks at Ravenwood. On the other hoof, chances are that I would never, ever have bought this volume of cashmere yarn from any producer or merchant. I just can’t afford it. So is there really anything to feel guilty about? Tell me what you think.