Hey there bumblebees! I’m checking in from a cabin on a horse farm in the Illinois countryside. The cabin has no cell phone service!! But there is wifi so I’m not on a 100% no technology regimen!
I recently, reluctantly, but ultimately with great gusto, did a little sweater deconstruction and snapped a few photos to share with all ya’ll!
Here’s the story.
A few years ago (like, I was still in Minneapolis) I went on a sweater knitting binge. I knit up this Miette cardi from Untangling Knots (sigh, I look so young and… curvy.) I liked it, but gave it to friend-Laura who looked much, much better in it! At the time I was still at Sewtropolis and we were selling Spud and Chloe yarn so I brought home a bunch of lovely jelly bean
flavored colored worsted and knit myself a second Miette.
And it sat in my knitting ottoman (where all my yarn and needles live) for years. It moved from Minneapolis to Texas to Nashville. Because of a hole in the back. See?
There was some sort of snafu and I tried to fix by weaving in some scrap yarn to close up the hole. I even blocked it and stitched in grosgrain to stabilize the button band, but I never put on the buttons. I couldn’t stand the glaring mess on the backside and knew it would never be worn. By the likes of me.
Bolstered by my recently renewed sweater knitting mania, I decided to see if I could salvage the yarn and start again. I read a few notes on the internet regarding how to frog and I will share a few tips that I didn’t bother with, but would have made life easier!!
Oh! But first! I don’t know if this is true but in my extensive research (reading an article on Knitty) I found that the reason we call it ‘frogging’ is because we… rip-it, rip-it…. Get it? Could that possibly be true? Anyone know?? If it is true then us knitters are a bunch of mother punners, aren’t we?
Wow! I haven’t heard a crowd this quiet since….
Back to the business at hand. Here’s the sad little sweater prior to destruction…
First I carefully clipped and undid the yarn at the corners. I was very lucky in that I had a willing assistant. We put on some netflix and he wound the yarn into hanks (around his hand to elbow – like winding an electrical cord) while I unravelled and guided the yarn. The result was a giant pile of hot pink (jelly bean!) ramen noodles….
I had one skein of unknitted Spud and Chloe left… here it is for comparison.
Here’s a tip I missed. At this point it would have been VERY beneficial to tie short pieces of yarn around the hanks in a few places. You know. Like how the yarn folks do. It would have helped with the snarls later.
Next I filled up a big bowl with tepid/cool water and a bit of yarn soak. I haven’t used this before, but wanted to make my sweaters smell nice while wet blocking them so I had on hand. For those of you who haven’t used it, it’s just super gentle soap that doesn’t require rinsing.
Here’s what I used.
And here’s my vat of ramen noodle soup. Another… um… observation (can’t even call this one a tip, I’m sure you all already see it…) By the time we unwound the whole sweater we had around 7 or 8 hanks. It crossed my mind that soaking them all at the same time was a bad idea for potential tangles. But I was too impatient to soak them all separately in the same bowl or to fill up a bunch of little bowls. I’m a risk taker. What can I say.
I let it soak for about 30 minutes. The goal here is to help the fibers relax and the kinks go away. The yarn I was working with was a blend of cotton and wool. Wool has pretty good memory, so a bit more soaking was in order. Also, I wanted to be able to knit up the reused yarn with the never-used skein I had. So the used yarn needed to be as close as possible in texture to the unused yarn, otherwise it would show in the knitting. If I was going to work with all used, frogged and soaked yarn I could be a little less diligent because the texture would be consistent.
Luckily for me, me risk paid off (more or less) – we were able to fish out the hanks relatively well. I put them on a bath towel, put another towel on top to make a yarn sammie, rolled it into a yarn-towel loaf then put the rolled up soggy concoction on the floor where I stomped all over it with my bare feet. It was very Lucy at the vineyard.
I left the hanks out for a day or two until the hot, sticky Nashville summer-slash-hurricane season closed in. They hung in the kitchen for another day. I wanted to be absolutely sure the fiber was completely dry before winding into balls.
And here’s the finished product. I’m road tripping this week, so I had a nice car project. It took a few hours to patiently wind into balls, but there was no loss of yarn.
The final product was almost completely smooth and didn’t get fuzzy – something I was a bit concerned about. It’s knitting up quite well and this time around is destined to be an Agatha (again, from Untangling Knots.)
A few inches of Agatha…
Tips for frogging
- Carefully unravel yarn – if you do it in opposite order from construction, there will be little waste.
- Unravel into hanks (large ‘loops’ of fabric wound from hand to elbow) – secure the hanks by tying in 4-5 spots to help keep from getting too twisted
- Soak for 20-30 minutes in water. Follow the care directions on the yarn label or use common sense!!
- A bit of yarn soak may help remove some of the kinks.
- If you are frogging ALL your yarn (not planning to use with un-knitted yarn) just aim for consistency.
- Try using weights when hanging to dry if there’s still a bit of kink.
- Make sure it’s 100% dry before winding into balls.
- Rinse and repeat!
After doing this project I’m super stoked and will be eyeballing the thrift shops for natural fiber sweaters as frogging candidates! I know, I know. Just go to a yarn shop, right? There’s just something about repurposing from a thrift shop…