The Un-Knitting Machine
Now, I know what you’re thinking. An un-knitting machine is hardly the kind of thing that you should expect to see on a knitting blog. It seems a little counter productive. I, too, have felt the disappointment that is frogging a big piece of knitwear. It’s like watching your life flash before your eyes in reverse. But with a lot more swearing. And hopefully there’s alcohol to ease the pain.
But a few things caught my eye about Imogen Hedges‘ un-knitting machine, and I’ve been meaning to share it with you all for a while now. Wouldn’t the hurt of ripping out a sweater be made a lot easier by doing it painlessly and fast? And aren’t those bike pedals nifty? It looks like it’s about as fun as making the sweater itself.
What really struck a chord with me, though, is the recycling trend that I’ve seen on the rise on Ravelry. Knitters are salvaging old thrift store finds for their yarn, un-knitting them (if you will) and making brand new things with the yarn. There are some Ravelry groups dedicated to the techniques of upcycling sweaters. Some especially resourceful makers on Twitter and instagram are hand dying the yarn for an even more interesting look!
And the best part is that knitters can score a sweaters’-worth of nice fibers like cashmere and merino for $4 thanks to their local Goodwill and a little ingenuity.
Besides the price and the thrill of the hunt, this movement is really exciting for me. We knitters are innovative. (I mean, somebody invented a bicycle that unravels sweaters, for goodness sake!) We may not always mean to but making our own clothing helps take back from the industrial cheap fashion behemoth that is so omnipresent these days. We are investing time and love into custom pieces of clothing that will receive proper care and be worn for years. But why not take it a step further? Green DIY conjures up images of sock puppets and toilet paper tube Christmas wreaths but we can make it glamorous. We can take things that we already own (or someone else owned) and we can give new life to them. We can mend and alter our clothing instead of throwing away cash on cookie cutter closets. And we can get a sense of the work that our favorite independent dyers and spinners are doing.
My dad recently gave me one of his old wool sweaters. (It started as a request for a custom sweater since his was ruined and ended with me begging him to donate his moth-hole-ridden jumper for me to experiment with. He may have gotten the better end of the bargain.) I can’t wait to give un-knitting a try. I am ready to make brand new recycled clothes!
And to top it all off, now I can add to my stash (on the DL) when I’m away from the yarn store. And that’s a gift in and of itself.
Have you ever un-knit a sweater? What are your tips?
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