I’m a great recycler, as I suspect many textile lovers are. Much of my business is based on scouring charity shops and jumble sales for items that other people have discarded and transforming them back into desirable objects. Some old scarves get used for nuno felt; others are overdyed with indigo or overprinted.
Recently I had a go at darning an old sweater, after being inspired by an exhibition for a craft prize. But some of my sweaters have gone waaaay past the darning stage – so I thought I would try felting with them, using them as a kind of prefelt.
For the first sample I cut out circles and felted them on to two layers of white superfine merino. As they were 100% wool, they felted in really easily. I forgot to take any photos before felting, but the picture below shows the finished sample.
The circles on the left were covered with another two layers of superfine merino, as I wasn’t sure whether the base of two layers would be enough to support the circles. Obviously this felt was much thicker and you can hardly see the colour of the circles through the top layers.
The sweaters were knitted in stocking stitch, and the circles on the middle were laid out with the right side up, while those on the left were reverse side up. They looked quite different before they were felted, but after felting there was very little difference.
As you can see from the photo the superfine merino shrank a lot (around 50%) so there was very little space between the circles in the final piece. So in the next tiger stripe sample I left more room between the stripes.
You can clearly see the texture of the sweater before felting; after felting you can just about see the vertical rows of knitting.
Although the stripes are also wool, they have not shrunk as much as the merino they are attached to. This leads to a pleasing texture of ridges, where the stripes are much higher than the base layers of merino. I’ve tried to show this more clearly in the photo below.
After I made this sample I realised that white, green and purple were the colours of the Women’s Social and Political Union, which campaigned for women’s right to vote in the UK. White symbolised purity, green hope and purple dignity.
So to celebrate the centenary this year of some women in the UK getting the vote, I made a small suffragette neckpiece. 🙂
I really like using old sweaters this way – it saves me having to make prefelt!
What’s your favourite upcycling tip?