Here is the scarf that made me think I could stitch a sweater out of old felted wool sweaters.
Isn’t it beautiful? I was reluctant to share this information as now everyone in Anchorage will have beautiful scarves just like me. Its kind of like the Skhoop. If it makes a good northern climate clothing statement, arctic fashionistas will buy it. Angela Eisman makes and designs them.
The rosettes are stitched by sewing machine. This made me think, why can’t I do that and make sweaters?
Crispina ffrench’s book The Sweater Chop Shop gave me the information I needed to learn how to felt old sweaters in the washing machine.
Crispina offers good advice about washing machine felting as well as many cute patterns. Her method involves taking old sweaters and felting them in the washing machine and then re-using the sweaters parts by hand stitching them together into new garments. You’ll find more about her work here.
These sweaters are super fun, but not exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted very clean lines for my sweaters, and I wanted to machine stitch them.
I used Vogue pattern #8817 for my first try. I figured any pattern that could be made with a two-way stretch knit could be made with felted wool.
And I was right. I was happy with my first results. The collar edge is not as crisp as I would like, but all in all it was a great first try.
Next I did a version of the same sweater in navy, black, and grey. For both sweaters, especially the navy version, I did a lot of piecing–TOO much piecing–of the felted sweaters to get pieces of wool big enough so that I could cut a pattern piece out of it.
You can piece a lot of scraps of the same fabric together when you are making a quilt–the repetition of the quilt block and the quilting lines mask this extra piecing and really create a situation where the eye does not notice what is going on.
It doesn’t work that way with a sweater. Those extra stitch lines draw attention to themselves and can even be unflattering if they land in certain places on the garment.
This all got me thinking about how to create good lines that work with the lines/seams of the sweater but also make maximum use of the material I am using. It is very different from working with yardage off the bolt. And it is where my quilt piecing skills become relevant to this endeavor.