I could also call this post L.L. Bean’s dirty little secret….
Since I started felting old sweaters in the washing machine, I have been tracking my progress, and today I’d like to share some of that information. It is interesting–part of me is so excited to tell you what I have learned, and part of me wants to keep all the information to myself–because you know, there are only so many old wool sweaters out there.
On a regular basis, I have people say to me, “Isn’t it hard to find wool sweaters?” The educated answer to that question is no. If you know what to look for, there are enough sweaters for everyone. It does help that I live in Alaska where people wear sweaters almost year round–this means there are a lot of sweaters at the thrift stores.
The other thing I have going for me is that I like the hunt. I’ve got almost 40 years of experience hunting for things at garage sales and thrift stores. Just call me hawk-eyed. And after reading these posts about hunting and felting you’ll be able to do it too.
The Sweater Chop Shop book by crispina ffrench is where I started. She gives the beginner great basic information.
At first I made quite a few mistakes, so I decided to write down key information about each sweater.
I knew this would hone my skills at tracking wool in the wilds of the Salvation Army and Value Village, and besides I love keeping records.
For each sweater, I write down the brand name, a good color description, the price I paid, the size, the type (turtle neck, cardigan, cowl, etc…), the wool description on the label, and finally the result of my efforts.
To take this documentation process one step further, I decided to photograph a set of sweaters before and after the felting process. I tried to select a good variety of sweaters to share what particular sweater types do when felted.
Up first is an American Eagle 100% wool sweater. This is a very thick, but loosely knit sweater. I know by looking at it that it will felt up nicely, but be a super thick fabric to work with. I like to use this fabric for cuffs. It is not as versatile as a thinner wool, but it does have its place in my stash.
Here is a Lands End 100% lambs wool sweater. I love the way 100% Lambswool felts up. It is dense but not too thick, and it is soft. I can use this weight in all areas of my sweaters.
I will tell you a little secret here. I always thought Lands End and L.L. Bean were about the same.
I no longer think that.
L.L. Bean’s 100% wool sweaters are not 100% wool. I was fooled several times before I figured it out. L.L. Bean wool sweaters may look and feel like 100% wool, and the label may say they are 100% wool, but they are not. And they will not felt.
L.L. Bean is not the only clothing company guilty of claiming to have 100% wool sweaters, but they are the most consistent fibbers.
Come back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion of my adventures in sweater hunting felting!