27 July 2012

Thrift Store Sweater Into Cashmere Yarn

I'm very excited to show the results of my second upcycled sweater project!  Some of you may recall that the first one did not go too well because I had inadvertently picked out the wrong sweater for this kind of project.  The second attempt was definitely not a failure!

This whole adventure came about as a result of my going to Goodwill (or Mennonite thrift stores, those people know what quality is) and happening to stumble across a large, men's L size, 100% cashmere sweater for $4.28 (includes tax).

Let me share this little secret, if you want good sweaters to upcycle, don't even bother with the women's section because the men's section is where it's at.  As a whole the sweaters are often cheaper, larger, and usually hardly worn (why don't American men know that sweaters are sexy?).

My mother and I had a nice time unraveling this one and then I plyed, and plyed, and plyed, which is why I'm contemplating building an Arduino microcontroller based e-spinner (don't worry, I would continue to spin my handspun by spindle, I love the process so much).  I plyed the yarn together because on it's own, it was brittle and unbalanced.


This ended up as a 4-ply, 100% cashmere (assuming average quality), worsted weight yarn in a pretty gray color that I don't think I will dye simply because it is a color I don't see a whole lot in yarn colorways.  I ended up with 265 grams and ~ 1,100 yards of yarn total.  I wish that I had kept track of how many hours this project took with the unraveling and plying, but sadly I did not.


I was interested to see how much money I likely saved by doing it this way (not counting labor), and so I did some rough calculations against what I'm assuming is a comparable yarn: Jade Sapphire Mongolian 6-Ply (which I haven't tried, but am definitely tempted to if only the price weren't out of my reach).

New, store bought cashmere yarn: 150 yards, 55 grams -->   $45.00 a skein (before tax)

Upcycled thrift store cashmere yarn: 220 yards, 55 grams -->   $1.13 a skein (including tax)

Even if the resulting yarn is not of comparable quality (which I can kind of sense by touch), that is a huge savings and allows me to knit with a luxury fiber!  This is a really fun and rewarding process and I would highly recommend it, just be sure to follow my upcycled sweater rules.

26 comments:

  1. Wow, that is too cool. I think I may need to upcycle so yarn myself

    ReplyDelete
  2. By Grabthar's hammer, what a savings! That yarn is really gorgeous! The only cashmere I've knit with has be 10% in sock yarns. I bet that will be heavenly to knit with.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love it! Whatever you end up making with that (enough for a sweater, maybe?) will be so comfy!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow! The yarn looks awesome. Really interesting colour.

    ReplyDelete
  5. well done, what are your plans for it

    ReplyDelete
  6. You have done amazing!!! I have loved the story of this yarn so far and I am excited to see what you turn this into.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow that yarn turned out so amazing! Whatever you knit it into is going to be just gorgeous.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Tremendous! The savings, the yarn, the story - just wonderful. I knew that you were on to something when you started, but I had no idea it would turn out like this. I can't wait to see what it becomes.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Damn! What a steal! The yarn looks so much better upcycled. Great job on plying.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Awesome work, its a gorgeous colour, I think not dyeing it is a decision. I am well impressed with the outcome! Now, what are you doing to turn it into!?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Oh my gosh! What a find! I love to do this with thrift sweaters. : ) can't wait to see what you make out of it!

    ReplyDelete
  12. WOW. It really did turn out gorgeous! I know why you enjoyed working on it so much now. Congrats buddy, you deserve it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wow. The price difference between new cashmere yarn and reclaimed is kind of mind-boggling. (And making me want to take a trip to the thrift store tomorrow!) What a gorgeous bunch of yarn you've made here, the plying is just perfect looking, and I agree with you that it's a nice and slightly unusual colour. I can't wait to see what you end up making with it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. alright, you've convinced me. xD
    time to go sweater thrifting.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I haven't done a Goodwill unravellable sweater hunt in a while. This is reminding me how much fun they are. I love the idea of plying the recycled yarn (not that I love the idea of plying all that much on its own). I've passed up sweaters in the past because it looked like the yarn I'd get would be too thin for anything but lace.

    I've tried the Jade Sapphire stuff - spent an entire gift certificate on 2 skeins at Xmas. I made a cowl and ohmygod, if you ever scrape together the cash, it's totally worth it.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Awesome! So the retail price for 1,100 yards would've run you around $330. Upcycling, you spent only 1.7% of that. Crazy!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I think the colour is gorgeous! I'm glad it's all done plying because I can't wait to see what you make with it! My mother in law does a lot of shopping in charity shops - I'll have to get her to keep an eye out for upcycled sweaters for me!

    ReplyDelete
  18. That's a lot of yardage from a sweater, especially considering you plied and plied the yarn. It's always a huge saving with recycled yarn. I did a lot of ripping and winding when I was a little girl growing up in China. Now I find winding yarn quite soothing.

    ReplyDelete
  19. What a transformation between the freshly-frogged and the skeined yarn! It's such a great colour. Do you know what you're going to make with it?

    ReplyDelete
  20. Stunning! It came out beautifully.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Awesome! I can't wait to see what you knit with it!

    ReplyDelete
  22. This is so tempting... and your rules make it all sound so easy (even though time consuming).
    And I love this grey, too, it's a lovely shade.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Huge cost savings...I admire the effort!

    ReplyDelete
  24. We are producing 100% cotton yarn of several counts ranging from 10/s up to 40/s for knitting and weaving.
    yarn exporter in Pakistan
    standard textile Mills Pakistan

    ReplyDelete

I would love to hear from you!