Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Upcycling an old sweater into a shawl

I finally got around to doing something with the recycled yarn from my first thrift store sweater unraveling event.

The unravelling yielded a huge amount of apple green fingering weight yarn.  Some of the yarn was sacrificed for the ill-fated Brickyard Bag (and Race fans - in case you missed it - that certain race car driver with the movie star wife for whom the bag was being designed - actually won the Indy 500 this year!  Just think of the exposure if I actually could have gotten that darn design to work :})

OK - back to reality.  I wanted to use the yarn to try out some different types of shawl constructions - top down, bottom up, side to side - but couldn't really see getting a lot of wear out of apple green wool shawls, or see them being lovingly received as gifts.  So some over dying was in order.  This was my first attempt - and I made a serendipitous mistake.  I used Wilton's food coloring (the kind made for serious cake decorating) in the Delphinium Blue shade.  I had four skeins, roughly the same size, to dye, so I tried to keep the amounts of dye consistent in each batch.  I  heated the dye bath and yarn on stove to just come to a boil and then turned it off and let it cool, as all the color had been absorbed.  When I rinsed it, I realized that I did not get a consistent color across the skein; instead it was variegated with blue, teal, purple, with little splashes of magenta - like magic!  The second skein was just a little lighter- more yarn I think, but I got the same variegation.  By third batch I figured out that some of the icing colorant was sinking to the bottom of the pot and not mixing, causing the variegation.  My own version of kettle dyeing.

This is my first shawl from the wool - it's knit from the Emily Shawl pattern by Mandy Moore from Knitscene Winter/Spring 2010.  Emily Shawl.  This was a very interesting pattern because of the side to side construction technique.  The pattern is well written, works up quickly, and was a fun knit.    


  1. That is awesome! I did that on accident once, too. I was using koolaid to dye some yarn yellow. When I pulled it out, it was slightly varigated dark spots, light spots. I looked at the liquid and, just like you said, undesolved koolaid. Kool!
    But yours is way more beautiful, with the green under color. I love the shawl you made with it, too. A perfect use for a perfect yarn.
    Not bad for a recycled sweater and Wiltons food coloring! :)

  2. Hi, I enjoyed your blog and agree about apple green! Your dye job came out really beautiful and unlike most of my mistakes is probably even prettier than the solid would have been. I have a question if you don't mind, I am knitting the emily shawl and this is my first lace project it is also my first shawl and I have never used a chart before. I know the shawl is knit side to side so where are the decreases? Is there something I am missing? I am getting to the end of the 6 times doing chart c and don't know what to do next, I can't find anything that tells me what to do! Please help! Thank you

  3. Hi - thanks for kind words about the blog. The Emily shawl is not constructed like a traditional shawl. It is a triangle knit from the point on one side to the long edge on the other side. Blocking will bring it into shape. So there are no decreases at the end. Just increases till it's the right length. So you are doing fine and are just about finished!. Just bind off loosely, and block it into the shape of a shawl. I had to blck mine fairly severely - don't be afraid to do that with lace to get all the holes to open up. consider posting a picture over on You will be able to see pictures and comments of other people who have enjoyed Emily as well. If you have other questions - feel free to email me (see contact) if that is easier. Happy knitting! Sarah B

  4. Oh my goodness thank you so so much for your help, usually I get halfway done with something and realize I have done something horribly wrong and have to redo it. Your quick reply was so nice too as I was freaking out after all this hard work and 3 do overs. I will definitely post it on ravelry if it comes out nicely and will let you know. I hope mine is half as nice as yours as I want to give it to someone who has been very sweet to me! Once again thank you for helping a panicky semi-new knitter!

  5. Glad I could help - I have certainly been in that same panic spot! I'm sure that your shawl is going to be just beautiful and your friend will treasure it.