Friday, June 15, 2012

Sweaters to Yarn: Shopping Trip #1

I'm sure you've noticed that I've been knitting more than anything recently. The only way I can afford to knit this much (with this quality of yarn) is to buy thrift store sweaters, unravel them, and use the yarn. It sounds like a lot of bother, but it really isn't once you get the process down.

And if you price a sweater's worth of cashmere yarn, you'll understand why this is so fun and exciting. Let's just use one of my recently-unraveled cashmere sweaters as a comparison ...

We'll say this is laceweight, which is the case with most of the luxury yarns I find in sweater form. There are a few exceptions, but let's use a typical one for an example.


For $5.50, I got a women's size large Lord & Taylor cashmere sweater at my local Goodwill.

It unraveled like a dream and appears to be a light fingering weight. I got a total of 254 grams of yarn out of this sweater:

For comparison, the cheapest light fingering cashmere yarn I could find on a quick scan retails at $27 for 50 grams. That means that I would have paid $135 for this as yarn.

What, you can't imagine spending that much money on yarn for one sweater? I can't either. That's why I unravel sweaters for my yarn.

So, with those kinds of savings in mind, check out what I picked up at the thrift store yesterday ($5.50 for each sweater):

100% cashmere, men’s size Large - Although there is some serging on this sweater, it appears to be mostly decorative. I hope so, or I’m going to have a warm, snuggly nightgown this winter! I just couldn’t pass it up …

50% cashmere/50% silk, men’s size ?? (really big), made in Italy - I love the color of this one, and a silk/cashmere blend is absolutely amazing to touch.

100% cashmere, men’s size small, made in Macau - I’ll lose a little bit of yarn to the buttonholes, but this thing is huge for a size small, so I’m not concerned.

100% silk, from Neiman Marcus, men’s size XL - The amount of yarn in this sweater is almost unbelievable. It hangs almost to my knees and wraps the whole way around my body without me being in the sweater.

After finding all of those in the men’s department, I realized I could use a coupon and get another sweater for just $0.50 more. So I grabbed this one from the women’s racks because I dearly love the color:

100% cashmere, women’s size XL - You probably can’t tell, but it has flecks of darker pink scattered here and there in a very tasteful way. It’s pretty hard to describe but definitely a feast for the eyes. If it were the right size, I’d be wearing this one!

So, let's recap the savings, shall we? I paid a total of $23.85 (including tax) for these beauties. If I bought them as yarn, I would probably be looking at $675, probably more because most of these sweaters are a good deal larger than my sample blue one. If you guessed that as an entire lifetime yarn budget for me, you're probably close.

Now I'm sure you understand why I say that I love unraveling sweaters!


sharon :) said...

I would like to know how you 'unravel' sweaters. How do you know where to start? Your ideas interest me quite a bit!


sharon :)

DeeAnn said...

I am always reading about unraveling sweaters for yarn. I never gave it a try because I thought it would be a mess or the yarn would be shredded. I know those are very silly and counterproductive frugal thoughts. :) I love the way you wrapped your finished yarns. The skeins look like they came from an upscale yarn store. Now, I can't wait to find some pretty sweaters to unravel. Thanks for sharing.

Christa said...

Here is a great tutorial:

It was the most helpful when I was getting started. HTH!

sharon :) said...

Thank you Christa! It helps quite a bit!

Shoregirl said...

Wow -- that IS a great savings! I too LOVE to find thrift store items to use in crafting....for me it's bags of vintage lace (for a dollar or two), baby wipe containers FULL of ric rac (for 75 cents), or maybe a bag of buttons. Glad you found so many good deals and have lots of fun yarn waiting for your knitting needles!