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Speaking of the Summer in Sweden Afghan... After weaving in all the ends on my initial stack of 40 squares (which went well right to the end-- never got completely sick of the process!), I decided to embrace the old "in for a penny, in for a pound" mentality. What's the point of crocheting a blanket that's just a tad too small? I don't like a blanket that doesn't cover my feet when I lie down and pull it up under my chin, and though this is intended for a couch / lap blanket, I suspect the time will come when I'll want to stretch out underneath it and not have my feet left out in the cold. So, another round of square-making it is! I think I'll have enough when this batch of 14 squares is done. That will make a total of 54 squares-- 9 x 6 squares plus an edging of some sort. (Still pondering that edging...)
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I took a break from the afghan to do some "yarn reclaiming". Have you ever unraveled a sweater for the yarn? Before last week, I'd only unraveled (at least parts of) four sweaters-- all 100% cotton. I know some people wouldn't bother with "just" cotton, but it was worth it for me, because I wanted some thinner cotton yarn than what I can find locally-- and I wanted to obtain it as cheaply as possible. That said, once I knew how to do it, I was itching to try the process on something a little more luxurious.
I was fortunate enough to learn that one of the local thrift stores was having a 10-clothing-items-for-$10 sale, a few months ago, and I managed to find two sweaters that looked promising. One was 100% cashmere (antique white / cream, cobweb weight) and the other was 70% lambswool / 30% cashmere (pink, thinnish lace weight).
I also finally got around to unraveling a worsted(ish) weight sweater I'd bought much longer ago. Unfortunately, when I dug it out, I realized that it smelled of cigarettes. Long story short, I soaked (and thoroughly rinsed) it a couple of times. First, I tried a 30-minute soak in white vinegar and water that didn't seem to do the trick. Next, I soaked it for an hour in a solution of water and Odo-Ban. No more ciggy smell! (Thank goodness. I would've had to throw it out / donate it, otherwise. Can't abide that odor.) Now I'm unraveling lots of vibrant red yarn-- 54% nylon / 40% angora rabbit hair / 6% lambswool. I'm going to drape one (still intact) section of the sweater across my neck for several minutes before I unravel it all. I want to make sure the angora's not too itchy for me. (I doubt I'm allergic, but you never know. If I can't use it, maybe someone I know would appreciate it...)
I wouldn't recommend unraveling lace or cobweb weight yarn for everyone, but if you're of the right temperament, it's not too bad. (I actually enjoy it, myself.) However, for fingering or worsted weight, I think even some children could do it-- especially if an adult got it started for them. (Picking the seams apart is the most difficult part, by far.) If you're interested in giving unraveling a try, I suggest you give this link a look first-- even before you go thrift-store-hopping: My Virtual Sanity: Recycling Sweaters for Yarn. Dawn (the blogger) tells you everything you need to know. After reading that entry, you'll know exactly what to look for when you're deciding whether or not to buy a sweater for unraveling. (Some sweaters will unravel into nice, long balls of yarn; others will yield nothing but short, useless lengths of yarn.)
Looking for good candidates in thrift stores and yard sales is a fun treasure hunt-- and the process of taking the sweaters apart is fun, too. Unraveling is a good excuse to sit a while and listen to a favorite movie, TV show, CD, radio program, audio book, podcast, or what-have-you. And then, at the end of it, you've got new yarn to play with! (And possibly some relatively fancy yarn, at that. I doubt I'd ever have even considered buying angora, for instance, but now I'm really excited to see what it's like to crochet with.) Highly recommended.