Saturday, December 05, 2009

straw into gold

More like old sweaters and a sheet into a blanket, but six of one, half a dozen of the other.

I've been wanting to make a felted sweater blanket fo-evah, ever since I saw this one in Alterknits a few years back:

I don't know why I like this book so much. Some of the projects I wouldn't particularly make -- I mean, reference this guy:

How he got that girl while wearing that sweater, I'll never know. A moment of questionable taste aside, the book always inspires me. I think it's because it has soft, modern photography; a very open kind of creativity; quiet loveliness; and Portland as a backdrop.

The front took me roughly from roughly 7 p.m. until 1:30 a.m. I still get crazy to finish things and stay up all night sometimes, but I would've put this one down around midnight if it wasn't for the fact that I was having the absolute best conversation with my friend V while I was working on it. Between the making and the wonderful, wonderful talking, time flew by. At about 2:15 I lay on the couch to test the blanket out, and that was all she wrote until I woke up and got in bed at 6 a.m. I got up a couple hours later and cut and sewed the lining. I so didn't want to line it; I already miss the stretchy goodness of the sweaters flying solo, but it wasn't quite warm enough. I used a faux denim sheet, and now it's just right.

This was one of those projects that I wanted to make in an instant. I told Natalie that I didn't want it to become a thing. The granny square afghan is enough of a thing, among several other things, now that I think about it, and I was after a quick and dirty fix. Not to mention that it was in the 20s last night; so I needed a cozy couch blanket post-haste.

The process of making it was fun and liberating. I started a section without too much thought to anything but not cutting the sweaters into too many pieces (thus increasing my workload), and other sections evolved from there. I love it when something takes over and you just go with it. I like the end result a lot, even though it's on the masculine side. Left to me, there'd be orange and brown here, probably instead of the gray. But finding 100%-wool sweaters to felt is the hardest part of making these blankets, especially when you live in Texas or California. In the men's section at Value Village, I managed to sort through the acrylic Cosby sweaters and come away with a decent haul, and I got a couple more from The Salvation Army. I paid from 2.80 to 4.90 per sweater (would've been more, but The Salvation Army was having a half-price day). What I wanted was a fabulous selection at 5 bucks all-you-can-grab, but that didn't happen. I'm definitely going to make more of these, and if ever I find the perfect sweaters to suit my liking (orange, orange, and more orange), I'll pass this one on to Mister Stevens or some other dude.

You should make one of these. You can get all fancy pants, stay more true to the one in Alterknits, or patch to your heart's content. Anything goes. My best advice is to iron your sections as you make them. I wasn't, but had to Stitch Witchery a couple of holes and noticed how nice ironing was making the thing look; so I kept it up. When am I going to learn that the iron is a true blue friend to mankind?

Oh, yeah. I almost forgot. I made this blanket on my new-to-me sewing machine, Blanche II, a Kenmore 1781.

I had to give the original Blanche away because it was too heavy to ship from LA, being in a table and all. That about broke my heart, as that was then my main machine, and I truly enjoyed sewing on it. I've been using this one for the little sewing I've been doing, but it's more temperamental than I like. Enter Value Village, my new hot spot, once again. A week or so ago, Blanche II was there to be had for 26 dollars. For shame, I neither cleaned nor oiled the machine before I used it, but it sews something fierce. It didn't come with any attachments or feet, not even a zigzag foot (or a manual), but because it's in such good shape to be 30-years old I broke my declaration only to buy tricked-out machines and picked it up. So far, I'm in love, but Blanche II will have more company one of these days, I'm sure.

Mira, my non helper in the sewing room.


golden star said...

Really love the blanket! Can you explain the process a bit more? How did you sew together - zigzag stitch?

Now, Blanche II is fabuloso, too. You are scoring just right in TX! I got a 1660 at a rummage sale and it's so great. Those Japanese manufactured Kenmores are such stable machines.

Ellen Bloom said...

Ooooo...that is ONE BEAUTIFUL BLANKET, Carla! I love how you put the different sized pieces together! It's a true work of abstract art! Excellent design sense!

woolanthropy said...

The blankets totally ROCKS!
I love the v-neck section and the bit of turquoise. It's awesome. And you lined it?! Whoa that's big.

Okay Crispina is some kind of maniac.

And so is Mira, the non-helper, but oh so cute cat.

Adrienne said...


jenna! said...

Fabulous blanket!

I've been felting wool & cashmere sweaters as the moths have been getting to them. I was expecting to do the blanket in wool sweaters (with a few collected from the thrift stores around W. LA). Oddly, my cashmere collection grew quite a bit this year so it looks like my first attempt will be luxe with the cashmere.

I'm glad to hear you let the blanket evolve as you went. That was my plan but I was a bit afraid of where that would take me. Great job...this is exactly the inspiration I needed!

Anonymous said...

I love the blanket - so very cool, and warm!

j.kaori said...

That is a very cool blanket. I've only felted one thing (intentionally) in my life, which was a little bag that became over-felted. I haven't attempted it since, but I would love to make that blanket! Mira is such a cutie --- thank you for including her in the post!

Stacy said...

Love the blanket! And, love the cat.... super cute rolling around like that.

Onna said...

Awesome blanket.. I love repurposing wool! And you made great color choices!