By Larraine Roulston:
Old sweaters sporting holes at the elbows are quite unsuitable to pass along to others. They need not be tossed away, however. Besides being unraveled for the wool, they also offer easier opportunities to create unique holiday gifts and crafts via upcycling by cutting and using various parts of the sweaters.
Mittens: You may want to wash the sweater first and dry it with heat to shrink the wool, thus making it thicker for mittens. Using your hand as a pattern, cut out the shapes of two mittens. Usually a sweater has ribbing at the bottom; this part will serve as the mitten’s cuff, as shown in the link below. Sew up the sides that are not on the fold. Stitch on a simple design or add initials to give them a personal touch. By cutting the mittens larger, you can create oven mitt covers that can be easily removed and washed when stained.
For winter weather, pieces of a sweater can be fashioned into a hat or a wool skirt.
Tea Cozy: By cutting out the arc shape of a tea pot or the taller French press coffee maker, design covers to keep beverages hotter longer. Make it even thicker by lining the tea cozy with material and stuffing a batten between the lining and the wool.
Hot Pads: Cut out a few small squares to provide a set of matching hot pads. Sides can be finished with seam binding.
Pot Decor: To add color to a planter pot, cut wool into long wide strips to wind around a flower pot. This could also apply to a small pail or box that holds your potatoes or onions.
Warmers: Sleeves can be cut off and transformed into a pair of leg or arm warmers. The tubular piece also can be upcycled into a neck warmer by sewing one end and partially filling it with rice or popcorn before stitching the other end to close it. The same can be done to construct a door draft sock. Fill the sock with bits of wool from a cut-up a sweater.
Infinity Scarves: To keep fashionable and warm at the same time, check out the 26 infinity scarves in the link below. Unlike the traditional scarf, this style is a closed loop and can become very versatile as a head warmer or a shawl.
Cuddly Toy: Craft a soft toy for the toddler in your life. Simply cut out a simple shape, sew up the sides, and stuff accordingly. If creating an animal, embroider its eyes and nose; and add ears, wool hair, whiskers — even legs if you wish.
Ornaments: The sweater size and colors may be well suited to yield a large Christmas stocking. Wool bells or stars hanging from the tree would make lovely non-breakable ornaments.
A Throw: It takes quite a few squares to make a decently sized throw; however, with a few old sweaters of the same thickness, you can cut out variously sized squares and rectangles, and stitch them together for a unique, small sofa throw. And remember — bits of wool can be composted.
Tattered sweaters will come to the rescue for last minute, easy DIY gifts. They can add to the excitement of the holidays and save you money.
Larraine writes children’s illustrated adventure books on composting and pollinating. Visit, www.castlecompost.com