Try This: Recycled Sweater Blanket

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Photography By Susan Wasinger

Recycled warmth

What to do with that beautiful lambswool sweater with the moth hole in the sleeve? Or the cashmere cardigan that your teenager shrunk to infant size? Turn it into a soft, warm, snuggly woolen throw you can wrap yourself in on cold winter nights. If machine washed and dried, any wool, angora, or cashmere sweater shrinks scandalously to yield a dense, soft fiber that doesn’t unravel. Thus, the simplest of sewing techniques can be used to create a patchwork of naturally warm fiber. We supplemented our cast-off sweaters with a few others from the local used clothing store. This 48-by-60-inch throw required about eight adult-size sweaters.

1. Wash the sweaters in hot water and machine dry them. This shrinks the fibers and tightens the knit so it won’t unravel.

2. Cut out large rectangles of the fabric. Cut the pieces so that one direction measures 12 inches wide. (Hint: Long, uniform strips are easier to assemble.)

3. You should be able to get a large rectangle from the front and the back, 12 inches wide by as much as 18 inches long. The sleeves will yield a smaller rectangle.

4. Use an impermanent ink marker to draw lines on your fabric and cut out some graphic elements from the scraps to decorate the finished quilt. Because of the no-ravel edges, these pieces can be sewn on with an easy, running stitch.

5. Sew the pieces together along their 12-inch sides. Overlap the edges of the fabric about 3/8 inch and use a broad, open zig-zag stitch to piece together. Clip all seams within 1/8 inch of the stitching to smooth and minimize the seams.

6. Piece together long strips using the rectangles. Then sew the large strips of pieced fabric together to create the throw.