Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Upcycle Challenge

Nancy's 100% cashmere sweater
December 2017
At the December meeting of the Fremont Fiber Arts Guild, interested members exchanged thrifted, wool sweaters for an Upcycle Challenge. You can read about the challenge and see the before photos in this post.

The package I selected contained a 100% black cashmere sweater with a white stripe down the front and at the bottom.  I've been procrastinating, and decided last week that I needed to just get it done.

Since Sue had some difficulty felting the cashmere vest she received in the swap, I knew it would require several cycles in the wash. I put the vest in a pillowcase and pinned the top because I'd read lint from the item would be a problem, added some towels and liquid dish soap.  I stopped and started the wash cycle three times, to keep the felting process active. I added some boiling water to the washer in the second wash because I doubted the water temperature was hot enough to felt. Once I thought the sweater was felted (fulled) enough, I allowed the washer to go through the rinse cycle.

I even tossed the sweater in the dryer with the towels for a bit to remove some of the lint, and trust me, there was a LOT of lint.

labels attached to a section of the sweater neckline
Through this process, I learned that cashmere does not felt as heavily or densely as wool because it is a very soft fiber.

Once the sweater was dry, I decided to turn it into a mobius scarf. I cut off the sleeves and slit them open at the seam. The front and back were cut apart at the side and shoulder seams. I folded the back and front sections in half and measured the widest section I could achieve for a scarf, which was 6.5 inches. The flat sleeves produced a 6.5 inch flat section each. I determined the sleeve sections could be seamed and added to the folded front and back sections to produce a 50 inch long and 6.5 inch wide double scarf, which would be adequate.

The seams were zig zagged - more on that later.

I made several mobius scarves before with rayon, but I forgot how to do it easily. The following video explains it very well.

Once the machine sewing was finished and I turned the scarf right side out, I discovered a problem: I used black thread to sew the seams. Of course, it was not a problem on the majority of the scarf, but it was on the ivory sections.

I debated about taking the whole scarf apart and sewing the seam with a lighter thread. In the end, I decided to leave it and add some embroidery detail to make it look "planned." The embroidery breaks up the large white stripe. In hindsight, I should have not put the two stripes together because it would have broken up the large expanse of black.

cashmere mobius scarf made from a thrifted sweater
March 2018
This scarf is soft, heavenly, and has a nice halo.

I look forward to seeing what the others do with the sweaters they received in the swap. The finished Upcycle Challenge projects will be displayed at the county fair this summer.


  1. Oh I really like the result - I think the contrasting thread fits right in with the look of it! What a cool idea - I need to try something like this, I think it would be a fun experiment.

  2. The first thing I saw was the black thread and thought, it looked really cool to break up the white stripe. Great save and funky looking scarf. You are so creative!

  3. I am amazed! It turned out so pretty.

  4. That is a fun challenge and you met it creatively. I have a felted bag made by my cousin. It's also very soft.

  5. Now I would never have thought of any of that! What a beautiful scarf you ended up with. I especially like that black stripe in the middle of the ivory. It breaks it up perfectly and adding the bit of embroidery was genius touch. Way to go!
    Blessings, Betsy

  6. You did an amazing job on this upcycle! I thought the black in the white section was embroidery, too, so you can just embellish it with some black yarn and you it will be finished!
    This was a very cool project!

  7. Very clever and very pretty. I bet it is so soft!! Like others, I like the black thread on the white. Turned out great Nancy!!

  8. Very creative! I'm betting the scarf will be very warm and snuggly.

  9. Wait I want to see someone modeling the scarf.... It looks like a cool idea though.

  10. How interesting, I have never heard of that kind of scarf before, or done any felting. It will be great to see what ideas the other members come up with.

  11. Nancy, your idea was brilliant! Wow. Mobius scarf recycle is perfection. Does the State Fair have a category for that? Blue ribbon for sure!

  12. What a neat idea to do with the sweater. It turned out beautiful!


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