Thursday, July 1, 2010

Mere yarn (less cash!)

I've written here before about how I try to knit in accordance with my values. By that I usually mean my SOCIAL values--which tend to be far more ssk than k2tog, in case you're wondering. I like to support independent shopkeepers, organic and humane fiber sources, and post-consumer recycled content when I buy yarn. I hang on to scraps, and give away a decent portion of what I make. What's more, I think of the act of knitting is itself as a form of thoughtful and conscious consumption--making a garment helps remind one of how much time and energy goes into the making of all things, and is a compelling argument against wasting that time and energy.

Social values are only one influence on the choices we make, though; economic values are a separate, and as often as not competing, factor. Sure, it makes economic AND social sense for me to borrow knitting books from my local public library or the LYS co-op collection. But by the same token, it's hard to justify the cash cost or carbon footprint of 100% cashmere fiber, much of which comes from overseas and is gathered under unknowable conditions. So aside from the occasional taste of cashmere in a blended yarn (some of which I do happen to be using right now, for a secret project to be unveiled in August) I've never indulged in the stuff. Until now...and that's because I found an unbelievable bargain that DIDN'T require me to mortgage my conscience.

While prowling the racks of a Salvation Army* shop in Ann Arbor, MI last week, I found not one but two very nice 100% cashmere sweaters--fully-fashioned, barely worn, with no awkwardly placed moth holes or nasty stains. They were heavenly soft, and in gorgeous colors--a deep cerise and a brilliant heathered azure. The kicker? They were on sale: pullover sweaters were 2 for $5, and it happened to be student-discount day, which gave me an extra 33% off. Jackpot! By the time I was on the plane home at the end of the week, I already had the red one halfway dismantled and the first sleeve entirely frogged. Can I even begin to describe the visceral pleasure to be had in brrrrpppping out a seam, pick-pick-picking at the top of the piece to get it started, and then ripping and winding, ripping and winding, until you have a grapefruit-sized ball of luxurious (gently used) laceweight cashmere? FOR TWO LOUSY BUCKS?! Well, you have to feel it for yourself, but this is what that looks like...whee!

It still needs to be soaked and hung to get the kinks out, but in case you couldn't tell, I'm hooked on recycling cashmere sweaters now. Stay tuned for what this bounty turns into. There's ounces and ounces of both colors--plenty for a lace shawl or scarf, and probably even a garment. I'm definitely thinking a lace project for the blue stuff, since it's more of a color that I would wear. And maybe the cerise will turn back into a sweater eventually.

Whatever they become, these will be projects that just feel right in every way; you can't put a price on that. (Although if you did, it would be $3.71.)

*Sorry, Melissa. :-} Goodwill still rules!


Ghislaine said...

Such a good idea! Never thought that this would be possible! Iam so interested to know what you have made out of this wool. Greetings

Melissa said...

Not to worry, Snowden, I fully support a bargain - especially on cashmere!