Right before I left for college, a friend of my mother’s gave me some hand-me-down cashmere sweaters, and I’ve been in love ever since. It’s gotten to the point where I can no longer wear wool sweaters – except an old one someone’s gran in Ireland made that I bought at a carboot sale in Wales for about 50p. I have two big cashmere throws that I wrap up in when I take an afternoon nap. One’s cream and one’s French blue. Last summer, when I moved into my 110-year old farm house, I neglected to re-pack my sweater collection which I had accumulated over several years. The moths got into the sweaters and I was furious that I’d let that happen. But, ever the optimist, I decided to take the sweaters and remake them into something useful. I’ve been cutting them up and remaking them into patchwork scarves.
As you might have gathered, one of my favourite ways to spend an afternoon is to “poke around”. During my travels, I always check the sweater section and look for cashmere sweaters. And it’s quite amazing how often I pick up one or two… or more. I make a habit of never paying more than about $5.00 for one, although I have gotten them for as little as $.79! Most have a hole or two, which doesn’t bother me, because I can cut around them. And most of them are “name brand” sweaters, some even of great Scottish cashmere. I wash them in special cashmere wash from The Laundress in New York. And then I chuck them in the dryer, because I don’t care if they shrink, which they don’t, because cashmere doesn’t felt like wool.
My favourite part of the process is putting together the colours to make each scarf. The scarf on the left was built around a blue sweater with a grey Fair Isle pattern, so I used a white cable knit sweater, and two grey ones. The scarf on the right was built around the pink paisley and so I used moss green, celadon green, pink and white sweaters.
For this scarf, I used a hot pink and pale tan striped scarf as the base and then added more hot pink and tan, as well as some baby pink. I pin everything together and then sew it. Then I press the edges to block the scarf into the shape I want. The scarves are usually about six inches by six feet. Except for this one, which I made in navy blue and white for my cousin Chris whose school colours at Oxford are navy and white, and is about eight feet long.