UP­CY­CLE That Old Sweater

Add swag­ger to any project or sweater—hand­made or store-bought, first­hand or sec­ond­hand—with sur­face em­bel­lish­ments us­ing that sin­gle skein in your stash, no­tions from your sewing bas­ket, or other bits and pieces too pretty to just throw out. Here are jus

Creative Knitting - - NEWS - By BETH WHITE­SIDE

Em­bel­lish­ing El­e­ments

An “em­bel­lish­ing el­e­ment” can be yarn of any kind, it can be ei­ther close in weight to the project yarn or a very dif­fer­ent weight, depend­ing on the de­sired ef­fect. Or it can be some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent, like a rib­bon or fringe trim in a fab­ric-store no­tions sec­tion.

Look­ing fur­ther to our DIY craft­ing cousins, why not add jew­elry chain, cord, beads, pen­dants and charms to the mix? Used and placed ju­di­ciously so the weight doesn’t over­whelm the back­ground fab­ric, these can make won­der­ful em­bel­lish­ments. Do con­sider the clean­ing im­pli­ca­tions of your choices; on a bag any­thing goes, but on a sweater you’ll need to plan for wash­ing!

Du­pli­cate Stitch

This tech­nique is a clas­sic, of­ten used for adding names to Christ­mas stock­ings, for adding color in small sec­tions of in­tar­sia, and for “fix­ing” mis­takes in other types of knits.

With yarn threaded on a tapestry or darn­ing nee­dle and the right side fac­ing, fol­low the path of the knit stitches over and un­der, tak­ing the nee­dle to the back to move it up, down or side­ways.

With du­pli­cate stitch you can cre­ate de­signs on ex­ist­ing fab­ric, al­low­ing you free rein to “draw” what­ever shapes you wish. Since its build­ing blocks are stitches, your shapes are some­what con­strained by their di­men­sions. For ex­am­ple, stock­inette stitch stitches are usu­ally wider than they are tall (e.g., five stitches but seven rows to the inch us­ing worsted-weight yarn).

The free-form shape at bot­tom right of the yel­low swatch is worked in yarn that con­trasts with the back­ground, but is ap­prox­i­mately the same thick­ness, or weight. The sin­gle-stitch “dots” of color to its left are a mul­ti­col­ored rib­bon. Be­low, on the pink swatch, a tiny pyra­mid of glitzy yarn wound with hues re­lated to the back­ground draw the eye.

Draw­ing With Hook & Nee­dle

Du­pli­cate stitch’s con­straints are re­moved when you pick up a cro­chet hook, or a knit­ting or tapestry nee­dle for these tech­niques.

With yarn at the wrong side of the work and hook in hand, slip-stitch cro­chet through the work to cre­ate free-form shapes. Or work on the right side and insert the hook side­ways through loop(s) or the tops of stitches, yarn around the hook, and work a sin­gle cro­chet (sc) stitch.

If a cro­chet hook is not your cup of tea you can pick up stitches with a knit­ting nee­dle, ei­ther by work­ing through the fab­ric as for slip-stitch cro­chet or on the right side by in­sert­ing a nee­dle through one loop of sev­eral stitches and knit­ting (or purl­ing!) them. You can ei­ther bind off as you pick up, or work an en­tire row first for a raised look.

With yarn on a tapestry nee­dle, one can sim­ply weave over/ un­der stitches, ei­ther to cre­ate sin­gle straight lines, or to fill in ar­eas. Draw it out on graph pa­per, use an ex­ist­ing in­tar­sia chart, or be in­spired with nee­dle in hand. You can go over more than one stitch, but be aware of how long the re­sult­ing strand will be, since long ones can catch un­ex­pect­edly on fin­gers and sharp edges!

Couch­ing is another op­tion for cre­at­ing lines and curves on fab­ric. Lay down a strand of yarn, cord or other el­e­ment in the de­sired shape, and with sewing thread (to hide it) or a con­trast­ing yarn (to high­light it), work evenly spaced stitches over the top of strand to hold it in place.

On the yel­low swatch, the white/blue/orange/pink multi and yel­low rib­bon ar­rows are slip-stitch cro­chet, while the pink mul­ti­col­ored with beads is sin­gle cro­chet. The lilac and blue-green chains are pick-up/bind-off chains; each uses both im­me­di­ate pick-up/bind-off and work a row/bind-off tech­niques. Weav­ing is shown in the vi­o­let “seeded tri­an­gle” at up­per left, and couch­ing is on the other side of the swatch, worked in­vis­i­bly in thread across the spi­ral of twisted cord trim.

But­tons, Beads & MORE

Why stop at sewing on but­tons and beads? Re­pur­pose old jew­elry chains, charms, the lone ear­ring in your jew­elry box you just can’t part with—the list of pos­si­bil­i­ties goes on and on. The yel­low swatch has flow­ers made from old rib­bon sewn on, some plain but­tons on top of a chain, and uses jump rings to at­tach pretty stitch mark­ers.

But­tons are stacked to add to a 3-D im­pact, some O-rings from the craft store are at­tached two ways, one which cov­ers the bar through the cen­ter while the other ex­poses it. Beads are slipped onto a safety pin that is sewn di­ag­o­nally onto the fab­ric, and also at­tached in more cus­tom­ary fash­ion by string­ing them on yarn sewn to fab­ric (in this case back­stitched in place).

Jew­elry chains could be at­tached as watch chains to waist­coats. Pur­ple rib­bon runs through one chain, hold­ing it into an “S” shape. The other chain was slipped onto yarn be­tween stitches dur­ing the du­pli­cate stitch­ing that was done across the fab­ric.

Trims can be sewn di­rectly onto knit fab­ric, as with the green fringe on the yel­low swatch. Or, in tra­di­tional knit­ting fash­ion, make fringe out of yarn but use some­thing dif­fer­ent in some man­ner from the back­ground. Fuzzy pink fringe is dif­fer­ent in tex­ture, but re­lated in color.

Em­broi­dery Stitches

Fi­nally, em­broi­der on your fab­ric! Play with scale, work­ing with yarns much larger than the fab­ric and/or work across mul­ti­ple rows and stitches, as with the cross stitch and blan­ket stitch on the pink swatch.

Small group­ings of lazy daisies (pur­ple suede), French knots and bul­lion stitches (both orange) can be sprin­kled across a yoke or along a bor­der or cuff. Chain stitches (blue-green) can wind into shapes, as can back stitches (fuzzy green); al­though, on here they are pre­sented ver­ti­cally. And satin stitches (co­ral) can be used to fill shapes or, as they are here, to cre­ate a cross-hatch ef­fect in a shape. The raised pur­ple and gray sari yarn is satin stitch worked over a cro­chet hook (pulled out later!) held onto the fab­ric to cre­ate a raised co­coon shape.

Gar­ment De­ci­sions

Whew! We’ve just brain­stormed a ton of em­bel­lish­ment ideas! But how to ar­range them on a gar­ment, bag or other project?

With the base item in hand, gather all the em­bel­lish­ing el­e­ments you are con­sid­er­ing. Are there any el­e­ments or tech­niques that you ab­so­lutely want to use? Start your plan­ning with those and where you think they will look best. No need to work tech­niques, just try group­ing or lay­ing things out, look­ing at color, tex­ture, pat­terns and so forth, see­ing how they in­ter­act.

Look for con­trast in color and tex­ture. Try play­ing with vari­a­tions on the same hue, or us­ing very dif­fer­ent con­trast­ing col­ors. How do rough el­e­ments (fuzzy yarn, jew­elry chain) in­ter­act with smooth ones (but­tons, mer­cer­ized cot­tons)? Con­trast cre­ates vis­ual in­ter­est, grab­bing the eye.

Fi­nally, look at re­peat­ing el­e­ments, col­ors and tex­tures to help unify the de­sign and pre­vent it from look­ing hap­haz­ard. Bot­tom bor­ders, cuffs and/or neck­lines are great ar­eas for re­peat­ing el­e­ments. And en­joy the process of cre­at­ing a one-of-a-kind piece!

Yarns, fab­ric trim, but­tons, beads, charms, stitch mark­ers, the sin­gle ear­ring that re­mains when the other one is lost—any of these can be at­tached to your sweater!

Tech­niques in­clude du­pli­cate stitch, cro­chet and knit chains, couch­ing and weav­ing. El­e­ments in­clude beads (spun on the pink yarn), but­tons, stitch mark­ers on jump rings, rib­bon flow­ers, fringe trim from the no­tions counter.

Tech­niques in­clude em­broi­dery: cross stitch, blan­ket stitch, chain stitch, lazy daisy, bul­lion stitch, back stitch and satin stitch. El­e­ments in­clude beads, but­tons, O-rings, rib­bon flow­ers and jew­elry chains.

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