The Sweater Sweater

I realize this may seem like an odd title for the post, but “Sweater Sweater” pretty accurately captures my latest patchworking project. I’ve taken a few day break from my Birds in the Air quilt and created a sweater out of… sweaters (anda couple of scarves). True to my pack rat nature, I’ve been holding onto a bunch of old sweaters for a couple of years now though I never, ever wear them. For some reason, I couldn’t part with these items as I have with others. In some cases, I was too fond of their colors (I have a thing for stripes and) and in others they were simply too soft. The scarves were both. Yet I decided to finally face the reality and put them to good use. In the end I have combined several essentially non-functioning items into something that I will wear- actually, something I’m excited to wear. Here it is:

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It doesn’t get much more patchworky than this! Really, I just wanted to have fun with it and try something new. I’ll admit, as a knitter it was at first a little painful cutting into sweaters (though my mother always reminds me of when I cut up one of my favorite sweaters at about 8 years old just to see what it felt like, an odd impulse that I have wondered about for years) but I got over it fairly quickly. I tried to incorporate little bits like pockets and seams to really get the full salvaging effect:

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Someone once described Jack Smith’s films (and performance work) as embodying an “aesthetics of impoverishment.” Now, I realize that my work has seemingly little to do with Smith’s and I don’t mean to imply that I want to look impoverished, but there’s something very appealing to me about that phrase, that notion. It does, after all, imply patching together remnants, making something out of nothing. In this case, the best part is that I’ve really ended up with a whole that is better than its individual components. These weren’t exactly shabby sweaters to begin with (one from Anthropologie, a couple from J.Crew) but they were of little interest or use to me until now. The annoying little technicalities of sizing, etc. worked out (I roughly followed the sizing guidelines in Ann Budd’s “The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns”) so it actually fits comfortably and looks, as far as I’m concerned, beautiful. It’s been a wonderful project to look forward to these past couple of days in between long library visits and hours of thesis writing, now that I’m back on campus and aiming to finish a first draft by January 21st. Whenever I get bogged down by academia, this kind of work reinvigorates me, a palpable reminder of why I find quilts- and all patchworking- so essentially intriguing.

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