Friday, August 22, 2014

Project Sweater Chest


Hi, Knitters,
As it may reach 90 degrees with high humidity today of course I am sorting out heavy wool sweaters in my cedar chest. Doesn't that make sense? I knew you'd understand.

My lovely mother bought this cedar chest for me well over 20 years ago, maybe even closer to 30 years ago. I love it so much. I have stored my handknit wool sweaters in here ever since. But I  have come to the end of my storage space as you can see. I can barely shut the lid. I have no idea how many handknit sweaters and cardigans are in the chest, layer after layer. It is a deep chest.

The cedar chest clearly needs some clearing out, sorting, repurposing. I have gotten rid of some of my handknit sweaters and cardigans throughout the years, but there are some I just can't part with. No matter how dated the style and goofy my knitting was at the time there is something endearing about those old and early handknits. What to do?

I am going to embark on some sort of Project Sweater Chest but I have no idea exactly what that will entail at this point. I need more handknit sweaters and cardigans that are current and that I wear day in and day out. I have about 7 or 8 favorites at this point. (And believe me I have had many flops throughout the years.) Being in the cold, harsh winter climate that Wisconsin offers 7 sweaters is about a week's worth of wear. I think if I had about a dozen cozy sweaters in rotation it would be ideal. Or maybe 14 handknit sweaters, two weeks worth, would be perfect. Yes.

Does a baker's dozen sound like too much? Does it sound greedy? I think in my frozen winter climate that might be a reasonable number of cozy sweaters to have on-hand. I am the queen of wearing the same thing over and over and over again. My kids always ask me, "Didn't you wear that yesterday?" And I always respond, "Why yes I did and probably the day before that, too." I get favorites and I'll wash and wear those favorites to death. I wear handknits like this, too. 

In fact, I don't have a big wardrobe in general. If you have met me teaching a workshop or two or have seen me in photos teaching you will notice that I most often wear a black t-shirt, jeans (sometimes a skirt), clogs, handknit socks if it's cold, and some sort of cardigan either a thin one from the Gap if it's warm or a handknit cardigan or sweater in colder months. This makes packing super quick and simple, necessary for the survival of the traveling teacher.

Anyway, let me know what you think about Project Sweater Chest. I'd love to hear any sweater-knitting plans you have in store.


One last thing, I changed the header on my blog this week. It is now a sweet little water color I painted awhile back. I think it is a refreshing change. It is simple with lots of white space. 


Have a lovely weekend, Knitters. Here's to handknit sweater dreaming.....
xo ~ susan

37 comments:

Chrissy said...

I love this idea! And no, a baker's dozen sounds like a good starting point, not too many at all ;)

Love the header! Susan, you're so talented!! <3

Jenn Wisbeck said...

A couple of small vacuum sealed bags might help for storing any of the sweaters you can't bear to part with.

Love the new header!

BListello said...

I wish I had your "sweater" problem, but maybe my "hat" problem could suffice. I haven't counted them in years, but they do overflow the drawers. Love your new watercolor - been doing your "Candy Cane" baby hat for my charity knitting and thought for a moment your remote camera was on my knitting tray. Regards, Betty - NYC

Biscuit said...

I totally need a cedar chest to store my sweaters in now!

Kristebee said...

I am really hoping to cast on a sweater this weekend and keep one on the needles at all times! I have one DK one planned and yarn for 3 lace/fingering ones... :) sweater challenge accepted!!!

Sara said...

I've always wanted a cedar chest like my mom's. I use a vintage 6 drawer dresser with cedar planks in it to store only wool sweaters. It, too, overflows. Each fall I go thru it and decide that I just might wear that sweater again, so I keep it for another year. My non-wool sweaters have a whole different dresser. I don't think that we're being greedy...just sentimental and possibly, those styles will come back!

Sara in Platteville, where my glasses steamed up when I took Lola for her walk early this morning...yuck!

Karen Budnick said...

Boy,would I love to have a problem like that!! I'm a slow knitter. Slogging through the first sleeve of a cotton "sweater" that would have been perfect for cool nights on the beach. It's too hot for my lap but I'm planning a wool sweater with the Cascade 220 sport I just bought in Pumpkin Spice. If I can put my spindle down long enough :)

Allison Ward said...

We have just bought a new home on an island on the West Coast of Scotland that has little heating to speak of. I need to ramp up my sweater production. I have two sweaters I can wear constantly, two favourites that are currently too small and assorted random disasters. No cedar chest here but a drawer under the bed. A wonderful thought Susan. Talented lady that you are.

Barb said...

As knitters, we understand your dilemma completely. Sweaters we love and adore, some not-so-much, but hard to part with any of them.

And then there are so many new patterns that we would really love to knit - just to add to the stash of sweaters.
*sigh*

Good luck.

Meegan said...

I wish I could wear sweaters more often than I get to. Living on the Central Coast of California makes that hard! But I still knit them for the chance I get to! I believe I have plans & yarn for 5 right now! I didn't get to knit much during my pregnancy so I am making up for it now! :)

Jill C. said...

After the Polar Vortex of last winter, 14 sweaters sounds perfectly reasonable! A thought for some sweaters that are out of date but yet you don't want to fully part with, what about sewing them into pillow covers? I did that with a few from a thrift store and love having the extra splash of knitting on my couch.

Dorothy said...

I think 14 to cover 2 full weeks is perfectly reasonable. But I do like the idea of trying some vacuum bags for ones you'd like to keep that you don't wear now. Keep us posted, please!

joan g said...

It is so hard to part with even the smallest friend. I'd say, get another cedar chest.
love the new look! Joan

Kepanie said...

Your cedar chest is like how my mum and grams have old, Chinese hook chests. I like how you're using it for the knits. I have a drawer of fiber project (posted 8/11 ^__^).

steph said...

this is so funny....sort of a nee-neee-neeeeee moment; a friend and I were just talking this morning about what to do with all those 'precious' handknits that really don't make the wearing cut any more, but just don't get worn. --I'm in a clean-the-closets-out purge. (Mine end up in a cedar chest similar to yours.....with the thought someday i might frog a couple----haven't gotten desperate enough for sweater yarn to do that yet!!!!) Looking forward to seeing what your solution is....and in the meantime, I have 2 new sweaters on the needles!!!! (ah, to be a knitter!!!)

Andee said...

Oh I love the idea of this. I have my cardigans and sweaters in a heaping pile on top of my dresser all year round! I can't bear to put them were I can't see them. I also have three manikin that are sporting my new designs in the Living Room :) They seems so chilly and I can't wait for Fall! Until them I love looking at them. Time to cast on another one! I can't wait to see how this develops. I think a dozen everyday sweaters is right up my alley.

Suze said...

What do you do with sweaters you're done with? I am not sure I want to just chuck them in the pile for St. V's.

Kate (KnitsInClass) said...

There is something about parting with a handknit sweater that is sooo hard - regardless of its functionality/fit/style. One of my LYSs - Darn Knit Anyway - has a 12 in 12 KAL for 12 sweaters in 12 months. And, really, if you live in the upper Midwest, 12 sweaters is not too many at all.

Deb said...

I love your cedar chest. I was thinking that a second, smaller cedar chest might be good for the sweaters you want to keep for sentimental reasons. That would make room for new sweaters in this one. I also love Jill's idea for pillow covers.

I think I wear clothes like you do, though I probably have more non-handknits,and you definitely have more handknits. :-)

Jennifer said...

I absolutely love your new header. So with all of those handknit sweaters… My question is how often do you wash them? And where do you lay them all out to dry??!

Kristy said...

All good suggestions. I like the various secondary storage/repurposing ideas. Except, as an evangelizing knitter, I must advocate that (and bedevil my fellow knitters into believing that) there are never enough sweaters! Actually, it's more like a cult directive. Layering allows you to wear one sweater longer. Just throw the under-layer into the wash (I wear a lot of Old Navy tanks and T's) and rotate or re-wear sweaters. Sadly, I am a slow knitter, as someone else mentioned. (That may have influenced my passionate belief that I'll never have enough to warrant actually stopping. Crazy talk!)

Kristy said...

I also love your new header!

Deb said...

Love, love, love your new banner! Just super cute!

CelticCastOn said...

I am embarking on a handknit overhaul. My need for more ease in my garments is apparent and there are just some that I can no longer wear because of this. So I will be repurposing and knitting new garments that are better suited to were I am today.
Sweater number 1 is on the needles!!

Unknown said...

Susan, I love this post. So near and dear to my heart. I have many more sweaters (many from my years at Vogue Knitting) and can't bear to part with them. I've given some away, but now that we are spending most of the winter in Florida I have to seriously think of what to do! I also have many wintery accessories to deal with as well....

flogig said...

Love your idea and your new header!! I've only knit a few sweaters so far and have been dreaming of knitting many more. A baker's dozen sounds like a great idea!

Noelle said...

Hi Susan, I'm trying to think of clever re-uses for those beloved sweaters of yours that may be outdated or just ones you'll never wear again. I would make some cool throw pillows, perhaps some leg warmers from sleeves, with the cuff of the sleeve being at the ankle and then figuring out how to make a cool cuff at the top; and along those lines, maybe a cuff for the top of boots with the sleeves. Even a shoulder slouch purse with the front and back of a sweater while surging the sleeves to be tubed handles. You can be clever and use the pockets on the front so they fall on the front of the purse! It would be fun to continue to wear what you made back in the day ongoing. Thanks for always giving such inspiration to me and I really love your transparency in sharing your success, as well as your flops! Isn't that real life anyway?! Bless you.

debsnubs said...

You could felt them and then use the fabric to make mittens or slippers that way you are still keeping them and getting a whole new use. And you get to start the collection over again.

Amy Calkins said...

What a lovely banner!
I have also got a cedar chest full of sweaters, but mine has to be shared with my husband, so storage is even more at a premium. Fortunately he is satisfied with many fewer sweaters than I am.
I know there are sweaters lurking in the bottom which I don't wear, but can't seem to get rid of no matter how many times I march up there determined to sort through them all and keep only the ones I really use. I am interested to see how you will solve the problem!

Brenda B. said...

I say go for broke and have a cedar closet built in your house. I know some of your kiddos are big enough to be moving out soon---could you have one of the closets in a bedroom lined with cedar and outfitted with shelves? Or do you have space in your basement? This winter is supposed to be as bad as last year's, so between knitting being your livelihood and living in Wisconsin, I think you should have at least a dozen sweaters.

Linnea P. said...

You could make an afghan from parts of old hand-knit sweaters, either as they are or felted first and then sewn together.

You could felt the sweaters and then make mittens or slippers, as someone suggested. There is a local business called Baabaazuzu that repurposes old knitted and woolen clothes into hats and mittens. They do very well!

You could find a charity that would donate them to the poor in a cold area, and they would be worn and appreciated. The Flylady tells us not to hang on to old things, but to bless someone else. Therefore, I try to give things to the Women's Resource Center or the Goodwill up here in the frozen north (Traverse City, MI).

Lindy said...

Two weeks worth sounds good to me :D I am also one who wears the same favs. over and over again ad nauseum. I have no idea what to do with your over full cedar chest. However, this reminds me - I need to clear off the top of my cedar chest and start using it.
I love your new header :D

Malin said...

I'm excited to follow your project sweater chest! I've been in sweater knitting mode for a while now. I just finished two, and I think I have six on the needles atm, and one or three that I'm itching to cast on! My workplace is cold and I live in a cold climate (Sweden) so I really can't have too many woolly sweaters :-) And I really should get started on some new winter hats, and mittens, and...

Barb Massoglia said...

Just saw Ben & Buddy on Quince. When can you tell us more about it?

Diane said...

I think the header is adorable and wow, how talented.

Sam I Am...... said...

I love your new header and I wondered if you had painted it...like I keep saying...you are SO talented.
I would get yourself some space saver bags for your sweaters and just to be on the safe side you can purchase cedar blocks to put in with them. I even have cedar "trees" hanging from my clothes pole in my closet too. You just gently sand them once in awhile to keep them smelling "cedary". LOL!

Penny said...

I have my Moms cedar chest. While I was growing up, it held keepsakes that my Dad had given her, some old baby dresses and some china. It wasn't until your post that I realized that I should put my sweaters in it instead of the plastic bins that they are currently housed in.