Upcycled Selkie (at long last!)




Let's begin here: I love this cape.

Partially because I made it (which is always satisfying), partially because it's recycled, but mostly because of the love-hate relationship I have had with this yarn for the past five years. Wearing this cape means I won the battle.

This cape began in 2011 when – with a burst of ambitious upcycling spirit – I purchased (then unraveled, then dyed) a women's XXL wool sweater with an American flag emblazoned across the front. It was exceptionally ugly. But the yarn was promising and at $6.00 I couldn't argue with the price of a sweater's worth of wool.

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At the time I remember being rather proud of myself. I thought that upcycling sweaters was a great way to acquire sustainable, affordable yarn. And it's true. But the other truth is that yarn became a bit of a thorn in my side soon after unraveling began.

Because there were knots (so many knots!) and no matter what pattern I tried I could not get gauge to save my life. This yarn defies sizing estimations.

And finally, the wool looked more enticing knitted (American flag and all) than it did once it was skeined up and waiting in my craft room. Don't get me wrong, it's nice thick soft wool. It's just not very pretty when you look at a ball of it up close.

But I set to work anyway to find a pattern that would accommodate with a chunky yarn whose only mission it turned out was to defy gauge. I make and unraveled several swatches that resembled knitted cardboard (so! dense!) and a vest the size of my Volkswagon.

And so (with a slight huff) I gave up for a few years.


But when I left for Vermont and Maine with a camper-load of fiber to drop at the mill I knew it was now or never. If I didn't make something out of this yarn before my own yarn came back from the mill I never would.

And then I found it. The Selkie. The perfect bulky pattern for my burdensome basket of grey yarn. And I got gauge! Oh, happy day.

And the truth is I really fell in love with both this pattern and the yarn (knots aside) as this knit came together. It was a fast project (believe it or not) and I finished it with a set of my great grandma Nellie's antique buttons. A nice touch, I think.

It's warm and squishy and I feel a little bit like my high school art teacher when I wear it. (That's a good thing, I promise.) Or maybe some sort of crafty superhero. Because it's a cape! That I made. Out of an ugly sweater from the thrift store.

If that's not a superpower worthy of a wooly cape I don't know what is.

My project is here on Ravelry.

3 thoughts on “Upcycled Selkie (at long last!)

  1. Holly Dean says:

    I absolutely love everything about this! The story. The name of the pattern, the yarn, the buttons. I think it’s most magical and I want to make one now! 😀 xx

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