tag: holidaymyrlin hermesthe lunatic the lover and the poet

December 2009

the olive reader holiday grab bag: myrlin a. hermes

Happy Monday! Today’s holiday grab bag post (and it just may be the final one, unless more come in today) is from the lovely Myrlin A. Hermes, author of The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet, a topsy-turvy rethinking of Hamlet. Myrlin is our resident crafty author (you might remember her book gown), so we’re delighted to share her post below on how to make your very own recycled cashmere scarf!

I’ll admit it—I’m addicted to cashmere. Lest this seem like one of those diamond-shoes-too-tight problems suffered only by the very rich, let me assure you that writing literary fiction hasn’t suddenly become a lucrative career choice. Most of my cashmere and merino wool sweaters were rescued from thrift store bins for a few dollars apiece, which means that many of them have stains, holes, and dryer shrinkage—perfect for making into these easy fringey no-sew recycled scarves.

What’s that? Your only experience with crafts was making those knotted embroidery-floss friendship bracelets for your BFF in middle school? Perfect—you already know the basic technique! First, cut the sweater (or whatever material you want to use for your scarf) into strips about six inches long and 1 ½-2 inches wide, discarding collars, cuffs, and seams.

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If you’re using cashmere or wool, you’ll want to felt these strips a bit to keep the edges from unraveling. You can do this by boiling them in a pot of water on the stove for about half an hour (yum, sweater soup!) then drying them in a hot tumble dryer. Now you’re ready to begin.

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First, make three long strands by knotting several of the strips together end-to-end, leaving about two inches of loose ends at each knot. (I find it easier to work with if you make each strand no longer than a couple of feet at a time, adding more strips onto the ends as you go.) Tie these three strands (we’ll call them A, B, and C) together at one end with a double knot, which you’ll hold between your knees to keep the scarf steady while you work.

Take strand A and tie it around strand B with a simple overhand knot. Now your strands will be in order: BAC. Then tie strand A around strand C so they’re in order: BCA. Take strand B and knot it around strands C and A in turn. Keep working from left to right, tying more strips onto the end of your strands as necessary. Keep going until you have the length you want (or run out of strips—I find it takes about 1-2 sweaters to make an average scarf) then tie the strands together at the end with a double knot to secure them. If the scarf looks a little “thin” anywhere you can go ahead and add more fringe by tying short strips on where necessary. Et voilà! A low-cost luxe handmade gift in about an hour, without having to brave the mall.

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