...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Recycled Knits

Recycled Short-Sleeved Sweater with Vintage Buttons
Flea Market Vintage Buttons

Recycled Hat for Vera

It's a great afternoon to post as I sit by the window watching the rain come down on this "warm" November day.  I guess it's good for my garden that never ends.  It's also a great day to curl up with some knitting needles.  I finished a project last night that I'd been working on since last spring (or was it winter?)  As I've mentioned, I don't knit much in the summer because I'm hiding in the cool basement sewing during that season.  So I had a long pause with what I believe is the first garment I've made for myself that's worthy of wearing.  I'm not counting the very first knitting project I ever started/completed--a striped poncho--which had a lot to be desired in terms of shape and quality.  I've made plenty of accessories--hats, scarves, socks--and plenty of baby knits, but not many full size pieces for myself.  I've been very excited about short-sleeved sweaters lately because I love layering clothes in the winter.  Some might find the color obnoxious, but I happen to love green--especially chartreuse (ironic b/c it's the color my mom detests most since her mother dyed her First Communion dress that shade.) This sweater is actually an afghan reincarnated (sorry, I don't have a "BEFORE" photo.)  On a thrifting trip a couple of years ago I was looking at yarn and an older women stocking the shelves  struck up a conversation and gave me the idea to purchase a sweater or other garment for its yarn (even if I didn't care for the piece itself), disassemble it and reknit it into something I enjoyed.  I first tried this with a hat I made for Vera; originally it was an adult size "tam," but I unraveled it and whipped it into a cute flap hat for winter.  My next endeavor was much more grand and I'll be honest--half of this afghan is still in tact in my knitting hutch.  I made the mistake of washing the blanket before unraveling, which made it much harder to untangle, especially because it had an intricate leaf pattern.  On that note, if you choose to try recycling yarn, 1) don't wash the garment first--unravel, knit new, then clean the final piece (depending on the type of yarn and washing instructions...SAVE THE CARE LABEL), 2) choose a garment with a simple stockinette or garter stitch; it's much more difficult to unravel a cable knit or other intricate pattern, 3) look for items that are machine seamed--it's much easier to rip apart the seams, though hand seamed isn't extremely difficult, 4) if you have a small child, ask them to help you unravel--this is one time that this temptation for a child comes in handy.  At any rate, recycling knits is a great way to get many skeins of yarn without the hefty price tag (this blue, long-sleeved cropped sweater was just a couple bucks and I rendered five skeins from it.)  As a homesteader, I'm always trying to be economical.  I found that disassembling these garments also gave me a greater appreciation for the quality of handknit items as well as another lesson in how garments are constructed.  I have a couple more sweaters to tear out--I have more time than money for ripping/knitting these days--then I plan to knit some cute dresses for Vera (there are many great free patterns online!)
Sweater to Disassemble

5 Skeins to Recycle

More Sweaters to Unravel
Link to us:

While I'm mentioning crafts, I have to tell you about one of my favorite annual events that's coming up next weekend.  Art vs. Craft is happening Saturday, Nov. 27.  On Friday after Thanksgiving I'll be observing national "Buy Nothing Day" as usual, but on Sat. I'll be checking out the highly talented and artsy/crafty folks at this event.  Please check it out! And if you give gifts for the holidays, consider buying local or handmade with intention.

This week begins the big preparation for Turkey Day.  We picked up our tom at the West Allis Farmers' Market on Saturday.  Vera got to ride with it in the wagon, but seemed let down by all the build up to "picking up the turkey" only to have this plastic-wrapped mass plopped next to her and a 1/2 bushel of winter squash in the old Radio Flyer.  I'm sure she'll change her mind at mealtime when she's licking juice off her little fingers.  I have to make a trip to the store on Wednesday for just a few last items, but otherwise I'm armed with roasting pan, mixer, butcher twine, and apron to put a feast on the table Thursday afternoon.  And about that store visit--I usually don't shop at mainstream supermarkets, but there's something that draws me to them before a big holiday meal.  I love to sense the hustle and bustle as everyone seeks out their ingredients, chooses their turkeys, considers their gravy options, and loads up on booze to make the big day a success.  Maybe it's some odd memory from childhood or later of going to the store with my mom before the holidays.  I don't know, but I'm looking forward to this foray.

Thanksgiving will truly be a celebration of the harvest for us this year.  Aside from the few greens, herbs, and roots still bearing the cold, the garden is officially closed for the season.  We placed the coldframe on Sunday and I'll plant my spinach and lettuce mix in it this week for early spring harvest.  Then we can sit down on Thursday and give thanks for all our homestead has provided this past year.


  1. Annie- what a wonderful idea to unravel old sweaters! A while back I picked up a bunch of old wool sweaters to felt with, but I never got around to it. Thank goodness, since I am just about out of yarn and this will be the perfect weekend project for me!

    Hope all is well

  2. p.s. you were not alone on "Buy Nothing Day"! I read this article the other day and I thought you might like it :)


  3. p.s.s. did you know: