Friday, March 9, 2012

On the subject of woollen jerseys

I was asked about what kind of jerseys I look out for when I'm thrift shopping, so I thought I would go through my thought processes when shopping.  It goes a little like this:

  • Go to the Hospice/Thrift/Op shop,
  • Attempt to convince small children that they don't actually need any new clothes since the ones they already have are spilling out of their draws.
  • Ignore same small children as they run up and down the aisles squealing at the top of their lungs and head straight for the knit section.
  • Check the labels on the knits.  I'm pretty good at 'feeling' whether something is wool or not, but its always best to check the labels to be sure.  If your thrift shop has variable pricing, check these too (mine doesn't, almost all clothes are 50c each).


  • When you find something that says "100% new wool" or "100% merino" etc buy it.  The only things I wouldn't buy simply on the basis of the label are cardigans or vests with lots of pockets on the front - there just isn't enough material to make something usable out of it.
  • Take the woollens to the counter.  Allow your small children to hand things to the old ladies who run the shop, while they cluck over how adorable they are.  Smile whilst trying to keep your facial ticks under control.
  • Congratulate yourself on leaving without your children breaking something/buying something/requiring to use the toilet*/throwing a screaming tantrum on the floor.

*My children are obsessed with using toilets in public places.  If they remember there is one available, they will need to go.

  • When you get home, try on your purchases.  If they fit, score! I have a wardrobe full of very cheap woollen tops.  If not, put them in your stash for future projects (wash them first).

Generally, woollens that I buy fall into two weights - heavy weight/jerseys: these I will felt for various projects.

Light weight woollens: These are more often merino, and they are usually t shirt kind of weight.  In NZ these kind of tops are pretty ubiquitous, although reasonably pricey when new, so they are often available in the Hospice Shop.

Hopefully this gives some idea of the kind of drape these tops have.

Once you start looking specifically for these kinds of tops, you'd be amazed at how many you can find.  Sometimes I will find four or five tops, other times nothing that is wool.  Be sure to check out my posts about how to work with upcycled materials, as well some of the projects I've made with these kind of things; merino gowns, tops, smocks and singlets.

Joining up with Creative Friday today.


  1. How interesting, and funny, I guess as moms we've all been there. Is that a small kid syndrome - the toilet thing I mean, mine would also go into absolutely every public toilet, even if that had just been to one 3 minutes before?

    Have a great weekend.

    1. I'm so glad it isn't just my children who do this. And once one needs to go, the other one will also magically need to go.

  2. I'm smiling because I end up doing the same. I buy, try and then cut up whatever does not fit me. I always intend to buy the tops for felting and then end up wearing some of them.

  3. Funny you should post this, I was actually thinking about asking you your process the other day, but then I forgot, and when I was at a gala recently I did exactly what you do (in regards to looking at labels etc) - some of them felt so pretty but were acrylic, I guess you get used to the different feel after a while.

    Luckily I don't have to contend with the public toilet thing yet, something to look foward to :)

  4. This is awesome - I love upcycling!


Please leave a comment, please, pretty please,

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...