The Wonderful World of Sweaters. Part 1

Hello everyone! My name is Wendy Yvonne and I have come today to talk to you about a very important subject: sweaters! Sooner or later in the life of every Twinn comes the day when she needs a sweater. (I hope you donít mind, but I am going to speak of Twinns as girls in this narrative, even though I am aware that there also are boy Twinns - in fact I live with three of them who are usually very nice and even handy to have around on occasion.) Now, as I was saying, unless you live in the Box Under the Bed., you are likely to find yourself in a situation where you need a sweater. Maybe it is snowing, or the weather is cold and rainy as I hear it often is in South Africa, or maybe you just want to make a fashion statement, and you realize that a sweater is just what you ought to have. Some of us, of course, came from the MT factory with the infamous red "On the Fringe" sweater which has caused so many Twinns to have dislocated necks when it got hot and the time came to take their sweaters off. But many Twinns have gone to the armoire and sadly found it sorely lacking in warm woolies.
I am a charter member of the Society of Compulsive Knitters, or SOCK, and I have knit many a sweater. In fact, I knitted the one I am wearing in the photo after first dyeing the yarn! I do love to knit, but the truth is, if your house is like mine, when you look around you will see lots of Twinns and there are just not enough hours in the day to knit sweaters for all of them. What to do? Some of my friends and I have studied this problem, and our solution is to sew the sweaters, cutting them down from people sweaters. It gives you a lot more variety than you would get in your knitting, because you can have stripes, or sparkles, or beads. If you are a veteran of Croc Camp, maybe you would like a sweater with little crocs on it. Or you could make yourself a nice beaded sweater to show off your status as a Princess of Slumberland. Or if you are Mme. Heel you could even have a sweater with evil mutant radishes on it! (I hear that is one of the things she liked to wear before she was carted off to jail!)
Where do you find your sweaters to cut down? We suggest a nice trip to Goodwill or the thrift store of your choice. (Twinns love thrift stores! Iíve heard that sometimes people even actually buy us there but you have to be REALLY lucky for that to happen!) You could also keep an eye out for when your human Mom cleans out her closet and grab the good ones that she has outgrown. What to look for: sweaters that are a fairly tight weave, sweaters with small stripes or small scale designs (though sometimes part of a big design will look very trendy also); lambswool sweaters are very popular with my sister Caities and me; sweaters with beads (any extra beads left over can be strung on elastic for Twinn bracelets), sweaters with small cablesĖ these are just a few of the possibilities. My suggestion is that if you have a choice you pick a sweater with fairly narrow edge ribbing (about an inch or so in length is a good size to scale down for us Twinns), though if you have your heart set on a sweater with wider ribbing we can deal with it as I will explain later on. The other things you will need are matching thread, a zipper to match unless your sweater is a cardigan, and a snap, plus any trim you might want, like beads or buttons.

The very first step in the process is to wash the sweaters -Twinns hate smelly sweaters and we especially dislike them if they have perfume in them (a good way to deal with those is to hang them outside for a few days first and then wash them). Most sweaters will have tags in them which tell you how to wash them. Usually we do all of ours in the washing machine and then hang on hangers the ones that can go into the dryer until they are almost dry, and then dry them the rest of the way in the dryer to fluff them. Lambswool and angora sweaters we hang to dry and then put in the dryer for five minutes or so on Ďair fluff.í

If you have as many Twinns as we do, while some of you are washing and drying and air-fluffing your sweaters, others could be preparing your patterns. We use a T-shirt pattern that has had about an inch added to the center fold of the front and about half an inch added to the center of each of the backs. Isabelle copied the pattern onto plastic file folders (you could also use regular file folders, or cereal boxes cut up or something similar) so that the pattern is sturdy enough to trace around rather than to pin onto the sweater. To trace, you can buy a disappearing ink marker at the fabric store or Wal-Mart (The C & D Detective Agency recommends these!) and for dark sweaters you can use a sliver of white soap like Ivory, or a chalk type marker. If you would like a scan of the sweater patterns that we usually use, feel free to e-mail the Twinn Continuum at jesturgis @ comcast.net (no spaces) and we will e-mail them to you.

Lay out your sweater on your cutting board or ironing board. If the ribbing is not too long, you can line up the patterns so that the bottom of the pattern is the bottom of the ribbing. If you want a longer sweater, line up the pattern so that the bottom of the pattern is at the top of the ribbing and just cut down the extra length to include the ribbing. Cut one front and two backs. Try to pull the ribbing a bit before you cut that area to make a straight line. If you are able to line up the body pieces to include the ribbing, that will save you from finishing the bottom edge. If you are cutting down a cardigan you can use the buttoned part for the back edges (just cut the backs a little narrower) and then you will not have to put in a zipper.

If you have a really big sweater like the yellow one in our photos, you may want to make more than one sweater. This is possible even though you can no longer line up the patterns to have ribbing at the bottom. In this case, what we do is to cut the fronts and backs and then cut a strip of the sweater, two inches in length and as wide as you can make it, for the bottom, and fold it in half and sew it on as you would a strip of ribbing. It is OK if you have a seam or even two in this strip. I will come back to that later on.
Cut the Twinn sleeves at the bottom of the sleeves to include the ribbing, or cut them without ribbing if you canít use the ribbing or if you are making two sweaters from one big sweater. Watch for holes and other yucky stuff like stains when you are laying out your patterns because we Twinns donít like dirty or raggedy sweaters.

We have found that sweaters are often held together by chain stitching. If you find the beginning of the chain, you can cut it and unravel it to take the pieces apart. This is especially useful to remove the neck ribbing, which you will need for your sweater neck. Take off any labels with your seam ripper first, and then either unravel the stitching or carefully cut off the neck ribbing.
If you cut your sleeves without ribbing, you can try to save some left-overs from the bottom of the sweater or you can cut some pieces of the regular sweater - cut them about 1.5 inches long and about 8 inches wide (this will be more than you need but we find a longer piece is easier to work with).
Here is a photo of Crawford with the pieces of the yellow sweater, cut with the ribbing at the bottom - a front, two backs, two sleeves, and the neck ribbing.

Here is Jessie with the pieces of the striped sweater (a cardigan), two fronts (or backs), one back (or front - you decide!), a strip of sweater to use for the neck binding, and two sleeves. We were not able to get the self-edging for the neck as it was oddly woven onto the sweater.


© DR Walker, JE Sturgis. 2006