Monday, December 8, 2014

From sweater to stocking

Now that I've got a mantle of my own, I'm feeling a lot of pressure to try to live up the high standard of mantle decor. It was easy in a tiny apartment to avoid much decorating because the space was too small. But, with great mantle comes great responsibility. So, this year I decided that it was time for a real stocking hung on my real mantle.

I love the classic look of the chunky cabled knit stockings in the stores this season and thought they would be a perfect addition to my Christmas decorations and midcentury modern living room.

But, obviously, I'm not going to give Anthropologie or Pottery Barn $40 for something I could DIY. When I started looking at patterns to knit my own, though, I decided that just wasn't worth the time. I'm freezing, here. I need earmuffs and scarves a lot more than I need a stocking. So, I started looking for an alternative.

Luckily, I saw instructions for stockings made from sweaters on Pinterest. They seemed like good low budget stocking solutions to give an expensive appearance without a lot of expense (or time). So, I glanced through the blog entry by Imperfect Homemaking, ran to Goodwill for a $5 outdated sweater, and went for it.
I made a quick freehand stocking template and centered it on the cabled pattern on the sweater. Then I took a deep breath and did something that many years of knitting made difficult: I cut. In the hopes of getting through this very unsettling process as quickly as possible, I cut both layers (front and back) at once.
Since the sweater didn't have ribbed edge at the bottom, I cut an extra 7 inches of ribbing from the side to make a cuff.
I started with my serger, thinking that I could finish the edges all professional like, and be done in 5 minutes. Instead I broke 3 serger needles. After rethreading the dumb machine for the seventh time I gave up and switched to a three-stitch zig-zag on my traditional machine. In the time I spent threading my serger once I was able to sew up the stocking. I did find that the toe seemed to grow in length as I stitched because of my feed-dogs, so I had to trim about 1.5" from the toe-end and restitch. Still faster than threading the serger again...
For the cuff, I just stitched a little extra rib pattern up into a tube and placed it right side out around the stocking (yes, right side of stocking to wrong side of ribbing), ran a quick zig-zag across the top, and folded over the cuff to hide this ugly seam.
Eventually, I may add a tab for hanging the stocking from a proper hook, but this year I just threaded a piece of twine through the corner and hung it from a candle stick. I have no proper hooks anyway... The only question now is should I make one for Barley?

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