I Am a Fraud
Can you see the partially dismantled sweater? Yes, friends. It's true. I am a recycled yarn addict. On the chair behind my hand is the sleeve of an innocent, pistachio-colored angora blend sweater, cruelly ripped from its body. Oh, it started innocently enough. Don't these things always? I was bidding on e-bay (we'll deal with that particular addiction later....yeah, yeah, I know. But it keeps me off the streets), on a batch of recycled cashmere. It was lovely. A tender shade of periwinkle, just like the crayon of that name from the boxes I got as a child. I loved it. I coveted it (I don't have the theological knowledge to be sure what commandment it breaks to covet cashmere, but suspect it may have something to do with what I'm willing to do to get it. But I digress.). In the end, however, I lost it to another bidder (if she is reading this now, I apologize deeply for questioning your parentage. And that of your parents. Oh, and that of your dog, too.). I was heartbroken. Then it occured to me: if this seller could purchase thrift store sweaters, take them apart, and have all that lovely yarn....well....why couldn't I? For the record, many a tragic story has started just this way. It seems so easy. Who knew that recycled cashmere could be a gateway fiber? I know I didn't.
So I went to Value Village. I wasn't going to do anything....bad. One sweater, I thought. No one will ever know. I'll just find one sweater, take it apart....how can it hurt? But I wasn't prepared. I wasn't prepared for the veritable smorgasbord of fibers: alpaca, cashmere, merino--it was all there, just begging me to take it home. It all but threw itself at me. $3.99 for a sweater's worth of cashmere. $4.99 for a sweater's worth of merino. And all that alpaca for next to nothing. What could I do?? I was an innocent--I didn't even try to resist. I came home with at least half a dozen sweaters and began snipping seams, winding balls. But it didn't stop there. Oh no. In fact, I have evaluated my stash of sweaters awaiting demolition, and am forced to admit that I may have a problem. The pink cashmere sweater for my mom? Recycled yarn. The aqua mohair sweater I finished right before that? You guessed it: recycled.
In the interest of helping others who may have ventured down this same path, I have compiled a helpful questionnaire. Answer the following questions as honestly as you can. And trust me: you're not alone.
1. Do the people at the thrift store know you by name? And middle name? And nickname?
2. Do the people at the thrift store step away from the sweater rack with fear in their eyes when you enter?
3. Are you unable to see a sweater in any setting without a pressing urge to examine the seams for ease of destruction?
4. Have you seriously considered telling your best friend that her new alpaca sweater is unflattering on her, in the hope that she will give it to you to take apart?
5. Can you spot a merino sweater at 50 paces, and have you frightened anyone while doing so?
6. Have you ever fondled the sleeve of a stranger?
7. Have you ever pretended romantic interest in a stranger, in order that you might fondle his sleeve without seeming strange?
8. Do you have more sweaters set aside for recycling than you have sweaters to wear?
9. Have you ever found a lovely sweater at a thrift store that would look absolutely perfect with your new pants, but left it because it had difficult-to-take-apart serged seams and it didn't occur to you until you got home that you could actually purchase it and wear it as is?
10. Have you ever knocked anyone down on 99 cent tag day at Value Village? (I maintain that she tripped over her own feet.)
11. Have you ever frogged sweaters while on an exercise bike?
12. Have you ever had yarn sucked into the gears and chain of an exercise bike? (It was pink mohair, and I'm not ready to talk about it.)
13. Have you considered trading your upright exercise bike for a recumbent, entirely to avoid a repeat of number 12?
14. Have you ever lied about all the tiny little yarn bits all over the floor? And did the phrase "a freak yarn tornado" actually seem quite reasonable to you at the time?
15. Has your yarn meter ever become warm and threatened to burst into flame due to excessive use for measuring recycled yarn? And, when it did, did your significant other come running to find out why you were shouting "Oh, come on! It's just a little mohair, ya big baby!!!"
If you've answered yes to more than 3 of these questions, you are probably still okay, but should pay attention to your habits going forward. If you've answered yes to more than 6 of these questions, you may have the beginnings of a problem. If you've answered yes to more than 1o of these questions......where do you sweater shop? Go ahead, just whisper it to me. I won't share it with a single soul, I promise.