We took another bulging bag to the charity shop today, my year of casting off is progressing – nearly a quarter of the way through and I feel I’m making steady progress. However, in past times, much of what I’m ‘casting off’ would have been used until it was worn through, and then patched, darned, remade, used again and again, and even when reduced to rags, those rags used for dusters or dishcloths.

Clothes were in short supply during and just after the war, and even the wherewithal to make new clothes rather than buy was not available.. In the charming book about knitting which I found on a different visit to a charity shop, there is a section on reusing old knitted garments, unpicking, unravelling, washing and reusing the wool… here is what it says about ‘wool left over from renovation’:

When renovating knitted garments it is almost impossible to avoid having odd balls of wool left over. There are many ways of using these, and not even the smallest scrap need be wasted.
The larger balls weighing ½ oz. and over, will make gloves and socks for the smallest members of the family. In fact it is seldom necessary to buy new wool for children’s accessories. Gaily striped scarves and hoods, berets, hug-me-tights, jerseys and cardigans can all be contrived from your box of oddments.
Smaller balls will make blanket squares – 6 inch squares of garter stitch or moss stitch to be sewn together afterwards to make patchwork blankets or cot covers. Odd yards of brightly colours can make striped squares to be interspersed among the plain ones, and if a discarded garment can be spared to be unravelled for a plain border the effect will be particularly good.
Rugs for the bedroom or nursery can be made from oddments of unravelled wool. Either work in firm double crochet using the wool double or treble, or work in garter stitch, again using the wool double or treble. The needles should be fairly fine compared with the thickness of the wool, to make a firm fabric. Alternatively, several thicknesses of wool to make tufted rugs or mats, a delightful multicoloured spot effect being obtained by making every tuft a different colour.
Unravelled wool is as good as, and sometimes better than new wool for darning, and a collection of oddments is invaluable when trying to match colours for mending or embroidery.

So from the leftovers of re-knitting old woollens, you can make children’s socks, gloves, scarves, hoods, berets, hug-me-tights, jerseys and cardigans, you can make knitted squares for blankets, mats and rugs, and you can keep the tiniest bits for mending and embroidery… Waste not want not!

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