February 25 2010
Graphic designer Haik Avanian has teamed up with an unlikely partner (his mom) to launch his latest project.
The project, ReKnit, turns old knit sweaters into fashionable handmade items like scarves, gloves, or hats.
It sounds a bit like magic: You send an old sweater to Avanian’s mom, she unravels and reknits it into a brand new one-of-a-kind item, and sends it back to you. Since knitting isn’t destructive, Avanian says the unraveling process is much like untying a knot back into its original state. Depending on how the sweater was assembled, it can take anywhere between thirty minutes to an hour and a half to reclaim the yarn.
‘Upcycling’ has become an emerging trend in fashion, but it’s nothing new to this family. Avanian recalls a roll of yarn that his grandparents bought in the 1960s which was repurposed five times and worn by two generations:
…this is one roll of yarn that has been in our family for over 40 years. My grandma first used it to knit jackets for my mom and aunt when they were born. As they grew the jackets were combined into one sweater for my mom. As she got older and got into knitting herself, she repurposed it once again into a dress for herself, a two-piece outfit for my sister after she was born, and finally into a jacket for my sister when she got a bit older. We still have that jacket, and it's a great family heirloom that has a lot of our history embedded.
The ReKnit project itself was conceived after Avanian’s mom brought up the idea during the recent holiday break as a way to partake in her hobby and spread information about the resourceful technique. Avanian designed and launched the website in a few short weeks, not really knowing what to expect. Since then, demand has been overwhelming enough that a monthly cap of 30 orders has been introduced (February just sold out yesterday). At a mere $30 an order Avanian says it’s more about the message than the money, “I think there's a greater power in encouraging others to begin reknitting.”
Every month, a new item is introduced—January’s item was scarves, this month was gloves—and visitors to the website can vote on what they'd like to see next. Currently in the running for March is socks, sweatbands, iPod cases, and hats (we’ve heard hats are leading the vote so far).
Filed under: culture