Old sweaters, new treasures

A favorite sweater is like an old friend -- warm and cozy. When it's worn to tatters, though, then what? You can't simply throw it away. (You wouldn't toss out an old friend, right?)

Designer Stefanie Girard, 39, of Burbank, Calif., works with many materials -- beads, fabric, yarn, to name a few -- but her current passion is turning old wool sweaters into fun new clothing and home accessories. As a designer of crafts for books, television and the Web, she is a woman bitten by the crafting world's recycling bug.

"Cutting up a sweater, you can have instant satisfaction," she says.

Ms. Girard proves there are many ways to slice a sweater. Her book, Sweater Surgery: How to Make New Things with Old Sweaters (Quarry Books, 2008), has instructions for 35 projects, including purses and pillows, mittens, scarves, hats and stuffed animals. The projects include one whose no-sew instructions are below: a tissue-box cozy.

Don't stop at this simple project. Hit the thrift stores for wool sweaters, no matter how outdated, because this book will beckon you back to try another craft. Martha Stewart Living's Web site also includes several recycled-sweater projects.

TISSUE-BOX TURTLENECK COZIES

This project requires no sewing.

Supplies:

Small, square tissue box

Knit turtleneck (thin and super-stretchy works best)

Sharp scissors

Assembly:

From cuff, measure 12 to 14 inches and cut off the entire sleeve. Slip this stretchy tube, cuff up, over the tissue box. Roll the cuff down about 11/2 inches to create a turtleneck at the top of the tissue box. Keep fabric beneath the tissue box to a minimum, and it ought to stretch flat.

Notes: If the preferred design element is elsewhere on the sleeve, you can omit the cuff. Simply roll the fabric twice, as in instructions above, to create the new "turtleneck." Also, if the turtleneck has a seam, place it along a corner or back edge of the tissue box.

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