So here is a little more octopus love, this time in the form of an embellished sweater. This project, like just about everything I’m up to lately, is part of my Wardrobe Refashion pledge. I found the sweater, a basic minty green merino wool pullover, a couple of weeks ago at City Opera Thrift in New York. Although in perfect condition, the sweater was a bit on the bland side and definitely in need of some embellishment. So, armed with my collection of inspiring illustrations of cephalopods from the library AND with my interest in sashiko embroidery, I decided at a sashiko-inspired octopus was just what the refashionista doctor ordered.
I started with the octopus illustration below, which I found in The Phantom World of the Octopus and Squid by Joseph Cook and William Wisner. I then sketched out on paper an octopus that shares some traits with this illustration but is greatly simplified and has its legs arranged to work with the sweater’s shape.
The next step was simply stitching the illustration onto the sweater itself with a series of straight little stitches in the sashiko manner. (Apologies: my approach was far from skilled; if you want to learn about sashiko for real, check out this great purl bee tutorial). I didn’t want to buy new supplies, of course, the point of Wardrobe Refashion being to use what I already own. So instead of indulging in Japanese embroidery yarn and needle I used wool sock yarn from my stash (Cascade Heritage Hand Painted Sock Yarn, color 9922, to be specific) and a regular old needle. I took things one leg at a time, learning along the way about maintaining an even tension across each stitch so that the yarn and sweater didn’t pucker or gape. I’ll definitely do other projects like this, but in the future I’ll take the extra step of drawing the lines onto the sweater first with washable pen, so that the process could go more quickly.