Using Yarn from Recycled Sweaters

Stretch your craft budget further by unraveling old, outgrown, or thrifted sweaters to reuse the yarn in your own projects.

| Spring 2019

Thrifted or ill-fitting sweaters can be salvaged for the yarn used to make them.

Many a knitter and crocheter has bemoaned the cost of yarn, especially for a large project. Even the less-expensive options tend to run around $5 per skein, and if you need several colors — or a mile of yarn — that adds up quickly.

If you have a little extra time, and don’t mind some creative destruction, you can get your money’s worth of high-quality yarn out of a gently used sweater. Either use old sweaters of your own, or visit thrift stores to find the colors, fibers, or yarn weights you want.

The blue-green serging thread on this sweater indicates that it won’t unravel into a single, long strand.

Before you get too excited about snipping your sweaters at the seams, check to make sure they’re the right type of sweater to unravel. Some commercial sweaters are made of pieces of knit fabric that were cut to shape and then sewn together; if you try to unravel these, you’ll get thousands of short pieces of yarn instead of one long strand. You need a sweater that was knitted to shape before seaming. To check, look at one of the seams on the inside of the sweater, such as a side seam. If the seam is serged, chances are good that the sweater is made of cut pieces of knit fabric. Don’t unravel it. If the seam has two narrow edges of fabric that you can separate to see the stitches holding the seam together, it’s probably a good candidate for unraveling.

If you can pull the tiny edges of fabric in the seams apart, it’s probably a good choice for unraveling.



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