View Full Version : Unraveling Old Sweaters

06-16-2009, 12:02 AM
Do you unravel old sweaters for their yarn?

I recently decided to try recycling a few thrift store sweaters, and I've gotta say, I'm loving it. How else can you get 1500+ yards of wool or cotton (or cashmere!) yarn for $1.50-$3?

Has anyone in the forums been adventurous enough to unravel a fingering or lace weight sweater?

I want to try it, but I'm afraid of constantly breaking the yarn, making it impossible to get a decent amount of yarn without a bunch of knots every few yards.

Also, is cashmere hard to unravel?
I found a BEAUTIFUL beige 100% cashmere sweater for just $3!!! but it's a Large, and definitely doesn't fit me, so I want to unravel it and make a smaller sweater and possibly a hat or gloves etc.

Sorry for such a long post, I just have so many questions. hahah

06-16-2009, 06:46 AM
Well, for $3, what's to lose? I say go ahead and try to unravel it.

I've never unraveled a sweater, I don't know where you all who find such nice yarns find them. All I ever find is acrylic, not worth the effort to unravel.

06-16-2009, 08:38 AM
I have unraveled several sweaters from a thrift store. Some worsted weight but most sport/DK/Fingering. It is great fun :) just make sure to look at the seams to ensure they are sewn together. Some sweaters are cut from a large piece of cloth and you end up with tons of single strands! Have fun, I have taken apart several angora (rabbit) sweaters and they shed a bit but it didn't ruin the yarn I ended up with. Just be careful when pulling it apart so you don't break it. If it is more than 50% animal fiber and is not a "superwash" then you will be able to felt the ends together for a seamless join :)


yes I yelled! Thought it was appropriate :):)

06-16-2009, 09:03 AM
I am interested in trying this. Where do you generally start your unraveling from?

06-16-2009, 09:10 AM
I've heard that if you freeze a mohair or fuzzy-yarned garment overnight, the yarn won't stick together as much as you unravel it. I've never tried it, though.


06-16-2009, 01:36 PM
I am interested in trying this. Where do you generally start your unraveling from?

When I first started unraveling, I looked for a bunch of tutorials, so here are the ones I found useful:


Hope these help.

If you do try your hand at unraveling, make sure that if it has a crochet seam, unravel the seam in the correct direction (this process is explained very thoroughly in the second tutorial). Don't try to cut every little thread of the seam (I know from experience, hahah). It is VERY tedious and time consuming, and I wish I knew from the beginning that you could just unravel the seam in seconds by pulling it in the right direction.

06-17-2009, 09:15 AM
I have an acrylic sweater the volunteered to be unraveled! :lol: I know there was a thread about this in the last 2 or 3 months.

Here are the points I remember:

Always check the seam to make sure it isn't surged (cut and sewn).

Read the labels to learn to recognize the fiber.

Watch for and avoid felted or partially felted sweaters.

Cables and ribs hold more yarn than ST ST patterns.

Buy or make a nostepinne (http://blog.designedlykristi.com/?p=335) or a ball winder to save your hands and wrists for knitting.

06-17-2009, 09:32 AM
Yes, it is true that angora/mohair and other "shedding fibers" will shed less if placed in the freezer for a night or two prior to unravelling. This is also a useful way to avoid the shedding when knitting with it.

Another "trick" is to handwash the sweater, prior to unravelling, with shampoo and conditioner as it seems to alleviate some of the shedding as well. I did both of these with one of the angora (rabbit) sweaters I unravelled as it was shedding quite a bit and found great results.