Thursday, July 19, 2012

Unraveled: From Sweater to Skein

The other day I found this sweater in a free box and it felt so nice and soft I just had to bring it home even though it wasn't my size or style. I had something completely different in mind for this sweater. 
For a long time I have wanted to take a sweater apart, unravel the yarn, and knit something completely new out of it. I've seen people selling recycled yarn online and the idea made me instantly curious to try this myself. During the Depression era and World War II a lot of people unraveled knitted garments to knit up newer styles, so this isn't a new idea! And why not give an old sweater new life, if the yarn is still in good condition?
So the adventure began...first I took the sweater seams apart. This tutorial was very helpful for figuring out where to start and which direction the seams should come apart with one easy pull. 

 Next I unraveled the sweater! This part it is handy if you have a husband or friend to hold the yarn for you while you unravel and wind it into a loop so it doesn't get tangled!

 If you don't have a friend, you can use a chair or table legs...just make sure there are no grooves in it where the yarn can get stuck and don't wind it too tight! (I made this mistake and it is a NIGHTMARE getting it off!)
 Then before taking the yarn off your chair or friend you tie the yarn ends together and loop them around the skein. Also take a few small pieces of yarn to tie around the loop in about 4 different places to keep it from getting tangled. You can use the same yarn but I used a different color so it will be easy for me to find them later.
After you've removed the yarn it will look like this, still kinky! But that's okay!
 Keep repeating this process until all the sections of your sweater are unraveled.
Now we need to get rid of those kinks! Fill a sink with very hot water and some hair shampoo or wool wash. Then dunk your yarn in! Don't burn your fingers though! Use a spatula or something to dunk it under the water. Let this soak for about an hour then drain the sink and lightly squeeze your yarn out. (don't wring it!) If your using shampoo, refill the sink with hot water again and let it soak a few more minutes to rinse. 
 Now squeeze your yarn out again and lay it out on a towel. (another option is using a spin cycle on your washing machine but I don't have one, so this method worked!) Once all the yarn is laid out, lay another towel on top and roll the towel up  tightly to squeeze out excess water.
 Then loop the yarn around hangers and hang up to dry! If you have a vent to put them near that will help them dry faster!
Once the yarn is COMPLETELY dry it's time it wind it! Once that's done, you're ready to start your new project!

You can figure out what weight your yarn is by trying the wraps per inch method (WPI). There is a great chart for this here.
I love my new yarn! I have a few ideas of what I want to make out of it but I need to finish a couple of my current knitting projects first.

I hope you're all having a great Thursday!
♥ Anna


  1. Thanks for posting this! Can't wait to see what you make with it!


    1. I'm going to make a sweater, I just haven't decided for sure which pattern yet! :)

  2. I love this!!! Using reclaimed material is such an awesome idea! It really makes me want to find an old sweater (in HOT PINK) in a free box and do all that you did and then send you the yarn and have you make me an awesome new sweater, then I will prance around portland in my awesome hot pink sweater made from reclaimed materials. it would be epic....
    except even after your incredibly well worded tutorial I would still probably totally mess it up and then you would have to fix my mess! Maybe I should just request the hot pink sweater from reclaimed materials for my birthday and then you can charge Steve bookoodles (is this a word?) for it because Im such a pain in the butt to have to make things for :D
    That was a tangent. what I really mean in all this is... what you did is SO COOL and what you make with it will be AWESOME because first, you made it and you are a brilliant and clever artist, and second because you are recycling and recycling is way cool :)

    1. DO IT!!! I mean...find a free hot pink sweater and then send it to me to unravel and knit for you. ;) Or maybe I should go on the hunt...heehee And I wouldn't charge bookoodles. (and I think we've just made it a word...use it twice by two people it's a word right? New rule.)
      I will keep my eyes open for a hot pink sweater! IF you found one...make sure it's bigger than your size (just to be on the safe side) and feels like a sweater you would want to wear. But there are also some sweaters that have nasty seams and aren't unravel-able. (like if they are serged) Maybe I should look for one...OR we could go look when you come for Thanksgiving! That would be a fun project. :) But if you find one for free...grab it! If you find one me! :)
      ♥ you!

  3. I will definitely be on the lookout! and if I find one send you bookoodles of pictures to make sure its a good one :) but I really like the idea of going hunting for one over Thanksgiving! Give us some girl time away from the boys too tee hee!
    and I LOVE the new rule! Think about all the possibilities! It is like the English language will be so much more awesome - unencumbered by silly rules and boring things like DICTIONARIES. It will be AWESOMENESS.

    1. Yes it would be fun!! Even if you do find one beforehand we should still go out and hunt for...something. haha The guys can watch Doctor Who or something. ;)
      And YES...the possibilities...oh my. Ella and Anna set loose on the earth with their creative minds...what will the world do... :D

  4. I did something similar with a 100% cashmere sweater I found at Goodwill. I'm currently knitting a scarf with it.

    1. I have wanted to do this with cashmere! I haven't had the chance to go sweater hunting yet. :)