How To Scavenge a Sweater for Yarn

Once upon a time, I promised a tutorial on how to unravel a discarded sweater for yarn. As I happened upon an untouched knit when looking for something in my stash, I decided today is the day.

Ooh, pink and pretty!
The first thing you need to do is to go shopping. It’s my favourite past-time, and I know most ladies love it. Hit the flea markets, and dig up anything that’s been knit. It can be hand-made or factory-born, doesn’t matter. Yarn is always yarn, and can be used in many ways.
Your main focus is the seams. Turn the sweater you find inside out, and take a good look at the seaming.
Some store-bought knits are sewn with a serger. If you try to unravel these, you’ll end up with pieces of yarn. You can of course use that to make pompoms or tassels, but we’re now looking for yarn that can be knit. You can only knit with yarn that’s intact and uncut.
You’ll want to find a garment that’s been made with pieces knit to shape, and then sewn together using a straight-stitch machine. It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between the two kinds of seams. You can easily see the edges of knit pieces when you open the seam. This is the main thing you’ll need to focus on: to find a knit that doesn’t have serged seams.
Serged seam.
On the shoulder, OK.
On the sides, never.

Buy it, take it home, toss it in the washing machine, and take it outside. Outside because unravelling is dusty work. Taking the knit out of the house saves you a whole lot of hoovering.

Straight stitched seam.
See the edges of the pieces?
Look for this.

The industrial straight-stitch machine leaves a crochet-like chain of stitches. The easiest way to undo this is to find a long end inside a seam, cut it, and pull at everything to find the end that unravels the whole seam. Once you find it, you can just pull, and watch the whole seam come undone.

 Another way is to pull the seam open, and carefully cut it. Not the pieces themselves, but the yarn between holding them together.
Undo all of the seams, pull off collars and buttons, and you should end up with pieces that have at least three intact edges.
Taking the collar off can seem intimidating.
Collars are often sewn to place with a straight stitch, and they come off relatively easily. See the crochet chain at the bottom of the collar? That’s the seam to rip.
 Once the collar comes off, you’ll often find a cut neckline and serged shoulder seams.
Take your scissors, and straighten the top of the front and back pieces. It doesn’t matter all that much if the line isn’t entirely straight, but try to get it as direct as possible.
 Finding both kinds of seams, straight stitched and serged, on an industrial knit isn’t all that uncommon. Sleeves and shoulder are often sewn with a serger. If you find this, it’s OK. A vertical serged seam is fine: you’ll lose a bit of yarn straightening the top of a shaped sleeve, but there will be much to save. Serged side seams, though, mean that the knit can never again be yarn.
 Pull off any excess yarn. It comes off in small pieces, but you should soon find intact yarn. Once you do, wind it up.
  Now comes the boring part, which I usually skip.

Find the end of yarn in the cast off edge, and start unravelling. Wind the yarn as you go along, since it will get tangled up in no time. I usually frog as I knit, but winding the yarn and letting it sit for a day or two will ease the curl.

 I know this sounds a bit silly, buying a sweater and frogging it just to knit it again, but when you knit a lot, this trick of making upcycled yarn can save you a pretty penny.
On average, a sweater costs 0,50€ to 5€ at a flea market. It will give you at least 400 grams of yarn.
A 50 gram ball of cotton yarn can cost up to 5€. You’ll need eight of those to match the amount a frogged sweater can offer. That’s 40€.
Knitting and crocheting ease stress and are a great way of expressing oneself. If you’re looking to knit cotton or mixed fiber, flea markets are an affordable option. Let me know if you’ve scavenged yarn, and leave a link to your creations!
Until next Wednesday.
Love,
Heather
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