D.I.Y Sweater Yarn Rescue

Inspiration is such a funny thing. It never comes when you're looking for it, but seems to jump out at you when ever it so pleases, usually when you are unprepared. I had a lot planned for this weekend, lists, but the winds of creativity set my course askew. 

Saturday morning J decided he wanted to wake up at 6 am. I tried to convince him that sleeping in would be so luxurious and fun but  he didn't believe me, he just demanded his yogurt and stared at me like I was bothering him by talking to him before he's gotten the chance to fully wake up. (He is already just like his daddy.) So we started the day and when X woke up he took us to our honey hole of a thrift store, no I wont tell you where it is. I wasn't expecting to find much, I was still pretty tired, but the moment I walked through those doors and the sweet and sickly smell of old clothes and couches hit me, I got excited. 

The diamond of my finds was this sweater for $6 dollars : 

Which turned into this:

I wanted to make a tutorial but I got a little too excited and forgot to photograph a few steps. Ooops. Then I thought about it and Ive decided that a video would be a better way to show how to do this. There are also a few important things to look for in a sweater that you intend to unravel, such as determining if it was machine surged together (which means you can't recycle the yarn, unless you want hundreds of knots) or if was hand assembled, you can determine this by the seams. You should also check the fiber content, you don't want to invest all of your time and effort into unraveling a bunch of junk yarn. In the mean time, these are a few of the steps: 

1. Turn the garment inside out and get a look at the seams. You can tell this sweater was not surged by the neat line of double v's down the center, this signals that it was probably mattress stitched together. If you are familiar with mattress stitch, finding the thread used to stitch both knitted pieces together should be simple for you. The photo below shows that thread. 

Step 2: This is the silly part. you can literally pull this thread and the whole seam will come apart in seconds. It's glorious. I didn't learn this trick until I had tried tediously snipping the same thread at each row, which takes forever and ends up giving you tired hands. LOOK FOR THE THREAD! PULL IT! 

Ta da! This is the front and back of the sweater, all ready for unwinding after removing the seam thread. Now, this is where I forgot to photograph a few of the steps, including how to unseam the arms. I promise the video will demonstrate this a lot better. 

Here are the sleeves and the cowl neck of the sweater, and my little foot. 

The next few steps include determining if the sweater was knit top down or bottom up. If you try to pull from the opposite end of the way it was originally knitted, it simply wont be easy. This sweater was knit top down. Once you locate the beginning of the knitting you can literally start ripping the stitches back and "harvesting" your yarn. I have tried several ways keep the unraveled yarn organized, but the best way to rip back AND keep the yarn tidy is to use a ball winder. 

It took maybe an hour in total to unravel the whole thing once I got started with the ball winder. I sort of go into a little trance at this point, and I get a little crazy thinking about how I'm cheating the system about getting all this gorgeous yarn for a few dollars and little work. 

Look at that pretty little yarn cake!
I have yet to weigh the yarn to determine the yardage but my guess is that its about 700+ yards. A similar yarn sells online and at most knitting shops for about $20 for 100 yards, so by doing this I have potentially saved $134 hahah! I am giddy just thinking about it. Oh the things this poor forgotten and abandoned sweater can become! There is a sense of redemption in this for me, it's a little intense. Have you ever seen the dumpster diving skit in the show Portlandia? (which is amazing, you have to check it out, by far the most hilarious representation of hipsters I have come across.) There is this ridiculous sound that Meg makes when she finds something she thinks is cute. This is me, with sweaters.

So, like I said, I am planning on doing a video tutorial (maybe this weekend) so that you can do this too! What a great way to save money, repurpose items which can be redeemable and reduce waste. Oh, also I did this on Earth Day, so I get extra points..haha. I will do an update with what ever this yummy yarn turns into to bring it full circle. What would you make this into?! 


  1. Thanks Arabella! I'm working on getting a proper video tutorial up soon so check back!

  2. Thanks Arabella! I'm working on getting a proper video tutorial up soon so check back!