So in part 1 of this series on unraveling sweaters from yarn, I told you about my trip to a local thrift store to purchase sweaters. Now I’m about to take apart my first sweater and start unraveling!
I decided to start with the burgundy sweater (you can find a photo of it in Part 1) because it seems to have been knitted at the loosest gauge, so I’m hoping that will mean it will be the easiest to unravel. Hoping.
I decided to use this photo tutorial to guide me in the process. Photos were a must for me. I may check a video if I need more help at some point.
Let the Unraveling Begin
So, step one, according to the tutorial, is to turn the sweater inside out and remove the labels with a seam ripper or a pair of thread scissors. I happened to have a seam ripper, so I used that.
So the first issue was, whoever put this first label in this sweater did not EVER want it to be removed. That thing was sewn in there tightly! But I persevered, and the first label came out.
The other two labels came out a lot more easily, and I was ready to move on to removing seams. I was happy to see that this sweater had the “good” kind of seams – that is, non-serged seams. I was just kind of fiddling around with one end of a shoulder seam and puzzling over the part of the tutorial where “the hardest picture to take for this tutorial” was, and then this happened!
Just like that, I had one shoulder seam removed and one long strand of ramen noodle-like yarn.
I wasn’t really sure where to go from there, so I went back to the other side of what used to be the shoulder seam to start fiddling with the cuff seam. I thought, the shoulder seam came out so easily, surely the cuff seam will too?
Okay, so…I probably spent the next 3 days trying to get this sweater to unravel properly. And I made a lot of mistakes, probably cut too many pieces of yarn and yanked out too many stitches. Make that WAY too many stitches, as the photo you just saw illustrates.
But! I was, eventually, somehow, able to get this sweater unraveled. And with both sides (front and back), although it took me a while to get to that point, I finally was able to find one long strand and unraveled (mostly) unbroken.
Oh, and by the way… I decided that the article I originally used, while not a bad starting point, was probably not the best one for me to follow. It may work for some, and certain portions were helpful, but I think for my next sweater unravelling adventure, I’m going to use this one instead.
Three Things I Learned about Unraveling
1) Don’t be afraid to snip. I actually think the main reason I had so much trouble with that cuff seam is because I kept trying to find that one small end that would lead to my being able to unravel the whole thing. When you’re first starting with unraveling, go ahead and snip. As you get more experienced, I believe you’ll have to snip a lot less.
(Also, I highly recommend a seam ripper. Thread scissors will work, but you can use a seam ripper to gently work yarn ends out in a way you just can’t with thread scissors.)
2) Be PATIENT. Don’t do what I did and assume you’ll be able to finish in a couple of hours! Eventually you may work up to being that quick, but don’t be horrified to find that you simply can’t work that fast at first. Being patient will also prevent you from doing what I did and yanking out a whole bunch of stitches that couldn’t be unraveled (and really messed with my process).
3) Be flexible. Meaning, at least at first, you might not want to buy a sweater for unraveling with an iron-clad purpose for the yarn in question. As you’ll read later, I quickly realized that my original plans for this yarn were simply not going to be possible. Fortunately, I wasn’t planning to use this yarn for a really specific project, so I could easily change my plans.
In Part 3, we’ll talk skeining, washing, winding, and…maybe, even knitting with this reclaimed yarn!!