Basics of Unraveling a Sweater


Making Fabric and Yarn with Sweaters


Lesson Info

Basics of Unraveling a Sweater

So when I was preparing for this class, I've always wanted to unravel a sweater to use it is really fun, and I will say it's, quite cathartic to just sit there and unravel sweater, I'm going to show you how to do that. So when you're at the thrift store and you're unraveling, are you're looking for sweaters to unravel? There is a couple things that you should think about and before he even gets to the thrift store let's, just talk about the supplies that you need to do this, so you're gonna want some fabric, scissors and for these, I recommend small fabric scissors because you're not going to want to make huge cuts in these ifyou're unraveling it for the yarn. Uhm and I don't think that some of those supplies we don't need you need a seam ripper because you're kind of coaxing little yarns out. You do not need your rotary cutters for this, and you need patients because you will be you just have to be really ginger with this, but you can do it. So when you go to the thrift store looking ...

for a sweater to unravel, there are good scenes and there are bad seams and let's just so they're good seems in their bad seems. And sweaters. And so what you're going to do is look at the back are the I'm sorry, an attorney inside out and look at it. So this is an example of a bad sweater, so we'll talk about this for a minute. Why is this about sweater? I picked up the sweater because the stitches are really visible. So you know that it's net and you know that you can unravel it. However, if you look at the side seams there surged rather than mitt. So that means if you cut that, you're going tio have individual strands of minutes rather than one continuous part. Now, the interesting thing is on this particular sweater. The sleeve is connected to the body by knitting together and the way that you can see that, as you see two braids side by side on the underside of the sweater, this part you could actually undo if you wanted to. But then if you look it this side scene it's also searched. So unless you want to join like a lot of little pieces of yarn together, this would probably not be a good candidate. I found another one that is a better candidate and let's, take a look at that one and see why. And the other thing I want to mention is that fiber content really doesn't matter so much with this one if you like the yarn and you want to use it it doesn't matter what the fiber content isthe a cz because you're not felt ng at so you can use it for anything said this one if you get seen here here's the side seen this one has been knitted together said the pieces have actually been like the front panel and the back panel have actually been knit from panel mitt back pal in it and then they have been attached rather than knitting a piece of mitt on a machine that is then cut to a panel and then surged so this would be a good candidate and you know it's got some chunky stitches so that's good you want chunky stitches so let's try to unravel this and see how it goes and again it's like this is one of those things where if it doesn't work you could felt it or you could just say you know what? That one didn't work. So so what there's usually a little yarn that's holding the side seams together and you're going to want to use your kirsch a hook and a samer prodigious kind of coax that out of there once you get these seems undone, it's starts to go really fast so we're just kind of kind of undo that is this making sense so far? When I'm doing like it's? Just what you guys ever consider doing this? Would you ever do it? I mean, the thing is, if the arms really cool, it would be worth it so there's they joined something with a little not there, so I'm just going to undo that and then keep going. Yeah, why you would choose to do this with what particular you'll and so that's it is sometimes you can find some really interesting metallic yards. It just depends on if you want to experiment with something, um, it's a really inexpensive way I mean, that's, the thing about knitting if you go to a yarn store and you buy yarn it's very expensive because I don't seem to like inexpensive yearn so you can spend a lot of money on the yarn, whereas if you you know if you're not sure if he even want to do more than just try it, it could be worth just getting the yard and playing with it. Or maybe this is on your bucket list. Maybe you just want to unravel a letter that likes to be doing something right it's, like if you're tired of meeting or crow saying you could do the other part exactly like I said, it can be kind of therapeutic to sit in unravel when it's not your own work that you're unraveling, so can you guys see how this is coming apart? It starts to come apart pretty quickly if you get the right sweater. This one has some pretty good, clearly visible scenes, and it really is just like reverse engineering. You're just looking at how it was put together and it's, not that you have to have prior knowledge of knitting or curuchet, but you definitely get a sense of how it's put together if you don't have any prior knowledge, you start to learn a little bit more about it right away and some people are ok cutting into the seams and just using those small pieces of yarn it's totally fine to do that if you end up with little pieces of yarn, the birds really like these for their nests, so you can actually leave these lake in your backyard and they'll just kind of disappear there any sweaters that have fiber contents that would be easier or harder to take apart. I think cotton sweaters air hard to take apart because the yarns are really supplies of the yarns air kind of already so that might be the only person that thinks that if you can see the stitches that they're visible, you can unravel it if their little tiny such is like if you see a cashmere sweater like this unraveling this would be the definition of crazy you just don't want to do that so you definitely want these chunky stitches to be able to take out but other than that I mean I love working with wool so I think wallace pretty fun but you could use any any fat are any net at all this one's ours I kind of really easy I've been doing this all last week I unraveled probably about through four sweaters I got pretty good at it this one that you're working on how long overall would it take to do the whole thing an hour yeah yeah it would take an hour so we'll get this scene undone and I actually have one that I have already worked on that we can move on I was goingto I was kind of into this one because it's unraveling so awesome you know once you get the scene's done so you can see where do we just got a panel here like if I undid this seem all the way down the sleeve like this and then undid this one you would just have a big panel and that's when you find the edge of the rib you just started kind of going which it will not actually go because I haven't undone the other panel seeing him but if you think of how I mean it is made it goes this way so you're going to be unraveling that way so if it looks like it's trying to unravel this way that's not going to work you're gonna want to go across the body how the nets stitches are and then there were actually for people they're really interested in finding out how much usable yarn they get from a sweater that they unravel has anyone ever heard of in knitting naughty there is a device that you can make out of pvc pipe so when you make when you unravel your sweater you're left with the massive yarn and you want to see how much you have you can actually wind your yarn into ah ah hank which I'll show you the minute using something called a knitting naughty which is kind of like a weird looking I shaped tool and uh it can help you determine exactly how much yarn that you have like every rap is a certain amount of I think I put a link to one of those in the resource is that come with the class if anybody makes one of those please tell me because I think I was fascinated by nitin audi's they would have helped you at one of the satin unraveling you can I mean, I'll do anywhere if you want to do and I can office show the one that I am here's one that I already started unraveling this when I pulled apart here's the front panel that I this one actually had like a different type of joining on the side that I could actually cut because the fabric was marl door the yard was moral d can kind of see the the yarn going through the stitches a lot easier so I was unraveling this one and winding it and teo these ball so what you get looks like a bunch of ramen noodles but you condone most definitely did she use that right off of right off of the sweater or you can something that I was curious about and I do like sometimes when you buy a sweater to unravel you can either wash it before you unravel it or you can wash the yarn after you unravel the sweater and it all just depends on what the fiber content is if it's a wool sweater I would wash the yarn in case it would felt so what he would do because you get this sort of romney noodle type of stuff you're gonna want that to sort of relax out a little bit so you would wind it into a hank which we were just talking about to pretend this is a sweater that I've unraveled you're gonna wind that's around the back of a chair you're not going to want a wind it into a ball because you can't wash that but if you wind it into ah hank which, you know it's kind of wound around the back of a chair, and then you're going to take a piece of scrap yard and you're going to tie them together in a couple places just to keep it for unraveling are from tangling up. You can put this into a think hand washed the yarn, and it will also help it relax out of this, so sometimes you can wash the yarn in the hank form, you can hang it. If you've got a drying rack, you can hanging on the edge, and then some people will actually put something down here to wait it to help these little ramen noodles fallout, but they don't have to. You can still certainly use it afterwards in this form, but this is kind of how it works, and once you get going, it happens really fast, and you just wind and unravel and wind and unravel said this water I actually washed before I unraveled it because it was synthetic, and I knew it wasn't going toe um, I knew it wasn't gonna felt and that's basically, I mean, I actually think this is more interesting in yarn form that in sweater it's, a really interesting mitt, because it's kind of it's got three different strands, like the dark purple, the light purple and the sort of charcoal black in there. So I was really curious. This is minted. I was really curious how this would look if it were kirsch aid. So I played around with it and did like a curse. She a swatch. And it looks a lot different. And it's also used to really small needle. So you get this really tight knit versus this really loose knit. So it's pretty fun. Everybody should do at least one of these in their lifetime. Is there any other question about howto to deal with the yarn of the fiber? Is there anything like that? Yes. Travel it and roll it into a hank and then wash it. Do you just submerge it in a sink in hand? Wash it. So I have a really have a favorite way of washing either yarn or natural fiber sweaters that could felt, and I'll tell you how to do it because you could do it. That same method with either one of these, um I use shampoo and I filled up the wash the sink with lukewarm water. And I put in just a cap full of shampoo and you submerge either your hank of yarn or your hand washable sweater and you leave it for twenty minutes and you don't really agitate it. Um, I might just go in there and just, you know, make sure it's all submerged under the water, but for about twenty minutes, you need enough time in the water for the stains to release and the oils to release, and if you've got stains, usually after twenty minutes, if they're not bad, they will just disperse and kind of disappear, so when you're ready to rinse it, I let the water run out. I do not squeeze the sweater or the yarn or anything like that. I'd leave it just like that, and then I refill the sink with water that is the same close in temperature as what I just rained out. So the water's a little cooler than lukewarm again, it's like I'm talking about natural fiber things you do not want, tio add too much heat or t much agitation or anything. I put a cap full of vinegar in it because what that does is there's any body oils in there, it gets rid of all of that, and it makes the wool incredibly soft. It will do the same thing if it's a yarn form and I leave that for a few minutes, and I made gently just kind of moving around just to get the water to get through the yarns or the sweater, and then I drain that out. And then I put a towel in front of me and I lift us out soaking wet, and I put in the tower really fast and then take it to your washing machine and just run the spin cycle. It will not it's, not agitation, that will hurt a natural fiber yard, and it will destroy out the water. Just the spin cycle, not the rent cycle just to spend cycle and then lay it to dry and do the same thing with the aren't you would just hang it to dry, but it will it preserve's, natural fiber sweaters and all of that really, really well makes him really soft. It was a long winded answer to your question, but that is it works all the time. And I learned that from the person that taught me knitting. And that was fifteen years ago, and it worked every time I've never run a sweater except the one that was washed and shrunk. So and that's basically it is first unraveling a sort of how are you doing with that one scissors here. You probably eat a movie, tio. It just takes time. Yeah, takes time. But once you get it going, it happens really fast, like it took me probably. I would say it took me thirty minutes to get all of the scenes undone in this one because I wasn't undoing like you are in that one I was kind of cutting into I saw the yard and I was cutting into it, so once I did that and I found an edge, and honestly, if you can't find an edge on the end that you want to start unraveling, just makeable cut, you'll have some little pieces that come out, but then after that, you're just you're going save some for birds and you're good to go where there's other sweaters that you attempted to do this with that just haven't worked and there's a thing like that or is it because of the type of yarn or yeah, both like this one? I almost didn't get this one because of the net in the front, but it seemed to work it was going down the back too, but, you know, women sweaters have a lot of seems in them, and you're even if it looks like it's him that you have to decide, is that going to break every time I get to that section? Do I do I want to, you know, worry about that or things like that? I mean, I think most men sweaters, they're pretty square cut, so they're kind of pretty easy to do, yeah, but, yeah, there's. Some I brought home son that looked like for sure, they would just unravel, and they just didn't. It just did not work. How you doing? Did you get it? Oh, good. Okay, you guys seem like three, four hours from now will be done. But this one it's, like, you know, I curse shade with this, and it didn't. It was not a problem, so that when that make the cubists bird's nest, if you like, I could see the bird in the spring, and that is basically what you d'oh. I mean, that is in a nutshell. What you do to do that patients audiobook podcast and crash a hook. Steam represents scissors will get it done.

Class Description

Over time sweaters can lose their shape and their appeal, but through felting and yarn-making they can find a new purpose. In Making Fabric and Yarn with Sweaters, you’ll learn how to transform old tops into new and useful goods.

Blair Stocker is committed to bringing new meaning to old stuff. In this class, she’ll teach you two ways to transform old sweaters. First you’ll learn about felting – Blair will teach you how to:

  • Assess the potential of the fabric
  • Turn your wool sweater into felting fabric
  • Shape felt into flowers

You’ll also learn how to disassemble a sweater and turn it back into yarn. You’ll learn how to:

  • Unravel a sweater to preserve length
  • Handle the materials so they are easy to reuse
  • Get started on your next project with a simple crochet stitch

Not only is reusing existing materials good for the environment, it is also a great way to unwind and relax. Blair will offer tips on managing the process so it’s fun, mellow, and produces raw materials you’ll be excited to create with again.


Carol Willyn Maple

I just love learning new ideas for craft projects. I wish I had known about this when I ruined all those wool sweaters in the wash. I could have made felted flowers. The reason I wanted to watch initially was to learn how to unravel sweaters to save money on yarn.