You should see the exciting new sweater I got at the thrift store for $1!
Now before you call me crazy, let me explain. Yes, I’m pregnant but there’s still no way that this thing would ever fit me. It’s very wide. But it’s still a great find and I’ll tell you why. It’s a beautiful soft grey color and the yarn feels even softer than the color is. The seams make me even more excited because they weren’t sewn, just crocheted together. You may see a huge baggy sweater but I see a LOT of yarn in one of my favorite colors! For a doller. And that makes my crocheting/knitting heart happy.
Changing a sweater into yarn is a great idea my sister told me about. And if you’ve ever spent more than you wanted for yarn, you might be interested in how to do it. You may be seeing the sweater in the back of your closet in a new light, or maybe the thrift store is calling to you too now. It is easy (and fun to me at least) to do but takes a little patience. There are some tips and tricks to it I’ve found.
Changing a Sweater to Yarn
Things to think about when choosing a sweater:
1. What is it made out of? Is the yarn still in good shape? If it’s a wool sweater and it’s been washed in hot water and/or agitated, it’s “felted” already and you might as well forget it. You’re never going to get good yarn from it. You can always cut that sweater up and sew it together to make other things. Wool yarn/material is great for so many things, like making diaper covers/soakers, or extra warm winter wear. If you find a wool sweater not felted yet, you’ve found a great thing! But you will have to be careful how you wash it and handle it yourself.
2. How was it put together? Turn it inside out and look at the seams. If the knitted or chrocheted fabric was cut and sewn together with a machine, be aware you’ll only get a lot of short threads from it, not usable unless you tie them all together and that’s a pain. It’s also harder to get these seams apart and I call it not worth it! If just the top shoulder seam (or the collar) is sewn, that’s pretty normal, and you’ll still get a ton of usable yarn. If, on the other hand, you see two finished knitted or crocheted edges at the seams (picture right) and they look to be crocheted together, then you’ve got a sweater that will almost fall apart into a ball of yarn for you! Ok, not really, but if you pull the right string, it’ll come apart beautifully.
3. The bigger the better. I always peak in the extra large section of the second hand store because you want a lot of yarn, right? What’s even better is if you find an afghan to take apart. Crocheting also uses up more yarn than knitting, so if you know how to tell these apart, you can have a better idea how much yarn you’ll get. This sweater, above, was loosely knitted but it’s huge so I’ll still get a decent amount of yarn from it.
So, on to how to turn this:
First wash the sweater gently by hand and dry it by lying it flat. You’ll need fabric scissors and a seam ripper. Look at your seams again. Mine on this sweater were ideal. They had no machine stitching and were crocheted together. You can see the two finished edges that were pulled together then on one side of these edges you can see little stitches that look like backstitching. You can see these stitches running parralel with the edge of my seam ripper in the picture below.In the second picture you can see the other side of the edges that has very small loops like the top edge of a crocheted piece. (Click on the pics to enlarge them.)
Follow these loops to where they begin and find the yarn ends, pull them out and either unknot them or cut them (picture left). You’ll have to kinda flip it around and look closely, and investigate at this point to find the top and that magic string as sweaters all seem to be put together differently. Do your investigating to find just the right thread to pull though, and you’re golden! I cut at the top until I could pull the seem apart and see the threads running across (picture below), snipped one of those threads and pulled on the right end of it and it undid the sleeve seam and down one whole side. The collar, this time, was the trickiest to take off but I finally found the magic thread. If you really can’t find the elusive thread-to-unravel-all, or if someone machine stitched the edges, just pull the edges apart and cut along the seem. It takes longer but still makes nice yarn.
I ended up with two arm pieces and two body pieces in the end. The tops were finished and again (picture above), I had to find the thread to take the edge apart. After that was done though, I just had 4 pieces to frog. Frogging is undoing a crocheted or knitted piece. The term comes from the “ripping” (somehow sounds like ribbit I guess) you do when you pull, pull, pull on the yarn to undo the stitching.
This is my daughters favorite part and she begs to help me with it. And the end result, next to a H crochet hook and size 8 knitting needles for comparison. I can’t wait to make something with it now! I have lovely ideas for it and promise to post them when done.