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02/07/2012 / thriftomancer

Unraveling sweaters and reclaiming yarn

On Saturday I took a break from the Doctor’s scarf and began working on taking apart this sweater I got at the Salvation Army.

Sweater - before

A bit of directed attention and effort later, I had the garment broken down into individual panels (front, back, 2 arms) and began unraveling in earnest. Two days later, that sweater is now reduced to these fantastic little balls of string.

Sweater - after

I like string…

The yarn is a 55% ramie, 45% cotton blend. Mostly black, as you can see, but I think there’s enough green there to do some interesting patterning. (Who am I kidding? It’ll be stripes.) Because this stuff seems fairly delicate I’m planning to make it into a light scarf, probably of crochet mesh. Hopefully a design like that won’t take too much wear or put undue stress on the material. Plus it’ll give me a chance to expand my repertoire.

If you’re interested in following along at home I found this excellent tutorial on dismantling sweaters to reclaim the yarn (After I had already finished doing it on my own…) and this similarly outstanding tutorial on winding center-pull yarn balls.

A word about the ball-winding tutorial: It’s good, but I found that using your thumb to hold the ball’s shape as you wind was really inconvenient. Instead I used a stick that my little brother turned for me as a core to wind around, like so. (You could easily substitute a knitting needle for my stick, or a pencil. Anything of a like shape and size.)

Winding a ball

Doing it this way allowed me to put the ball down in the middle of winding and use both hands to unravel the sweater. (I worked directly from sweater to ball.) ‘Twas much more pleasant.

The next step is to find out how troublesome or not this yarn is to work with. I think it’ll be all right. Good luck to everyone planning to try this yourselves!



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  1. / Feb 7 2012 4:48 pm

    I get most of my yarn by buying sweaters in thrift stores! I could never afford the goodies I knit with, it can even be dyed if its wool or cotton. Thanks for the idea to use a stick, i have rheumatoid arthritis and that will make it soooo much easier. Thanks for sharing!!

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