Old things become new; unravelling sweaters to use yarn for crochet and knitting

Posted by on August 12, 2012 at 7:27 am.

Yesterday, I had every intention of finishing up the knitted amigurumi snake for Mr. B, our Shih Tzu. but after knitting a few rows, I put aside the amigurumi snake.

This past June, I’d mentioned that I’d set aside sweaters to unravel but I never got around to unravelling any of them, until yesterday. This sweater came from one of the bags I regularly receive from a second hand clothing store.

One day, I’ll take a picture of the amount of bags we receive. We move through the bagsΒ  quickly, so they don’t stay long in our house I like a neat house. I go through the bags, and send them to a few local churches and homeless shelters. Some items, such as clothing that require special care (such as the above sweater) I set aside because the charity ministries want easy care clothing.


Unravelling sweater for yarn

Not all sweaters can be unravelled for its yarn. Check the seams.


2 Corinthians 5:17

New American Standard Bible (NASB)
17Β Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come..

For some reason, while unravelling the sweater, the above Bible verse popped into my brain…

Last evening, while my daughter and I were playing games, I unravelled this Ralph Lauren sweater. Recycling items is practiced in our household, because I dislike wasting. So naturally I leap at the opportunity to recycle sweaters for the yarn. Not only does it add to my yarn stash, but the old item gets new life when it’s made into a lovely crochet or knitted project.

Repurposed yarn: unravelleing sweater for yarn

Here’s my first ball of yarn, the yarn had ended. I decided to make another yarn ball.


I’m thinking this sweater was seamed with a machine? Since I had to stop at the end of each knitting row and untangle knots.

Which made unravelling this sweater extremely slow…


Repurpsed yarn: unravellign sweater for yarn

My daughter and I had a giggle at the placement of these yarn balls. I didn’t even think about it until after I took the picture. πŸ™‚


And that was perfectly fine, the time passed by quickly as my daughter and I spent time together. And due to how this sweater was constructed, a yarn ball winder wouldn’t have been much faster.

Repurpsed yarn: unravelling sweater

Yeah, I’ve almost finished unravelling this sweater for its yarn!


About three hours later, the end was in sight. My daughter commented on how long it took me to do this task. My response, never give up! Obstacles will appear throughout your life, keep moving forward.

Repurposed yarn: Sweater unravelling complete

Hooray, I’ve finished unravelling the sweater.


My perseverance was rewarded, as you can see I have four yarn balls. Yeah me! These yarn balls are a lot larger than they appear here.Β The good news is I now have a bulky weight wool/alpaca yarn. It’s extremely soft. I have enough of this yarn to create several small projects, and I know I’ll enjoy making hand-crafted items for my fiber worthy folks.

Unravelling sweaters normally don’t as long as this sweater, but again, that everything to do with how the sides were seamed.

This morning, after we return from our Lutheran church. I’ll wind the yarn into hanks, hand wash the yarn, and spread it out to dry. I’ll have to post pictures of my homemade yarn skein winder.

What will I unravel next?

Next to unravel, a 100% cashmere sweater. That sweater is hand-knit. It also came from one of those bags I received from the second hand shop. My skin is sensitive to most animal fibers, and it’s too big for me size 14Β  (I’m a size 4). So while it’s lovely, I’ll be unravelling this sweater to make into into a lovely handcrafted item. The yarn is lace weight, and I believe at least one of the items I make from the yarn is a lacy scarf. Last evening, I unravelled a few rows, and am pleased that it’ll go much faster. I guess I should invest in a yarn ball winder, right? The latest sweater that I’m unravelling would be a perfect candidate for a yarn ball winder.

How do I unravel a sweater?

Unravelling sweaters for the yarn is nothing new to me, and it’s something I’ve done since I was a child. but if you’re new to it please check outHow to Spin Yarn’s YouTube tutorial on .


  • Nicky says:

    Awesome exercise on perseverance, being reassured by God’s word and moving forward through obstacles.

    Just what I needed today …
    Nicky recently posted..Find Your Greatness!


    Opal Reply:

    Indeed @Nicky, Throughout my days, a variety of Bible verses pop into my mind.

    A lot of that has to do with how I was raised, Christian, and the private schools my brother and I attended reinforced that also. My mother required us to memorize entire chapters of the Bible at home, and during elementary school we had to do the same thing. So many important life lessons can be found in one book, the Holy Bible. I’m passing that on to my daughter; learning and searching the Scripture. True the Holy Bible was written by man, but the words written were inspired by God.

    As she gets older, what she does with the spiritual information that she sees within me, and that I actively teach her is up to her, but for now… I’m laying the groundwork.

    If she’s like her mom, she’ll stray away from her upbringing for years. I sincerely hope she doesn’t go that way, but at times we have to follow our own path.. but that’s a story for another time…perhaps. πŸ™‚

    I’ll continue to keep you in my prayers, sometimes the road can be difficult. Having those around who can be an emotional shoulder to lean on, can be helpful. I don’t need to know what you’re going through, just know that I continue to pray for you– good times or bad. πŸ˜‰

    Blessings to you…
    Opal recently posted..Splash of color; knitted amigurumi snake


    Nicky Reply:


    Before I say thank you … I gotta say … we HAVE to meet. I swear so much of our life stories are the same!!! I can see it now … all the “me too” screams!!!! πŸ˜€

    My mother … still a Godly woman did the same for me and my brothers. She’s the one who talked me off the proverbial ledge on Saturday. Family altars, family devotions, church attendance and Bible reading and application are all a part of my story! Like you I strayed for a while … but I know without a doubt that I can’t live without God. I know some people can but I can’t and honestly … I don’t want to now. I applaud your efforts to give your daughter that strong foundation, especially in these times.

    I can’t thank you enough for your prayers. The short version is that I’m tired of the way some things are and impatient that I can’t make the changes go faster. Those don’t work well together. Not at all. So thank you my friend … I really appreciate your prayers.

    You and your munchkin are in mine also. Blessings to you both.
    Nicky recently posted..Cleaning Out The Clutter-In Our Homes and In Our Minds


    Opal Reply:

    I know right @Nicky, Often when I read some of your posts, I chuckle to myself. We are alike in so many ways.

    I told myself for years that I could live without God, even though that was a lie because I knew deep down that I was wrong. But, I’m stubborn, and kept doing my own thing throughout my twenties and the majority of my thirties. In my case, it was a random stranger/blogger that brought me back to reality. He always talked about the Bible in his posts, and at first it turned me off… and I had to ask myself Why? I wasn’t turned off by other passions, so why would someones religious beliefs set me off so much? In my case, it ate at me because it showed what I wasn’t doing with my own walk with Christ.

    That blogger wasn’t ashamed to talk about something he loved…and I came to respect that. We had some great discussions on his blog/email about a variety of topics. At times, I challenged him (politely of course), and he always took the time to answer my questions in a friendly manner. Of course, he was one of the first persons I contacted. I knew he’d been praying for me all along.

    It’s that you were able to talk to your mom. I’m laying the groundwork with my daughter. Lots of time is spent with her, she knows she can always talk to me about anything. It’s something I tell her constantly. I might not always agree with her choices, but I’ll always be willing to listen.
    Opal recently posted..Teaching crochet: Crochet & knitted amigurumi dolls. Knitted robe and shawl

  • Amanda@Dresses for Parties says:

    That is very cool! My friend is always looking for new yarn for her projects–maybe I can help her out with a old sweater of mine. I have never thought of doing that before. Have fun with your new upcoming projects!


    Opal Reply:

    Hi @Amanda@Dresses for Parties, Another option would be for her to check out second-hand stores (if she doens’t mind unravelling sweaters) you can find some good quality sweaters for low prices. I don’t even bother unravelling acrylic, since that can be purchased cheaply at stores.
    Opal recently posted..Knitting: Preemie hats and an Elizabeth cowl; Finished Object Friday


  • richa@corporate social network says:

    Unraveling a sweater is a great way to get yarns. Thanks for sharing this with us. Loved your post.


    Opal Reply:

    You’re welcome @richa@corporate social network, When I unravel a sweater, it’s one of the only times you’ll find me watching television. Sometimes I listen to an audiobook. but mostly my daughter and I play board games during the unravelling process. πŸ™‚
    Opal recently posted..Knitting: Vintage knitting (and some crochet) books


  • suituapui says:

    Oh? Interesting. I did not know this. We would use our sweaters till they’re old and worn out or they get smelly with age…and then we’ll just throw them away. We do not have many as we do not need them here, just one or two perhaps – maybe only when we go travelling.
    suituapui recently posted..Stopping by…


    Opal Reply:

    Hey @suituapui, I’m not sure how many people do it here, but since I like to recycle it’s appealing for me. There was an entry in Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder where Almanzo Wilder’s (her husband) sisters ripped out the seams in some of their clothes, turned them inside out to make them look new. πŸ™‚ Her Little House books are my favorite series about pioneer life
    Opal recently posted..Knitting: Preemie hats and an Elizabeth cowl; Finished Object Friday


  • curls and q says:

    Hi Opal, we blogged about this too! Great minds! 😎 We mentioned that you need to check the seams to make sure it’s a continuous piece! 😎 We unravel our directly on the ball winder. With arthritis it’s the easiest on the hand and fingers. It is fun to repurpose yarn! 😎
    curls and q recently posted..Raspberry Curd But Not Whey


    Opal Reply:

    Yep that’s important @curls and q, You’re correct it can be a lot of fun, just get comfortable and realize it might take a little while. Games, audiobooks, and a movie are all something I do to help pass the time.
    Opal recently posted..A watched pot never boils…


  • teeni says:

    I had a little giggle at the placement of your yarn balls too! But I love the idea of repurposing yarn! So many times, I have gone into the second hand shops and seen the most hideous sweaters, made with actually some quite lovely yarns. And when I see the price of the finished sweater and know how expensive the yarns alone would have gone for, I have often thought of just buying the sweater to take apart and repurpose the yarn. I may just have to do this in the future. I’m glad you were able to salvage so much of the yarn and at the same time get to spend some quality time with your daughter. πŸ™‚
    teeni recently posted..Yarndango I – Better Late Than Never!


    Opal Reply:

    Well at least I’m not the only one @teeni, As a child, my mom would have told me, “Opal, get your mind out of the gutter!” I never understood that expression, since the comments I’d make were about things that were very obvious.

    You should try unravelling a sweater… it takes some patience but you can save a lot of money opposed to purchase some of the more expensive yarns. The sweaters I’ve found have hardly been used and some weren’t used at all since they still had tags on them. πŸ™‚
    Opal recently posted..Prepping for canning; jams, jellies, and more


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