Recycle Yarn From Old Sweaters

Category Clothing
Old outdated sweaters of your own or thriftstore finds are a great source for reclaimed yarn. This is a page about recycle yarn from old sweaters.


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If you have an old bulky knit sweater that you no longer wear, you have a good supply of yarn. This requires patience, so save it for a time when you're sitting quietly. I do it when I get insomnia. It is very soothing, because at 3:00 in the morning, there's no pressure to do other things.

This is a sweater that I am taking apart for the yarn. The ball represents the yarn from one sleeve, and the sweater was given to me years ago. The scissors came from a sterile bandage changing kit.

Pick the sweater apart at the seams using a pair of sharp-pointed scissors or a seam ripper. Carefully stretch the two sides of the seam apart so you can see the joining stitches, then clip them. Some sweaters have the kind of seam that allows you to pull on one end and it will undo the entire seam, kind of like a feed sack. Pull out whatever little loose pieces of yarn you can see and discard or use for stuffing. Starting at the top of the shoulder, find the beginning strand and very gently tug. It should start coming unraveled. If it doesn't, you may have to pick out a couple of rows to get down to the smoothly knitted part. Then pull and roll into a ball. Manufactured sweaters have a different kind of yarn than hand-knitted ones.


They are 3-ply yarn, but the three strands are not twisted together. Each one is fragile. If you break one as you are unraveling, it may be easiest to break all three strands and then tie them together. That way the next project you make from that yarn will work evenly. Leave long tails, and when you are done knitting or crocheting, untie the knot and thread a darning needle with the loose end. Run the loose end invisibly through about five or six stitches, then reverse directions and run it back through about three stitches. Trim off the excess. Do it on the inside if it's a garment, so it won't show.

I got my sharp-pointed scissors from a sterile bandage changing kit. The nurses have to throw them away when they have changed the bandage. If you have a friend who is a nurse, you might ask her to keep her eyes open for a pair for you. So far the pair I have has lasted a year. I like knitting washcloths and crocheting afghans with this "bonus" yarn.

By Coreen from Rupert, ID

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March 13, 2008

Instead of paying $10 or more for a good skein of yarn, I recycle old sweaters from Goodwill/Salvation Army! There is a great tutorial listed online at:

So far, I have paid $3 for a total of 3 sweaters and gotten 10 large sized balls of yarn in total. The key is to look for a sweater with the correct seam (as listed in the tutorial) and be very careful when seam ripping. But if you do it right, it will be a great source of new yarn. Once it has been knitted or crocheted, no one will ever know the difference!


By Concetta from Westmont, IL


Recycle Yarn From Old Sweaters

I do the same thing! Great way to get lots of great 100% wool yarns too! I love to save money. I get yarn from my local dollar stores and 99cents stores too. I'd rather pay a buck for novelty yarns than 6 dollars at Micheal's. Not always the same stuff all the time, but when I find what I like, I get every color and all I can carry! Don't forget to look at yard sales too, great prices!

By lisa

Recycle Yarn From Old Sweaters

LOLOL! Me too. I started about 10 years ago (after several mistakes of buying some with unfinished edging) and now have a cache of yarn in every imaginable color! This is a great way to save and recycle. It's important to remember to keep the yarn loose when you re-roll, and opt only for sweaters that still feel "live". Look for elasticity in the yarn. U*u*U (04/23/2007)


By Doggy

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