Reclaiming Yarn from a Thrift Store Sweater

I went to my local thrift store yesterday looking for pans to use for dyeing roving, that was a bust (disappointing!), they had nothing suitable. But, while I was there I did take a look at sweaters. For a while now I have been wanting to try my hand at reclaiming fiber from a sweater. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on this in case I ruined it and came out with nothing usable, so a thrift store sweater is definitely the way to go.  For $4.59 including tax I picked up this really pretty rose sweater, ladies size small.  Well, it’s nice yarn, anyway.


I took the pieces apart, which took a couple of hours since I didn’t know how to do it the “right” way.  I have since looked up on you tube a couple of videos about disassembling sweaters, and next time I will do it much more quickly, I’m sure.  I did notice that the last button band came off much more quickly than the first piece, so I was improving during my first try!

I unwound the back onto my 1.5 yard niddy-noddy.  I need a 2 yard niddy noddy – Christmas list!

The back gave me around 300 yards of fingering weight yarn.  I still need to unwind the 2 front pieces and the sleeves.

After skeining all the yarn I’ll soak it in hot water to remove the crinkles (I wonder how long ago this sweater was knit?), and put it out to dry with a weight on it to help straighten it out.

I am very pleased with this project.  I have maybe 600 yards of fingering weight wool in a really great color for less than $5!  I don’t even need to dye it, since the pink is fine just the way it is.  I am less pleased with amount of time I spent on it, but I imagine I’ll get much faster.

I foresee another trip to Goodwill soon (and a sharper eye at garage sales).

Special thanks to my assistant, Stitch, for his help.

Stitch Wants To Help

5 thoughts on “Reclaiming Yarn from a Thrift Store Sweater”

  1. So that was a hand-knitted garment? I don’t suppose it would be possible to unpick something made in a factory, would it. When you find a good video please give me the link. I’ve tried to do it before but it’s so hard to do without snipping in the wrong place and ruining it!

    1. It was a factory knit garment. I found one that was knit in pieces and sewn together, as opposed to cut out of “knit fabric” and serged at seams. Then I took apart the pieces at the seams, and unraveled each individual piece. I did have a few places where I ran into a problem and the yarn broke or was cut, but since it was 100% wool, I just spit spliced the yarn together in those places and you can’t tell at all.
      I will post a link to video soon. Thanks for the ideal!

      1. Great, I’ll look forward to it.
        I think that’s very ambitious of you to unpick the garment. People always used to do that with garments they had made themselves, but with all the cheap factory clothes, I think it’s become a dying art!

    2. I don’t know how ambitious, just something I wanted to try. You can sometimes find quite nice sweaters, cashmere, etc. in thrift stores here, and I hate to see that nice fiber go to waste. It’s cheap too!

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