Unraveling: Recycling Wool from Sweaters.





I spent the weekend in the city with my sister. There was good food, good conversation and – of course – a lovely bit of thrifitng. While we didn't have a cabbage glass moment like the last time, we did find a few treasures including two cashmere sweaters to felt and sew with and two lambswool sweaters to unravel, dye, and reuse.

The project above is my first sweater unraveling project (except when knitting goes wrong). It was inspired by my love of knitting combined with doing the math on a knitting a sweater with new wool. (Once yarn is purchased the cost of a homemade sweater far exceeds what I would ever spend on a purchased sweater.) I found two perfect candidates this weekend both ready to dye and both buttery soft, and costing me $4 and $6 each. I'll share my progress with you as these projects take shape!

14 thoughts on “Unraveling: Recycling Wool from Sweaters.

  1. Tracey says:

    I never would have thought to do that with a “bought” sweater. Thanks for the very useful tip that I will use. I am a new knitter and am finding the cost of yarn a little expensive.

  2. Rachel Wolf says:

    Im very selective with recycled wool and make sure that it is not a blend (tends to pill), feels good, is thick, and not worn. Also be sure to pick a sweater that is bigger than youll be making so you have plenty.

    Have fun!

  3. Pamela R says:

    I have to say that I love this idea. I’ve tried it twice, both with not great results. If you find any tricks, let us know!

    p.s. There is a redhead with a fabulous sweater that has learned how to say “buttons” in appreciation of your lovely knitted gift with homemade buttons!

  4. Susanne says:

    Thrifted JCrew sweaters are the best for up-cycling. Though, sometimes I feel badly about undoing all the work done by some person in a third world country 🙁

  5. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hello lovely. They say (who are they? I dont really know) to make sure the side seams dont have loads of ends. That would be made out of cut knitted fabric and would be a nightmare. Ill keep you posted as I unravel. Yea for buttons!


  6. Rachel Wolf says:

    I held the sweaters in my hand (one J Crew and one Polo) and had that same thought. But I wouldnt think twice about felting it and making something, so this way Im just reusing in a different capacity. I would never buy new for this project simply for the ethics that you mention though.


  7. Julie says:

    This is brilliant…and I just read about dying using KoolAide today also! It sounds like fun, but only works using animal hairs…like wool. Can’t wait to see what you make with your “new” yarns!!!

  8. Rachel Wolf says:

    May –
    Have you tried the dig and save? I know its a bit of a nightmare, but pennies for clothes if you are willing to spend the time. Or take a road trip to the country thrift stores!
    ~ Rachel

  9. Casey says:

    I have the same problem as May — but every once in awhile you can score big. I found an amazing cashmere/angora sweater that I attempted to unravel/recycle like this, but the way it was produced made too many small strands of wool (not one long one, if you know what I mean) and it was a bust.

  10. Rachel Wolf says:

    I heard that if the sweater is made by cutting a larger knit piece that is what you get. And to check you have to look at the side seams to see if it is all ends. What a bummer!
    ~ Rachel

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