No doubt about it, yarn is expensive. Getting enough yarn for a sweater or blanket or other large project can be especially daunting. It is possible to take apart an older unfashionable piece of work to re-use the yarn. This is especially nice if you can find something made with high quality yarns. For this example, I’m going to take apart a sweater that was given to me by a relative that isn’t quite my style.
You can take apart many items that are crocheted or knit. In this case the piece is knit. To tell if you can take apart the seams to salvage the yarn, you need to look at the seams and make sure that the sweater has been joined without cutting the sides of the individual pieces of knitting. If the seams have cut edges, the yarn will come off in tiny little strips and will be basically unusable, but if the seams are sewn together without being cut, you’re in luck!
The first thing you need to do is take out all the seams. If you pull the seam apart a little bit you can find a thread or yarn that is running across the middle of the seam to join the two segments together. Cut the joining yarn all the way along the seam until the pieces come apart, being careful not to cut the knit fabric.
Once you have all the seams removed, pick a piece of knitting and find the top edge. Cut across the top to remove the first row. Start pulling a strand of yarn. When you start you will likely get a few small pieces that come off before you start pulling out the continuous thread. If you are better than I am at identifying where a piece of knitting starts or stops you may be able to avoid the waste at the beginning but I am not so good so I don’t worry about wasting a few rows of knitting.
Wind the ball of yarn as you unravel it. Sometimes you may feel the yarn catch a little bit but just pull gently and make sure any loose threads are removed and you should be able to unravel the whole section of knitting into one big ball of yarn!
In this case I didn’t end up with a yarn that I love, and unraveling takes a lot of time and energy, but if you’re looking for an economical option or are really into upcycling, this can be a great technique to use. If you scour thrift stores you can sometimes find some really good quality yarns.