Partial Shades T-Shirt Yarn Plant Hanger

Crochet Plant Hanger 2Planting time has finally arrived for us poor apartment-dwelling folk, so last weekend my roommate and I got to work potting lettuce and herb starts. With limited sun access and temperatures stubbornly remaining at lows of 35-40 for the past few weeks, we have to wait to plant things like tomatoes and cukes.

But we don’t have to wait to plant spider plants. Do you know what a spider plant is? It’s a virtually useless decorative plant that sends out about a zillion long, spindly appendages that end in little white flowers that turn into more spider plants. And it’s really hard to kill them. So what you end up with is way more spider plants than anyone wants. So you frantically try to give them to other people so that THEY can have more spider plants than THEY want, essentially furthering the cause of this insidious, but sort of pretty, species.

They're plotting.

Potting? More like PLOTTING.

Anyway, the front porch railing currently has five spider plants sitting on it. Clearly something has to be done.

Plant hangers, of course!

Plant Hanger 1

“Partial Shades” T-Shirt Yarn Plant Hangers

A great mother’s day gift, especially if made from the grandkids’ old outgrown t-shirts! The color block or ombre look gives interest while the simple stitch pattern makes this a sturdy, uncomplicated project that you can finish in one relaxing weekend morning.

Some brief notes about T-shirt yarn + rambling:
See here for a guide to making t-shirt yarn.

T-Shirt Yarn 1

I used T-shirt yarn cut to 1” strips and stretched tightly – your yarn may differ slightly in gauge if you cut it thicker or do not stretch it as tight. Just size it to your pot as best you can, and if you need a reference for building flat circles for the bottom, see here.

If you haven’t already, try modifying your hold on the hook when working with T-shirt yarn – hold it like a dagger and not like a pencil. (Some of you may do this already. I personally am a pencil holder*, but switch to dagger when I have to deal forcefully with something.)

* I mean that I hold the hook like a pencil, not that I myself am a device for holding pencils.

Materials:

Size “K” hook

Different shades of T-shirt yarn – I used 2-3 balls of T-shirt yarn (2-3 Adult large t-shirts) per plant hanger. Results may vary.

A smallish planter – I used a 17” circumference  pot, and wrote the pattern for that size, but it’s easy to customize the size by adding or subtracting rounds to the bottom circle.

Large-eyed yarn or tapestry needle.

Make Magic Ring.

Rnd 1: 6 Sc into the ring. Join with a slip stitch in the first sc of the round.

Rnd 2: Ch 1 (does not count as first sc in this round or in any subsequent rounds) 2 sc in each sc around. Join with a sl st in the first sc of the round. – 12 sc

Rnd 3. Ch 1, sc in the same stitch, 2 sc in the next stitch. (1 sc in the next stitch, 2 sc in the next st) 5 times. Join with a sl stitch to the first sc of the round.- 18 sc.

T-Shirt Yarn 2

Rnd 4: Ch 1, sc in the same stitch, sc in the next stitch, 2 sc in the next stitch. (1 sc in each of the next 2 stitch, 2 sc in the next stitch) 5 times. Join with a sl st in the first sc of the round. – 24 sts

Rnd 5: Ch 1, sc in the same stitch, sc in each of the next 2 sts, 2 sc in the next st. (1 sc in each of the next 3 sts, 2 sc in the next st) 5 times. Join with a sl st in the first sc of the round – 30 sts.

Rnd 6: Ch 1, sc in the same stitch, sc in each of the next 3 sts, 2 sc in the next st. (1 sc in each of the next 4 sts, 2 sc in the next st) 5 times. Join with a sl st in the Back Loop Only of the first sc of the round – 36 sts.

T-Shirt Yarn 3

Continue working 6 increase stitches per round until your bottom circle can cover the bottom of your pot. The next round will be worked in the BACK LOOPS ONLY. This gives a nice, clean edge to the shape of your holder. If you like a rounder look, you can work both loops.

Rnd 7: In BLO. Ch 1, sc in the same stitch. 1 sc in each stitch around. join with a sl st to both loops of the first sc of the round.

T-Shirt Yarn 4

Rnd 8: Ch 1, sc in the same stitch. Sc in each st of the round. Join with a sl stitch.

Rnds 9-17: Rpt Rnd 8. You can change colors at any point during these repeats, depending on how many color changes you desire or how much of each color of t-shirt yarn you have.

Rnd 18: Sl st in ea st around. This cleans up the rim and makes a neat looking edge. Cut yarn and tie off. Weave in the yarn ends.

Cut 4 lengths of t-shirt yarn a little more than TWICE as long as you want your hanging length (I measured one armspan per, making half that length equal to the distance between my fingertips to my chest).

T-Shirt Yarn 5

Double each length up, looping them under stitches of round 17 (NOT row 18, the slip stitch row) at four equal intervals.

Shown with wrong side facing

Shown with wrong side facing

Hook the loose ends and bring them through the loop, tightening them into a knot. Grab two adjacent yarn lengths, as show here…

T-Shirt Yarn 7

and knot them less than halfway up. Do this for each point so that each yarn length is knotted to at length from an adjacent knot. Gather all the lengths together at the top and make one large knot, pulling tightly to secure (you can even slip a dab of glue in there if you plant on hanging a heavy pot).

Crochet Plant Hanger 2

Enjoy your airborn greenery!

-MF

Pinstructional:
Tshirt Yarn Plant Hanger

Picture Dump Disguised as Content

Again with the documenting old stuff. This time it’s crocheted T-shirt rugs, in three different flavors…

MERRY PRANKSTER

CATHEDRAL

CANDY SHOP

I made all of these small-ish circular-ish accent rugs by crocheting around strips of upcycled cotton t-shirt. The method of using worsted weight yarn to crochet around the t-shirt is a lot more effective, time saving, and economic than just trying to crochet the t-shirt yarn itself. I have tried to crochet t-shirt yarn. My wrist and arm end up screaming and the product is bulky and unwieldy, plus you need like a zillion t-shirts to finish one decent sized rug.

This way is flatter, prettier, and doesn’t give me carpal tunnel (much).

-MF

The Sweet and the Sass

 

Recycled Sweater Yarn shawl 2

Yep, used to be a boring, unwanted, lonely, sad white sweater. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that sweaters aren’t good enough. Some of my best friends are sweaters. But I could see this sweater was suffering, yearning for a transformation, wanting desperately to better itself.

So I pulled out the lovely yarn (a cotton / wool / synthetic blend) and dyed it in a self-striping colorway, which I have named “Silk and Cherrywood” because the soft, delicate tones remind me of a fancy, old-timey boudoir.

Thinking about how long I spent on this gives me the vapors.

Givin’ me the vapors!

I lightly freestyled Make My Day Creative’s “Atlantic Lace Shawl” pattern, a wonderful free pattern that I featured in my Spring Scarves Pattern Gallery.

The color change lengths came out almost perfectly for this particular pattern, not too patchy as I feared (I don’t usually like that “camo” look in variegated yarns). I also happened to already have beads that matched! Joy!

SCW3

 

 

-MF

Playing With Color

Yesterday was the nicest day so far this year, and I woke up with a mission.

Okay, I woke up, drank two cups of coffee, and THEN I had a mission: dying the recycled sweater yarn I’ve been sitting on for months.

It’s not the same yarn as from my Recycling Sweater Yarn Tutorial, but this one is also whiter than Bill Gates and needing some color. This one has a gorgeous feel, though – at 42% rayon and 17% cotton it’s firm and strong, but the 20% wool content fluffs and softens it some, topped with 5% rabbit hair for a suggestion of luxury. There’s also a 16% nylon content but… whaddyagonnado, it’s recycled sweater yarn. It’s WPI is about 14-15 with loose plies – I could respin this batch to tighten the plies but I decided not to because I didn’t want to ruin its loftiness.

Recycle Sweater Yarn Dye 1

I needed to know how many yards I had in the dye batch (this does not affect the dying process, but I needed to know for later). So I measured out 17 yards and weighed it, coming up with 6 grams. Using the formula of grams over yardage, I figured that each yard weighed .353 grams.

Recycle Sweater Yarn Dye 2

 

 

 

Time to separate the sections.

I wanted long color changes, so I decided I would change colors every 20 yards. I sacrificed precision for speed and used three chair backs – each wraparound a bit longer than a yard, but whatever.

Recycle Sweater Yarn Dye 4

There are devices that one can use to make color-changing yarn dying easier. I did not wait to secure one of these devices, so chair backs it was.

I wrapped all of the balls together, deciding I would sort them back out later. I am patient with tangles.

I took my three conjoined bundles and dunked them in hot water to soak. The dye instructions advised I add salt for cotton or plant fabrics OR vinegar for wool fabrics. This yarn was both. I added neither – knowing that this would be a color gamble anyway. Plus I was out of white vinegar.

Recycle Sweater Yarn Dye 5

Time to dunk. I used bamboo skewers to stir my yarn in the dye bath, poking and prodding for 30 minutes.

Recycle Sweater Yarn Dye 6

Although they didn’t look like I had originally planned, the colors looked really good together when rinsed. Yes, they were muted. Yes, they weren’t what I had envisioned in my mind’s eye – but dying them and getting something a little surprising was a lot of fun. Sometimes it’s good to not get exactly what you want – it forces you to innovate and move outside of your comfort zone.

Recycle Sweater Yarn Dye 7

In the end I am thrilled with my first recycled yarn dye attempt, and am practically hopping up and down in anticipation of stitching with it.

-MF

Everything You Need to Know to Start Recycling Sweater Yarn – Unraveling & Finishing

Recycling Sweater Yarn cover

Unraveling / Pulling

Congratulations! It’s time to start building a big fat yarn ball, for a teeny tiny fraction of what it would cost at a yarn boutique.

And this is just the sleeve!

And this is just the sleeve!

You may be tempted to just pull and pull, amassing a huge pile of unraveled yarn beside you. Unless you want a huge headache later, DON’T DO THAT. Your yarn will tangle in a big way when you try to wind it back up. Instead, wind your yarn up into a ball as you go, continuing to wind with every few rows that you pull.

There’s just not a whole lot to say about this part of the process. You pull. You wind. Pull. Wind. It would be pretty Zen except for burrs. Remember those?

Top: Behold the burr - it's wrapped around the yarn I'm pulling and the next loop on the seam-stitch chain.  Bottom: The same burr, highlighted in red.

Top: Behold the burr – it’s wrapped between the yarn I’m pulling and the next loop on the seam-stitch chain.
Bottom: The same burr, highlighted in red.

They’re little loose strands of fiber that wrap themselves up around two strands of yarn in the sweater, making them appear connected.  They happen most frequently at the edges of a knit piece. The one pictured above is a really mild one. Sweaters with higher content of fuzzy fiber (mohair, angora, alpaca, etc), even sweaters with a high content of regular wool, are prone to bad ones.

At 54% alpaca, this sweater is composed of 100% burr.

At 54% alpaca, this sweater is composed of 100% burr.

If you get a burr so bad you can’t tell what is yarn strand and what is loose fiber, get in there with your trusty seam ripper and poke around.  A gentle tug can help reveal things too, but whatever you do, don’t just pull and pull at the tangle, that will only make it worse.

The only other advice I can offer for defeating these things is just keep at it – practice makes it a lot easier to recognize and deal with them. Once you figure out where the problem is, get the crook of the seam ripper in there and sever the fibers forming the burr.

Another good reason I don’t use scissors is that it leaves the tiny bits of seam yarn hooked around the ends of the rows, making pulling later on somewhat more complicated. The yarn gets stuck on the seam bits, and if you are already pulling a yarn that is prone to burrs this just intensifies the frustrations.

Hint! Recognizing a double knit – It’s not easy to tell a double knit sweater when selecting a victim. Unless you’re really good, you probably won’t know until you break in – when you discover you have two strands to pull instead of one. No worries though, because it’s really not so much harder than having one single strand – but you can’t pull several rows of one and not the other. My method is to pull them together and wind them separately if I want thin yarn, or just wind them together if I want a thicker strand.

Finishing

You’re almost there! By now you should have several balls of yarn harvested from the pieces of sweater you separated earlier. You will also have noticed that it’s wrinkly and kinky, still retaining some of the shape it took when it was a knit sweater. If’n you prefer, you can leave it just like that and be done with this project. If you do that and then make another garment from this yarn, you may suffer a minor change of shape and size when you wash and block the finished piece. If that doesn’t bother you, then stick a fork in yourself because you’re done.

If you intend to get the kinks out of your yarn, you are going to need something to wind your yarn ball onto to form a loop. The back of a chair works just fine, but I infinitely prefer a niddy noddy, a little handheld device that not only winds your yarn into a convenient loop, but also measures yardage. I made one cheaply out of PVC pipe – the instructions are here at the Anticraft.

Wind your yarn up onto your device until you run out of yarn ball. Use small lengths of yarn or string to tie the bundle in 4-6 different places, loosely, then slip the yarn off of your winding device. Do this with every ball.

Recycle Sweater Niddy Noddy

Recycle Yarn Niddy Noddy

Next, get a bucket, tub, bowl, or clean sink and fill it with enough luke-cold water to cover your yarn. Dunk all of your yarn bundles, making sure to leave them submerged long enough to get it soaked through. Don’t agitate it. Gently press it under if you must (I usually must).

It's not lunch, it's recycled yarn!

It’s not lunch, it’s recycled yarn!

After it’s soaked, remove your yarn and lay it on a towel or hold it over the sink to GENTLY squeeze excess water out. It should still be wet feeling when you’re done, but not dripping water. Grab your hangers – I use two for every individual bundle,  but you can double up – it just takes slightly longer to fully dry if you do.

Recycle Sweater Yarn Drying

Loop the bundle around one hanger and hook the second to the bottom of the loop.

When I first started recycling sweater yarn I used a can to weigh down my yarn after dousing it, until I received some wonderful advice – just use another hanger. Cans are too heavy and will overstretch your wet yarn, not to mention they are difficult to balance on the yarn! Hook the top of a solid plastic hanger at the bottom, give it a little tug, and let it hang.

I have used a steam iron to straighten out the kinks in my yarn before, but it was not worth the trouble at all, and if you’re dealing with a sweater that’s part synthetic materials, you risk accidentally altering the feel of your fibers. These days I leave my yarns to hang in the laundry room and forget about them for a few days until they are dry.

Recycle Yarns

(Left to right) Two recycled cotton sweater yarns and a fun primitive-look handspun.

Hint! If you want to speed drying, wait about half a day and then rotate the bundle on the hangers. The top will have dried more, as gravity pulled the water to the bottom of the bundle. Putting the wetter part at the top will spread the water out again as it flows downward, speeding evaporation.

Once your yarn is dry, it’s done. Wind it back up into the ball or skein style of your choice. This is a good time to have a yarn swift and winder, but as for me I haven’t budgeted for those yet.
You may want to measure your yardage. You can do this using the niddy noddy and counting wraps, or you can do it the lazy way by counting out a few yards and weighing it via your trusty digital scale. Grab a calculator – the formula for grams per yard is total weight / yardage. So say I weighed 10 yards and it registered at 2 g… that would mean the yarn weighs .2 g per yard.

You may ALSO want to measure WPI (wraps per inch) of your yarn – this is also a factor in determining yarn weights and categories, and it’s an easy one. Grab a good ol’ plastic ruler and start wrapping around, not overlapping your yarn but laying each wrap closely beside the other. However many wraps it takes to cover an inch is your WPI.

BUT WAIT! You can re-spin or dye your recycled yarn! Instructions for those things aren’t included here, but maybe someday I will get around to it. You’re probably tired of reading now anyway.

Or maybe you were two posts ago.

Recycled

Recycled Nylon/Angora/Wool blend, re-spun to add more FLOOF

If you have feedback on this tutorial, I beg of you to leave it here good sir or madame.

Getting Started & Breaking In V.1

Breaking In V.2

-MF

Everything You Need to Know to Start Recycling Sweater Yarn – Breaking In V.2

Recycling Sweater Yarn cover

Breaking In Version 2

Start at the same place you would for Version 1 – the end of the sleeve, where your hand would come out.  Remember those two fat lines we talked about?

Top: Correct seam Bottom: Correct seam, highlighted

Top: Correct seam
Bottom: Correct seam, highlighted

Take those two fat lines and pull them apart, separating them down the middle.  In between those two knit edge pieces are the horizontal bars of the seam.

Top: Pulling apart the knit edges Bottom: The seam strands between the edges, highlighted. This is what you want to cut.

Top: Pulling apart the knit edges
Bottom: The seam strands between the edges, highlighted. This is what you want to cut.

Version 2 uses a pair of scissors to cut up the seam, severing those bars.

And here’s the part about why I don’t use scissors – imagine sitting there, pulling and pulling away at the sweater pieces trying to reveal that seam – eventually the strands joined WITH that seam start to stretch, too. It becomes really easy at this point to mistake one strand of knitting for the actual seam. And it only takes one snip into the wrong place to interrupt that nice fat yarn ball we will be building later. NOW, if you don’t mind having a greater amount of smaller lengths, you can certainly choose the scissors option and speed things up; personally I’m in it for as much unsullied, uninterrupted yardage as I can get.

Anyway, get your scissors in there and cut!

Recycle Sweater Yarn Scissors method

You can deal with the rest of the seams the same way – separate the knit edges and cut the seam in between them.

Now that you’ve got your seams taken care of, you want to get to the pulling. I understand. You Version 2 users are wild and free spirits. You like to feel the wind in your yarn & caution be damned.

Which is why some of you might want to take the ultimate cheater route – skipping over the often frustrating collar seams entirely. Lay out your sweater like this:

DSCN0727

You CAN’T cut INTO the KNIT PIECE on the vertical lines – if you are a knitter, you understand why (this severs the yarn in a million different places…. Just like those incorrect seams we talked about).  You have to cut the SEAMS on the vertical lines no matter what. But you CAN cut INTO the knit on the horizontal lines, just below the collar and sleeve yokes, separating the chest pieces without any more fuss.

Seam Cut Yes No

The green shows the cut line. Do not cut on the red line unless you are cutting the seams.

Same goes for the sleeves – you have to deal with the seam that runs down the sleeve, but you can cut off the top if you choose.

Seam Cut Yes No 2

The upshot is that you will have to deal with all those little cut pieces of yarn in the knit before you find your continuous strand. Start plucking those babies off until you find your way in.

Upcycle Sweater Yarn bitsEven if you don’t take the ultimate cheater route, Version 2 users will probably want to deal with finding the yarn to pull by cutting off at least the VERY TOP of the knit sweater piece once separated. The “top” of the piece is going to be the part that was closest to the collar of the sweater.

Top of the sleeve piece

Top of the sleeve piece

The top will be bound off, not loose. Use the scissors to snip the very edge of the piece off.

Sweater Recycle Yarn top chopPluck off the little guys to find your way in.

Hint! I have found that when you have to clear off bits of cut yarn, stretching the piece width-wise helps loosen things up so you can pull out the severed bits.

Once you find your continual yarn strand, it’s finally time to pull.

Suddenly I am hungry for ramen.

Suddenly I am hungry for ramen.

Getting Started & Breaking In V.1

Unraveling & Finishing

-MF

Everything You Need to Know to Start Recycling Sweater Yarn – Getting Started & Breaking In V.1

Recycling Sweater Yarn cover

Sweaters fear me. I’ve fully unraveled at least 25 sweaters so far and chopped or altered dozens more. Regardless of whether you make a habit of it, every fiber enthusiast should do it at least once! You can get awesome, unique yarns on the cheap that you can reuse or re-spin. It’s also a helpful skill if you’re in the garment reconstruction game. And so, drawing on my experiences, I have put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide to getting in on the recycled yarn action.

Getting Started

Everything

Equipment for purists:

1. Seam ripper

2. Scissors

3. Appropriate sweater

4. Niddy noddy (find DIY instructions here)

5. Plastic bags (for storing your yarn and labels)

6. Plastic hangers (I prefer the notched ones)

7. Drop spindles or spinning wheel (ONLY if you want to re-spin your yarn – this is totally optional)

8. Digital scale

9. Plastic ruler (not pictured)

10.. Tons of patience (not pictured)

Equipment list for the quick & dirty: Appropriate sweater, seam ripper, scissors. Patience optional.

First of all, this can be a time-consuming endeavor. I’ve spent upwards of 10 hours unraveling a single sweater before (it was a lovely double-knit lace weight cream colored 100% English wool – *dreamy sigh*)  and though you can pare down the process by choosing the quicker methods, what you save in money spent at the yarn boutique, you pay for with your time.

Selecting a sweater

Thrift stores, garage sales, your friend’s wardrobe rejects – all good places to find victims. I even once unraveled a sweater I found on the street in San Francisco. GROUND SCORE!

But here’s the catch – you MUST find a sweater with the right seam. It should look like this on the inside seam:

Top: Correct seam Bottom: Correct seam, highlighted

Top: Correct seam
Bottom: Correct seam, highlighted

A correct seam will have the two edges of knitting pursed together in a pair of fat lines.

And incorrect seam, on the other hand, will just have one line, with the knit held together by serger stitches with sewing machine thread. Watch out for one-line seams!

Top: Incorrect Seam Bottom: Incorrect Seam, highlighted

Top: Incorrect Seam
Bottom: Incorrect Seam, highlighted

If the seam is serged together, this means that the knit piece was actually cut to fit, severing the yarn on every single row – and you will get nothing but a zillion short strands of yarn for your trouble.

Hint! – Check all the seams. I have seen sweaters with both types of seams, always with the incorrect seam at the shoulder yoke. You can still get yarn from these types, you just won’t get intact yarn from the entire thing.

Once you find the right seam, CHECK YOUR LABELS! Fiber content is listed on the tag either at the back collar of the sweater or on a tag at the side seam. We’re aiming for wool or cotton. If you ask me, acrylics ain’t really worth it.

Beware of sweaters that have felted. If you look at the stitches of the fabric and they seem blurry, stiff, or blended, then that sweater has been felted (which is probably why it ended up at that thrift store). It’s pretty common if you’re searching for secondhand sweaters. You can’t unravel it, so move on.

Stay away from anything fuzzy for right now. What you want is a sweater composed of good thick solid wool – no alpaca, angora or mohair – or a cotton sweater where the strands aren’t too thin. Anything with any kind of fuzz halo will cause small fibers that have detached from the sweater to wrap themselves around the strands you’re trying to pull from, causing two unconnected strands to appear connected – and, if tugged at, creating a tiny tangled bundle.  I call these “burrs” and they’re not difficult to deal with, but they ARE annoying. Cottons are less prone to this, but even the smoothest wool blend sweater yarn gets burrs. You should aim to reduce them your first few times unraveling by choosing fiber content carefully. Later when you’ve got more experience you can dig into those luscious angora blends.

EDIT (11/11/19): In the time since writing this tutorial, I’ve gravitated to unraveling 100% cotton sweaters almost exclusively. Wool blends are still great, but I find I have more use for the cotton thread and they generally unravel much  much quicker and easier, because burrs aren’t such a big problem. Just FYI!

Breaking In, Version 1

Now that we’ve got our sweater, how the hell do we get to the part with all the satisfying pulling? This is what I call “breaking in” to the sweater, or in other words getting a knit piece free and ready to start unraveling. I am going to give you the long and neat Version 1 first, then some quick & messy methods in Version 2. Messy people, feel free to skip ahead!

Turn your sweater inside-out. The seam-stitch used to join the knit pieces is basically a crochet chain worked through both pieces, with the crochet loops on one side of the pair of knit edges. Look carefully at both sides of that pair of knit edges. One side will look like this:

Left: I marked the loops of the seam-stitch chain with a Sharpie. Right: The entire seam-stitch along one side of the knit edges is highlighted in blue.

Left: I marked some of the loops of the seam-stitch chain with a Sharpie.
Right: The entire seam-stitch along one side of the knit edges is highlighted in blue.

This seam-stitch ends with a free-standing crochet chain of an inch or so that then gets woven back into the seam.

Turn your attention toward the end of the sleeve (where your hand would come out). There will be a little fat part of the seam at the end: this is where you look closely to pull out the hidden end of the seam stitch. Use your sense of touch – it’s lumpier than the rest of the seam.

Recycle Sweater Seam End 1

Recycle Sweater Seam End 2

I’ve marked that seam-stitch end in Sharpie.

Get your seam ripper.  A few experimental tugs with the pokey end will reveal where the hidden seam-stitch end is. (Remember – the more you unravel sweaters, the quicker you will come to recognize where you need to start. The first time I tried to find this thing probably took me about an hour. Now it takes me all of twenty seconds – so don’t despair!)

Recycle Sweater Seam End Collage

Once you spot that sucker, pull it out.  Looks just like a crochet chain – because it is. And just like a crochet chain, a tug at the loose end will start unraveling it. Congratulations! Now pull the hell out of it, undoing the seam for the sleeve.

Recycle Sweater Unravel Collage

Hint! – you can find your starting point on any seam by looking at the direction of the chain loops on the seam-stitch.

The chain loop bottoms form a sort of arrow where they cross, like this:

Recycle Sweater Seam Direction 1

They’re pointing down in this picture. To find your starting point, go in the OPPOSITE direction….

Recycle Sweater Seam Direction 2

… until you reach the end of the seam. Start there.

Now that you’re pulling, you will start to encounter burrs (stray fibers that wrap themselves around the yarn you are trying to unravel).  If a gentle tug does not break it loose, insert the crook of your ripper underneath the bothersome little thing and sever it.

Top: Behold the burr - it's wrapped around the yarn I'm pulling and the next loop on the seam-stitch chain.  Bottom: The same burr, highlighted in red.

Top: Behold the burr – it’s wrapped around the yarn I’m pulling and the next loop on the seam-stitch chain.
Bottom: The same burr, highlighted in red.

Keep pulling out that seam. If you’re lucky, that seam will continue on uninterrupted to unravel the side of the sweater, too. If not, you may have to apply the same seam-unraveling method to the yoke of the sleeve first. No matter where the seam is, just follow the direction of the chain to find where you should start to undo it.

Destruction feels so good

Destruction feels so good

So you pull happily along, parting the pieces of the sweater until – yikes! A tag. Take your trusty seam ripper and carefully remove the threads of the tag. Continue unraveling, using your seam ripper to take care of any hidden tag thread as you work past this point.

Recycle Sweater Yarn Tag

Hint! Save the tags with the fiber content and store them alongside your recycled yarn in the zipper bag – just in case you need to know later!

Once you’ve freed a piece of a sweater completely, lay it out and check out the top (whichever end was closest to the collar).

Version 1 Last Step

There will be a familiar looking series of loops on the top edge – this is where it was bound off. Again, following the loops as described before, you can locate the free end of the yarn.

Congratulations, Version 1 user. You are a detail-oriented type, driven to craft your artistic goals to perfection. Your patience is about to pay off when you unravel yard after yard of amazing yarn, uncut yarn.

Suddenly I am hungry for ramen.

Suddenly I am hungry for ramen.

You may be a methodical type who wants to undo all the seams and get every piece of the sweater separated first. You may want to get to the really rewarding part where you unravel a freed piece as soon as you can.  Everybody is special in their own way. Moving on…

Breaking In Version 2
Unraveling & Finishing

-MF