If you pull the good seam apart you will see a thread which you will be cutting to separate the pieces of the sweater for unraveling. See the little thread? This thread is your best friend. It will lead you to good things in life. Love the little thread. Starting at the bottom of the sweater, cut the little thread.
This is what a bad seam looks like. This means that the sweater was machine made. Someone basically knit a huge piece of fabric, and then cut it into pieces and seamed it together before the knitting could unravel. These seams are surged and cannot be unraveled.
Tips for specific yarns
- Always unravel wool sweaters before washing them.
- Always wrap the yarn into a ball as you unravel it. This keeps the yarn from getting tangled.
- Wrap the yarn into a skein/hank before washing it. Do not wash it as a ball.
- To wash the yarn: soak the yarn in hot water with soap. Rinse repeatedly until the water runs clear. Drip-dry the yarn from a hanger with a weight on the end to pull the kinks out of the yarn.
- Always wash cotton sweaters in the washing machine before unraveling them.
- Cotton yarn will loose its twist and fray as you unravel, so make sure you roll it into a tight ball as you unravel it.
- Chenille yarn will shed as you unravel, and may bald. I do not recommend unraveling chenille yarn.
- Silk, Alpaca, and Luxury fiber yarns are usually thin and fragile. If you can find Luxury/Wool blend sweater, the yarn will be stronger and will not break as easily.
- I prefer unraveling bulky sweaters as opposed to thin/DK weight sweaters. The yarn is stronger and will not break as easily.
- When shopping for sweaters to unravel, pull the knit apart to see if you can see holes in-between the strands of yarn. If it is difficult to pull apart, or you cannot see holes the sweater has probably felted. Felted sweaters cannot be unraveled. The yarn is damaged and will fall apart as you unravel it.
- Invest in a Ball Winder. This little contraption will roll your recycled yarn into cylinder-shaped center-pull balls. Much easier to work with, since they wont roll all over the ground like big spheres of balled yarn.
- For a felting project with recycled wool yarn, wash the yarn after you've knit it. This way the yarn will felt evenly in your finished project.