Part 2: Using Recycled Yarn - Sweater Anatomy & Dissection

You've had a few days to get some quality thrifting in and scoop up a gorgeous sweater or two (read how to shoose your sweaters here) -- now it's time for getting your snip-snip on! But before we get crazy witht he craft supplies, let's sit back and take a little sweater anatomy lesson.

Sweater seams
The key seams in a sweater run:
  • From your hip to the arm pit (red)
  • From your arm pit to the wrist (blue)
  • Around the top of the sleeve (green)
  • Across each shoulder (orange)

If you cut all these seams, you end up with the following 4-5 pieces:
  • Sleeve (2)
  • Front
  • Back
  • Neck/Collar (Optional)
Sweater pieces (neck/collar not shown)

Pretty self explanatory, right? But only if you've made (or taken apart) a sweater before!

So now that you know what keeps a sweater together... let's take a closer look at those seams.

Turn your sweater inside-out and head straight for the arm pit. Follow the seam up from the hip until you reach a cross (like the picture on the right).

See how there are two "ribs" of fabric? These are the salvage edges from the pieces we talked about earlier. In most of the knit sweaters I have taken apart, the salvage are knitted together with a finer weight yarn... let's take a look:

Find a place where you want to dig in and take one of the two ribs of fabric in each hand. Pull them gently apart and you should be able to just see some small stitches. THAT is where you want to put your scissors in!

The first snips!
Continue along the length of the seam, snipping an inch or so at a time and then pulling the seam apart again.

Because the seams are often knitted, you may even get lucky and just be able to pull them apart -- but don't force it if it's not coming easily. You're better off using your scissors and avoiding the chance of stretching out our otherwise messing up the yarn.

Once you've split all the seams, you should have pieces like the ones shown in the diagram above. Again, I'll give you a couple days to get through this part than then we're off to ball some yarn!

Front piece from my sweater

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