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Emily Wessel

Hello - I'm from Vancouver Island, Canada, but I live and work in Edinburgh, Scotland. I am co-founder and designer at Tin Can Knits - www.tincanknits.com

30 Comments

  1. Maddy
    December 10, 2021 @ 5:28 am

    Very useful. I’d just googled it as I was thinking of undoing a patterned jumper to make socks with random stripes. Looks like it should work. Thanks for the tips, very helpful.

  2. Sarah McDonald Bruck
    November 1, 2021 @ 1:15 pm

    Please don’t ignore less noble yarns. Our library participates in a blanket for homeless persons project that requires polyester yarns. This is is perfect tv knitting: any pattern, any color, any stitch. The only requirement is that the swatches measure 7×9 inches. Old sweaters can become beautiful, warm blankets. If the thrifted sweater doesn’t have a natural yarn, consider upcycling to match this need.

  3. Lisa Sassaman
    June 29, 2021 @ 7:09 am

    Can cotton yarn be recycled this way? I knit myself a sweater with organic cotton, but I don’t really like it now. Should I wash it before reknitting, or just wind it and then knit? Thanks!

    • Alexa Ludeman
      June 29, 2021 @ 7:36 pm

      Hi Lisa – I don’t see why not! I would give it a wash to get those kinks out before re-knitting it.

  4. Lauri
    February 11, 2021 @ 10:41 am

    Great post! I just unraveled a tweed vest project I had abandoned years ago. Love the tips on how to recondition the wool.

  5. Bridget
    February 10, 2021 @ 9:59 am

    My mum , who is very thrifty, would always do that with old handknit sweaters that she had made and didn’t wear anymore. It was a way to make new ones without spending money. I didn’t know that people still did this. It is nice to know that people are still recycling yarn and putting it to good use with a new sweater. I love the blue cashnere sweater in the picture. It is beautiful.

  6. Christine
    February 10, 2021 @ 2:53 am

    Hi Emily, that’s a brilliant article!
    You’ve brought back childhood memories of holding up washed skeins, while my mum wound them into balls. When charity shops open up again after Lockdown, you’ll have inspired me to go on the hunt for great yarn to unravel.

  7. Kathy Schilling
    February 9, 2021 @ 8:38 pm

    I do that! Opt for the expensive yarn of course, like she said. FUN

  8. Susan Riemschneider
    February 8, 2021 @ 3:04 pm

    My Mother-in-law would unravel sweaters for me and wind them into beautifully tight balls to be reknit! She also gave me wonderful German wool + Nylon yarn to knit into great socks.

  9. rose
    February 8, 2021 @ 4:50 am

    Hi I do this to once I’ve unravelled it all I put water in a pan use a lid with a hole in it thread the end of the yarn thought it once its started boiling as i pill the yarn the steam straightens it I then hang it over my curtain pole above my radiator and it dries in no time lovely and straight already for a new project rose x

  10. Olivia
    February 8, 2021 @ 4:45 am

    Wow Em, love the tips and am again amazed at what you can do. Also am going to snag the February Lady Sweater pattern. Such a great find!

  11. Mary-grace
    February 8, 2021 @ 1:55 am

    Hi the best way to get the wrinkles out of wool that has been unwound or being recycled, is to wind the wool round a metal coat hanger which you have shaped to form two straight sides. Next use steam from a kettle or a hand steamer. Just a couple of minutes with the steam removes the wrinkles and then the wool can be rolled into balls.
    Hope you will try this method.

  12. Patricia McClintock
    February 7, 2021 @ 6:35 pm

    Really enjoyed your details on how yo unravel an old garment. I have been in inspired. Thank you

  13. Ingvill
    February 6, 2021 @ 2:46 am

    Supert 💚💚💚

  14. Maria
    February 6, 2021 @ 2:12 am

    I just finished a cardigan from a yarn that was sitting in my cupboard for 25 years. It was originally knitted into a jumper, which I wore a few times and unraveled. Recently I dyed it as I didn’t like the original colour and knitted a cardigan for myself. Have enough left for a kid’s jumper. There was a kilo of yarn originally!

    • Helen Fox-Noble
      February 8, 2021 @ 3:19 am

      This is nothing new. My mother was un picking old knitted garments to make in to something new many years ago. A throw back from the war years of mending and making do I think.
      She was always knitting gloves and hats and cardigans. Every old jumper she got from a jumble sale was un picked and made into a lovely garment to keep us kids smart.
      Today is such a throw away society and nobody ever seems to want to put in that extra bit of effort. Recycle is the way forward.

  15. Belinda Albury
    February 6, 2021 @ 1:30 am

    Thanks very much for this post. A lot of my clothing comes from charity shops (Opportunity Shops, as we call them here in Australia), but I haven’t yet tried this. I really love the combo of supporting a charity plus the sustainability of buying second hand. I do, however, appreciate your reflection on middle-class people pricing others out of the second-hand market. I may be in danger of contributing to that and need to think about that aspect. Thank you!

  16. Paola
    February 6, 2021 @ 1:21 am

    Clear and very useful tutorial, thank you! And your recycled knits are stunning – I especially love the February Lady Sweater.
    May I suggest, when unraveling, that the yarn can be wound directly on a niddy noddy, if available, thus skipping the bag step?

    • Emily Wessel
      February 7, 2021 @ 10:57 pm

      Great suggestion :) I haven’t done it that way, but it could work well, and avoid tangles!

  17. G-Mum in the REAL Washington! (state, not DC)
    February 5, 2021 @ 2:37 pm

    Ooooooh, I am inspired anew! It’s been decades since I have thrift shopped for a sweater to unravel and re-knit. Your tips were a welcome review, and some new steps as well. I never gave it a thought to redye the wool….that puts more choices into the running! Thanks for the washing tips…it might sound silly to you, but I wonder if next time you could say why that’s best….I washed after the garment was remade and worn…EW! is what I am now thinking! I am older now and am less in a hurry to mass produce for gifts; enjoying all the steps and taking the time for each one makes me look forward to learning to treasure each step of this survival craft….I might even mask up and head out to my local thrift stores tomorrow! Thank you so much for sharing!…..and it would be wonderful if you could share the hat pattern! 😉

  18. Tracey Wilbourn
    February 5, 2021 @ 10:31 am

    I appreciate the thoughtfulness of this post, at a time when buying high-priced yarn is out of reach for many. Thank you for sharing!

  19. Leslie Jūratė
    February 5, 2021 @ 9:11 am

    Have you ever offered to take a thrift shop’s one-or-two-moth-hole-having rejects? I can’t imagine a big outfit like the Salvation Army doing something like that, but perhaps smaller shops would?

    • Alexa Ludeman
      February 5, 2021 @ 1:32 pm

      That’s a great idea, thank you!

    • Prudence Gee
      October 5, 2021 @ 11:04 am

      Be sure you treat the garment to kill any moth eggs when you bring it home. Would hate for them to get at the rest of your wool.

  20. Brenda
    February 5, 2021 @ 7:14 am

    Excellent article. Thanks so much.

  21. Liz McCann
    February 5, 2021 @ 6:56 am

    Wow. Good post. Your recycled items are gorgeous. Will need to look into second hand stores and see what beautiful yarns I can find and see if I can unravel and wash. It looks like a job worth looking into. Thanks for your info.

  22. undoneknitting
    February 4, 2021 @ 5:55 pm

    Love this idea. Thanks for all the tips. Next time I make yarn spaghetti I’m going to try using a bag to keep it in check!

  23. textilebliss
    February 1, 2021 @ 9:13 am

    I wanted to share the post about recycling sweater yarn on social media, but the link does not work, alas–the dreaded 404 pops up when you click on it.

    And when I went to your site, the most recent blog post is about Strange Brew sweaters.

    Please advise.

    Many thanks,

    June

    • Alexa Ludeman
      February 4, 2021 @ 1:29 pm

      Hi! Sorry, we had a bit of a glitch there, but the post is up and running now!