If you like to visit thrift stores, you could have 1000+ yards of nice wool, alpaca, or cashmere for only a couple of bucks! Wouldn't that be sweet!
Here are ten tips for finding sweaters that are suitable for unraveling.
1. The seams must be sewn together a certain way. Look for seams that have been chain-stitched together. If a seam has been serged or over-locked, it cannot be unraveled. You can see a picture of a good seam here.
2. Pullovers will generally provide a greater harvest of yarn than cardigans. The fronts of cardigans are sometimes unusable. It's impossible to tell until you remove the zipper or buttonhole banding along the fronts.
3. Buttonholes, zippers, or pockets generally reduce the amount of usable yarn.
4. Name brand sweaters generally provide the best yarn, but some of my favorite finds have been unknown brands. If you like the look of the yarn, the color, and weight, you'll like the yarn.
5. However, if you like everything about the yarn, but not the color, you can consider dying it.
6. And if you like everything about the yarn, but not the fact that it is lace weight or fingering, you can double or triple the yarn to create a worsted weight yarn as you knit.
6. If the yarn has pilled from wear, your finished project will probably pill too. Look for yarn that appears to have good wear-ability.
7. Look also for felting. Any felted areas (such as in the underarm area) cannot be unraveled.
8. Remember to look in the men's clothing section. The bigger the sweater, the more yarn you'll have.
9. Start at the underarm. Clip a piece or two in the chain until you can just rip it all the way down to the cuff or waist band. It takes some practice and experience. Just try to cut as little as possible.
10. You can knit directly from the sweater, but I like to unravel the sweater pieces directly onto a ball winder. Then onto a swift to form hanks that can be handwashed and hung (unweighted) to dry. This removes most of the waviness.
Now go out there and find that worsted weight cashmere sweater for $2!