Things to Make From Old Wool Sweaters

Updated April 17, 2017

If that pile of unworn wool sweaters seems to mock you every time you open the closet door, before the moths get to them, recycle the wool into something new. Colourful wool can be the basis for crafts like sewing, felting or knitting. Use your old wool sweaters to create new garments and home accessories--whatever you choose to do, the result will be a one-of-a-kind creation.

Old yarn for new projects

Some wool sweaters and be unravelled and the yarn reused for new knitting or crochet projects. To choose a wool sweater that you can unravel, look inside at the seams. If the ends look like loops, that usually means the sweater pieces are knit to size, rather than being cut out of knitted fabric. Remove the seam stitching, and take apart the sweater. Find the end of each piece and unravel, wash the yarn, roll it into a ball and make something new.

Felted objects

Wool sweaters can be felted in the washing machine, and refashioned into hats, patchwork scarves, bags, tea cosies, arm warmers, and slippers among other things. To felt wool sweaters, choose sweaters that are 100 per cent wool, but not washable wool. Remove all the buttons, ribbons and other items.

Felting occurs with water, soap and friction. So wash the sweater in hot water with washing powder, and on a high-agitation cycle. You can also add old towels, blue jeans or tennis shoes to add some friction. A cold-rinse cycle will shrink the sweater. If you can still see stitch definition after washing the sweaters, wash them again. You can use a dryer or just lay them out to dry.

After felting, you can cut up the sweaters without fear of fraying. Use your imagination. The bottom ribbing of a sweater can be a coffee cup cosy. Remove the sleeve, and use the body for a bag. Add embellishments, buttons, embroidery, or fabric paint.

Another sweater

Another option is to deconstruct the sweater and make it into a new garment. For example, you can make a cardigan sweater out of a pullover with a little planning, a sewing machine, and some imagination. If you have two pullovers in your closet that you no longer wear, combine them into one cardigan by using the bottom ribbing of one as a shawl collar. If you don't like the colour, try dyeing the sweater with Kool-Aid.

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About the Author

Susan Brockett worked in the computer industry as a technical writer for nearly 20 years at companies including Motorola and Dell Computer Systems. In addition, her articles have appeared in Society of Technical Communications publications. Brockett has a master's degree in English composition and communications from Kansas State University.