So many knitters are scared of the s-word.* It’s really not that terrible. In fact, I’ve been cutting into sweaters for years to make pillows, scarves and tote bags. You just need to get over the fear that all of the stitches will immediately unravel. Take it from someone who unravels sweaters a lot. It’s not that easy for a sweater to fall apart.

how to: turtleneck sweater turns cardigan in 5 easy steps
original turtleneck

I’ve been cleaning out my closet and have a lot of beautiful pullover sweaters that I don’t wear anymore. I keep them because the wool is so nice. Sometimes I think I will knit them into something else. I don’t know where I think I’m going to find the time. After my Fair Isle class at knitting retreat, I decided to turn my pullovers into cardigans.

how to: turtleneck sweater turns cardigan in 5 easy steps
new cardigan

I decided to practice on a thrifted sweater first. I picked a cotton/acrylic blend that was in the donation pile. It had a weird texture — kind of like chenille. Man, was that collar hard to unravel. If you want to practice first, I recommend trying a sweater made out of a nice, simple, plain yarn.

This is a short and sweet tutorial. I assume you understand the anatomy of a knit stitch, know how to pick up stitches and crochet a decorative trim.

seam ripper
sharp scissors
sewing machine
crochet hook

Step 1
Remove the seam that attaches the collar to the sweater. Unravel collar yarn and save for later.

Step 2
Find the middle column of stitches. Using a sewing machine, sew a line of stitches two columns to the right and two columns to the left.

Step 3
Carefully cut up the middle column of stitches.

how to: turtleneck sweater turns cardigan in 5 easy steps
collar removed, stitches sewn and cut

how to: turtleneck sweater turns cardigan in 5 easy steps
close up of sewn stitches

Step 4
Using the unraveled collar yarn, pick up and single crochet a stitch for each row of stitches. I started at the bottom, worked my way up and around the neck and back down the other side. (Some will tell you to pick up three stitches for every four rows. I say do what feels right, looks good and doesn’t pucker.)

Step 5
Depending on how much yarn you have left, crochet a decorative border. I chose a simple shell edging.

how to: turtleneck sweater turns cardigan in 5 easy steps
close up of crochet edge

If you want to try this with a crew neck and don’t have enough matching yarn, use a different color or texture to jazz things up. You could also add buttons using chain stitch button holes.

This project is easy once you get over the fear of cutting into knitted stitches. I finished this in two afternoons.

refashion: I’m excited to start wearing some of my favorite wool sweaters again. I’ll be posting my progress as I go. A special thanks to Lynn Anne for giving me the courage to cut!

*s-word is steek!

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13 Responses to how to: turtleneck sweater turns cardigan in
5 easy steps

  1. Lynne says:

    Beautiful! I love this idea. I’ve been knitting for years and it never occured to me to try to refashion a knit garment like this. Fabulous! Thank you!

  2. Holy cow. That is amazing!

  3. Maggie says:

    wow, that’s really cool, thanks!

  4. Charity says:

    This is a very good point – often, I forget about re-making sweaters in my repurposing adventures!

  5. Joanne says:

    Nice job.

  6. Cioci Ingrid says:

    This is great. Now can you turn it back into a turtleneck?

  7. Amy in ne says:

    Genious! I would never have thought of re-purposing a pullover. I love cardigans, not so much love on the pullovers. I might have to try it…first have to get over my steekaphobia!!

  8. Liane says:

    That is such a great technique – I’ve been steeking handmade sweaters as part of a project for ages, and this is a great idea for tight-ish or outdated pullovers. I have an llbean navy sweater that might get the treatment this weekend!

  9. Elizabiete says:

    I’ve made some great cardigans this way from turtle necks, but leaving the neck. Cut open and finished the turtle neck can make a really nice sailor collar.

  10. Elaine says:

    WOW! Look what you did! That is amazing and amazingly simple. I think I will give it a try. Thanks so much for sharing.

  11. Bhavnab says:

    Wow, how creative.

    Thanks a whale for sharing :-)

  12. MB says:

    Crochet edging jazzes about anything. I think a contrast trim would stand out more, especially on black. You could even crochet button covers too!

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