Snags happen on knitted fabrics because of the looser yarn structures. Then, snags become holes. Learn how to save your favorite sweater, and how to keep snags from happening.
Equipment / Tools
- Small crochet hook (size 5 or smaller)
- Blunt tapestry needle (Optional)
- Steam iron (Optional)
- Steam iron (Optional)
- Clothes steamer (Optional)
- Metal file (Optional)
- Clear nail polish
- Sandpaper (Optional)
Before You Tackle a Sweater Snag
Sweaters are prone to snags because of the nature of knitted fabrics. The threads lay over one another and some are loose enough to snag and pull. Sometimes a snag will make a hole, but often the snag just leaves an ugly, dangling thread. But with just a couple of tools and a little time, you can save the sweater, blanket, or jacket for many more years of wear.
Never cut off the snagged thread or use a sweater shaver or razor to remove the thread! Those actions can cause the snagged thread to begin to unravel. Never pull and tug on the sweater hoping the extra thread will just disappear. Instead, do the repair correctly as soon as possible so it doesn't get worse.
Use a Crochet Hook to Capture the Snag
Start by inserting the crochet hook from the wrong side of the sweater through to the front side of the fabric or sweater at the snag.
No Crochet Hook?
If you don't have a crochet hook, create one by straightening out a paper clip and creating a small hook at the end. Leave the hook slightly open so you can capture the snagged yarn.
Pull the Snag to the Wrong Side
Use the hook to pull the loose thread on the front of the fabric through to the back side of the sweater. You can also push the snagged thread to the wrong side of the fabric through a gap in the knitting using a large, blunt needle. Be patient and try not to make the hole any bigger.
Smooth the Pulled Threads
Now, turn the sweater inside out. Gently pull the knitted fabric if it is rippled. With gentle manipulation, some of the snagged thread will often ease back into place.
Knot in Place
If the snag has not broken and is still connected to the sweater on both ends, use the crochet hook to make a loop of the loose yarn. Pull the end of the yarn through the loop to create a small knot on the inside of the sweater. Again, don't cut the thread; just create a knot to hold it in place on the wrong side of the fabric.
If the yarn has broken and is loose on one end, tie a knot in the loose yarn as close to the inside surface of the sweater as possible.
Secure the Knit with Nail Polish
Dot the knot and any cut ends of the yarn with a tiny bit of clear nail polish. Allow the nail polish to dry completely before you turn the sweater back to right side out.
Do a Final Check
Turn the sweater to the right side and check the site of the snag. Use your hands to gently smooth, tug, or pull the knit back into shape. If the sweater still looks rippled, use a clothes steamer or a steam iron to smooth the fabric.
How To Prevent Snags on Sweaters and Knit Fabrics
One of the easiest things you can do to prevent snags on knitted fabrics is to do a better job of sorting clothes before you wash them. Never wash a knitted garment with heavy jeans, or clothes with zippers and studs, that can snag and pull threads. If you must do a mixed load, protect knitted garments by first putting them in mesh laundry bags before placing into the washer.
Or, skip the washer completely and hand wash sweaters instead. It is important to wash and dry sweaters correctly.
Always remember to fold your sweaters rather than hanging them to prevent stretching. Be sure your dresser drawers are smooth or lined with acid-free paper to prevent snags.
Check surfaces at work and home for abrasive edges that can snag fabrics and cause small holes that washing makes more evident. Have you gotten a new table, desk or countertop? Improperly installed granite or stone countertops have a bad reputation for snagging clothing.
Is your clothing catching on belts, zippers, or pant closures while you wear it? Check suspected culprits for rough edges. You may be able to smooth surfaces with a metal file or sandpaper.
Your pet's nails can be particularly harsh on loosely knitted clothes. Keep them trimmed and avoid wearing knits when playing with your kitty.