How to Fix a Snag in a Sweater or Knitted Fabric

Sweater snag and tools

The Spruce / Cristina Tudor

Overview
  • Working Time: 30 mins - 1 hr
  • Total Time: 20 - 30 mins
  • Yield: 0
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Estimated Cost: $0

In life, snags happen. Because of the looser yarn structures of knitted fabrics, like sweaters and winter scarves, snags occur quite easily. Then, if the problem isn't addressed, the snag will become a hole before you know it. But that doesn't mean you have to get rid of your favorite sweater. Learn how to fix a snag in a knitted garment and how to prevent snags from happening in the first pace.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Small crochet hook (size 5 or smaller)
  • Blunt tapestry needle (optional)
  • Steam iron (optional)
  • Clothes steamer (optional)
  • Metal file (optional)

Materials

  • Clear nail polish
  • Sandpaper (optional)

Instructions

Sweater snag and tools

The Spruce / Cristina Tudor

Before You Begin

Sweaters are prone to snags because of the nature of knitted fabrics. The threads lie 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. However, with just a couple tools and a little time, you can save the sweater, blanket, or scarf for many more years of wear.

Never cut off the snagged thread or use a sweater shaver or razor to remove the thread. Doing so can cause the snagged thread to begin to unravel. Never pull on the sweater, either, hoping the extra thread will just disappear. Instead, correctly repair the snag as soon as possible so it doesn't get worse.

Instructions

  1. Use a Crochet Hook to Grab the Snag

    Start by inserting the crochet hook from the wrong (opposite) side of the sweater through to the front side at the snag.

    Tip

    If you don't have a crochet hook, straighten out a paper clip, and create a small hook at the end. Leave the hook slightly open so you can capture the snagged yarn.

    Someone fixing a snag

    The Spruce / Cristina Tudor

  2. Pull the Snag to the Other 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 snag to the wrong side of the fabric through a gap in the knitting by using a large, blunt needle. Be patient, and try not to make the hole any bigger.

    Someone pulling a snag

    The Spruce / Cristina Tudor

  3. Smooth the Pulled Threads

    Now, turn the sweater inside out. Gently pull the knitted fabric if the site of the snag is rippled. With gentle manipulation, some of the snagged thread will often ease back into place.

    Someone pulling a sweater

    The Spruce / Cristina Tudor

  4. Knot in Place

    If the snag hasn't 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.

    Someone creating a knot in a snag

    The Spruce / Cristina Tudor

  5. Secure the Knot 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.

    Someone putting nail polish on a knot

    The Spruce / Cristina Tudor

  6. Do a Final Check

    Turn the sweater to the right side, and check the site of the snag. 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.

    Someone pulling a sweater

    The Spruce / Cristina Tudor

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, which 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 in the washer. Or, skip the washer completely and hand-wash sweaters instead.

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 garment catching on belts, zippers, or pant closures while you wear it? Check suspected culprits for rough edges. You may be able to smooth these surfaces with a metal file or sandpaper. 

Finally, your pet's nails can be particularly harsh on loosely knitted clothes. Keep them trimmed, and avoid wearing knits when playing with Fido.