Snags happen, especially with knitted fabrics. Because of the looser yarn structures of knitted fabrics, like sweaters and winter scarves, snags and pulls occur quite easily. If the problem isn't addressed, the snag either leaves an ugly dangling thread or it will become a hole before you know it. But that doesn't mean you have to get rid of your favorite sweater. With just a couple of tools and a little time, you can save the sweater, blanket, or scarf for many more years of wear. Learn how to fix a knitted sweater or garment and how to prevent snags, unraveling, and rips from happening.
Equipment / Tools
- Small crochet hook (size 5 or smaller)
- Blunt tapestry needle (optional)
- Steam iron (optional)
- Clothes steamer (optional)
- Metal file (optional)
- Clear nail polish
- Sandpaper (optional)
Before You Begin
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.
How To Fix a Snag
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 the right side out.
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.
How to Repair Holes in Knit Sweaters
Darning is the key to fixing a big hole or rip in a knitted sweater. Darning a sweater hole involves weaving new thread or yarn of the same color of the item back and forth horizontally and vertically over the hole to create a new knit surface. This is done on the "wrong" side of the fabric to better hide the fix.
How to Prevent Snags on Sweaters and Knit Fabrics
- Sort better: 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 them in the washer. Or, skip the washer completely and hand-wash sweaters instead.
- Fold better: 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: 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.
- Trim pet nails: Finally, your pet's nails can be particularly harsh on loosely knitted clothes. Keep them trimmed, and avoid wearing knits when playing with Fido.
How do you prevent knit sweaters from unraveling?
You can fix an unraveling knitted sweater or blanket at the seams and edges by finding the tail end of the yarn that is loose, then securing it with a few stitches to the wrong side of the fabric to stop the raveling. Fraying knit cuffs can be challenging to fix, however, because it is likely more than an unraveling. The fray is usually caused by wear and tear so you can rehem the cuffs if you don't mind them a bit shorter. Also, look for fabric stabilizers, liquid seam sealants, and fabric glues that halt frays.
How do you restore a sweater shape?
If your sweater shrank, it's possible to restore its shape. To do so, you'll need to wet the sweater and then block it back into shape. Blocking a sweater involves pinning it to a surface to reshape it while it dries. If the sweater has not shrunk but looks misshapen, you can still use the blocking method.
How can I fix a pull in a fine knit sweater?
Sometimes a crochet hook is too large to repair a snag in finer knits. Take a straight pin and begin to manipulate the snag by pushing it and tucking it back into the other side of the fabric. It takes patience, but when you have managed to see it coming through on the other side, gently pinch and pull it through with your fingers.