Friday, July 20, 2012

Reclaiming yarn: Easier than it looks!

Have you ever put something off because you thought it would (a) take forever, or (b) be really difficult, or (c) both?  And then finally talked yourself into finishing the task and found that it was (d) no big deal at all?  That was me and frogging this vest.  I've been thinking about that thing for two years.  Two years, people!  And the whole thing took about half an hour, and was really pretty fun.  Two years of thinking about something that took 30 minutes.  Why do we do that to ourselves?

Here's what I did.

I used a yarn swift to hold the yarn and wind it into a hank.  I pulled about 3 yards off the sweater, then wound it on to the hank.  Trying to wind it directly from the sweater would make the yarn too taut, and would also be very fiddly. 

If you don't have a yarn swift, you can use the back of a chair.  Just make sure that the sides of the back of the chair are parallel, or angled in towards each other.  If the sides are angled away from each other, if the chair back gets wider as it goes up, it will be nearly impossible to remove the yarn after you've wound hundreds of yards.  I know of which I speak. 

When I'd wound about 100 grams (about two balls of the Wool of the Andes), I tied it up in four places using some scrap cotton yarn.  I'd just started a fifth ball of this yarn, so I wound the sweater into two hanks.  

You sort of make a figure 8 with the cotton through the yarn.  Well, a figure 8 with another loop on top.  So really, more of a figure snowman. 

Look how crinkly the yarn is!  You can't knit with that!  Not without driving yourself mad. 

It does look sort of awesome though, doesn't it?


To get all the crinkle out, you have to wash it.  Washing unknit yarn sounded like a scary prospect to me--oh! the tangles!--but since I'd tied it well, it was not a crisis.  It was as easy as washing a sweater.

After squeezing--not wringing!-- the yarn and wrapping it up in a towel and stepping on it, I hung it to dry, using a couple of skirts on hangers as weights to pull out the crimping.  I think I'll wear the vest with this khaki skirt this fall!  Ooh, with boots and tights.  And the sky will be blue and the leaves will be beautiful and it will be a delicious 55 degrees and not 194 and sticky and terrible like it is now. 

I let it hang about 24 hours, rotating the hank so it dried evenly and didn't get re-crimped from the two hangers.  Then I let the hank rest on my ironing board for another day or so to rest.  The yarn really plumped up again, and looks like no one ever even thought about knitting a gigantic sweater with it. 

I'll show you the finished hanks tomorrow! 


  1. I loved reading this post. It's amazing how we can put something off and then realize it wasn't so bad after all. I do it all the time! I love how easy this seemed and that you just really enjoyed yourself- I bet it was relaxing. Can't wait to see what you make with the yarn.

  2. Thanks, Lisa! It actually was relaxing. I love crossing things off my to do list! I'm going to reknit the vest for the Ravellenic Games.

  3. Just a quick question about this: what if you want to do this, but you also have more yarn that wasn't used. After washing will the reclaimed yarn and the unused yarn match? Should I also wash the unused yarn? Thanks, Carissa