How to Recycle Yarn From Old Sweaters

Weeble Knits got 2 lbs of wool yarn (the video is for perspective) from 1 sweater, check out there tutorial here.
I am currently taking a knitting class and learning how to knit.  So when I was going through my closet and I realized that I had a few sweaters I no longer wanted, it hit me I could probably recycle the yarn in these.  So I did an Internet search to see what was out there knowing I certainly wasn't the first to have this thought.  And I found a lot of great posts on this subject that I thought I would share along with what I learned myself trying to unravel mine.


Here's What I Learned in General 

Buying sweaters to recycle  

Buy only sweaters from thrift stores or estate sales that are big and long and made of good quality natural fiber (usually wool) that is not felted or very used.   Acrylic is super cheap and not worth the time.  And if it is felted you can't unravel it at all.  If the sweater looks very worn (fuzzy, etc.) your new project won't look new.   Also long sweaters are great because you'll get more yarn that easy to unravel.  I learned from my own experiment that seams are your enemy.  I started with a short mock turtleneck.  It was easy when I got the body of the sweater going but when it hit seams it was a big pain.

Buy only sweaters with crocheted seams and no surged  seams. Crocheted seams will pull out easily, while surging seams cuts the yarn as it sews and therefore will not unravel in a continuous thread and therefore defeat the purpose.  Check out the image from Hand Spun Art Yarn below to see what they look like.
Check out Hand Spun Art Yarn for there great tutorial

Be careful of bringing home bedbugs or fleas.  You might think what are the chances, but believe me it's much more common than you would think, and much harder to get rid of than you can begin to imagine.  You can't just visibly inspect it either because it could have an egg on it that's nearly invisible.  I would suggest buying from an estate sale in your area instead of a thrift store.  A place where every one's discarded items ends up is much more likely to have an infestation issue than an elderly person's home.  I would also as an extra precaution consider keeping it in a tightly closed plastic bag until you place it in the dryer on high heat.  I know what your thinking, isn't wool not suppose to go in the dryer?  Well as far as I can tell wool shrinks because it's felted and felting needs heat, movement of the fibers, and water to felt.  I haven't tried it myself yet, but I would at least try it with one first otherwise it's not worth the risk.




Starting To Unravel Your Sweater
1.  Start by removing tags and taking apart the crocheted seams.  Below is a fantastic picture that shows you just what order to use by Craft Loftovers.
The image below is what you will have left



Check Out Craft Leftover's full tutorial
 Let's just say I didn't start that way and in hind sight this would have been much easier and effective.  There are a lot of great tutorials out there so I'm not going to go into to much detail here.  Some good tutorials I have not linked to yet are Craftstylish, My virtual Sanity, and Grey Duckling .

Since I think it's easier sometimes to watch someone do something new, here's a video I found that shows you how to recycle a sweater for yarn. 
 Cashmere creations shows you how to take apart crochet seams Part 1 (1.3 min)

 Cashmere creations shows you how to start to unravel a sweater Part 2 (1.3 min)

2.  You can start by directly winding to a hank or ball of yarn.  You can wind a ball by hand or you can make an electric ball winder with nothing but a kitchen mixer and a paper towel roll.  Basically all you do is stick one of the beaters into a paper towel roll and use your hand for tension.  Check out the video below to see how.  It is not in English but it's pretty obvious anyway since the ideal is very simpleMake sure your winding your yarn loosely into a ball!  

                              Make an electric ball winder with only a kitchen  mixer and paper towel roll

3.  You can put it into a hank either using a chair (pictured above), or you can make a ghetto knoddy like Hand Spun Yarn did, pictured below. Make sure to tie your hank every here and there.
Check out Craft stylish's tutorial on recycling yarn and how to use a chair to make a knoddy.
Check out Hand Spun Art Yarn for there great tutorial
4. Make sure your winding your yarn loosely into a ball. Then you need to wash your hank to get out the kinks.  Submerge it in warm, not hot water with either natural dish soap or shampoo, and don't agitate it at all or it could felt.  Soak for at least a few hours.  Check out Craft Stylish for a more detailed explanation of washing your hank.

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