October 2004

How to recycle/reuse yarn

The main purpose for recycling/reusing yarn has always been the price of yarn. Therefore, we should always consider recycling yarn from garments that the yarn is worth the effort. In this article, we will discuss what kind of yarn is worth the effort of recycling, which one does not, and how to go about the recycling process.

To recycle yarn from a garment, look into the material used for it. If it is acrylic, with the low price of acrylic yarn, the hassle of recycling may not be worthwhile. Most fibers that are hairy like mohair or angora and the new expensive manmade fuzzy yarns are hard to unravel and too work-intensive to worth the amount of yarn you gain, especially that you might not get the same amount of fuzz as the original garment. As a result, look for garments made of wool, silk or cotton for recycling.

If you find a wool garment in your stash or find a nice clean one at the thrift shop, consider the following:

Now to the process:
  1. Find the spot where the knitting or crochet ended. Usually garments are worked from bottom up, but in special occasions, they might be worked from top to bottom or side ways. Unravel the garment and make a hank.

  2. Tie a light colored yarn in three or four places around the hank so it will not become a tangled mess.

  3. Let the hank soak in hot water for a couple of hours with a small amount of mild dishwashing liquid. Then rinse in water that has the same temperature as the water it is soaked in (you do not want to felt your yarn). The hot water will take out some of the kink in the yarn.

  4. Do not wring the hank. Let it drip dry, anywhere but direct sunlight. Sunlight may change the color of the yarn and you may get different dye lots of the same yarn.

  5. After the yarn is dry, wind it into balls. Do not wind the yarn too tightly; it will stretch the yarn out of shape.

  6. To be on the safe side, always use recycled yarn for a smaller size garment, to make sure you have enough yarn. Remember that you cannot go to the yarn shop to pick up some more.

  7. If you find that the kinks show up in your knitting, blocking may take care of the problem. Otherwise you can always crochet with it. The kinks do not show up in crochet! However, keep in mind that crochet uses more yarn than knitting.
One final note, a swift and ball winder might be of great help in your recycling process.

Nazanin S. Fard

Needlecraft University

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