unravelling, reconditioning, and over-dyeing yarn from already knit items

As a relatively new knitter, I have been shocked by the extremely high prices of yarn. Of course, at the same time, I love high quality natural fibres, especially soft wool, as it is so forgiving and easy to knit.

These conditions have led me (and many, many others) to recycle yarn from sweaters – beastly old ones I never wear, and treasures found at thrift stores. This is a time-consuming process, I will not lie, and can be frustrating upon starting out. But now that I have found my preferred system for deconstructing and processing the yarn, I find it very pleasurable and profitable, as it restrains me (somewhat) from a rampage of new yarn purchasing.

I will not attempt to improve upon the already-great tutorial for sweater deconstruction provided here. I will only mention that when I have all the sweater parts separated, I unravel the sweater one piece at a time into a large paper bag, so that it is like a big bag of yarn spaghetti (tying the ends to one of the handles, so that they do not get lost in the mire). Then, when I am ready to wind my skeins on my home-made PVC niddy-noddy, I simply start with the uppermost yarn end, and pull the yarn up and out of the bag and wind it around the niddy-noddy. [what is a niddy noddy, and why do I need one? This will be the subject of a future post]

Although some recyclers choose to wind yarn balls directly from the unraveled sweater, I find that it is much better to knit with yarn that has been washed and drip dried, a process which relaxes most of the kinks out of the yarn. Also, as I often over-dye recycled yarns, it is convenient for me to have them in skein form.

If, as I do, you love to experiment with dyeing, using recycled yarn as a base lets you relax and experiment, as mistakes are less painful on the pocketbook!

Soon I will post some of my creations ~