Today is all about the joys of reducing, reusing, and recycling. Well, mostly about reusing and what is refered to as recycling yarn.
The best place to locate sweaters for unraveling? Goodwill or your local thrift shop. Generally speaking, you can find 100% Wool, Cotton, Linen, Silk, Bamboo, Cashmere, and pretty much anything your heart might desire for under $5. And I’m not talking about a few measly skeins. I’m talking 1000+ yards. Ounces upon Ounces from one sweater.
The trick? You’ve got to spend the time to unravel and know the signs for a sweater for unraveling. If you have those, then I can bet that you’ll become just as fascinated with unraveling as I. Sometimes, I just want to destroy something and sweaters are the best way to go!
How long is it going to take?
Several hours from start to finished ball. You’ve got to take apart the seams of the sweater, find the ends of the body pieces, and unravel those.
What am I looking for?
You’re looking for a sweater that is seamed by way of slip stitch crocheting. You’ll need to find the end of that on the seams, snip, and pull (it should unravel in one long piece, for the most part).
You’re also looking for one that fits your wishes. Look for something that addresses your need for a fiber content, approximate yarn weight, and color. If you’re a yarn squirrel, like I, and feel the need to build the stash for lean months between paychecks, look for interesting stuff that you can’t find for sale in yarn stores (and good god there’s a lot of those).
So, what are the pros and cons of yarn recycling?
Cons: 1.) It takes time to unravel. 2.) Most of the time you won’t be able to get more of a specific yarn (though there is the rare occasion where a store has several of the same sweater that has been donated and you can get a whole BUNCH in the even of a blanket project) 3.) The yarn weight is not always a “standard” and you’ll have to make an educated guess at the usefulness applied to a specific project, or knit a test gauge (which you should be doing anyway…). 4.) You are going to have more knots than what you’d get with a store bought skein
Pros: 1.) It’s considerably cheaper than purchasing un-used skeins at full price (and often even discount) and considering the available fiber contents. 2.) It’s really fun, I swear there’s this little kids joy you’ll probably experience whilst unraveling like a madman 3.) You get some really cool yarns that you won’t get in stores 4.) It encourages/forces you to uphold the gauge rule (Seriously, KNIT A TEST SWATCH) 5.) Most of your projects, barring another sweater for someone of the same size or larger size than the sweater you purchased will be easily made with just one sweater 6.) You’re recycling and who doesn’t like that?
I’ve unraveled 5 or 6 sweaters so far, all of fabulous fiber content including a blend of silk and merino, 100% cotton, etc. I’m in the midst of using them in several projects, including a set of 18th century working woman’s cotton stockings (they were from an old man’s sweater and are all snuggly soft), a metallic silver shawl with leaves, and soon to be a blanket.