How to Recycle Previously-used YarnBy Alicia Kachmar – 11 Comments
Do you have sweaters you no longer wear? Afghans a-plenty in the closet? Ignore them no longer! If you have neglected crocheted items that you don’t have sentimental attachment to, perhaps it’s time to go on an unraveling binge. Recycling previously-used yarn is a great way to make use of those items again–by turning them into something else! Sometimes I find crocheted garments at thrift stores that are in good condition, but not what I’d want to wear. And yet, at $3 for a bulky wool sweater worth of yarn? Too good too pass up. Below I will tell you how easy it is to restore recycled yarn so that you can use it in your next project.
- Unwinding: Grab the to-be-recycled crochet piece. It may not be obvious where the yarn ends are on your recycled item, especially if its maker was really adept at weaving these in. Think logically about where you would end when crocheting something like a sweater or afghan. For instance, a sweater is usually started at the bottom, worked upwards where the armholes are then shaped, and so on. Unwinding can take some time depending on how big of a garment or blanket you’re dealing with.
- Winding: Whether you have a machine-winder or use a friend’s arms and hands, you’ll have to wind the pile of yarn into a loose hank so it’s not one big tangled mess on the floor. Like Rachel says in this post, crocheters have preferences when it comes to winding yarn into hanks, so it’s up to you how to go about it. In general, you want a loosely-wound hank for the next step, washing.
- Washing: Just like winding, crocheters have preferences when it comes to washing yarn. Some swear by Woolite while others say a gentle shampoo or simple Ivory soap does the trick. Regardless, your recycled yarn will be kinky and a good warm washing is needed to calm down the fibers. If you are using a non-animal-derived yarn, common soap suggestions are: gentle laundry detergent, Ivory Soap, shampoo or the product called Soak. If the yarn is animal-derived, such as a wool yarn, add some hair conditioner can further help restore the yarn.
- In general, add a very small amount of any of the above to a basin or plugged sink of warm water and immerse the hank of yarn.
- Let the yarn sit in there for a few minutes and then remove it, ringing it every so slightly.
- Repeat these steps two more times, draining and re-filling with sudsy warm water each time.
- Dry the hank on a flat, towel-covered surface or one of those foldable drying racks.
Now you’re ready to use your yarn for a new project! If you prefer to wind the yarn back into a ball or fancy skein, you can do so now. Has anyone recycled yarn in this way before? Any tips or suggestions?