Monday, January 13, 2014

What is Old is New Again: Reclaiming Yarn from Abandoned Projects

As I am sure you have all experienced, I have had my share of abandoned projects. Since my free time is limited between working full time and raising kids, I want to be sure I am enjoying what I am doing when it comes to my hobbies. This means that I won't hesitate to put aside a book that isn't interesting me or a fiber-related project that I am not enjoying making. However, I hate to let the yarn go to waste when this happens, so I have learned to reclaim it. I actually find this process enjoyable when it is wool and wanted to show you how I do it. Here are the steps I use with tips to help make the process run smoothly:

  • I rip back the project, winding the yarn into a ball as I go.  I am not too particular about how I wind the ball of wool (as I would usually be with new yarn to be sure I didn't wind too tightly) since this yarn will have to be turned into a hank, washed, and rewound before I use it.
  • Using a niddy noddy, I wind the ball of wool into a hank (this can also be done around your knees). If I am not sure about the yardage I have, I will also use the niddy noddy to calculate yardage as I wind.
  • Once I have a full hank wound on the niddy noddy, I use some spare yarn to tie the hank in four spots (one of the ties can actually be the ends of the hank).
  • It is now necessary to wash the wool in order to allow the wetness to straighten out the kinks that are in it from knitting. Even though, you don't have to shampoo it at this point, I always like to use a little bit of Eucalan for the soaking process. I fill a tub with cold to lukewarm water, pour in a tiny amount of Eucalan, and then I carefully place the hank in the tub, pressing it down gently to allow the water to soak in it.
  • At this point, the hank will begin to spread out and it might seem as if the yarn will get tangled. Don't worry, though, because as long as you used the four ties evenly spaced around the hank, it should be fine. Just be sure to grap it in a way that captures all the strands when you lift if from the water in the next step.
  • Lastly, after the hank soaks for about 15 minutes, gently take it out and hang it on a hanger over the wash basin so that the water doesn't drip onto the floor. When you look at it hanging there, you will feel as if a miracle has occurred since what looked like a kinky mess is now beginning to look like the yarn you once knew. Once it is dry, you will really feel as if your wool is brand new. Wool is an amazing fiber, as you know if you have ever completed this process, or as you will find out if you try it!
Below are some photos to illustrate the process. The wool is Brown Sheep Nature Spun, which I tried to use on a crocheted afghan years ago. I ended up using much of the yarn I bought on the knitted afghan below, but the extra skeins and this reclaimed yarn from the original crocheted version will be used to make Lisa Lloyd's Halcyon Aran soon.

Here is the knitted afghan that I made with most of the skeins I bought years ago:

The following pictures illustrate some of the steps in the process I described above:

Winding the Yarn on the Niddy Noddy

The Kinky Mess After Tying Off

Taking a Bath in the Tub

Hanging Out to Dry

Knitted Up into a New Swatch for a New Project!

Do any of you have stories of reclaimed yarn? I would love to hear about them in the comments section. Feel free to share your own process and any tips you have!

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