Close-up on the shoulder of a handknit sweater in the process of being unraveled.

Reclaiming Yarn For a Project

We’ve had some lovely fall weather here in the Piedmont, and my thoughts have turned to sweater knitting. I’ve just started a new sweater project for myself, and I’m reusing yarn from an unraveled sweater I knit previously (call it upcycled!). Confession time: even after my years of knitting and designing, and with careful planning, sometimes my projects still don’t work out.

I had originally knitted Donna Smith’s Peerie Leaves jumper (Ravelry link) from this yarn. It’s a lovely pattern, but somehow my gauge changed during the knitting (yes, it can happen), or I miscalculated somehow, and my sweater ended up being quite a bit larger than I’d intended. And I also found that the allover lace pattern on the front just didn’t work for me. I’m just not that much of a lace person. So I’m reclaiming the yarn to knit a Glenfiddich cardigan, by Annamária Ötvös, a sweater that has been on my wishlist for several years now. It’s a top-down cardigan, which isn’t my preference, but I love the cable pattern, and I’ve never knit set-in sleeves from the shoulder down before, so I’ll be learning a new technique. The yarn is Buoy DK from Hipstrings, a blend of 100% wool from BFL, Shetland and Manx breeds.

Reclaiming the Yarn

In case you’re curious about how to reclaim yarn, here’s what I did:

I unpicked the seams or joins one at a time, and unravel one piece at a time. In this case, I started with the sleeves, and labeled the yarn to use for the sleeves in the new project. Because I was alternating two skeins of hand-dyed yarn, winding into separate skeins was a bit tricky. I first wound each into a ball, keeping one on either side of my lap to keep it from becoming a tangled mess. Then I wound each ball into a skein on my niddy-noddy. (If I have only one ball of yarn to deal with, I usually wind it off directly onto the niddy-noddy).

Once I had both sleeves done, I soaked the yarn in hot water with some wool wash, then rolled in a towel, snapped it to remove more kinks, and hung it to dry. I repeated the procedure with the body of the sweater. Once dried the yarn may still have a little bit of a kink to it, but will wind nicely into a skein or ball and will knit up nicely.

Overhead shot of a skein of kinky yarn unraveled from a sweater, next to 3 washed and dried skeins.
My unraveled yarn (left) and washed and dried skeins (right)

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