Last Christmas, my brother and his fiancé got me some beautiful multicolored yarn, some knitting needles, and this book that teaches basic knitting skills. I decided to make a scarf for my best friend because it seemed like the easiest possible project.
When I went to the store to buy some additional yarn like the yarn I had received for Christmas, I was surprised that yarn costs so much. Basically I could buy a scarf for less than it would cost to knit one. Since the yarn I was given was also acrylic, I wondered if there was also a cheaper, more environmentally friendly way to knit. I found a lot of information on the internet about using old sweaters to recycle yarn. The websites I looked at talked about finding a spot on a sweater where you can make one cut and then unravel the whole thing and have one long skein of yarn to reuse. Things didn’t work out quite that easily for me, but I still enjoyed this project.
First I purchased a used blue sweater from Goodwill. I still had my new multicolored yarn left, but I wanted to make stripes in my scarf using reused yarn. As you can see, I settled on this fashionable, mid-drift baring sweater. I liked the color, and I was also looking for a sweater that was made with thick yarn to match the thickness of my multicolored yarn.
Next I set about unraveling it. Maybe I wasn’t doing it right, or maybe because it was a machine made sweater it was unrealistic to expect it to unravel in one long thread, but basically it made many many 12-24 inch strands. I sorted them out and then tied the strands together to make something I could knit with. Even though I tried to pick a sweater made with thick yarn, the strands ended up being about half as thick as the multicolored yarn, so when I knit using the recycled yarn, I had to use two balls of the yarn at once. This could be avoided by just being better at gauging the thickness of the yarn you need.
And many many episodes of Dexter later, here is the finished result!
As you can hopefully see from the pictures, the reused yarn doesn’t look quite as nice as the new yarn because of all of the spots were I had to tie the strands of old sweater together. The parts of the scarf using the recycled thread is not as soft as the parts using the new thread, but I think it makes it more interesting. Because the knitting in the scarf ended up being much denser than the knitting of the original sweater, I used up a lot of the sweater. This picture is deceptive but I think I used up three-fourths of the sweater. So now I have some of both kinds of yarn left over to trying making a matching hat!
If I did this project again, I would try harder to find a sweater that no one would want to wear again. The sweater I chose was not very fashionable and I could tell from the texture of it that it had experienced a lot of wear, but someone may have wanted to wear it again. I was constrained in picking it out because I needed a color that would match my multicolored yarn and I needed thick yarn, but it would be great if next time I could find a sweater with a hole or stain in it that no one would want.
In other recycling yarn news, Carsi sent me this interesting link to a company that makes yarn out of newspaper. I don’t think I’ll try that out, but it looks creative. And here is some information about eco-friendly yarn. Finally, Carsi alerted me that there is a company right here in Austin that takes old sweaters and unravels them to make yarn skeins you can buy. It looks like you can order online, but Carsi found out about them when she saw their stand at the Hope Farmer’s Market.