Recycling old yarn consist of rewind any old yarn back into a hank. To recoil the yarn, you need a swift-click reel, skein winder, or any tool that allows you to wind the yarn easily into one large loop. A friend’s willing hands will be of great help to get a consistent circumference, especially for larger hanks. Winding the hank involves the yarn ball to roll all across the floor.

This also means that you need something to contain the ball. It is best to place the ball in a container or even a simple plastic bag so that it does not bounce on the floor. Here are a few tips for recycling yarn from old knits:

Ensure Uniform Tension

The hank runs smoothly when it is wound using constant tension. Using your index finger is enough to do the trick. The rest is taken care of by good old gravity. However, if your yarn is unruly, you may have to pinch it between your thumb and index finger gently to allow some extra tension.

Kinky Yarn

In case the yarn has settled in the knitted fabric, it will turn to its kinky self once it is pulled off the winder. This happens because it is not under tension any longer. If you notice the yarn being curly or reverting, it is best to stop immediately. You can take out the yarn and pass it over steam from a tea kettle or a steam iron. The steam settles on the fiber and relaxes the yarn allowing the winding process to resume smoothly.  Make sure that the steam is not very hot as you may risk altering the yarn structure or worse, burn your fingers for nothing.

Warm Baths, Relaxation, and Rejuvenation

  • Your yarn also needs a warm bath to calm it and get it to relax. Bathing your yarn is a beautiful way of getting rid of your skein from any residual cooties from its earlier venture.
  • Any abandoned oddballs do not usually feature any care labels, and so a warm bath offers you an opportunity to see the behavior of the yarn in the wash. You get to know if the yarn disintegrates, bleeds or is an unmanageable mess.
  • You may add a gentle detergent to wash the yarn; this is really effective. If you suspect the yarn has alpaca, wool, or some other animal-based fibers, you may add some hair conditioner to the rinse; this will help the fibers to revitalize. You will notice, the longer the fibers stay in the sudsy warm bath, the more they are relaxed. Thus, it is recommended to allow the hanks soak for five minutes at least before you rinse or squeeze.
  • Speed the drying process if required by allowing it to spin for 20 to 30 seconds. If it is wet spin it for only about 20 to 30 seconds. This helps to smooth the yarn kinks if any.
  • Allow the yarn to dry naturally and have a rejuvenated yarn that is sparkly clean. Once it dries, twist the yarn into a hank.