Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Washing Reclaimed Yarn

washing reclaimed yarn
June 2018
Several people asked me how I washed the yarn reclaimed from thrifted sweaters. I use the bathtub, hot water, and Ivory dish soap. I run enough water to cover the yarn, swish the soap to get it sudsy, and then add the hanks of yarn. I do not agitate the water, but I do gently turn the hanks over to make sure all the yarn is wet. I add more water to the tub, if necessary. I let the yarn soak for 45 minutes to an hour and turn the hanks a couple of times.

Once the yarn has adequately soaked, I gently squeeze the soapy water out of the hanks. The tub is emptied and rinsed. Then I add clean tepid water to the tub and rinse the hanks to remove any soap.

The hanks are then placed in my washing machine, and I run them through a SPIN only cycle to remove the excess water. The hanks are then draped on a drying rack. I do not put weights at the bottom of the hanks as they are drying. The minimal kinks that remain in the washed yarn do not bother me.
reclaimed silk and cashmere yarn drying after washing
June 2018
reclaimed silk/cashmere yarn before washing
June 2018
These after and before photos show that most of the kinks came out of the silk/cashmere yarn. 

some reclaimed yarn will bleed color
June 2018
Yarn reclaimed from a 100% wool, burgundy tweed sweater was also given a bath, and the dye bled into the water. This is why it's advisable to wash colors separately.

I always wash the yarn in hot water for two specific reasons:
     •  if it's going to shrink, I want it to do so before I knit something with the yarn
     •  I want to make sure the yarn gets clean

Most of the things I knit are for charities, and the recipients do not always know how to care for wool. I believe the hot water bath I give the reclaimed yarn gives it a better chance of surviving less than ideal washing conditions.
clean reclaimed, tweed yarn
June 2018
Be aware that all the kinks do not come out of the reclaimed yarn. This does not affect how it knits and the kinks will not be noticeable in the finished items. 

While reclaiming wool yarn from thrifted sweaters is time-consuming, it is a great way to obtained quality yarn without breaking the bank. 

Here are some items that I've knit with reclaimed wool:
     •  Cowls here, here, here
     •  Vests  here, here, here, here

12 comments:

  1. I love to see this post-so cool to get the luxury yarn for pennies!

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  2. Yes, very cool to get that luxury yarn. I'm thinking your thrift/charity shops are better than mine.

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  3. Thank you for sharing how to do this...

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  4. I would get a good feeling from turning something at "the end of its usefulness" into a brand new useful item.

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  5. That red tweed is really gorgeous after it was washed. Good job recycling this yarn into new useful items.

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  6. I so admire your environmentally friendly approach! You are wise to wash it well first. It is true that some recipients don't know how to care for the woolens.

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  7. Interesting. I can remember re-cycling yarn. We used to wrap it around and around a cake cooling rack. Hold it over a steaming kettle until it was well damp then let it dry naturally. That got rid of the kinks. One of my sisters re-purposes a lot of yarn. She seems to have forgotten this tip. I th8nk it’s disappointing to see her beautiful knitting spoiled by kinky wool.

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  8. It's just like processing handspun!

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  9. Good info if I ever do serious knitting. We don’t need sweaters here except for a few winter months. But IF I ever decide to reclaim some Aran yarn brought to me from Ireland I will know what to do. I really should do that as I haven’t worn the sweater for YEARS. Hum, maybe I should try it on one of these day....thanks for the info.

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  10. Interesting post, Nancy. Thanks.

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  11. Thanks for this great post. I have reclaimed yarn just once and followed a similar process. I was nervous about the kinks but like you say, they did not make a difference.

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