Recycling Yarn: The Yarn
Welcome back! Last I left you, we had broken up our sweaters into its component pieces- two sleeves, a front, a back, and a collar. All things necessary for a good sweater. What we want to do now is start freeing acres and acres of yarn from those pieces, so we can start knitting our new projects! Now, there is one thing you can do that will allow you to skip this WHOLE post. That one thing is knitting right from your pieces. This post will give you some tips, but if you're ready to go, there's no need to de-kink or anything, just pull out enough to get you casted on and do your thing. If you aren't planning to knit with it right away or want to recycle yarn for resale, read on.
Again, we're all knitters. This part is pretty straightforward because now, you're essentially dealing with pieces you could have knit yourself. I have yet to come across a store-bought sweater that isn't knit bottom up. This is important, because if you've ever tried to unravel your own knitting from the cast-on edge, it's horrible. You have to pass the yarn through every single stitch, and that just doesn't work. Especially when the alternative is unraveling from the bind-off edge, which is like butter (until it's not). So, looking at the above picture, we're going to be unraveling from the edges in the middle. You can even see that some have already started on their own, depending on how clean your un-seaming was. If you nicked a few loops while unseaming, no big deal. If in the first two three rows, I'll just unravel until I hit those breaks, toss, and start my thread as soon as it starts being consistent. This is where minimizing your scissor use can help- it's easy to accidentally snip in the wrong place, whereas following the seam threads will keep you from doing any damage.
There are a lot of ways to approach unravelling, and I've tried them all. As I mentioned above, you can unwind right into a new project. If you do that, good on you. If you won't be immediately working it into a new project, you can unravel in a big, kinky pile. This isn't the worst way to do it if you are absolutely sure you aren't going to move, sneeze, or in anyway disturb your yarn pile, or if you don't own cats (or children, probably). If you can unravel a whole section into the pile, and then immediately wind back up into a ball from the top, you should be able to avoid snarls. If you do or have any of the above, your issues will be biblical. Plus, there are faster ways.
My ball-winder (is there something inherently immature about my giggling every time I say ballwinder?) is a $20 workhorse from knitpicks. I got it for Christmas like, 10 years ago, and I love it. It does exactly what I need it to. It has a handle option or you can mount it on a table, but for unraveling, I find the handle (not pictured) most useful. As you can see, you're really just going to start unraveling your sweater from the tops (neck-sides) of each piece. I will just clamp the piece between my knees and adjust as I work my way through. At the end, you have a nice tidy cake! If you don't own and aren't in the market for a ballwinder (I highly recommend you check them out if you would like to pursue frequent yarn recycling), you can always wind into a ball, even a center-pull ball, around your fingers. Your arms will get sore after awhile, but it combines the unraveling/balling steps in the yarn-pile option, which I find desirable.
So, I have 518g total of yarn. 10yds of that weighs 4 grams. So (and bear with me here), I know that 10yds/4g, or that 1 gram of this yarn equals 2.5 yards. If I multiply my 2.5 yards/gram conversion factor by my 518 total grams of yarn, that gives me approximately 1,295 yards (please let me know if I screwed something up!). I usually round down to minimize yarn chicken.
So, we've figured out how much we have. For #2, I use this handy-dandy PDF that I randomly found on the Google that correlates yarn weight to yards per pound (again, more metric/imperial nonsense. Sorry.). To use it, we have a couple more steps. First, we know that I have 1,295 yards per 518 grams. We also know that one pound equals 453 grams. Using the converter I just linked, we can deduce that I have 1.14 pounds of yarn. Using our 2.5 yards/gram conversion factor, we can deduce that I have roughly 1,100 yards per pound of yarn, which puts us squarely in DK territory (1,000 to 1,400 yards per pound) (nailed it).
The final part of this process is how to store it. You can always keep it in the ball/cake-form in which you unwound it, but if you aren't going to be knitting with it right away, you might see some issues with loss of bounciness/stretch when you do go to knit with it. The yarn on the outside will be more tightly-stretched than the yarn on the inside, so a better way to store it is in skeins (the loopy loops you buy from LYSs). You can easily do this at home with a niddy-noddy (pictured below) and a youtube video.
Now, you have unravelled, neatly-stored yarn! You can use it to indefinitely adorn your stash, or start sniffing out projects for it. Hunting through rav is a skill and passion (ahem, obsession) of mine, so come back for my last past to learn some tips and tricks about using the information we calculated out in this post for finding the perfect project for your generous portion of well-priced yarn.