Inaugural Spring Yarn Resurrection

Easter Sunday seems a fitting time to post an update on my first yarn reclamation project.

In my previous post about this project, I had spent a fruitful morning ripping the heck out of a black New Shetland wool crew neck, and the fiber needed washed.

The neat little center-pull balls I'd made had to be re-wound into hanks suitable for washing. So Friday evening, after confessing to my husband that I'd embarked on another cool, new project, I enlisted the help of my entire family. We wound the yarn onto our arms — electrical-cord style — which lasted all of about 10 minutes before we all had aching muscles, and I lost my two helpers! After another 5 minutes' struggle against the burn, I became brilliant and started winding the yarn around the plastic box I carry knitting projects in, rather than my left arm. This worked really well and made hanks with a larger diameter. By night's end, I had five noodly looking hanks tied figure-eight style with scrap Cascade Ecological from the Hemlock Ring.

It's important to use colorfast scrap yarn to avoid accidents in the wash.

I filled the kitchen sink with very hot tap water and a dab of C's No More Tearski shampoo. Who wants weepy wool?!
At 9:30pm, I submerged the hanks and left them to soak while I went off to knit, figuring I'd come back in a couple hours to rinse and hang it to dry. Yeah, right... I was knitting in bed...

With a jolt, I awoke at 5am, realized I hadn't tended to the yarn, and ran to the kitchen in a panic that I'd find a swollen mess of unsalvagable yarn muuuhhhhh. Fortunately, that wasn't the case. With great care, I rinsed and squeezed the yarn as quietly as possible so as not to awaken my sleeping family... or yappy dog... and hung it in the bathtub. The next morning, I transferred the yarn from our bathroom to the back deck. Doesn't yarn drying in the sunlight look glorious?!

We managed time enough to have it dry and get it back inside before the rains came, and last night J and I wound it back into center-pull balls. I made two mistakes of judgment in how well the yarn could handle turning the swift, so where once I had 5 skeins, I now have 7. The biggest problem was that the hanks just weren't quite large enough for the swift. We did best with J holding them and me operating the ball winder.

After about 20 minutes' work, we had this:

Here's one really important tip, especially when working with finer yarn: Mark the ends so you don't lose them! I used Scotch tape.

I know it doesn't look pretty, but the tape has been invaluable. With all the waves in this yarn, it's almost impossible to find the ends otherwise.

Last night, after helping Peter Cottontail hide eggs for C, I assessed how much usable wool I had culled. Mind you, the calculations may be impressive, but this isn't quite an exact science yet because, while some of you use fancy digital scales to weigh your yarn, I use this:

My $2.99 Value Village bargain. Thank you to whatever erstwhile dieter donated this gem! It's quite large, and I love the big bowl, rather than a platform for keeping whatever I'm weighing contained. (Apologies for the finger smudges.) But it's a temperamental beast, needing recalibrated several times during a single weighing. So I consider these "ballpark" numbers. For final counts, I'll take my test skein to the automated postal center at the end of my street.

For now, here's what I have:

My test skein measured 46.5 yards and weighed 10 grams on the kitchen scale — roughly 4.65 yards/gram.

I've washed and wound 9 total ounces of yarn. At 28.3495231 grams/ounce, that's 255.14571 grams.

Calculating out further, then, my total reclaimed yardage is about 1,186.

Not bad, eh?!

And that's just what I've processed. I still have several smaller skeins that are thoroughly usable and just need prepared — at least another 4 ounces. Probably more.

You may be thinking that I could have gotten a comparable amount of fingering weight New Shetland wool for about the same price (remember, I paid $9.99 for the sweater) and without all the hassle. That may be true, but I selected this sweater for the experiment more than for the value. Next time I'll try different yarn or a different sweater. Perhaps the sweater I select will be marked down further. For now, I'm feeling great about what I've learned and gotten out of this.

Now... to figure out a project. The yarn's a little too fine for the satchel J wants to make, so I'm looking at doing a shawl. Perhaps the Candle Flame or the Moonlight Sonata. Thoughts?

This project has been so successful that I think I'm going to start an annual Great Yarn Resurrection Campaign every spring!

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