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I get most of my yarn from sweaters I find at rummage sales and thrift stores. Recent acquisitions have been mostly 100% wool and many of these sweaters are $3 max.

Often I’ll hand wash the sweater before I unravel it, eliminating this entire process, but washing it in skeins does have the advantage of getting the kinks out of the yarn better. This is me looking on the bright side of the following situation: I taught my boyfriend’s mother how to unravel sweaters. I bought so many sweaters at a rummage sale with her that I couldn’t carry them all home on the train. She unraveled all of them and presented me with bags of yarn upon my next visit.

I’ll go through how to select a sweater to unravel and how to take it apart when I have another whole sweater. At present, however, I just have these bags of unwashed yarn.

1. This was a boxy unflattering cardigan. The button band and collar proved too difficult to unravel, but here’s most of it in these balls.


2. I make it into skeins by using the legs of a dining room chair. Begin by tying a loose knot for a foundation round. Measuring around the chair legs gives me 66in. Based on this, I estimate about 150 yards in the three smallest of the balls pictured above. Maybe 500 from the entire sweater.


3. Winding. The cats always show up to “help”.

4. Wound.

5. Washing – cold water, since I don’t want the wool to felt, and diluted laundry detergent.

6. Drying. On a gorgeous day like today, it’s almost dry already. Time to wind and wash more!