Part 1: Using Recycled Yarn - Choosing Your Sweater

The holidays are coming and all of us have special projects in mind for our loved ones... but with yarn prices constantly on the rise, it's getting a little more difficult to fit hand made into the budget.

But there's a way to share your hand made treasures without breaking the bank -- and it's even good for the planet... recycled yarn!

I've found that a singe, medium-sized women's sweater can provide enough yarn for at least 5 projects. For example, I used an acrylic blend sweater from Old Navy (purchased at Goodwill for $5) to make a kitty and two owls (including this little guy ==>) I have at least enough yarn remaining for another kitty and another owl -- or any number of smaller projects!

So of course, that begs the question... how do we go from the Goodwill sweater rack to treasured amigurumi pal? Let's take a little walk through...

The first thing you need to know about using recycled yarn is how to choose the sweater for you. When you're shopping the Goodwill sweater rack, really LOOK at the sweaters that draw your attention. Is the yarn really chunky? Really fine? Some kind of novelty or angora yarn? You also need to think about how much yarn you're going to get from a given sweater and what that yarn is made from.

For me, an ideal sweater for recycling has:
  • Worsted weight or heaver (it is much easier to unravel heavier yarns)
  • Smooth yarn (again, novelty/angora type yarns are harder to unravel)
  • Acrylic, cotton, or wool blends (my favorites for amigurumi)
  • Limited stripes/patterns/embelishments (more yardage without breaks)

Once you've looked over the outside of the sweater and decied that the yarn is going to work for your project, you need to take a look at the inside. Yes, most thrift stores typically wash garmets before putting them on the rack -- but there are some things a casual washing will not help. Check out the arm pits for deoderant stains and look for other stains, holes, etc in the yarn. Remeber that you'll lose a lot of yardage from those little blemishes!

If the sweater still passes muster after an inside-outside review, you've found yourself a treasure. Head up to the cash register and take that baby home!

I'll give you a couple days to shop around for your treasures here before going on to the next part -- taking your sweater apart. In the mean time, you should also stop by a sewing store and pick up some sharp pointed scissors -- if you don't have a pair already. I use a pair of Fiskars soft-grips, like the ones shown below:

Happy thrifting and see you soon!


  1. This is really exciting. I never really knew what to look for when recycling clothing, and I cannot wait to learn so I can save some money and brag a little. ;D

    Thanks so much for posting this!

  2. Really great tips for finding yarn to reclaim. Great post!

  3. Hi Jourdan and CrochetBlogger! Thanks for your kind words! I hope you found your sweaters, because part two is posted today! :-)

  4. What a great idea. I always looked for a way to recycle in craft way, and this is a very good idea! Thank you!
    P.S: I linked up your blog :)