Part 3: Using Recycled Yarn - Balling It Up!

Right shoulder from my sweater
By now, you should have had a chance to find the perfect sweater for your recycling project and dissect it into 4-5 pieces... are you ready to ball some yarn? Alllll right! Let's get started!

The front and the back of the sweater typically yield the most yarn and give you the most satisfaction, so I like to start with them. Now, in most cases, commercial sweaters are knit from the bottom (waist line) up. So when you take them apart, you're going to start at the top and pull.

There's a quick and easy way to make sure this is the case with your sweater... take a look at the picture on the right ==>

Do you see those little triangle stitches? They're pointed down -- you can tell ths by looking at the vertical row closest to the edge of the piece. That means the piece was started at the bottom and you need to pull from the top. If the triangles on your sweater point up -- the piece was started at the top and you need to pull from the bottm.

So now that you know which end of the piece to sart at, it's time to find that one strand of yarn that will magically turn your sewater piece into a ball og glorious, usable yarn. If your sweater is like mine, you're probably looking at something like this...

Now, you could get in there with your scissors and unravel all that gobeldy-gook that makes up the neck bind-off or, you can give up a some yardage and do things the easy way...

Cutting away the neck bind off

Look closely at the fabric and those little triangle stitches. You want to find the first unbroken horizontal row under the neck line where none of the stitches has any kind of snag in it. By "snag," I mean bind-off stitches, places where tags were sewn in, and any other sort of little knots.

An ideal place to start

Follow that row all the way across the sweater, snipping the stitches in half as you go. You should end up with a nice, clean line (and a lot of fuzz)... something like this:

Snipped through
Now, tug gently at the edge with your fingers. Since it's hard to tell whether you're on a knit or a purl row, you might have to try both edges before you're successful, but eventually that magical yarn will come free!

The yarn we've all been waiting for!
You know what to do from here... ball that puppy up!

For my last post in this series, I'm going to show you how to get the sleeves started. Now, get to work!

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