How easy is it to re-use old wool?

A year or so ago I made a Funky Grandpa by La Maison Rililie in Du Store Alpakka Mirasol. I loved the wool and I hoped that it would be an awesome boxy cardigan that I would wear to death. Unfortunately it didn’t work out quite the way I wanted it to. The weight was a bit wrong for the style of cardigan plus it was a bit too big for my shoulders and kept falling off.  I wore it a few times last winter but other than that it has stayed resolutely in the cupboard.

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Here’s the cardigan before I unravelled it!

So, when I ran out of wool between Christmas and New Year (very poor planning on my part) and decided to have a go at unravelling and re-using some old wool, this cardigan was first on the list. As I’d finished this over a year ago I didn’t find it too painful to unravel. I still love the buttons so I was pleased to have them to use for another project (maybe Bellows ). The wool is alpaca and had started to try and felt in places so it took a little persuasion to unravel at times but I made fairly swift progress and rather enjoyed it.

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This is how curly it was!

Initially I’d planned to try and re-knit the unravelled wool without washing it properly first. This turned out to be a very unrealistic idea as the the wool came out insanely kinky. It would have been a nightmare to work with (and I suspected would have looked awful when knitted up). So I decided to do things properly. I wound the wool into skeins (using the back of a chair), soaked it in some lovely hand wash detergent and hung it out in the garden to drip dry.

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It looks a lot less kinky after I’d washed it.

The skeins of wool haven’t come out totally straight but they are looking much better! I think the final little kinks will come out over time as they are wound into balls.

The process has been a little more time consuming that I’d originally thought, and the front room is now covered in bits of orange fluff,  but I’ve found it very relaxing. Lots of winding things and unwinding things!

I’ve already started a new project with the wool. It’s going to be Natsumi by Kazekobo (from Wool People Vol. 7). I’ve had my eye on this project for a while and think the wool will suit it very well. I’m hopeful that the fluffiness of the alpaca combined with the side-on stitches and the interest of the cable pattern will distract the eye from any imperfections in the re-used wool.

I would definitely recommend having a look through your knitting drawer and seeing what you can find to unravel! It’s much slower than going to the shop but the process is relaxing and nothing beats the smug feeling of getting something for nothing!