An Easier Way to Recycle Used Yarn

Over at Knitting Daily, today’s post talks about how to “get the kinks out” of yarn after frogging a TOAD.  (And if that didn’t make any sense, you may want to read about online knitting jargon here.)

Actually, I think it’s more like “getting the KNITS out” — and believe me, I’ve done my share.

And, I have, dare I say it?  a better way.  Certainly a lazier more efficient way.  And it uses less specialized equipment, too.  Of course, I do own a clothes steamer, and a steam wand, and a few other steam-producing items, such as used in the Knitting Daily method — but the way I see it, the major problem with that method is, you’ve got to sit there and steam the blasted stuff.

And you’ve probably already put in several hours, what with the frogging and untangling.  And you’re going to have to rewind it all, after you de-kink it.

I’ve got better things to do with my time.  Like “knitting”, for instance.  So, here’s what I do instead…


As in the KD method, you must re-skein your yarn.  I re-skein the used yarn onto a niddy-noddy.  If you don’t have one, here are directions for making one cheaply and easily from PVC pipe.  I do have a traditional wooden one, but I also made a PVC one, and I actually use it more often.  My favorite part about this particular item is that the thing can be twisted to lay FLAT for storage — and until you’ve tried to store a non-flat niddy-noddy, you don’t know just how cool that is.

If you’d rather watch a video to make your niddy-noddy, check this one out.

If you don’t know how to use a niddy-noddy, this site has written instructions and a video.

You can use a swift, but I find a niddy-noddy is easier, usually quicker, and more portable — so you can do this in front of the TV or whatever.


Once the yarn is re-skeined and properly tied (in at least four places per skein, to prevent future heartbreak and swearing) — I pop it in the washer.

Oh yes, I do.  But wait — I don’t just use the regular wash cycle.  If you stop reading here and run to the laundry room, DON’T BLAME ME FOR WHAT HAPPENS.  No, my way is more clever than that.  But, you do need to have the right kind of machine — the regular old spinning kind, not a high-efficiency one or anything.

I usually set the load size to “small” and the water temp to “warm”, so as not to shock the wool (or me) with freezing cold water in the middle of winter.  Let the washer fill, and add a little Eucalan if you’re so inclined.  Then STOP THE WASHER, open the lid, and place the skeins in the water.  The key is to open them up and put them around the agitator, kind of like a ring-toss game, so that the skein is lying around the perimeter of the tub.  (The diameter of the skeins doesn’t have to fit the tub exactly — they can be bigger or smaller, to some extent.)

Push the skeins down, get them good and wet, and let them soak — no more than 20 minutes, if they are wool — and then comes the clever bit.

Reset the washer to the spin part at the end of the wash cycle, and let it spin, baby, spin.

This will remove practically all the water — and more importantly, practically all the kinks!  And no standing around forever holding a steam appliance.

Did I mention it was clever?


Remove the skeins from the washer — be careful, as sometimes a strand or two will get caught on the agitator — and hang them somewhere appropriate to dry.

If necessary, you may hang something lightweight, such as an empty plastic hanger, on the bottom of the skein to encourage any remaining kinkiness to dissipate.  It all depends on the yarn, but generally speaking I find this is not usually necessary.

Then get out your swift and your ball winder, and… well, you know how the rest goes!

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