How to Recycle Yarn

This is a guest post from Julie Crawford, and previously appeared on We loved it so much we asked to repost it here so that Eucalan fans can learn all these important tricks for recycling yarn!

How to Recycle Yarn |

I don’t often do tutorials, but I have recently learned SO MUCH about how to reuse yarn from a knit that I had to share it with you guys. In particular because I’ve finally decided to turn my Delineate Tank into a Manzanilla Sweater, using the Spirit Trail Fiberworks yarn that I loved so much the first time around. I had almost two full skeins leftover from the original project, so this sweater will be a mix of unused yarn AND recycled yarn, which will have its own considerations. First, let’s recycle the yarn.

Types of yarn- the ‘stickier’ a yarn is, the harder it is to rip back. if there is any mohair or angora in it, it will be cling to the stitches, and not want to be easily undone. It can still be done, but you’ll need to go more slowly.

You will need:

  • the knit
  • wool wash (my favourite is Eucalan)
  • a crochet hook or blunt tapestry needle
  • some waste yarn
  •  a sink
  • a towel

A note about the wool wash, in case you are wondering why I’m declaring Eucalan as my fave: I’ve tried other kinds, but I always come back to Eucalan because I get a lot of product for the price, which means more washes. It’s totally biodegradable and made with natural ingredients, and I also really like that the cap and top of bottle seem to magically stay clean and never get gummed up or sticky. My favourite scents are Pink Grapefruit and Jasmine Wrapture, but I’m using classic Eucalyptus scent for this tutorial.

Step 1

If you look closely at your hems and where you bound off, and pull a bit at the fabric, you will be able to see the tiny tail of where the ends were woven in. You can use a crochet hook or a blunt tapestry needle to begin pulling it loose, until you can then undo the cast off. If at any point prior to this you can’t find the end or the knot you pulled when you cast off was so tight there’s no way you’ll undo it, then you can always get some scissors and snip out the cast on edge.

How to Recycle Yarn |

Step 2

Start pulling. You may need to pause now and then, especially with flat knitting, as the sides tend to be a bit stickier.

How to Recycle Yarn |

As the yarn comes away, you will need to wrap it into a ball. If you have a yarn swift you can attach the loose end to the swift and unwind the sweater that way. But you can also just use your hand, like this:

How to Recycle Yarn |

You will need to make a new ball for each section of yarn that you have. So, as you are winding and come to the end of the skein in the knit, put that ball aside and start a new one with the new end that you find.

Step 3:

Once you have unwound and have all the balls of crinkly, ramen-noodle style yarn, you will need to get it ready for a bath. You can use a swift if you have one, but I used the backs of two chairs, one of which had the high chair on it. And it had so much crusted baby food and weird stains that I couldn’t bear to snap a photo. So, it should look like the photo in this link, where the chairs are clean. Then, using the waste yarn, loosely tie 2-3 sections of it to keep all the strand of yarn corralled together. This will be very important for keeping the yarn from becoming a snarled mess later on. It will look like this:

How to Recycle Yarn |

Step 4:

Bath time! Pour a capful of Eucalan into a sink filled with warm (not hot) water. Immerse the yarn.How to Recycle Yarn |

You want to ensure that the yarn is fully saturated, and not floating on the surface. Push it down until it’s absorbed a fair quantity of water, and let it sit for about half an hour to help the fibers get fully relaxed. After 20 minutes, take a look at the yarn – is it still a bit crinkly? Then it needs more time. Continue soaking. If it’s relaxed, then drain the water (no need to rinse), squeeze out the excess water gently, and roll in a towel to remove more of the water. Hang to dry away from heat or light, a shower is a good place for this.

Step 5:

You can then wind your yarn into a ball, or into a hank, both are shown below. Here is a 1 min video showing how to wind your yarn into a hank (the long one that looks like a pastry), which is ideal if you aren’t going to be using it right away.

How to Recycle Yarn |

Hedgehog is just for visual interest. I was trying to get one of the cats to lay beside it, but when was the last time a cat did anything you wanted it to do?

Now, before you dive into your knit, if you have a mix of yarn you have recycled AND yarn that hasn’t been used (like me!), then you want to keep the following in mind. I would like to give a big shout out of thanks to Celeste, a previous commentor who emailed with me about this, and had wonderful tips to share.

  1. Cotton and acrylic might not change a lot in the process above, but wool, wool blends (and alpaca) can stretch a little or a lot.
  2. It could also have stretched a bit, if you hung your washed yarn up to dry, rather than laid it flat.
  3. Once a yarn is washed, it plumps up, filling in the space between fibers. Unwashed yarn won’t have done this yet. So you know that this will affect your….
  4. Gauge!! You will need to do a gauge swatch in both your washed yarn AND your unwashed yarn to compare, and see if there is any difference. There could be a very big difference, and you want to know before investing a sweater’s worth of time into a knit.

Then Celeste also suggested this brilliant step:

“Another way to do a quick check is to lay the two yarns parallel to each other. You likely won’t see a difference in thickness. If you do, then it’s a sure sign. What you’d want to look for is the twist of plies of the yarn. If you lay a ruler next to them count the times the plies curve over the yarn in 4″/10cm segment (like a swatch the larger the measurement the greater accuracy). Then do the same for the second yarn. If they match up perfectly you can choose where to go from there.”

Genius, right? So if your yarn is showing a difference, then simplest solution is to wash all of it, both the used and unused yarn. If it is treated the same way and more likely to behave the same from one skein to the next.

There you have it! How to reuse your wonderful, precious yarn. If you’ve invested all that time into creating a knitted piece, it should be something you love to wear. If it isn’t (once you have completed the 6 emotional stages of frogging a project) and you love the yarn, why not give it a new lease on life? You might knit something you can’t live without this time!

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How to Pack Light When Traveling with Kids

This is a guest post from Julie Crawford, of She recently took a trip and tried out our Getaway Gang!

How to Pack Light Traveling with Kids | Eucalan.comTraveling with small kids can strike fear into the heart of even the most stalwart of travelers, but I recently did just that –  I took a two week trip to England and Spain with my husband, 4-year-old daughter, and 9-month-old son, and we only packed two small suitcases. Spain was hot, and England was chilly – none of the clothes we wore in England were worn in Spain, and vice versa.

The secret? Packing strategically and washing things as we traveled.

Traveling with Kids & Eucalan Getaway Gang |

If you are going to do any traveling (especially with kids!), you need Eucalan’s Getaway Gang. It contains 10 packets of no-rinse wash, 6 stain treating towelettes, one emery board, and a little sewing kit for emergencies (even tiny scissors!).

Eucalan Getaway Gang

I took some of the stain treating towelettes, the emery board, and the sewing kit (minus the scissors, as airport security can be pretty strict) in my carry on. And I was glad I did, since I got chocolate milk on me in the departure lounge, before even getting on the plane:

Getaway Gang |

Possibly light grey pants were not the best travel outfit choice. But the stain towelette did the job, and took away the worst of the chocolate milk. All that was left (other than a damp spot, which needed to dry) was the faintest mark, hardly visible during the rest of the journey. Once I took them off and washed them completely, it was like it never even happened.

Short on time? Click here to download a free PDF version to read later!

Packing Your Carry On: Tips

  • Don’t just throw the pouch with all your Eucalan goodies into your checked bag! Take out at least 2 stain treating towelettes (3 if you’ve got kids with you), the emery board, and the sewing kit (if you have to leave the scissors in your checked bag, that’s okay).
  • Pack a lightweight change of clothes in your carry on not only for the kids, but for yourself – take it from my husband, who had the misfortune of being vomited on by another kid (and not one of our own, another little one who didn’t make it to the washroom in time.)
  • Pack a plastic bag for serious messes. Because even if the above hadn’t happened,  the baby had a crazy diaper situation and required a full wardrobe change mid flight.  I just bagged up the offending outfit and washed it when we got to our destination.
  • Antibacterial wipes- this is the only time I use them. When we first get to our seats, I wipe down the armrests, the trays, everything around us. Not just because the baby will inevitably end up chewing on an armrest, but because you know that they don’t ever really wipe down the surfaces of the plane between flights.

As for packing light, I only packed 4 outfits for each country for each person (except the baby – he had some extras ), which meant that me, my husband, and my 4 year old had a total of 8 outfits: 4 for cool weather, and 4 for hot weather. We also packed lightweight waterproof jackets (England was indeed rainy!).  Each outfit was chosen for it’s ability to be worn with everything else packed for that climate  – shirts had to match all the shorts that were packed, light sweaters and cool weather clothes had to be able to mix and match. This meant that you could recombine pieces for a lot of variety, even though very little was brought for each person.

In England we were staying with family, in Spain we stayed in hotels and then a rented apartment in Barcelona.  Having regular access to a washing machine makes it a lot easier to pack less, but having fewer items means that you also don’t have full loads of laundry very often, even with 4 people. Sink washing certain items just made sense, as I could do it in the morning and things would often be dry by the following morning:

Getaway Gang |

The baby sleepers in particular seemed to need far more frequent washing than anything else- not that surprising, as babies are pretty messy!

Getaway Gang |

In England, the laundry detergent they had was so harsh and really overly fragranced that I ended up rewashing the first load in Eucalan. It got out the strong perfume smell of the previous detergent. In Spain, I wasn’t about to go and buy laundry detergent, so I used Eucalan in the washing machine and everything came out perfectly:

Traveling with Kids & Eucalan Getaway Gang |

We are already talking about another trip again next summer- but this time if we go to different places, we will try to choose ones with a similar climate!