While it has been a long wait due to holiday confusion throughout the postal system, I have finally received my big bag of recycled yarn from Smart Monkey Refurbished Yarn, an Etsy seller who deals in unraveled sweaters. I have never knit with recycled yarn before, but its low price compared to new yarn excited me, so I decided to give it the old college try.
I am impressed with the yardage most of all. It's a full sweater's worth of 100% wool yarn, approximately 1,104 yards, for about $40. An equal amount of new wool yarn can cost twice as much if not more. Saving that much money is fabulous. Recycled yarn allows knitters with limited budgets, like me, to attempt larger projects that they otherwise would not be able to afford.
There are also the environmental benefits of reusing yarn, which are obvious enough that I don't feel the need to discuss them at length here, but I will mention them all the same. Reusing materials instead of buying new materials keeps stuff out of the landfill a little bit longer, and has an impact on the pollution that results from manufacturing.
Style-wise, reusing the yarn from thrift store sweaters is actually much better than simply buying second hand clothing and re-wearing it because you can create a new, stylish looking article of clothing instead of wearing clothes that appear dated. That is really something excellent. It opens up new possibilities for people who would never want to wear the hideous, ratty, old sweaters they see at the thrift store.
I must say, however, that the appearance of this recycled yarn is not the same freshness that one would expect from brand new yarn, and the hand of the yarn is pretty harsh. I wouldn't go so far as to complain about those things. It falls within the realm of the expected. The fact is that when you buy an unraveled commercially knit sweater you never really know what you're going to get, but you can probably expect that the wool will not be of the "nice and soft" variety that you might find at your local yarn shop. Still, I can knit with it and it will not shred my hands, and I will have enough yarn to knit for a long time at a fraction of the cost of new.
There is one thing that I will complain about, though. Colorfastness, or rather the lack thereof. I may have to treat this yarn to a nice vinegar bath before I continue knitting with it because the dye is rubbing off on my hands and my needles. Since the yarn is in shades of black and grey, my hands look like they are covered in soot after I have spent about half an hour knitting with it which is very undesirable. It is easily fixable, though.
When I finish my recycled yarn project, I will post pictures!