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Finally ready to admit to yourself you’ve got a project you’re not going to finish? A poncho perhaps? A cardigan with intarsia reindeer on the front? Bought a sweater at the thrift shop so you could reclaim the yarn? Well, rip that baby back and let’s get it ready to reuse!

When you frog something that’s been knitted up for a while, you’ll find that it’s full of crimps and kinks..

Using a niddy-noddy, a skein winder, a swift, the back of a straight back chair or your arm, make a “hank” with the frogged yarn…

Using short lengths of spare yarn (of a type that you are CERTAIN will not bleed!) secure the hank while it is still on the winding device …

Make sure that the hank is secured in at least 3-4 places so that it will not unravel…

Fill your sink or some other container with cool or tepid water. Avoid submitting the yarn to anything to which you would hesitate to submit a finished garment made with the same yarn. If the yarn has been hanging around for years or dragged through lots of dirty places, use a little mild soap in the water…

Woolen yarns might need some encouragement to submerge themselves under water all the way…

Let the yarn soak for at least half an hour, then squeeze it gently to remove the excess water. Repeat if desired. Hang the hank to dry completely…

To wind the yarn into a center pull ball for use, you can use a skein winder. You can also use a nostepinne, your fingers or - my personal favorite, before I bought a skein winder – the cardboard roll from inside paper towels!

Cut a slit in the end of the roll and secure one end of the yarn…

If you’re the happy owner of an umbrella swift, place the hank onto it. If not, enlist the help of a friend – hopefully one who will be persuaded by hours of holding yarn skeins into buying you an umbrella swift – to secure the hank on their forearms held slightly apart. Begin by winding the yarn horizontally onto the roll…

Then once a base is built up, begin winding the yarn diagonally across – slowly turning the roll in your other hand…

When you’re finished, simply remove the yarn end from the slot and pull the roll out! Voila! Now pat yourself on the back for your resourcefulness.



Theresa is a 30-something American living in Norway with her husband and step-daughter.

She keeps a (sometimes updated) knitting journal here.