If you have an old bulky knit sweater that you no longer wear, you have a good supply of yarn. This requires patience, so save it for a time when you're sitting quietly. I do it when I get insomnia. It is very soothing, because at 3:00 in the morning, there's no pressure to do other things.
This is a sweater that I am taking apart for the yarn. The ball represents the yarn from one sleeve, and the sweater was given to me years ago. The scissors came from a sterile bandage changing kit.
Pick the sweater apart at the seams using a pair of sharp-pointed scissors or a seam ripper. Carefully stretch the two sides of the seam apart so you can see the joining stitches, then clip them. Some sweaters have the kind of seam that allows you to pull on one end and it will undo the entire seam, kind of like a feed sack. Pull out whatever little loose pieces of yarn you can see and discard or use for stuffing. Starting at the top of the shoulder, find the beginning strand and very gently tug. It should start coming unraveled. If it doesn't, you may have to pick out a couple of rows to get down to the smoothly knitted part.
Then pull and roll into a ball. Manufactured sweaters have a different kind of yarn than hand-knitted ones. They are 3-ply yarn, but the three strands are not twisted together. Each one is fragile. If you break one as you are unraveling, it may be easiest to break all three strands and then tie them together. That way the next project you make from that yarn will work evenly. Leave long tails, and when you are done knitting or crocheting, untie the knot and thread a darning needle with the loose end. Run the loose end invisibly through about five or six stitches, then reverse directions and run it back through about three stitches. Trim off the excess. Do it on the inside if it's a garment, so it won't show.
I got my sharp-pointed scissors from a sterile bandage changing kit. The nurses have to throw them away when they have changed the bandage. If you have a friend who is a nurse, you might ask her to keep her eyes open for a pair for you. So far the pair I have has lasted a year. I like knitting washcloths and crocheting afghans with this "bonus" yarn.
By Coreen from Rupert, ID