About ten or so years ago I knit a chunky afghan using four strands of yarn to match our couch. I was happy with the results and it was a present for my husband's birthday, the only problem was that after around a $40 dollar investment using cheap acrylic yarn and a lack of time to make the blanket bigger, I stopped knitting and called it a day. My husband always made jokes about the fact that the blanket was too short, so for subsequent crocheted blankets, as well as a quilted fleece blanket, I made sure that they were amply sized!
To make a not so interesting story shorter, this blanket was used on the couch until I changed the colors in the living room, and until it started to look, well a bit like a rag of sorts and got stuffed into a closet. Fast forward to operation Passover cleaning 2017, and when I spied the knit afghan in my son's closet, well I knew that rather than give it away to someone who wouldn't really love it anyway, I should simply unravel it and get a huge amount of yarn to use next fall for winter booties, hand warmers etc. for the whole family, maybe even for the whole neighborhood!
And yes, it is true, the yarn has pilled, but when you unravel the item, and in my case separate the strands of yarn into say balls of two strands, one can certainly remove lots of the pills as you wind the ball. I am not 100% certain how the yarn will look when re-used, which is why I mentioned using it for things like slippers. Nonetheless, I have read that many look for sweaters in Goodwill type locations to upcycle the yarn, so it must be a fairly good idea, right?
Oh, and just one more thing, I really don't know if I could unravel someone else's handwork to get some yarn (unless the item was really un-usable) but unraveling my own work is actually kind of fun! So next time you are cleaning out the closets or visiting a thrift store, do look at knit garments as a very inexpensive source for yarn!