That was thenThere is a whole new world of beautiful, inexpensive fiber at your local charity shop (or the back of your closet). I (sneeze, itch, repeat) was forced to pass up $5 cashmere and merino sweaters, but they are still waiting for you lucky Church Ladies out there who are not allergic to wool.
I didn't leave empty handed- I found this lovely linen-cotton blend sweater (at the cost of one skein), and recycled it per the great instructions of Dawn Prickett, who "[has] have probably wound enough yarn to wrap the world and have handled almost every type of fiber and weight of yarn."
Recycling sweaters is great, because you can see how a sweater has held up after wear, before you invest the knitting time.
I would add my own tips:
-For your first reclaiming experience, pick a pullover in at least sport or DK weight.
-Check the men's section too- there are a lot of nice burgundy, slate blue, and olives there
-The buttons might be worth the cost of the garment
-If the yarn bleeds dye, add a cup of salt to the water