How to Make Recycled Cotton Art Yarncomments (9) March 31st, 2009
When I first got into the idea of making yarn, I started recycling yarn from sweaters, then I starting spinning, then I thought, how about spinning recycled yarn? I've played around quite a bit with plying recycled strands together, spinning recycled yarn with bits of wool roving, plying them with thread, dyeing yarn before spinning it with other yarn, or dyeing it all together after spinning. Then I took it to another level by adding beads and buttons into the mix to make recycled spun art yarn! You can do this project with any types of fibers, since it doesn't involve dyeing, but I'm showing you my example made with 100 percent cotton, for a springy, all-natural yarn!
Creating new yarns by spinning multiple strands of recycled yarn together is much easier than spinning yarn from scratch, and you can use a drop spindle (which is very affordable, or you can even make your own) if you don't have a spinning wheel (or access to one). It will go faster with a wheel, of course, but by using a drop spindle you have the advantage of being able to use any size buttons/beads because they don't have to fit through the orifice of a wheel. I used my wheel, but I'll be including notes about how it'll work with a spindle.
I won't get into details about how to use your wheel or spindle—you can find plenty of online tutorials for that, and if you're new to spinning and want to get into it, I'd recommend getting a book on the subject to get you started. You don't really need to know how to spin to do this project (you won't be drafting or anything), but you'll need to learn the basics of how to use your drop spindle or wheel if you haven't already.
- Multiple sweaters of different colors to unravel, or one striped sweater
- Seam ripper and scissors for unraveling
- Thick thread or sturdy lace-weight yarn
- Buttons and/or beads
- Bead threading tool or floss threader
- Spinning wheel or drop spindle
- More threads (optional)
- More objects to spin into the yarn, such as long, skinny fabric scraps (optional)
- Container with a hole in it, such as a CD-R case (optional)
First, you'll need to unravel your yarn, so see my recycling yarn how-to for that, which is written for wool yarn. I unraveled parts of three cotton items; for cotton (or any nonanimal fiber) you'll follow the same steps, but you can machine-wash the items first. Then after unraveling, you won't need to wash the yarn before spinning it. If you are using a wool yarn, you can decide if you want to wash it before spinning, or if it doesn't feel dirty, you can just spin it first, then wash the finished yarn (which you'll want to do regardless).
You wouldn't want to choose something knit all in Fair Isle color work unless the yarn is extremely special because it would be so much work to unravel. The snowflake sweater I used only had the Fair Isle design at the top of the sleeve I unraveled, so it didn't take too much extra time. When unraveling color work like this, be sure to keep each color balled neatly as you go so you don't end up with a tangled mess, and just pull one color until it stops, then the other, back and forth.
After you make this project, show off your work to other members!
Post your project in the gallery
Crafty by Nature
Inspiration for crafting with natural resources.