Crafty by Nature

Crafty by Nature

How to Make Recycled Cotton Art Yarn

comments (9) March 31st, 2009     

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leethal Lee Meredith, contributor
Love it! 72 users recommend
All-natural cotton makes for a soft and pretty spun yarn.
You can use recycled wools if you prefer, as I did with this skein.
I love my finished one-of-a-kind recycled cotton art yarn!
All-natural cotton makes for a soft and pretty spun yarn.

All-natural cotton makes for a soft and pretty spun yarn.

Photo: Lee Meredith
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As you unravel, think about how long you want the color sections in your spun yarn. You can either make several separate balls, then as you're spinning you'll spin one completely, then tie on the next ball; or you can tie the different colors together as you unravel, in the lengths that you want, so you'll end up with one or two large balls of multiple-color striping. This is also a good time to think about how you want to spin the yarn together—I did two single strands, each spun with a strand of thread, then I plied the two together along with the beaded thread. Don't worry about the details for now—but you can either do that (so you'll need to divide your unraveled yarn into two equal sections) or you can choose to use only one strand of yarn and ply it with thread (so you won't need to divide the yarn).


I divided my little yarn balls into two groups and chose three threads to spin into my yarn.

Now you can spin your first single. I spun one strand of fine thread with each single, which is optional—you can do the same as I did, or you can spin thread with one single but not the other, or you can spin multiple threads along with the yarn during the last (plying) step. And here's where that optional container comes in—if you have a ball winder, you can wind the yarn into cakes so they can sit on the ground and won't roll around, but if you're working from hand-wound balls sitting on the ground, they will roll all over the place. I put my balls in recycled 100 CD-R cases, with the spindle broken off to make a hole in the bottom (which I use as the top). This way, the yarn ball bounces all over inside the case, as I pull it straight up from the hole—perfect! If you don't have a CD case like this, you can use any container with a lid that comes off and a hole to bring the yarn end through.


Recycled CD-R cases make for perfect yarn ball containers!

Start spinning! All you need to do is put twist into your recycled yarn. Cotton recycled yarn is usually several strands of cotton thread held together, so you can spin in either direction. If you are working with recycled yarn that is already twisted in one direction, you'll want to spin it in that same direction, just adding more twist.


Add twist by spinning the recycled yarn.

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posted in: beads, thread, yarn, recycle, buttons, cotton, handspun, spinning

Comments (9)

zoozi writes: Amazingly beautiful and so creative. A friend just lent me one of her ashfords for a while and this is a great project to start off with.
Thanks for sharing this!
Posted: 11:50 am on October 6th
creddy writes: Ok...that CD case trick is INGENIOUS!!
Thanks for posting this!!
Posted: 11:38 pm on August 31st
Jen1964 writes: I'm not sure my hands would welcome the spinning (due to repetitive strain injuries from over the years); but they are much prettier the way you've done them, than any of the original counterparts.
I had not thought of dissecting cotton sweaters. You see them all the time in tag sales. I don't usually care for them "as is" but admire the yarn. NOW I have IDEAS!
I mean the dog only needs just so many "sweater-sleeve jackets" for herself.
Posted: 2:27 pm on June 15th
ojosdelaluna writes: this yarn is soooo pretty!
Posted: 6:28 pm on May 30th
PamHarris writes: I am very excited to put your fabulous ideas to use to make a weaving stash! Thank you!
Posted: 2:42 pm on April 3rd
croqzine writes: LEEEEE, you're my hero. I love all your work, and this is no exception. Also, I love the CD spindle tip!
Posted: 9:45 pm on March 31st
Jen_W writes: I love this. You really made spinning yarn seem doable and I love how you merged our button theme with the crafting green theme.
Posted: 2:52 pm on March 31st
janetdawson writes: Another fabulous recycled yarn tute! Love them all so far. :)
Posted: 12:30 pm on March 31st
Joannie_N writes: This is so neat. My FIL brings me thrift store finds all the time. This is definitely worth a try. Love the beads and buttons!
Posted: 9:27 am on March 31st
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