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Recycled & Alternative Yarns

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After discussing vegan, organic and natural yarns last week, we were reminded just how finite our planet and its resources are. Luckily, there are wonderfully creative people that are finding ways to recycle yarn, to make yarn from recycled materials and to use recycled materials to craft instead of yarn! We don’t pretend to have captured all of the inventive options out there, but we wanted to share a few with you!


Recycling Yarn

One of the mysteries of the fiber arts is that you can create a piece of fabric that is strong and durable, but can also be undone by simply unraveling the loops. Little damage is done to the raw material, and the fiber can be reused with little prep. In this sense, yarn itself is fairly easy to recycle. Maybe you have a garment you no longer wear, or a blanket you no longer use. Undo the item and you have a pile of yarn and limitless potential at your fingertips!

Yarn from Recycled Materials

Many companies - big names and smaller productions alike - have been finding ways to incorporate recycled materials into their products. There are a number of mill end products being created from the lengths of perfectly good yarn that don’t quite make the cut for full skeins. Or, those ties you have to cut off of skeins before you wind them? Those can be respun into fun tweed yarn! And, of course, the fibers themselves can be recycled material such as silk or cotton being broken down and respun.

Some examples of yarns incorporating recycled materials that we carry:

  • Berroco Remix - Worsted weight yarn consisting of 30% nylon, 27% cotton, 24% acrylic, 10% silk and 9% linen. Made from recycled materials, this yarn has a fun tweedy look!
    Berroco Remix | Michigan Fine Yarns
  • Berroco Remix Light - The DK weight Remix has the same fiber content as it’s worsted weight counterpart (30% nylon, 27% cotton, 24% acrylic, 10% silk and 9% linen) and both yarns are machine washable!
    Berroco Remix Light | Michigan Fine Yarns
  • Universal Yarns Clean Cotton - Made from 85% recycled cotton and 15% recycled polyester, this yarn comes from taken leftovers from making other yarns, so you can feel good about using it! Clean Cotton is a worsted weight.
    Universal Yarns Clean Cotton | Michigan Fine Yarns
  • Universal Yarns Clean Cotton Multi - The same worsted weight base as the Clean Cotton above, this 85% recycled cotton and 15% recycled polyester yarn has a dappled color effect, giving it a variegated look!
    Universal Yarns Clean Cotton Multi | Michigan Fine Yarns
  • Shibui Twig - This sport weight yarn is 46% Linen, 42% recycled silk and 12% wool and drapes beautifully! If you’re looking for a way to support the environment while making a stunning summer garment - this would be a great choice!
    Shibui Knits Twig | Michigan Fine Yarns

Alternatives to Yarn

We saved the most creative ideas for last! Just because crochet, knitting, weaving, etc. are considered fiber arts, it doesn’t mean that we have to be limited to the fibers and materials we are accustomed to seeing. The list below shares just a handful of other materials that we’ve seen woven, knit or crocheted.

  • Plastic bags (nicknamed plarn)
  • Old t-shirts
  • Pantyhose
  • Cables & cords
  • Ribbon
  • Rope
  • Denim 
  • Canvas
  • Burlap

Depending on what your end goal is, some of the above may work better than others. Some may not work at all! What’s great about these ideas though is that people are thinking outside the box, trying new things and doing their best to conserve resources and reuse materials that may otherwise end up in the trash.

Pile of crinkled, multi-colored plastic bags.

So, we want to know. What’s the craziest material you’ve crocheted with, knit with or woven with? What did you make? Have you seen other ideas that we haven’t listed? Share any or all of the above in the comments below!

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