Saturday, January 23, 2010

Recycled yarns (Have I heard that story before?)

My mom taught me from a very young age to separate my recycling from the trash. And being eco-conscious is something that I've proudly carried over to my own household as an adult. Besides the typical recycling bin and being conscious of my carbon footprint, I'm always looking for ways to (a) use something more than once, (b) repair it so I don't have to throw it away or (c) use scraps from one thing for something else. I usually count myself fairly resourceful and clever if I can succeed at any of these. =0)

Several examples of (a) are so ingrained in my everyday routine, I really don't even think about it anymore. But the other day I was wondering what people would think of me if they saw my funny little habits. For instance, although I tend to wipe my son's mouth and hands with a wet wipe after meals, which isn't the most eco-friendly, I also sometimes save the gently-used wipe to be used again at the next meal. I also have a funny habit of cutting things in half so they go twice as far. I cut my cotton balls in half, my dryer sheets, and even after buying the "select-a-size" paper towels, which are already half the size of a regular ones, I rip those in half to make them even smaller. I try not to use any more than I need.

Of course ideally I wouldn't be using these products so much at all. That's been sort of a resolution for me this year - I'm going to look into those reusable dryer ball softeners and I also try to remind myself to use a dishtowel or sponge instead of a paper towel. Honestly, I think it's just the Germ-a-phobe in me that is so attracted to wet wipes. The idea of What might be living on that sponge or dishtowel after a day's use really creeps me out - so that might be a hard one to break... =]

Anyway, all this is coming to a point... really. In light of habit (c) above, I was very excited to do some research today on eco-friendly recycled yarns for use in my merchandise. So far, I've only found Eco-Ways at my local JoAnn's, which I have used in several of my newborn hats.

Today, I was pleased to learn about Lion Recycled Cotton which is made from cotton fabric pieces that would otherwise be discarded when fabric is cut to produce tee-shirts. Brilliant! I love that somebody saw little scraps of cotton going into the trash and thought to themselves "how can we use this?" When most people just see rubbish, someone here saw potential! Red Heart also has a similar item on the market.

Of course there are also plenty of crafty people on Etsy who are actually making recycled yarn themselves by either unraveling old second hand sweaters or even spinning their own reused fibers into a "new" yarn! The ladder is very intriguing to me, but I admit I don't know very much about it. I suppose the former is perfectly feasible for me to do for myself. I'm just kind of apprehensive about destroying a perfectly good sweater to use the yarn for something else (i.e. a sweater). That doesn't seem to have the same impact as redeeming something that was actually going to be thrown away...

Therefore, the yarn I think I might be most excited about is Simply Soft Eco by Caron. Even though it is only 20% recycled material (as opposed to 30% in the EcoWays or about 75% in the recycled cottons), I like the fact that it is Post-Consumer - made from recycled, cleaned and processed plastic bottles. How cool is that?

So I'm looking forward to trying these new yarns out. And I encourage all my knitting and crocheting friends to do the same. I've heard mostly good reviews - some people say you can't tell the difference in texture. Some people say (about the recycled cotton) that it might feel even softer than the virgin fiber cotton!

I believe a trip to the yarn store is in order...


  1. If you know of any other recycled yarn brands, please share them here!

  2. Friendly Note: while the listing for Simply Soft Eco lists Walmart as a distributor, I googled it and found it sold at Amazon and JoAnns, among other places. Of course I encourage you to check out your Local Yarn Shop first for any resources they might have on recycled yarns. =)

  3. Reclaiming yarn is so awesome!

    I love to unravel fashion-challenged sweaters, or those that were on the losing end of a hanger battle. There is some incredibly luxurious yarn available this way, and you can be sure that any item made with recycled yarn is definitely one of a kind.

    Reclaimed yarn often has the added benefits of already finishing any fading, stretching, or shedding, too.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful article! :)

  4. Haha, I hadn't thought about the "fashion-challenged" factor - That's a good point! Thanks for the comments, DelightedHands! =)


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