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5 Ways to Make Your Own Recycled Yarn

Updated on August 4, 2012

T Shirt Yarn Knitted Hot Pad


Making Recycled Yarn

Earth day is in April – what better way for the crochet addicted to celebrate than to make your own yarn. Yarn can be made from anything. The most popular ways to make recycled yarn is from t shirts, paper, material, plastic bags and old sweaters.

T-Shirt Yarn

I first came across T shirt yarn on I participated in a swap on and my partner sent me a ball of tshirt yarn. I knitted a heating pad from it. To make t shirt yarn you just need a washed tee shirt and a pair of scissors. Cut your shirt in a spiral the width you want your yarn to be. Check out the video by KnitPicks (below) for a really cool way to join the strips of yarn.

Sweater Yarn

I first came across recycling sweaters into yarn via Ashley Martineau, Neauveau Fiber Arts. She had a blog post with a photo tutorial of the process she uses to unravel sweaters to reuse the wool. To unravel a sweater, you want to first have a sweater with an unserged seam - this makes it easier to unravel. Snip the seams. Now unravel and roll your yarn into a ball. It might be necessary to wash your yarn - just be careful if it is wool - you don't want it to felt.

Fabric Yarn

I guess I always knew material could be made into yarn because I bought ribbon yarn before. Also, back in the early days of America homemakers made area rugs out of material. You'll need fabric - old sheets, fleece, or even fabric scraps from sewing projects - a pair of scissors and a drop spindle. (You can also use a knitting needle or a chop stick) Mademoiselle Chaos has a great tutorial on making material yarn with a knitting needle.

Plastic Yarn

Moira, a hubpages author, knows a lot about crocheting with plarn - the name given to plastic yarn. All you need to make plarn is plenty of plastic bags. Cut the bags into strips, join, and roll into a ball. There are many talented designers like Recycled Bags that make a living turning plastic into yarn.

Paper Yarn

Who knew you could make yarn out of paper? Greetje van Tiem is an artist who spun strips of newspaper into yarn in her project Indruk. You can make newspaper yarn by cutting strips of paper and then using a spindle to twist the yarn. has a great pictorial tutorial showing how this done.

T shirts, sweaters, material, plastic bags and paper are just five sources of recycled yarn. You could use bicycle tubing, cassettes, balloons, phone cord or even spaghetti. (It's been done) With your creativity and the world’s trash you'll be making your own yarn in no time.

1. Making T Shirt Yarn

2. Upcycling a Sweater for Yarn

3. Spinning Fabric Yarn

Have You Made Yarn?

Have You Experimented with Making Your Own Yarn from Recycled Materials?

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4. Making Plarn

5. Making Paper Yarn

What to Make with Your Recycled Yarn?

If you don't know what to make with your recycled yarn or if you don't know what to do with the yarn you make, don't worry - here are just a few ideas you might want to try.

1. Area Rug

2. Bathroom Rug

3. Bag

4. Hotpads

5. Headbands

6. Rope

7. Hats

8. Amigurumi

9. Scarves

10. Woven Curtains


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    • profile image

      rgmg50 5 years ago

      Wow, very, very interesting and informative. Tee-shirts be aware, here I come. Seriously, these are very good tips.

    • SaraDuggan profile image

      Sara Duggan 5 years ago from California

      @Sandyspider I know huh? I've heard of people doing that but I've yet to try it.

      @Christywrites That was the first I saw paper yarn - who knew?

      @Deborah Brooks Thank you - It should be interesting to experiment with all these different types of yarns

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I had no idea you could make yarn out of paper, how interesting!

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 5 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      I am always thinking of taking the lint out of the dryer or all the fur that had been brushed off from my dog and make something out of it. Great idea here.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      what a great idea. I love to crochet.. I will be trying this



    • SaraDuggan profile image

      Sara Duggan 5 years ago from California

      :) I love my yarn. :)

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      You are very innovative for sure!!! Very interesting hub. In His Love, Faith Reaper