Recycled Yarn: Fiber on the Brain

I’ve had fiber on the brain lately. We’re not talking about the kind you find in beans or in supplements marketed during daytime television soaps and Jerry Springer episodes. We’re talking about fiber, the stuff that, loop after tiny loop, makes up many of our favorite hoodies, comfy pants, sweaters, and shirts.

Truth be told, I am woefully ignorant about how yarn is made. It seems like a big shortfall in my knowledge as a knitter and as someone who wants to live a little closer to home, a little more sustainably. I understand the basics of how yarn is made, of course, but I don’t understand the social, environmental, and cultural impacts.

I suppose all of this came to mind as I worked on a few different projects to “stash bust,” or finally make something out of those skeins and skeins of yarn I’ve had for years. In some ways, I do think of stash busting as recycling – which is ridiculous since, ages ago, I bought that yarn and completed the animal/plant to production to purchase economic circle. Really, I am merely being *not* wasteful when I finally use up the yarn I already possess via purchase or as leftover from other projects.

20120226. Using leftover yarn bits.

Stash busting supreme: using screaming orange yarn, hand-dyed in Peru, leftover from a previous cardigan project to make a shrug. Who spun that yarn? Who dyed it? Where did the waste water from the dying process go? Deep questions, fellow fiber lovers, I know.

One of the yarns I’ve had in my stash for years is made out of recycled silk saris. Since I bought the yarn off Ebay, I will never know exactly which company or source it came from. Many of the vendors of recycled silk sari yarn are fair trade, and some work with women’s cooperatives to provide a source of income in India and Nepal. Was this yarn part of a fair trade setup? Were its makers earning a decent wage? And… could I spin such a beautiful thing myself someday? It quite literally brought along pieces of its former life with it; I found bits of wood and sticks stuck right in the yarn as I knitted.

20120226. Improvised pullover with recycled silk sari yarn.

Improvised pullover knit up with recycled silk sari yarn.

So I suppose the next step to being a more mindful knitter is to find the answers to some of these questions. I’ll let you know what I find out! For now, I just started knitting with this lovely yarn from Knitpicks – Full Circle Bulky Yarn, a wonderfully squishy yarn spun from a blend of Merino and Highland wool fibers that would have otherwise been discarded. Now that’s more like it.
20120226. Recycled yarn.

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3 thoughts on “Recycled Yarn: Fiber on the Brain

  1. Pingback: Hello, Old Friend: Telling the Seasons by Knitting « Space-Farm Continuum

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