Books · Knitting · Projects

Recycled Yarn: Being Thrifty Never Felt So Good
Sweater waiting to be recycled.
Photo by Breibeest/
Sweater after recycling.
Photo by Breibeest/

I’m a huge fan of recycling in general and recycled yarn in particular. I love the idea of going to thrift shops and garage sales, finding the perfect cashmere or merino wool sweater for $5, ripping out the stitches, cleaning the yarn and using it for other projects. Where else can you get a couple thousand yards of perfectly good, high-quality natural fibers for five bucks? The only thing wrong with this picture: I neither have the time to shop nor the space to hang all that drying yarn!

Lucky for me – and for you – there are people that do that. After an Etsy seller contacted me via Twitter telling me about her recycled yarn shop, I decided to search for other shops on Etsy. There are several, with skeins of varying yardage and prices. Most will roll the skein into a center-pull ball for free if you ask. Lisa, the seller who contacted me and owner of RenaissanceYarns, will sell a custom amount of yarn for pennies per yard. This is fabulous if you know just how much you will need and want to be super thrifty.

Or, you can recycle another way: By scouring websites like Craigslist or shopping in thrift stores, you can sometimes pick up perfectly usable yarn for free, or at a fraction of what it would cost you at the yarn shop. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and find full skeins with labels still attached, but more likely you’ll get scrap yarn of questionable yardage. This is where stash buster patterns come in, or little projects like dishcloths, flowers, finger puppets, or if you get really lucky and have enough yarn, scarves or mittens.

And here is an absolutely no-cost, no-travel source of recycled yarn: Use plastic grocery bags or old T-shirts you have lying around the house to make your own. To use plastic bags, cut off the handles and cut the rest of the bag in one continuous stream of ribbon. Knit as you would by joining balls. The process for T-shirts is similar. Here’s a book that will explain how, and gives knit and crochet patterns you can try.

It’s a fact of knitting life: Yarn is expensive. But it doesn’t have to be, with a little creative thinking and a small investment of time.

(Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. The opinions expressed in the blog are my own.)


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