As part of HuffPost’s “Reclaim” project, HuffPost Style will focus the month of September on simple ways to educate yourself on becoming a better consumer.
The fashion industry is embarrassingly wasteful, but there really are ways we can make things better as consumers. The only problem is, none of them are particularly fun for us to do ― we can cut down on our purchases, learn how to properly recycle or resell our old clothes, and support brands that are taking steps to reduce waste. It’s all well and good, but it doesn’t exactly spark much creativity.
Enter fabric yarn, a knitting material that’s made out of recycled T-shirt scraps. By using it in your knitting projects, you can save unwanted scraps of material from entering landfills, and turn them into gorgeous accessories instead.
Several companies have been making different versions of fabric yarn over the years, but a Spanish brand called We Are Knitters is making it more fun and fashionable by selling it in kits that help you make clutches, rugs, pillows and more. Take, for example, THIS beauty:
We Are Knitters (lovingly known as WAK by its fans) sources the T-shirt material from Portugal. Leftover fabric from T-shirt production is cut into strips and then wound into balls, at which point WAK purchases those skeins.
“We are paying for the leftovers,” said Alberto Bravo, the brand’s co-founder, noting it would likely otherwise end up in landfill. “Because tees aren’t normally 100 percent cotton and they have other substances in them, they would pollute the environment. Thanks to its use in the DIY market, this fabric has found a second life. The material itself isn’t 100 percent cotton, but the process is 100 percent recyclable.”
Because the scraps come from a T-shirt factory, there’s some variation in the color and the weight of each skein. The downside of this is that the color you want might not always be available, and that a difference in thicknesses of skeins could cause your finished garment to stretch. (We knitted the Backgammon Carpet; the light pink material was thinner than the other colors, which stretched the rug into a charmingly off-kilter shape.)
Consumers can purchase the fabric yarn on WAK’s website. A pair of 400-gram balls sells for $17, and the yarn comes in a ton of colors. Its durability and washability makes it perfect for knitting up rugs, for which you can buy kits with patterns and instructions, but we’re also a little bit obsessed with the clutch kits.
For knitters who aren’t interested in fabric yarn, there’s still plenty you can do to recycle your leftover wool yarn.
“We encourage people to keep their yarn leftovers ― any type ― and use them for future projects they might have,” Bravo told HuffPost. “We normally publish free patterns on our blog for these leftovers. You just don’t throw yarn away, you can find hundreds of things to make with it! Depending on the type of yarn you can do bracelets, plant hangers, necklaces, etc.”
And if you want to try making your own T-shirts into yarn, try cutting your old tees into diagonal strips, all the way around the body of your shirt, until you get one long, unending strand.
Check out more photos of projects you can make with fabric yarn below.