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Knitting Green

t-shirt yarn bag

Knit up a bag out of yarn made from old T-shirts to show your love of upcycling and the environment.

More Eco-Friendly Knitting
Knitting Spotlight10

Books to Help You Knit Green

Friday April 18, 2014

Need a little more inspiration for eco-friendly knitting? Check out these books.

knitting greenKnitting Green by Ann Budd. Interweave Press.

Knitting Green by Ann Budd includes essays on things such as assumptions about green knitting, a shop owner's view of organic yarn choices and natural dyeing, among other issues. It also includes 20 patterns worked with eco-friendly fibers to get you started on your sustainable knitting journey.

Joanne Seiff's Knit Green covers a lot of different options a person concerned about the environment might think about when it comes to knitting, such as supporting biodiversity, vegan knitting, fair trade and recycling. This one also has 20 projects using yarn with the features described in the essays.

Sweater Renewal by Sharon Franco Rothschild is a fun one that isn't actually a knitting book. This one offers options for remaking old sweaters -- whether you knit them or bought them -- into home decor items and accessories.

And while "local" is relative, Knit Local by Tanis Gray encourages thinking about where your yarn comes from and how far it has to travel to get to you and highlights 28 yarn companies from the United States and Canada that use domestically sourced materials to lighten the ecological load and support in-country fiber production.

Knit Bags for Shopping and Beyond

Thursday April 17, 2014

If you're not collecting plastic bags to make plarn, one of the simplest things you can do to help the environment in a small way is to stop using plastic shopping bags. It's pretty easy to get in the habit of bringing your own reusable bags when you go shopping, and it's all the more fun when you can use bags that you made yourself.

lace market bagThis market bag is a great choice for hauling items from the farmer's market, and it's really easy to knit. Sarah E. White.

I love this Ribbed Lace Market Bag for trips to the farmer's market or other places where you just need a little bag. The mesh makes it light and easy to fold up and carry with you, while the bag itself is made out of linen, which is really strong and will allow it to last through lots of trips to the market.

Or try the fun Felted Market Bag by Eileen Casey, perfect for trips to the yarn store!

If you're looking for other ways to bag things up with knitting, check out my full collection of bag knitting patterns.

Make Your Own Yarn from T-shirts and Other Materials

Wednesday April 16, 2014

One eco-friendly way of getting knitting supplies that we sort of touched on yesterday is by upcycling, or making yarn out of some other material that was already in existence as something else. T-shirt yarn is a common example. I have a whole box full of T-shirts that one day I really will make into a quilt, and many of them I've cut the bottoms off of to make into T-shirt yarn. It's a relatively easy process but it can be really hard on your hands to cut through all that material and to keep the "yarn" a somewhat consistent thickness.

plarn bagI made this little bag for holding coupons out of plastic yarn. Sarah E. White.

When you've made your yarn, you should know that it can be a little difficult to work with, but it's still a lot of fun for projects like this super-sturdy bag. I love this one for outdoor activities or even the beach because you can wash it in the washing machine.

Another kind of upcycled yarn is known as plarn or plastic yarn, which is made out of plastic shopping bags. This isn't as nice to work with as yarn made out of fabric, but it's still fun to try (and can give you a use for those bags that's not just using them as bags).


Reuse and Recycle Your Yarn

Tuesday April 15, 2014

Another great way to make your knitting a little lighter on the environment is to reuse yarn from old projects you are no longer using or to buy sweaters at the thrift store and unravel them for reknitting. I had a sweater -- one of the first I even knit -- that actually ended up with some bizarreness around the armholes such that it was physically impossible to wear. After letting it sit like that for a couple of years I ripped the sweater apart, unraveled it and have been using the yarn for lots of other purposes since.

silk yarnRecycled silk yarn. Sarah E. White.

You can also purchase yarn that includes recycled materials. One of the most beautiful in recycled silk yarn such as Darn Good Silk. This is made from leftovers of the sari production process and is great because it keeps those little bits out of the trash. Similarly, Lion Brand Fettuccini yarn is made from the remnants of T-shirt manufacturing. It's a really fun, quick knitting yarn that's great for home accessories (like this bowl, which my daughter insists is a hat).

Lion Brand's Recycled Cotton is another great yarn that includes some recycled content. If you look around you can find a fair number of these types of yarn.

Have you ever ripped out a project to reuse the yarn or knit with recycled fibers? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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