Recycling Yarn…some thoughts


Recycled Patons Linen Shadow DK – was previously an ill-fitting lace cardigan

I’ve made a few projects this year using yarn that was previously something else, like Saoirse’s Lush cardigan and her Owlet sweater. Some of the yarn I recycled came from knits that no longer fit or were no longer worn. Others came from projects that I knit at the start of my knitting adventures, and before I realised the importance of a gauge swatch. Just because that sweater you knitted 10 years ago wouldn’t fit a doll, never mind the adult you intended it to fit, doesn’t mean they yarn has to go to waste. The same goes for that WIP that’s been sitting at the end of your project bag for 5 years that you have zero interest in finishing. Even the knits that you did finish and have been worn and loved but no longer fit. If you’re holding on to if for memories or because you think it’s too good for the charity bag, you can still give it a new life.

Saoirse’s Owlet Sweater was knitted with recycled bulky yarn from a sweater that didn’t fit anymore

I was recently listening to a podcast interview from the Shinybees back catalog with Brenda Dayne of the Cast On! Podcast, which got into the philosophical side of knitting. One of the topics discussed the nostalgia that comes with our knits and the memories they invoke, both in the actual act of knitting and in the finished garment. It got me thinking about it, specifically in relation to recycling your knits. I would agree with Jo that our finished knits are full of memories but I think a lot of the memories also in the yarn itself. For me though, giving that yarn a new life adds to the memories. How beautiful is the idea of your toddler wearing the same yarn that they came home in? They aren’t going to fit into the baby sweater, but they could fit into a hat knitted with the very same yarn. Memory bears have become very popular, where people get their children’s baby clothes made into keepsake teddy bears. Why can’t us knitters do the same?

My Baby Cables sweater is knitted with recycled Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk DK, which was another ill-fitting cardigan.

There’s also the memories that can be relived in the knitting/re-knitting of the yarn, this is something that Brenda explored in detail with the Memorable Yarn Project. It’s an interesting topic and I think it really shows the importance of appreciating the process of knitting rather than always focusing on the finished garment. And this is one of the reasons that I recycle my yarn, and why I will continue to recycle my yarn.

Saoirse’s Lush Cardigan is made with recycled King Cole Merino Blend DK which used to be a shrug that I no longer wore.

I had intended on this post actually being a tutorial but I got bit lost in my thoughts there so I’m going to pop the tutorial into a separate post for next week. Do you have any WIPs or FOs that you have recycled? Or do you have any lying in project bags or wardrobes that could be given a new life? Let me know in the comments or email me at I’d love to hear the stories and memories that lie in your yarn.

Find the tutorial here!

Reproducing a photo from 4 years ago – reliving old memories and making new ones. Us both wearing our recycled sweaters brings so much more meaning to this photo.

6 thoughts on “Recycling Yarn…some thoughts

  1. Good on you. There is too much waste in this world, especially around clothes and you approach the process so mindfully. Impressive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment! Waste in the fashion industry is something I’ve become more aware of over recent years and exploitation in the industry. It’s quite frightening but, as with everything, if we each do our own little bit, we can make a difference.


  2. Recycling yarn is a great idea! I have even purchased used clothing if I really liked the colour/feel of the yarn but wasn’t a big fan of the style. So I took it apart and made something else!


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