fiberart, layers, mixed media

Recycling Silk Threads into New Yarn

I’m wondering if this should be the first in a series of posts about how I recycle things most people would throw away. I mean, you probably would. Me? I just can’t let go of certain kinds of materials. 

Point in case – these silk threads. 

I have been saving them for years. At first, I saved them because I was making paper. These threads added to paper pulp make an extraordinary paper. Simply lovely. So I had a little, zippered lunch bag that I saved them in. Now, these threads are the ones that fray off a piece of silk. Silk, that wonderous fabric! How could I let such fiber and color go? And, let’s face it, silk frays around the edges like a grad school hopeful that needs those 5 more points on the GREs. There’s plenty of this kind of fray if one works with silk. 

So a kind of synchronicity of events lead to the discovery of my wool carders, the silk, an old ball of yarn I spun years ago from natural wool and a wandering mind. It culminated with the box the carders was in fell off a pile, onto the floor and cracked open before my eyes. If that wasn’t a sign that I should try them out again, I don’t know what is. (So let it be known that I will accept any excuse to spend my time creating. I can tell quite a story, too.)

So here’s how that beautiful silk looks when combed out. I added wool, and lots of it, so that there would be something to bind it together. I found that the parts where the silk ratio was too high, the whole thing fell apart. You have to have enough wool to hold it together. 

Here’s the drop spindle I used to spin the yarn. I made the bottom out of fimo more than ten years ago. The dragonfly pattern in it was created by referencing a book about making colorful rolled sushi. Haven’t touched this in years either, but worked like a charm. 

And here is the finished product. There is not much of it…yet. 

What I have found out is that it is possible. It works and this is something I can incorporate into my work. 

I didn’t really have to spin it. I could have carded it and then used it for felting. Perhaps an easier way to make use of the materials. My mind doesn’t rest. What about spinning scraps of paper into the yarn? Especially some of that beautiful stuff I get from Gwen Lafleur. I can never bear to throw away even a scrap of that stuff. 

So what say you? Does this sound like something you would do? Are you shaking your head and thinking I had better just go buy some new yarn? Like recycling? Would you like to see more articles like this? 

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  1. Wow! This is so cool and useful in craft projects. I love that you made your own yarn! It looks gorgeous with all those colorful threads stuck throughout. Totally something I would do. I have too much stuff that I save to eventually make that special something out of. It is a nice feeling when you finally use it.

  2. Thanks, Kate! I learned to spin with a drop spindle about 15 years ago. Haven't really done any for more than 10 years so this was really fun. Definitely plan to get some more fleece so I can make a lot more of this kind of yarn. If you do not already spin, but want to incorporate your pieces in wool you can felt it. As for carders you can use dog brushes. That would not be a big outlay for new materials, but a cool way to see your pieces incorporated in a unique way.

    I'm glad you share my tendency to save precious things to make into something. You are right. It does feel soooo… good when finally using something up.

  3. OMg!!! You are AMAZING Lynda!! yes yes and yes! more articles like this please!!
    I only wish I would know how to do something like this! Will you come to our art retreat this summer and teach us??? pretty please??
    You are so clever and so gifted and I am totally with you about recycling- use and reuse- the only way to fly!!
    Jackie ") xx

  4. Thanks, Jackie! I'm glad you like this and would like to see more. I'm thinking about making a series. I would love to go to your art retreat if I can make it all work. What fun that would be!

  5. Wow! What a fantastic use of those beautiful fibers. I too, have a stash of various leftover fibers in my paper making stash. I am excited to see they have new possibilities.

  6. I'm glad you came by, Jennifer! Sounds like you have plenty of material to work with. I hope I will have a chance to see what you make with them.

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