Knitting with jersey yarn (and making your own!)

Jersey yarn is special. It’s make from knit fabric, so it’s very soft and very stretchy. Since it usually comes in bulky or super bulky weight, it’s perfect for making accessories like market totes, beach bags, baskets, bath mats, pillows, and other home decor items.

Designer Tanis Gray makes her own jersey yarn from T-shirts she’s tie-dyed. Pretty cool, right?

In her new video, How to Knit with Jersey Yarn, Tanis recommends using the largest T-shirts possible. You can start with new shirts, or go through your clothes and get rid of those old tees that have been taking up valuable drawer space for years. There is someone in my house who could make hundreds of yards of jersey yarn with the old tees we’ve got in boxes in the garage. Ahem.

yarn types

Handmake T-shirt yarn, and plastic bag yarn (“plarn”) on the left. Just imaging all of the yarn types you can think up!

Tanis shows you the tie-dye kit she uses, and the finished yarn, which is really cool. Check it out in the photo below. Pretty!

When I watched Tanis’s video, what really impressed me is that she knows how to cut a tee in one continuous piece to make a strip that she turns into one long piece of yarn. It reminded me of a friend who can peel apples and oranges in one piece. Cool, is what it is. And no knots every few yards, as I’ve seen in other handmade jersey yarn.

market bag knitting pattern

Market bag made from jersey yarn

Making jersey yarn is a really wonderful activity to do with children. As Tanis says, “If kids make the material, they’re more likely to use it and keep on knitting. And that’s what we want, more knitters.” Yes we do!

Tanis also talks about making yarn out of used plastic bags. This material is great for outdoor chair mats, and I’ve also seen rugs made out of it. Really neat to use something you throw away to make useful items. A while ago, I read an article about several groups of women who use garbage bag yarn, also known as “plarn,” to make sleeping mats that they donate to the homeless. The “plarn” is waterproof, and provides a barrier against the cold, hard ground. This may be my favorite way for knitters to help people.

Tanis has some hints to help knitters make the most of jersey yarn. She demonstrates knitting with commercially made jersey yarn to make the useful and pretty market bag shown above.

The pattern comes with the video, so get your copy of How to Knit with Jersey Yarn today and make your own yarn. I think this would be a really fun project to do with my knitting group!


P.S. Have you made your own yarn from T-shirts or plastic bags? Leave a comment below and tell me about it!

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