Help for underloved yarn

Sadly, Lincoln fiber is often passed over for softer wools.

Raveling an unwanted sweater to make something from (seemingly) nothing.

Spinners and life cycles

The Spring issue of Spin-Off focuses on some under-loved yarns—such as the yarn made from Lincoln Longwool fibers—considered by some too harsh to be worn. But not all wool was cultivated to be worn next to the skin—some fiber was encouraged along because it was strong and lustrous and needed to be spun and woven or knitted into fabric for other purposes beyond garments—perhaps a rug, or a bag, or a sturdy leash. Another instance of under-loved yarn highlighted in the Spring issue is yarn found languishing in closets and thrift stores begging to be remade into useful garments. This is something that anyone with a spinning wheel can do easily! Wink, wink!

Since I come from a family of recyclers this concept of reusing yarn resonates with me. But it wasn't until I walked into Judith MacKenzie's class at Spin-Off Autumn Retreat 2010 (SOAR) and saw a classroom full of students gleefully raveling thrift-store sweaters to remake into gorgeous yarns that I truly understood how recycling could be a more integral part of my spinning life.

What I really love about this idea of taking apart worn-out garments is that when we reuse something, it becomes more treasured. Judith talks in her article, "Recycle: The Urban Fiber Harvest" about how taking an unloved sweater and harvesting the yarn for a future project goes beyond simply making use of available resources—it honors the sheep that gave the fleece. As spinners, we're doing more than making something from nothing—we're making something from something. We're constructing, deconstructing, and constructing again; these are vital life cycles of yarn and more.

Happy spinning,

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