August 14, 2009

Gettin' Down with Upcycling

"Refuse becomes fertilizer. Trash becomes treasure. Creativity IS survival."
-Keith Recker, editor of HAND/EYE, on Africa's eco-craftiness in a recent Storque Article.

This fall, I'm focusing on using more upcycled and thrifted yarns for the production of my items. The more I think about it, the more it makes sense. As many of us know, there is a huge emphasis in the handmade movement right now on eco-friendly. Even box stores like Michaels are carrying more 'natural' and 'recycled' fibers these days. That's all fine and dandy, but these commercial yarns are often produced overseas- adding a huge, unecessary carbon footprint to your ball of yarn. Alot of these yarns also cost an arm and a leg; and since labour is cheap in places such as China, I wonder just who is making a profit off these 'eco-friendly' products- and how can they be genuinely 'eco-friendly'? It's a pretty loosey-goosey term that's often used just to make a profit these days. I think people should take it more seriously. Anyone can call anything eco-friendly, it's not as if it has to be certified as organics do.

Anyways, to put a more positive 'spin' on things, this is why I think recycling, upcycling, re-using, repurposing, reclaiming... whatever you want to call it... is a much more eco-friendly option when it comes to hand-making (that is... if you don't spin your own yarn- but I won't get into that now!) It isn't as if there's not enough yarn out there already! Plus it keeps the cost down for the artist & consumer and lowers your carbon footprint!

Below, a picture which was used in an Etsy article recently shows a group of people at the Museum of Arts and Design unravelling sweaters (and having a beer- boy that sounds like a great night to me!)

I have been on the hunt for new sources of preloved, 'eco-yarn' lately, and with the right eye, it's not hard to run into great materials. I'm looking for mostly natural yarns, as these are my favorite to work with, and are the easiest to dye. A few new pairs of fingerless gloves have been created with some recent finds:

Both of these are made from wool, the Hinterland gloves on the left were also embellished via needlefelting- something I have just learned to do, and boy, it's fun! The orange needlefelted yarn is my own handspun & dyed farm wool from our local mill. The Blackberry Patch gloves on the right were made with some crazy bubbly wool yarn that I just love!

On my horizon: a 100% wool gap sweater to unravel & dye, some thrifted dutch yarns, and a new eco-friendly 'gaywool' dye!
Fun times!


Karen said...

awesome! I rescue so many handknit sweaters from thrift stores, now I can also ponder the possibilites of unraveling them for their yarn.

PrairiePeasant said...

It's amazing how many ways you can reuse products. Your fingerless gloves are beautiful! I look forward to seeing more needle felting creations from you.

tamdoll said...

Those fingerless gloves look great. I have some yarn from unraveled sweaters that I need to think of a project for... was also going to do fingerless mitts but the silk didn't have enough bounce for me.
Recently, I've been thinking of how loosely some business use the "eco-friendly" term, too. Without any specific How or Why, I'm inclined to think it's more marketing than honesty on their part.

Ruth S. said...

Every once in a while I go to Goodwill and find some natural yarn sweaters to unravel. Got to get to work on one for upcoming winter stuff!!

CraftyAsh said...

great to hear everyone has their own upcycling projects on the go!