Whether you are an experienced knitter or just a beginner, creating your own yarn can be fun and a very creative way to begin a new project. With a sharp scissor and a few old t-shirts, you’re ready to get started. A great re-purpose, up-cycle, re-cycle project… A great first knitting project for beginners!
Choose your fiber:
T-shirts make a great choice as a beginner fiber. They are plentiful, brightly colored and easy to work with. Choose t-shirts that are solid colors, tie dye, or printed. Avoid t-shirts with obvious stains or holes. Also try to avoid shirts with side seams.
Consider color and quantity of yarn you might need for your finished project. One XL shirt can yield between 25 and 40 yards of yarn depending upon the width and length of the shirt and usable fabric. If you are fortunate enough to accumulate a large number of the same shirt, you will have more matching yarn. Consider gathering shirts in white, black and shades of grey which can knit into an ombre effect or shades in one color family such as our example. Impact Thrift Stores has a never ending supply of gently-used t-shirts to choose from.
Prepare your fiber:
Start by washing and drying your shirt(s). Even shirts that are clean but have been packed away for a while should be freshly laundered.
Now… let’s get started!
In addition to your t-shirts, you will need sharp fabric scissors and a ruler or yardstick.
First, carefully lay one shirt on your table matching the bottom hem across. Smooth the fabric from the side, removing any wrinkles. Trim off the hem edge through both layers (front and back) as straight as possible. Next, cut straight across the chest just under the sleeves. You will be working with the body of the shirt which now resembles a tube, not the sleeve/neck section. Do not cut up the side seams.
Next, starting at one side of the shirt, cut 1 inch strips across through both layers, parallel to the hem edge, stopping 1 inch from the other side seam. Do not cut completely across but leave the strips connected on the side as pictured at left and below. Continue cutting 1 inch wide strips until you reach the other cut (chest) edge.
As you’ve cut through both layers of fabric (front and back), you’ve created long tubes or circles of fabric connected to each other along one edge.
Open the cut fabric tube and lay it on a table exposing the 2” of uncut fabric. Spread your fabric on a table and begin to carefully cut the strips into one continuous strand starting at the bottom edge. Your first cut will start on the edge of the fabric and angle up to the first strip, through one layer of fabric (from Star A to B in the diagram). Next, carefully cut on the angle from the first cut on the left to the next cut up on the right (from A to B). Continue one cut at a time on this angle through one layer of fabric, cutting from point A to point B until you reach the other edge. Cut from the last point A on the same angle off the edge (as you did in the first cut Star A to B.) Be careful not to cut through any of the 1 inch strips as you go.
Once all of the diagonals have been cut, start at one end and gently tug on your yarn as you wind it into a ball. As you stretch and wind the yarn, you’ll notice the edges will curl, forming a nice, smooth, even strand of “knitting yarn”, perfect for size #15 or #17 knitting needles!
Click here to download a printable version.