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Recycled Craft Ideas: 17 Silk, Ribbon and T-Shirt Yarn Projects

By: Julie DaMario, Editor for AllFreeKnitting

Recycled Crafting Easy Quick ScarfWith the influx of green crafting ideas sprouting up all over the Internet, it’s nice to know that knitting falls under that umbrella. Recycled crafting ideas are trending all over the blogosphere, and the age-old craft of knitting is no exception. As long as you have needles and a thin, flexible material, you can knit!


Obviously every knitter has his or her preferences about crafting materials. Some knitters prefer a DK weight alpaca fiber while others swear by bulky weight cotton. However, every once in awhile it's nice to switch things up with something different. Alternative "fibers" like t-shirt yarn, sari ribbon, and plarn (recycled plastic bag yarn) are all suitable knitting materials. Not to mention, these upcycled materials offer a unique appearance and texture to all of your projects.


If you're feeling like giving back to the environment (or just cutting down on your t-shirt pile), give these alternative knitting materials a try. Not only are these recycled crafting ideas a great way to help the planet, they're a wonderful way to help local economies in other countries. Our friend Nicole Snow from Darn Good Yarn has contributed a ton of beautiful patterns to our site over the years. All of her yarn is made from recycled, earth-friendly materials and colorful remnants of silk saris from Nepal and Northern India. These materials are handspun and dyed by women’s groups in Nepal, creating jobs for the local community.


Recycled Craft Ideas: 17 Silk, Ribbon and T-Shirt Yarn Projects


Recycled Craft Ideas: 16 Silk, Ribbon and T-Shirt Yarn Projects


Recycled Knitting: Plarn Patterns + More

T-Shirt Yarn Projects

Knitting with Sari Ribbon




Check out even more recycled crafting ideas here!



Recycled Knitting: Plarn Patterns + More

Although you may never wear a plarn project as a clothing item, the reusable qualities of plastic bag yarn are impossible to ignore. Plarn makes a great material for reusable market bags and household storage pouches. Not only are plarn bags an excellent way to keep plastic bags out of landfills, they make a fun craft for kids and teens who are just learning how to knit. What were you going to do with those old plastic bags, anyway? If you can't see yourself knitting with plastic, consider working with recycled silk or upcycled yarn from an old garment. Unraveling a sweater is easy enough, so there's no reason to throw out a shrunken sweater again!


Silk Bandana ScarfSilk Bandana Scarf

Recycled Crafting Easy Quick Scarf

Knit Plastic Grocery Bag

Plarn Tote Bag

Thrift Store Scarf Mittens







T-Shirt Yarn Projects

Pull out your torn t's and shrunken shirts and turn them into a brand new (well, not really) pile of yarn. T-shirt yarn projects are all the rage right now, and it's easy to see why. The materials are cheap, readily available, and easy to work with. T-shirt yarn is a surprisingly smooth "fiber" to knit with and it gives your projects a fun, sponge-like feel. Perfect for baskets, coasters, wall hangings and more, t-shirt yarn projects are a fun, trendy way to turn your old t's into works of art.


Scrap Bath MatMake Your Own T-Shirt Yarn

Reusable Duster

Scrap Bath Mat

T-Shirt and Recycled Silk Case

T-Shirt Yarn Bib

T-Shirt Yarn Bag








Knitting With Sari Ribbon

The bold, bright colors of sari ribbon yarn are both refreshing and mesmerizing. This recycled crafting idea is a surefire way to weave a little personality into your outfit - whether it be on your feet or around your neck. Knitting with sari ribbon can take some getting used to, as the texture varies throughout. This is also one of the reasons why sari ribbon is so special. Create unique garments and eye-catching accessories with this fun, upcycled fiber.


Sari Ribbon and Yarn Lampshade45 Min Recycled Sari Ribbon Scarf

Sari Ribbon and Yarn Lampshade

Spirit Walker Slippers

1 Hour Sari Ribbon Netbook Case

Easy Bahamas Belt

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Purse







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Project of the Day

Sweet Peach Tasseled Hat

This darling knit baby hat pattern is not only an adorable accessory for a little boy or girl, but an easy project that will delight… Continue reading: "Sweet Peach Tasseled Hat"

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