Further experiments in converting textile waste

I have been wondering about trying some more spinning experiments with waste from the overlocker and the carding process.  There is nothing like yarn bombing to make me consider any kind of yarn useable!  Yarn bombing is even more forgiving than teapots when it comes to the texture and qualities of the fibre concerned… and there is an argument for only using fibres that can’t be made into clothing or blankets for yarn bombing, I think.  So in a  burst of carding enthusiasm, I’ve been preparing batts.

First up, carding waste (corriedale dyed with eucalypt), overlocker waste (from bag making, mostly–silk, cotton, linen and some polyester blend) and some polwarth locks to hold it all together.  Here it is going into the drum carder:


Carded and ready to spin.


More fabric scraps and overlocker thread in some parts than others…


While I was on the job, I carded some rough lavender wool of unknown origin.  It was discarded by the felting group at the Guild: say no more!   I re-washed it, which improved its texture and cleanliness somewhat…


The felters also passed on this green fibre of unknown origin, which was improved very much by re-washing and carded out beautifully.  I have added dyed mohair locks and silk noil, and we’ll see if it can become a repectable art yarn.


Carding waste from those two batts and some more overlocker waste…


I’ll report back when I’ve tried turning these away from the waste stream and into something of use!


Filed under Fibre preparation

12 responses to “Further experiments in converting textile waste

  1. Pia

    Oooh, interesting. Now I have to convince my sponsor that I can’t possibly do that with hand carders… 😉


  2. You could make yarn for yarn bombing……
    Or make a really cool hat or vest!
    I’m thinking that it will spin up beautifully.


  3. Sabine

    I’m so glad you feel the same way about “waste”! It’s a great way to use offcuts from knitting and crocheting, too! And it can be done with hand carders and spindle: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/SabineCuriouser/swatch-from-offcut-yarn
    It wasn’t the fastest way to produce yarn and the carded fibres didn’t look anything as nice and smooth like yours, but I remember the process being very satisfying. I felt so smug having produced something from little bits of waste…


    • That swatch looks great! So colourful! I’d never thought of using offcut yarns, I must admit. But I have converted all manner of yarns that are unloved into slippers, as you may have detected…


  4. Thank you, that’s an interesting post. I’d been thinking of using carding waste too and have been saving it to try spinning with some grey fleece. Some time ago I started saving waste embroidery silk, for what purpose I didn’t know. I’ve just finished a cross-stitch sampler and was doing the same but then thought ‘Oh don’t be daft, when are you ever going to use that?’. I might change my mind.


    • There are intermittent conversations on ravelry about using carder waste, with no consensus emerging but a wide variety of uses and ideas. It is certainly possible to integrate it into a yarn if your carder waste is clean and (preferably) an attractive colour. I could picture a grey batt with tweedy flecks of other colours in it working really well. As for embroidery silk, I think that really is worth saving if you’re a spinner. A friend gave me all the offcuts of her handspun silk thread (she had used it for tablet weaving) and I had such fun carding it into batts and creating yarns with flecks and stripes and strands of shiny silk in them! I had a bit less success incorporating them into handmade paper. But unless you try it is hard to assess whether it can be functional–and whether it can be fun! I have finished two of my textile waste yarns, perhaps I should photograph my swatch and post… mmm…


      • Yes, tweedy flecks in grey is something I had in mind, using the small bobbled bits of coloured waste fleece. The waste embroidery thread is worth a try too, mixed in with something else as I have small quantities. I’d be interested to see more photos of your experiments!


      • More photos coming shortly… I have spun up another ‘trash batt’ over the weekend and tried a new technique on it… I like tweedy flecks a lot, myself!


  5. Bec

    I love what you have done to reduce waste and rework fibre into something useful. It is great that there are some fabrics that don’t have wastage like organic bamboo sheets,but for those that do, I love that you can recycle and reuse. My mum would love this article as she is a mad keen carder and spinner. I will pass it on.


    • Thanks Bec! I suspect that the industrial process by which bamboo sheets are produced does entail waste, as do the vast majority of industrial processes–but bamboo certainly does have advantages as a fibre.


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