Who to Know in RVA : Recycled Yarn

Something The Good Wear has been focusing on in the last few months is researching and discovering ways we can recycle and reuse old textiles - because the current system just doesn't work! There are too many unwanted clothes and even organizations like Goodwill are overwhelmed with quantities.
Here in Richmond, Misti of Recycled Yarn has a unique way to reuse our old sweaters that are no longer worn or wanted. Misti is on a mission to resell yarn created from old sweaters in order to put this form of textile back into circulation. So if you're into knitting, Recycled Yarn is a company to know! Check out today's interview to get to know this unique side of recycling our textiles and how we can all play a part.

How did you start Recycled Yarn?

I began Recycled Yarn in April of 2017 to meet both the community's and my own need for a local source for quality natural knitting and weaving yarns. It serves as an affordable, sustainable, environmentally friendly option. 

What is your background in the fashion/textile industry?

I graduated from VCU's School of the Arts in 2016 with B.F.A. in Craft/Material Studies with a focus in Fiber. I am an active weaver.

Where do you get your clothing that can be turned into yarn?

I gather 100% natural fiber clothing pieces whenever and wherever possible, mainly at thrift stores or through donations.

Why does yarn make a difference?

Weaving with recycled yarn has grown my respect for the finished piece enormously, because I know it's made with high quality, sustainable materials. The yarn, having been in an industrially knit sweater through washing, drying and time, embodies its past life through a wonderful squiggly texture. I choose not to steam or block the kinks out because I view the unique texture as an ode to its previous form - something I believe is intrinsic to what makes this yarn special and something I don't shy away from. The wave's springy over-under tendency makes it a dream to weave tapestry with, and offers body to knitting and crocheting projects. It's a new experience to work with even for advanced fiber/textile artists.

What’s your best tip for someone who wants to recycle and repurpose their clothing?

If you want to go beyond resale shops, redirect your focus from the fit/cut/style of a piece to what it's made from. I do this all the time when I'm eyeballing sweaters. Can it be transformed to serve a different purpose? Ask yourself how that material can be made useful to you or others.

What tips would you give to help others get to know their textiles a bit more?

There is an unspoken body knowledge of textiles that everyone has from the experience of wearing clothes every day. A cotton t-shirt, for example. Silk sheets. I recommend making yourself aware of the fiber content on clothing tags - notice what's in your closet, what you like to feel. If you see something listed as a material and don't recognize it, look it up. I have a reference book that tells me everything about natural and synthetic fibers, their manufacturing processes, their properties, even their molecular arrangement. A Google search will also do. Notice if you collect natural protein fibers (wool, mohair, angora, cashmere, llama, alpaca, silk) or natural cellulose fibers (cotton, hemp, flax). Do you have a closet of synthetic fibers such as acrylic, nylon, and spandex?

What are some things something you’d like people to know about Recycled Yarn?

I have recycled over 150,000 yards of yarn by hand through this project, and counting. An average sweater produces between 1,000 and 2,000 yards of yarn and the most I've gotten from a single sweater was 3,084 yards. I count the yards out in my head as I go.

What is your favorite thing about Recycled Yarn?

I get to recycle a non-traditionally recyclable resource without any environmental impact. 

What do you love about the RVA community?

I love this cities energetic support for small businesses, the strength of its art scene, and that there is a niche for everyone. 

Follow along with @recycledyarn on Instagram and check out Misti's Etsy page.