Yarn Re­views

Crochet! - - Crochet In The News - Ply­mouth Yarn Happy Feet

Happy Feet from Ply­mouth Yarn, as the name im­plies, is the per­fect yarn for sock mak­ing, but don't stop there or you'll miss all the won­der­ful qual­i­ties of this beau­ti­ful yarn! The soft hand- painted pal­ette and lux­u­ri­ous feel make it ideal for gor­geous lacy shawls, tex­tured cowls, sim­ple scarves or even a spe­cial sweater. The fin­ger­ing- weight yarn spun from soft merino wool with a touch of ny­lon comes in 24 beau­ti­ful col­or­ways and is per­fect for next- to- the- skin projects. A 4- inch sin­gle cro­chet swatch made with a size F/5/ 3.75mm hook pro­duced a gauge of 20 stitches and 24 rows. Our in­spi­ra­tion sam­ple would make a great choice for a lacy scarf. An af­ford­able lux­ury with 192 yards per 50- gram skein, Happy Feet is avail­able at An­niesYarnShop.com.

Yarns from Im­pe­rial Yarn are “born, bred and raised” on a ranch in the high desert of Ore­gon. Own­ers Dan and Jeanne Carver fo­cus on pro­duc­ing beau­ti­ful fibers us­ing sus­tain­able prac­tices with no harsh pro­cesses or chem­i­cals. The re­sults are yarns drenched in vi­brant col­ors that are softly spun with a high de­gree of loft, which is per­fect for pro­duc­ing warm wool­lies that are both com­fort­able and re­silient. Tra­cie Too, one of seven lus­cious yarns pro­duced by Im­pe­rial Yarn, is no ex­cep­tion. The sheep on the ranch are shorn once a year, which is the ini­tial step in cre­at­ing this soft, 2- ply, sport- weight wool. Pro­cess­ing and dye­ing is done in an eco- friendly man­ner, pro­duc­ing col­ors rem­i­nis­cent of the land­scape sur­round­ing the ranch. The 395- yard, 4- ounce skein goes a long way when cre­at­ing fash­ion gar­ments or home ac­ces­sories in lacy or tex­tual stitch pat­terns. A 4- inch sin­gle cro­chet swatch made with a size H/8/5mm hook pro­duced a gauge of 16 stitches and 20 rows with good stitch def­i­ni­tion. Our in­spi­ra­tion sam­ple would make an in­cred­i­bly warm scarf or afghan. The few ex­tra min­utes it takes to hand- wash projects made from this yarn will re­ward you with a fin­ished prod­uct that is both soft and durable, and worth pass­ing on to fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.


My mother re­mem­bers the rag col­lec­tor, or Lumpen­samm­ler, who had made his rounds through the Ger­man town where she grew up for as long as any­one could re­mem­ber. When she left in the 1950s, a Lumpen­samm­ler still regularly gath­ered old cloth­ing and house­hold linens for a lo­cal fac­tory, where the rags were re­cy­cled into car­pet pads and shoul­der pads.

Peo­ple have prob­a­bly been re­cy­cling tex­tiles for as long as we have been mak­ing them. At first, the ef­fort re­quired to pro­duce a length of cloth was so great, peo­ple didn't want to waste even a scrap of pre­cious ma­te­rial.

In the United States, we dis­card tex­tiles to the tune of about 70 pounds per per­son ev­ery year. The U. S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency es­ti­mates that in 2012, in­di­vid­u­als and in­dus­tries gen­er­ated nearly 15 mil­lion tons of textile waste—that's 30 bil­lion pounds. About 85 per­cent of it went into land­fills.

The bet­ter news is that in 2012, 2.3 mil­lion tons of tex­tiles were re­cy­cled. Re­cy­cling re­duces our im­pact on the earth, and the best thing about it is that al­most ev­ery­one can par­tic­i­pate. Luck­ily for us, yarn com­pa­nies have joined the ef­fort, of­fer­ing yarn made from re­cy­cled fibers for our cro­chet­ing plea­sure.

Re­cy­cled fibers are clas­si­fied as postin­dus­trial (also known as pre- con­sumer) and post- con­sumer. Post-in­dus­trial re­cy­cled fibers come from mill ends, scraps from gar­ment- cut­ting, leftover gar­ments and other textile in­dus­try waste.

Post- con­sumer fibers come from peo­ple like us. When we de­cide our cloth­ing or house­hold tex­tiles no longer fit our needs, we can drop them into a textile re­cy­cling col­lec­tion bin. Amer­i­can Textile Re­cy­cling Ser­vices (ATRS), a com­pany based in Hous­ton, Texas, pro­vides bins in sev­eral com­mu­ni­ties across the United States in part­ner­ship with lo­cal char­i­ties.

Ac­cord­ing to Deb­o­rah Steven­sonPe­ganyee, mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor at ATRS (www. atrscorp.com), this is what hap­pens next: ATRS buys the con­tents of the do­na­tion bin from a lo­cal char­ity spon­sor, cre­at­ing a rev­enue stream for the char­ity. Cloth­ing do­na­tions go to a sort­ing fa­cil­ity, where nearly half of them are set aside for sale in sec­ond­hand gar­ment shops, for char­ity or for dis­as­ter re­lief. About a third of do­nated tex­tiles are made into wip­ing or pol­ish­ing cloths. Em­ploy­ees sort most of the re­main­ing items into large bins ac­cord­ing to their fiber con­tent. “Our sorters are trained to know their fibers,” says Steven­sonPe­ganyee, adding that ATRS is known for ac­cu­racy in sort­ing.

When a par­tic­u­lar bin reaches a weight of 40,000 cu­bic pounds (a full trailer load), ATRS ships it to a man­u­fac­turer.

In textile re­cy­cling, proper sort­ing is ex­tremely im­por­tant. Spe­cial­ized ma­chines can sort by color and con­tent, but much of textile sort­ing to­day is done by skilled peo­ple. Once fab­rics are sorted to the nec­es­sary de­gree, gar­ments have their lin­ings, but­tons, zip­pers and other hard­ware re­moved. Fab­rics are cleaned and cut into pieces. Wool is some­times cleaned by soak­ing it in a sul­fu­ric acid so­lu­tion that re­moves plant- based im­pu­ri­ties.

The cleaned pieces go into a rag grinder, where me­tal spikes mounted

Un­ravel the mys­tery of how tex­tiles can be turned into

yarns wor­thy of hand­made cro­chet projects.

on a roller pull apart and re­duce the fab­ric pieces into bunches of loose fibers called “flocks.” Yarn spin­ners put flocks to­gether in spec­i­fied color and fiber mixes, card the fibers thor­oughly and then spin them. Flocks from re­cy­cled tex­tiles are also used to make uphol­stery stuff­ing, home and car in­su­la­tion, and thread.

The Yarns

Words like “post- con­sumer” and “post- in­dus­trial” may de­scribe the fiber con­tent of yarns, but the yarns them­selves and the sto­ries be­hind them are much more in­ter­est­ing.

Su­san Mo­raca, cre­ator and founder of Kol­láge Yarns, tells about Kol­láge's Riv­et­ing line of yarns, which in­cludes sport- and worsted- weight yarns in solid and marled col­ors. “I am al­ways look­ing for a high- per­for­mance yarn that has less of an im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment,” says Mo­raca.

Riv­et­ing is made com­pletely out of re­cy­cled denim yarn, 80 per­cent of which is post- con­sumer. The Cham­bray Skirt on page 60 is stitched with Riv­et­ing.

“Ev­ery­one is shocked that, in­deed, projects made with this yarn can be thrown in the washer and dryer,” says Mo­raca. A Riv­et­ing gar­ment shrinks 8–12 per­cent in length when it is first washed. Af­ter that, like a fa­vorite pair of jeans, “it keeps get­ting softer.”

Ber­roco Remix, a 100 per­cent re­cy­cled- fiber yarn, was “in­tro­duced in 2010 and is still go­ing strong,” says Amy Christof­fers, de­sign di­rec­tor at Ber­roco. Remix is a tweedy blend of ny­lon, cot­ton, acrylic, silk and linen. It tran­si­tions well be­tween sea­sons and is per­fect for cus­tomers “who may have wool al­ler­gies or other rea­sons for choos­ing yarns with­out an­i­mal fibers,” ac­cord­ing to Christof­fers. The 19 col­ors of Remix are achieved by care­ful sort­ing and blend­ing of leftover gar­ments and other pre- con­sumer tex­tiles from Europe. No dye­ing is nec­es­sary— another en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fit.

Rowan's Pure­life brand is a show­case for or­ganic fibers, wool from Bri­tish sheep breeds and re­cy­cled fibers. Dis­trib­uted in the United States by Westminster Fibers, Pure­life Re­vive is a fully re­cy­cled, tweed- ef­fect yarn made from gar­ments cho­sen for their silk, cot­ton and vis­cose con­tent. Since its de­but in 2011, Pure­life Re­vive has sold ex­tremely well ac­cord­ing to Westminster's na­tional mar­ket­ing man­ager, Linda Pratt, who adds that “cus­tomers love the DK weight and the com­bi­na­tion of fibers,” both of which make Re­vive suit­able for spring and sum­mer gar­ments.

Re­cy­cled Silk was the foun­da­tion prod­uct of Mango Moon's busi­ness and the first of its grow­ing col­lec­tion of yarns with re­cy­cled fiber con­tent. Owner Lau­rie Cook re­counts how founder Amana Nova made a trip to Nepal, where she vis­ited a col­lec­tive work­shop for dis­placed women. The women asked Nova to help them sell gar­ments they had cre­ated with hand­spun re­cy­cled silk sari yarn. She sent a ship­ment to the United States, where the gar­ments did not sell well. Nova un­rav­eled them and sold the yarn in­stead, thus en­ter­ing the yarn busi­ness while pro­duc­ing, for a time, a post- con­sumer (re­cy­cled saris) and pre­con­sumer (un­rav­eled sweaters) yarn.

Sales of the hand­spun and rib­bon yarns dis­trib­uted by Mango Moon pro­vide in­come to women and fam­i­lies in Nepal and In­done­sia, whose op­tions for earn­ing money are of­ten lim­ited. But that's not all. “We also of­fer a mill- spun yarn called Bi­jou,” says Cook. Bi­jou is a cot­ton- wool- polyamide blend, made from re­cy­cled mill waste and 15 per­cent post- con­sumer fibers.

Joyce Ro­driguez is gen­eral man­ager of Knit One Cro­chet Too, a yarn com­pany owned by Hélène Rush since 2003. A decade ago, the com­pany saw a need for re­cy­cled yarns. The re­sult was their Amer­i­can- made 2nd Time Cot­ton yarn, which is 75 per­cent re­cy­cled cot­ton scraps and leftovers from the ap­parel and textile in­dus­try plus 25 per­cent acrylic. “[Cus­tomers] liked the look and liked the idea of a prod­uct that uses leftover fibers,” says Ro­driguez. “We live in New Eng­land, where re­cy­cling is a way of life.” She quotes the motto, “Use it up, wear it out; make it do, or do with­out.”

How Can We Par­tic­i­pate?

Next time you clean out your closet or the linen cup­board, con­sider do­nat­ing un­wanted cloth­ing and house­hold tex­tiles for re­cy­cling. Since most towns in the U. S. don't have Lumpen­samm­lers, search online for textile re­cy­cling lo­ca­tions in your area.

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