Upcycled, eco-friendly yarn – Idle Hands Yarn Supply

I was browsing etsy.com looking for upcycled yarn for a project (upcycling –  if you’re not familiar with the term –  is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products), when I found Idle Hands Yarn Supply, a beautiful on-line store that sells upcycled yarn cut from t-shirts, sheets etc. I purchased some ball yarns made from t-shirts, that I used to weave a little bag for my Textile class. Not being a teenager anymore, I don’t particularly care about grades but, yes, I got an A thanks to it 🙂
Luci, owner of the store, tells us about her yarn, and why it’s eco-friendly and suitable for all your craft projects.

1. Luci, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a life long crafter and grew up at craft fairs.  I was raised by women who could make just about anything.  They didn’t do it because of financial reasons.  We were lucky and raised in an economically comfortable family.  It was done because handmade had a value beyond dollars.  We didn’t buy winter hats and mittens.  They were lovingly knitted and crocheted by our mothers, grandmothers and aunts.  We didn’t often buy clothes, but bought patterns instead.  I spent many happy afternoons with my aunt and grandmother quietly learning how to sew.  I still prefer sewing to a crowded and noisy mall.  Quilts were always fun projects and I loved seeing all the little squares come together into a beautiful pattern.  The artisans at the craft fairs were a kind and generous community.  They took care of each other, even their competitors.  When I was old enough to work in booths, I learned about art and how to work hard.  I also learned how I should be treated as an employee and have never suffered an unhappy working situation for long.  It was a fantastic lesson in love and art.  Growing up, I wanted to grow up to be just like them.  As an adult, I know that I did.The love of creating that I learned from my family and the artisans I grew up around had a huge impact on the way I look at pretty much everything.  I place a high value on handmade because I know the love and work that go into it.  My home is full of handmade and antique/vintage items.  I love the warmth and personality it adds.  Homes filled with fancy store bought items just don’t have that same cozy feeling to me.  It feels cold and blank.
I also grew up with avid upcyclers.  Although we didn’t call it that at the time, that is exactly what it was.  No one in my family used Tupperware, but every house has a full line of Cool Whip and margarine containers for storing leftovers and other odds and ends.  Jeans are patched from denim scraps kept from worn out jeans that can’t be worn anymore.  It shaped the way I look at worn out items.  I don’t see trash.  Instead, I see a new life.  I am so thankful for these valuable lessons I was lucky to learn at a young age.

2. When did you start your shop, and why did you decide to sell upcycled yarn?

I started my shop in February 2012.  I am still in those growing stages, but it is a fun and exciting time.  The great thing about being an upcycled craft supply shop is that the possibilities are endless.  Everything is a supply!The upcycled yarn is what inspired my shop.  I have used it for 20 years.  It started when I was a teenager.  I had been given a very ugly sweater for Christmas, but the yarn it was made from was beautiful.  I have always been a yarn geek and love different fibers and textiles.  It was a lovely black merino wool and I couldn’t bring myself to just give it away.  So I took the sweater apart and made a lovely winter hat and scarf set from it.  The yarn from that sweater ended up being my favorite gift that year.  I learned that yarn used by manufacturers is a little different from what you buy in the craft store and have been using it ever since.  It was only natural for me to put it in my shop.

3. What kind of clothes/fabrics do you use to make your yarn, and how long does it take you to cut out a ball of yarn?

I use sweaters, t shirts, and sheets that I purchase from charity based thrift stores.  Sweaters require a several hours and 1-2 days to fully straighten the yarn.  T shirts and sheets are made into a ball of yarn in 15-20 minutes.

4. Why is your yarn eco-friendly?

My yarn is eco-friendly because there is not a manufacturing process involved that requires a lot of resources or energy.  I never dye my yarns because it requires too much energy and resources to be used.  There is a small amount of water used in straightening yarn from sweaters and most of my yarn is rolled into a center pull ball with an electric ball winder that uses very little energy.  The only other energy I use is my own hands.There are all kinds of recycled yarn in craft stores and recycling is a much better option than filling a landfill, but it still requires a lot of energy and resources to recycle anything.  The most eco friendly items are always the ones that use the least amount of resources and energy to produce.

5. What kind of art and craft projects your yarn can be used for? Do you have tips or ideas for people who want to waive/knit etc. using your yarn?

My upcycled yarn can be used just as any other yarn would.  The projects it can be used on depends on what the yarn is made from. Cotton is great for kitchen and bathroom items like dishcloths, washcloths, pot holders, rugs and more.  If you are new to knitting or crocheting I don’t recommend using the cotton yarn, as there is not a twist in it so it is 4-6 strands of fibers that are loose and can be challenging to work with if you aren’t experienced in your craft.  I personally prefer it to the cotton you will find in the craft store that has a twist in it.  It has a lovely finish without the twist in it.  Wool is fabulous for winter clothing and accessories.  Acrylic is always a great yarn for a beginner because it is very easy to work with and can be used in a wide variety of projects.The t shirt yarn can be used for many projects.  I have seen everything from a pot holder to a bikini made from it.  T shirt yarn can be a little stiff or as soft as your favorite t shirt.  It depends on the shirt it was taken from.  The stiffer yarn works great for bowls, baskets, and rugs.  The softer yarn can be used as you would any other yarn to make a wide variety of projects.  Some are also a little stretchy work well for making hats. I will also be adding a line of yarn made from sheets soon.  It is fabulous for rugs, coasters, and trivets.I also encourage questions in my shop.  I welcome anyone to send me a message with any questions they may have.  I am always happy to help you find the perfect yarn for your project.
You can contact Luci on Facebook or at idlehandsyarn@gmail.com

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About valentina oppezzo

fashion and accessories designer


  1. Thank you for this wonderful feature on your blog, Valentina! The photos are beautiful and I am so glad you received an A on your project. I bet that bag looks fabulous! 🙂

  2. Had to chuckle over the ugly Christmas sweater story! That’s so memorable as the source of inspiration for your shop.

    Also chuckled over the line about using margarine and whipped cream containers instead of Tupperware. That sounds like my house!

    • I love Lucy’s stories too! I come, instead, from a different kind of family. Don’t get me wrong, my mother is a lovely woman, but she has always considered “old” stuff or not-everyday-used-stuff as trash, as something to get rid of. I’m instead more of a collector 🙂 and I’m learning how to re-use and upcycle!

    • The sweater was very memorable. I can’t even put into words how ugly it was. I wish I had a picture of it now. haha

      So glad to hear that it isn’t only my house that has our own unique sort of Tupperware!

  3. Love these photos and Luci’s story- thank you for sharing! The thought of taking apart a Christmas sweater- that is dedication! : )

    • I’m glad I’m receiving good feedback for the pictures. I usually shoot product photography at my studio, but with such nice weather I just decided to shoot outdoor,where it’s easier to go-creative!

  4. Thanks Kori! It was a lot of fun to take the sweater apart. Since I already knew how to knit and crochet, I had a good understanding of how it was constructed and how I should take it apart. It’s not so difficult if you know that. And it was a lot of fun using the yarn to make the hat and scarf. It felt so amazing to give that ugly sweater a new life. 🙂

  5. I am an eco friendly supporter too. Go green!

  6. marycheshier

    Reblogged this on How 2 Be Green and commented:
    Love this post! Upcycle is finally becoming fad. Thanks for the share

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