Inspired Recycling

I’ve been on a mission lately–a cutting up t-shirts to make potholders and getting fuzz everywhere mission.

OK, maybe we need to start from the beginning. Remember last spring when I knitted potholders out of t-shirt yarn I bought on the yarn shop tour? (You can read about that here.) Well, after two potholders, I only had enough yarn for half of one and decided to make my own “t-shirt” yarn out of scraps of jersey sheets leftover from the pillow shams I made the year before. I just pulled out my rotary cutter and some fabric glue and I had my own little ball of stretchy, bulky yarn.

I switched to crocheting for a denser fabric and wound up with this.

Pot holder

And that my friends was the beginning; I was hooked. I still had scraps of jersey sheets left, so I made more yarn. You can only tolerate so much gray, so I decided to dye the yarn in an ombre pattern. I just hung the hank of yarn from the faucet of the utility sink and lowered it a little further every half hour.

Yarn Dying Process

That’s one dirty sink. Perhaps a few too many paint brushes have been washed in it. I guess it’s a sign that work is actually done here.

The pattern wasn’t very defined on the potholder, but I’m going to try dyeing the finished product next time. When the sheet was gone, I turned to my stash of knit fabrics. Those disappeared quickly, and I was at a loss. What could I use next? Then it hit me–I’d been calling it t-shirt yarn, why not make it out of actual t-shirts? The girls have stacks of old t-shirts from camps and clubs. No one wants to wear an old VBS t-shirt with all your friends signatures from 3rd grade. Donating them to Goodwill is just silly, so out came my rotary cutter once again.

Tolt T

I cut the old t-shirts into strips and connected them with a slip knot. Suddenly those t-shirts nobody wants were given a whole new life.

balls of tshirt yarn

I’ve been making potholders this summer–lots and lots of potholders.

potholders and yard 001

The MR is questioning my sanity. He did try to explain to me that no one needs that many potholders. I almost had a fit when Sweet Miss’ fella tried to use one of my new creations to move a pan off the stove. You see these aren’t all for personal consumption. I have a plan–sort of.

I think these would sell great at a holiday bazaar or on Etsy. The girls suggested getting a booth at the farmers market next summer. I’ve been a little hesitant. My last foray into the craft fair business was a bust. Nobody wanted to buy my wire angels or homespun reindeer ornaments; our Christmas tree benefited instead.

I did go through the four garbage bags full of Sweet Miss’ clothes headed for donation to pull out any t-shirts or old knit tops and wound up with a whole pile of raw materials.

I’ve been making these potholders for months and haven’t shared them with you guys, because I just didn’t know how they’d be received. I’ve given a few away this summer, and the recipients liked them. They’re not your traditional potholder, but they are fun, funky, and functional. Just last week I saw a more subdued linen one at Anthropologie.

My version is handmade, recycled, and one-of-a-kind. If I’m really planning to sell these things, I think I’ll need more than 13. Perhaps it’s time to start cutting up those old t-shirts. Maybe I have a job for Baby Girl.

Are these potholders fun or just plain weird? I’d love to hear what you think. How have you given new life to something old?

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6 thoughts on “Inspired Recycling

  1. I love mine! Keep on make them, they are wonderful, and functional and ‘funky’. Perfect for gifts, and for sale.Aunt Carol would love that you found another way to use old T-shirts.

  2. I made my first traditional potholder for the first time the other night and enjoyed it so much, I plan to make more when I need to center, de-stress and move on to other activities of the day. I love your idea. They are absolutely beautiful, and do rival those very very expensive Anthropolgie varieties. Thanks for sharing-Laury

  3. I have been wanting to crochet rugs out of T-shirt yarn for awhile, it’s just the time in tearing up all those T-shirts! Houzz.com featured a cool black crochet rug from T-shirt yarn awhile ago, and you can buy it on Etsy from a very talented Crocheter in Jamaica. I think she’s on to something, and you are too!

    • I’ve been toying with the idea of making storage baskets from the tshirt yarn and a rug for the laundry room. Cocoa has been chewing up the old one. If you snip the edge and then rip across it goes fairly quickly. Just remember your lint brush. Let me know how it goes. 🙂

  4. Pingback: How to Recycle your Old Towels and Sheets - Comfy Abode

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