Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Recycle: The Urban Fiber Harvest

Terry presented a program describing the epiphany she had when she read the article, "Recycle: The Urban Fiber Harvest" (MacKenzie, J., Spin-off, Spring, 2012, vol XXXVI, (1), p. 58-69). This article released the Genie from the proverbial consumption bottle.  Weavers, spinners, knitters, quilters, we all love fiber, but alas, these are expensive hobbies. The fibers used are becoming increasingly more expensive and yet can be acquired simply by deconstructing someone else's cast-off.  Many cast-offs are in excellent condition, just no longer desired by the former owner and are relegated to resale sites, i.e., goodwill, the crowded closet, or other consignment shops.  Terry largely savages for yarn based items, cotton, wool, silk, rayon, angora, mohair, linen or blends.  Once the item is identified, she begins the process of deconstruction. Basically, taking it apart. 

Just a little of the fiber in all phases of deconstructio
She finds a starting location and begins to pull in out while winding and measuring it using devices she designed from two by fours and dowels.  I think she was an engineer in another life. The fiber is washed and dried according to its fiber content.  She also saves, the buttons or any other embellishment for future use.  In order to make efficient use of all her treasures, she maintains meticulous records describing the fiber content, the yardage or poundage, the date stored, and attaches any labels (washing instructions, fiber) along with a sample of the yarn. 
Two devices designed to wind the fiber. 

Each time she uses some of her stash, she records the item manufactured and the remaining yardage. Whenever she begins a new project, she checks her files for potential yarns. She truly shops her own studio/storage. Terry brought just some of the  many items she has deconstructed and repurposed into baby blankets, socks, caps, runners, mats. Here are two examples.

In the forefront is a skein deconstructed from a sweater and used in weaving this runner.

Again from just one sweater, Terry has handwoven this towel and four others with enough left for a runner or two. The cost for new fiber varies somewhat, but to purchase a "kit" for 5 towels costs between $50-$75. Terry's 5 towels cost a quarter. Yes, that's $0.25. Recycling not only saves the environment but also the pocketbook.  And Terry gets the joy of weaving her repurposed item.

Personally, I started looking at several pullover wool sweaters from the Shetlands, Scotland that no one likes nor wears with a whole new eye. Just think how exquisite that fiber will be. Hmmm, what to do, what to make. Let the fun begin.

Thanks, Terry.

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