One of the best things about any of the yarn arts is that you can do them with just about anything. Yarn is just a kind of string like rope or twine or ribbon. But have you ever thought to look beyond the craft store and into the more eclectic side of string?
How about something like thing gauge wire? Like these wonderful creations by Blanka Sperkova:
That might look a little intimidating, but it’s worth trying if you’re interested in it. You’ll want strong needles for this and I would start with a florists wire or thin jewelry wire that you can get in quantity. Wire will not be forgiving like yarn is and when it breaks is does not go back together well, but if you put in the practice on cheaper wire, you’ll be ready to put in the money for the kind of wire you’ll need to make something as beautiful as the picture above.
For those of you a little less adventurous, how about something still in the ball park like shoelaces? The taped ends can be decorative or can be snipped off. You can even get rolls of shoelace yarn on Etsy and other places if you don’t want to bother with the snipping. Working with shoelaces is very much like working with either cord or ribbon depending on which style you get.iHooked on Etsy has some interesting necklaces made from shoelaces you can check out.
But enough about the pre-done jazz right? We’re “DIY-ers.” We don’t need no stinking online, free shipping, make it for me junk right?
Yeah, maybe that’s a bit extreme, BUT if you DO want to make yarn yourself, I have a fun project for you and older kiddos that can be done with anything from grocery bags to sweatpants (preferably freshly WASHED sweatpants). I’ll be using plastic grocery sacks today, but the concept works the same on anything that is round in shape (shirt bodies, pant legs, sleeping bags, etc…).
First, we’ll lay out our material as flat as we can. If you’re using shopping bags, do what you can to make sure they have the handles laid flat as well and match up all the “corners” at the bottom so they look like they would fresh off the stack.
Next, cut off any uneven or closed off parts. In the case of our shopping bags, I’ll cut off a thin strip at the bottom (maybe a 1/4 inch or so) and the handles at the top so I’m left with a nice square. If you’re using a shirt, you’ll want to cut it at the armpits and for pants, just cut off any thick hemming or places where the elastic is sewn in.
Once you have that prepped, cut your bag or fabric into about 1 inch strips. With fabric you can go a little thinner, but with the grocery sacks, you’ll want to stay as close to an inch (or even a little over) as you can because they tend to tear if they get too thin. For the plastic, I find that folding the bag into thirds (matching the side seams and leaving the open ends at the top and bottom) helps when cutting them. That won’t work as well with fabric because it will try to slip.
Now that you have your strips, keep your three year old busy or wait till nap time. Chasing them around the house with half your project is entertaining for them, but troublesome for you.
When the little one is taken care of, take the strips, open them into rings and lace them around each other. This is done by taking two rings and laying one over the other. Then pull end one of the one ring through end two to make a knot.
Pull the knot tight, but not TOO tight. This is thin plastic and will easily tear. If you’re using fabric, you want it to be sturdy but not rip. Keep lacing rings together until you have a good length. Then wind them into a ball using your hands (the yarn winder was NOT made for this) and you’ll be ready to go.
Anything you can make out of yarn you can use this for, just remember it ends up being a “bulky” yarn or bigger depending on what you’re using. My favorite things to make with plastic yarn are door rugs (like welcome rugs) or reusable grocery bags (the irony is the best part). You can even use them to make holiday wreaths or place mats. If you want different colors, hit up your family and friends for bags from specific stores. Certain mega-marts use brown or grey bags that can be laced together to add some color to the basic white and red of most grocery stores and take out places.