Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tee Shirt Yarn

Did you know that you can turn all those old tee shirts into yarn?

Do you care?

I love it when I can find a way to “re-purpose” something rather than just getting rid of it. A while back while I was totally engrossed wandering around on Pinterest I spied a rug that someone had made using tee-shirt yarn.

Tee shirt yarn???

And that led me off on a quest for the directions as to how to make this new and unusual thing. Thank goodness for YouTube. And I could just direct you over there so that you can watch the videos about how to make tee shirt yarn.

But what’s the fun in that when I can take pictures of the process myself.

So hang onto your hats and gather up your tee shirts and away we go.


You need a BIG pile of tee shirts. I wish I could tell you that each tee shirt will yield a certain yardage of yarn but it doesn’t work that way. The amount of yarn you end up with is dependent on the size of the tee shirt (bigger shirt=more yardage) and how thin you cut the shirt.

I had some tee shirts that I purchased at a garage sale. You should have seen the woman’s face when I told her that all her well loved and precious tee shirts were going to be cut into yarn. But I had already purchased them so she couldn’t have them back.

But I wasn’t completely sure that I had enough tee shirts for the two rugs that I wanted to knit so enter the PUM (Parental Unit Mimi) who took the opportunity to clean out a boat load of tee shirts and send them on to me. I used every one of the white ones!

Wash and dry your tee shirts first if you have gotten them from the garage sale or something.


Fold your tee shirt in half length wise and lay it on a flat surface.


This next step can be done with a rotary cutter or a sharp pair of scissors. Cut off the bottom portion of the shirt right under the arms. Keep the bottom tube of fabric and get rid of the top part that has only the arms and upper part of the shirt.

Unless of course you are Brittany Spears and then you can wear the top part of the shirt.


Cut off the hem at the bottom of the tee shirt tube and discard that.


Fold the tee shirt tube in half but not ALL the way in half and lay it out on a flat surface. Can you see, I have left about a 1 inch off set between one side of the tee shirt tube and the other. You will see why in a moment.


Now we cut. Be not afraid. You also do not need to be uber anal about measuring. Just eyeball it. I would NOT cut your tee shirt yarn and skinnier than 1/2 an inch because it will not hold together very well in a later step. Just cut up from the bottom fold and cut up to that one inch off set making sure you cut through the top layer of tee shirt but not through the far fold. Did that make sense?

Just keep cutting your tee shirt into one inch strips.


When you are done you will have something that looks like a very odd hula skirt


Now, carefully spread out the portion of the tee shirt that you didn’t cut through. Do not pull on the tee shirt fabric.


We are going to turn the tube into one long piece of yarn. Look at the yarn and you will see that the cuts are lined up. DO NOT cut straight across from A to A and B to B and so forth. If you do that you will end up with useless tubes of tee shirt that resemble giant rings of calamari. Cut from A to B. Then cut from B to C, C to D and so on. I would actually hold the fabric up with I cut because you do not want to cut the tee shirt material underneath.


When you have cut all of the tee shirt you will need to go back to the beginning and release the first strip. Cut from the outside of tee shirt material to the “A” at the top and voila you will have a big long squiggle of yarn.

But we are not done.


Starting at one end of the long piece of yarn grasp a portion of the tee shirt material between your fingers and give it a steady pull. Don’t jerk it just pull it and stretch it.


SHAZAM! The tee shirt rolls in on itself, makes yarn and gets even longer.

But  before you start knitting you will need to connect all the pieces of tee shirt yarn. You can also do this step as you go along but I hate all the starting and stopping so I do it all at once and then just have a big basket full of loose yarn that I knit with.


Take the end of the working piece of yarn and cut a one inch slit in the yarn about one inch down from the top. Do the same thing with one end of the yarn that you are attaching.



Take the slit end of the yarn that you are attaching and slip it through the slit on the working yarn.


Pull the yarn that you are attaching up through the slit until it is all through. I am not explaining this very well I think.


When you are done give the yarn piece a good tug to snug everything up and knit away.

I knit the yarn with a size “I have no idea but it is big” needle. And at one point the cheapy plastic needle separated from the cord. But I scrunched it back together and soldiered on.


I am totally loving my bath mat.


  1. Oh my! I love this idea! And I love how the mat turned out. Gotta try this!

  2. Very cool....the mat looks great!


    Omgsh! That's amazing! What a great project for me to do this summer!

  4. Gosh - impressive and will recommend to friends. If I get chance I will do one too.


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