Recycled silk yarn is a lovely fiber that also happens to help people and the planet. As the name implies, recycled silk yarn is made from recycled silk, more specifically the waste silk from industrial weaving mills in India (the silk is mostly used to make saris). The yarn is hand-spun in Nepal and India, giving women there a way to work and earn money. It's beautiful all around.
The Beauty of Recycled Silk
Because the hanks of recycled silk yarn are made individually, each one is unique.
There's no dye lot on recycled silk yarn, and even if you buy two hanks from the same manufacturer at the same time, there's no guarantee that the colors are going to be the same.
But that is the beauty of using recycled silk. Each piece has its individuality, and everything you make from the yarn is its work of art, completely unique. It can be a lot of fun to see how the different colors play together and look harmonious even though the colors are often wild.
Knitting with Recycled Silk Yarn
Recycled silk yarn has variations in thickness and the amount of tension in the thread even throughout the same hank. It can get twisted and kinky if you don't let it hang and unwind itself occasionally.
Recycled silk yarn is beautiful in small projects like bags, wraps, sleeveless tops and other small items where you'd like some luxury. It is especially true because the yarn is expensive, running upwards of $10 a skein for about 80 yards.
But it's fun to use, and the funky nature of the yarn hides mistakes (and stitch patterns), so it's a great yarn for knitters of all skill levels to use or for when you want to knit something simple but still have it look great.
Projects Using Recycled Silk Yarn
Of course, you can use silk yarn to make any project you like, but sometimes it is nice to see how a project looks in the sort of fiber you are going to use, so here are some projects that already use this yarn:
- Unbiased bag from Knitty
- Dropped-Stitch Scarf from Mango Moon (whose site has many patterns, several of which use recycled silk yarn; the Knitted Two Piece Poncho is another good one)
- The Cowl of Many Colors by Courtney Laube uses silk as one of the fibers
- Cut Short Purse by Darn Good Yarn uses silk and wool
- Bias Knit Scarf from Shelby Knits
- The Hipster Bag from Frabjous Fibers
- Girl Needs a Hat from Mama Always Said, which is a super cute, easy earflap hat
- Stephanie Shiman's Sari Silk Headwrap
- Recycled Sari Silk Mittens by Ohdessa Knits
- If you're willing to pay for a pattern, check out the Boxy Silk Window Purse from Jill Vosburg (as well as her Twin Peaks Shawl and Himalaya Tote), the Entrelac Purse by Annie Dempsey and Jennie Howes' Sari Silk Jumper, which is amazing and worth a look
Where to Get Recycled Silk Yarn
There are lots of different manufacturers of recycled silk yarn. I have tried a few, and they seem to be similar in terms of colors, content and how they look when knit up.
If you get a chance to try them out, I encourage you to. It's a lovely product with a great back story that helps you make striking knits with ease.