Made from scrap

Made from scrap
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Monday, 7 February 2011

The Recycled Sari Yarn Industry

I have been doing some internet research into the production of Recycled Sari Silk Waste Yarn.

1) Because the yarn is beautiful.
2) I feel there is something exotic about Sari Silk.
3) I am fascinated about life and culture of India/Nepal.
4) Something beautiful created out of a recycled waste product has to be a good concept doesn't it?
5) A product that enables individuals to earn a living from craft skills is also good.
6) Supporting others to support themselves.
7) I am interested in spinning and working with additional fibres to wool.

Visually this yarn is impressive not only for the mixture of vivid, rich colours but also the sheen the silk gives off enhances the yarn and reflects the light.  I have read this is because of the prism shaped celullar structure of silk threads.  Silk is a protein fibre harvested from the silk worm. 

So how does this...
Get to this...
Then to this...
So I can make this...

A silk worm is not actually a worm, it is the larvae of a moth.  Silk has been Harvested for thousands of years and used to make the finest cloth.  The purest white silk is produced from silkworms raised on Mulberry leaves.  They 'spin' silk to form their cocoons.  These cocoons are then harvested and they need to be de-gummed to have a sticky resin removed with warm soapy water.
The degummed cocoons can then be spun into very fine thread.  They do not need to be combed or carded and are very easy to spin with.  Long rovings can be pulled from the mass and the indidvidual silk fibres are long, fine and lustrous.
Spinning silk to be woven in to Saris provides a living for many across india. 

Skills get passed on by traditional methods.  Many familys have simple spinning wheels and large weaving looms.

The cocoons are often dyed prior to spinning and some rich, vibrant colours are produced.
It take skilled work and many hours to produce some of the finer saris by hand.
As with many processess silk production creates waste.  The ends of the threads off the looms can be gathered and recycled.

This is known as throwsters waste and it can be spun to produce beautiful and unique yarns.

These yarns can then be made into a variety of Garments and items.


  1. Beautiful pictures. Such talent and amazing workmanship.

  2. Interesting article and well supported with photos. Sustainability and recycling are the ways to go, we can learn so much from so called 'third world' or developing countries.

  3. Thank you for your positive comments, Helen and Betsy :) Muman you are quite right, we have much to learn. ;)

  4. Lovely info, supported by super pictures. I've enjoyed reading Lucy.

  5. That is so cool and intresting!!! thank you for posting it... I didn't know about the saris yarn but I'm gonna look into it!
    I once saw how they took the fibers out of the cocoon to make the threads in a rug factory in Turkey when I took a trip with my parents there...

  6. Wow -I love this post! The recyled sari silk waste yarn is so lovely and it's fascinating to see the whole story here with such great photos. Thanks!

  7. Thank you Otiva, Shanti and Snowhomish, I enjoyed collating the pictures for this article. One day I will save up and get a plane ticket and go and see it for myself. I love the simple spinning wheels made out of old bicycle parts. I have no idea how they work, I would have to see it for myself. These days I couldn't sit like that and spin for long. I like my upright wheel. :)

  8. Wonderful post Lucy! Extremely informative. I remember we had a silk worm culture lab in our college, but it got removed because they wanted to add more classrooms. I remember seeing the worms and lots of mulberry bushes. (I'm a commerce student, so I dint know the details till i read your post)
    I loved your blog too... I've already added it to my favourites. :)
    I also loved the little sheepy pictures on the left of your blog page.. they are soooo cute :)
    Welcome to the blog world.. its very addictive, believe me :)

  9. Oh wow...what an interesting post!


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