Silk Sari Yarn: Sustainable and Beautiful!

What’s Old is New

Nothing excites me more than clothes and fabrics that look good. Take it a few steps further, and add sustainability and worker’s being paid a living wage to the mix, and now I’m downright ecstatic! It’s not a secret that silk is expensive and saris are too, so it’s very easy to equate the two to luxury. The beauty of it is that these items can be recycled into yarn! I know, I was pretty surprised too! So now, something high end and beautiful like a silk sari can be used, and re-used and the results are positive for everyone all around!

sustainable silk sari upcycling

Women and Work

By taking an item that would normally be thrown away (remnant silk from the making of traditional saris in India) and making it into colourful recycled silk sari yarn, there are now women that are allowed to support their families because they are making a living wage. There are Tibetan refugees, Nepalese and Indian women from ages 20 through 60 years old that are supporting extended families. Most of these women work from home in small villages in the mountains of Nepal. It warms my heart that these women can choose to work from home or in a safe working environment. These women are allowed to work at their own pace, now this might seem pretty basic to most people, but in countries like India, there is so much slave labour and inequality in the garment industry that it is a pretty big deal when some places are able to offer these women these wonderful and safe conditions.

How is it Made?

It is guaranteed to be made from 100% of the finest quality silk remnants. It comes in hanks (Skeins) and each one is unique. Sometimes silk sari yarn is called “recycled silk sari yarn” but it’s important to note it is not made from recycled saris, but only remnants from new saris.

sustainable silk sari

  • Silk thread scraps left over from the making of silk Indian saris are purchased from small mills in India. After a sari has been woven on a hand operated loom, fringe remnants are the result. These remnants are called thrums and are the pure silk threads that are the fringe of warp threads left on a loom after the sari has been woven and cut off. These threads are collected, separated by colour and bound into the skeins of pure dyed silk.
  • The skeins of silk thread are separated by colour, unwrapped and laid out. The skeins of silk are cut into even strips then arranged by colour so that the finished yarn will have a complex set of colours. The fibers are then brushed smooth and straight (carded).
  • The various shanks of silk are mixed by hand, a long process that ensures that the coloured silk fibers are evenly mixed. The length and quality of the fiber determines its texture, strength and overall quality. Superior quality recycled silk yarn is made from longer fibers, producing yarn that is smoother, stronger and more elastic. Cheaper recycled silk yarns containing shorter or a mixture of fiber lengths are softer, fuzzier and less strong.
  • Once the silk strands have been mixed, the raw material is hand teased by repeatedly picking and pulling at the strands. This part of the process is key to making the yarn be fun and original and also well mixed and having the fibers aligned so the yarn will be strong. The longer the teasing process, the better quality and tighter the yarn.
  • The actual process of making the fibers into yarn is done the same way it has been done for centuries: by hand using a drop spindle or charka. This stage of the recycled silk yarn is where skill truly comes into action. The more skilled the spinner, the tighter and more consistent and the higher quality of the yarn produced.
  • After spinning the yarn, it must be made into skeins. Consistency in the quality of the yarn is very important.

Various things Silk Sari Yarn can be made into: 

sustainable silk sari

The possibilities are endless. The amount of things that silk sari yarn can be made into is mind-boggling. Here is a fun list of some of the things I found:

  1. Jewellery
  2. Wall hangings
  3. Chair slip covers
  4. Crocheted infinity scarf
  5. Book covers
  6. Yarn bracelets
  7. Shawls
  8. Hats
  9. Gloves
  10. Belts
  11. Purses
  12. Vase coverings

Food for Thought

Having learned such wonderful things about silk sari yarn, it makes me wonder about a lot of other things. I wonder how many other materials I haven’t even considered that can be re-used and made into wonderful commodities? As I embrace all these amazing possibilities, I am so happy to know that fashion is fun and makes our world a more interesting place to live. The added bonus is that we can come up with an array of  ”new” things out of ”old”. It makes my heart feel much lighter knowing that we can buy these things and feel proud that we helped women in countries like India earn a living wage! Now that will never go out of fashion or get old!

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