As part of my on-going commitment to not sending ‘stuff’ to landfill unless absolutely necessary, I recently got moderately creative. This was largely inspired by the over abundance (!) of decidedly past their best t-shirts lurking about in the back of my wardrobe.¬† To be honest, I’m really not at all sure how some of them got there. I suspect that there may have been a bit of a t-shirt breeding program going on in the dark recesses of wardrobe-land…

Anyhow, sorting through the epic pile of accumulated shirts, I ended up with four piles:

  1. Well-loved and even more well-worn shirts that I hadn’t been able to part with, a prime example being my first year uni t-shirt from 1979 – paint stains and all
  2. Those that seemed to have been kept ‘just in case’ – after all, you never know when you might need a less-than-perfect shirt for grubby projects such as painting, grouting mosaics, gardening, etc.
  3. The mystery shirts from a parallel universe (or other unknown source/s)
  4. and – the smallest pile by far – the ones I still want to wear.

A quick re-sort of piles one, two and three created a fifth pile: those suitable to donate to a goodwill/thrift shop.

Once pile number five was disposed of, and I’d combined what remained of pile one (can’t bear to part with them) with pile four (will actually wear them), I was still left with a very large pile of shirts to recycle or repurpose in some way.

Hunting around on the magical internets-of-ideas (aka Pinterest) I discovered instructions to turn unwanted t-shirts into t-shirt yarn. This could then be knitted or crocheted into useful and/or decorative household items, such as bathmats or baskets. A most cunning plan!

So I embarked on phase one: create the yarn. A fair bit of trial and error ensued, until I came across set of simple  instructions that I could work from, even though most of my shirts had side seams and not all of them were 100% cotton (which does work best).

By this stage I’d promised to run a series of community workshops on how create very cute t-shirt yarn baskets. This meant that my learning curve suddenly had to take a speedy uphill climb so that I could stay a step or two ahead of the game!

More trial and error ensued, with me using the biggest crochet hook I’d ever seen to create baskets of various shapes and sizes. In the process I learned that:

  • the softer the t-shirt fabric, the kinder it is to your hands
  • a slightly looser tension is required when using a big hook and fabric yarn
  • one t-shirt provides not quite enough yarn to make a small basket.

By the end of the workshops, everyone had conquered the process and completed at least one basket. As to what they’ll be used for… suggestions ranged from storing toys, bathroom essentials or other household items, through to planters (around houseplants) or turning them into Easter baskets full of chocolate eggs.

At the end of the day, whatever the baskets are used for, they’re definitely more useful than a pile of daggy old t-shirts going to landfill.