There aren't too many perils involved in working in a fabric shop but one of the enduring ones we suffer around here is stray threads.
Threads stuck in our hair and on our clothes. Often trailing after us when we walk, stuck to the bottom of shoes. These tagalongs are just a part of the sewist lifestyle and 100% unavoidable when you spend your days cutting fabric (believe us, we've tried everything to get rid of these suckers).
Being a shop of thrifty minded people, we eventually set up ort jars around the shop for collecting these strays. Ort is an old world word for scraps, but modern sewists have taken it to stand for "odd random threads". After a bit, they can really pile up. Into unconquerable mountains.
Just look at this jar (that we've filled up several times):
We started saving them years ago with the vague idea that they'd made good stuffing but no concrete idea in mind to use them up. Then one day a customer came in and asked if she could take some and try to spin them into yarn - obviously we said yes, please take them all.
She came back with a lovely skein of hand spun yarn and I knew that I had to try the technique out for myself. Luckily, I happen to have a hand spinning mama who let me borrow one of her gorgeous spinning wheels and I pulled out my rusty spinning skills (thank you muscle memory).
Spinning stray thread into yarn is not a task for beginners, but an experienced spinner can make a passable slubby yarn if they're determined enough.
I an effort to make the task a little more workable, I collaborated with The Shepherd’s Mill in Phillipsburg, Kansas to select a Merino/Bamboo/Nylon blend roving called “Righteousness” that has a soft, lofty hand and is ridiculously easy to spin.
The off-white yarn with a just hint of shimmer is a nice balance to the color explosion of the recycled cotton yarn.
Obviously, this is an incredibly niche upcycling project that isn’t accessible to many folks, but in my case, it fit nicely into the venn diagram of my personal skills and resources (what with owning a fabric shop and all).
For more information on how to spin your own yarn, checkout this video: