Recycling and Upcycling Yarn: The Adventures of Cassie

Posted on by MK Carroll


'Vintage Gingham' hand-dyed recycled bulky yarn

23-year old Cassie is a full-time graduate student in Illinois who started selling on Etsy about a year and a half ago. Her shop, cassiemarie, features recycled, handdyed yarns and handspun yarns plied with recycled yarn.

What got you started on upcycling/recycling yarn and/or yarn materials?

I’ve always been ‘thrifty’ in a sense, recycling and reusing things has always been second nature. When I started knitting and crocheting, I would use yarn from the thrift store, or yarn that had been handed down to me from someone else. Eventually I started spinning in addition to knitting, and of course dyeing yarn was the next rational step. I started dyeing with kool-aid, and then I moved on to using acid dyes. I’ve been taking apart sweaters for yarn for about two years now, but haven’t started to sell it until recently. I’ve been dyeing and/or re-spinning the recycled yarn in order to give it a second life, and a chance at being something beautiful once more.


left: baby sweater knit with recycled yarn (based on the baby sweater pattern from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, heavily modified); right:
Bold and Bulky Mini Cardi (pattern from the book Fitted Knits), knit with recycled yarn

Who/what inspires your work?

My grandmother Joanne first got me interested in crafting in general. She crochets and sews, and ever since I was a kid, she would teach me how to make crafts of all sorts. I remember her being so patient with me -- she would have me take mini sewing lessons, and take notes on how to thread the machine and so forth. I was always fascinated by how she could take a pile of plain looking fabric or yarn and turn it into something wonderful. She was also very thrifty, and whenever I would sleep over at my grandparents’ house on the weekends, she and I would wake up at the crack of dawn and go to garage sales.

Nowadays, I’m very inspired by the online community. Places like Etsy, Craftster, Ravelry, and Blogs are all excellent resources.


left to right: Cooties, The 80's, and Bleached Algae handdyed recycled yarns

What are your favorite parts of recycling/upcycling?

I really love the idea of taking something discarded or cast aside (sweaters) and rejuvenating it into something that is both useful and desirable. I also love the challenge of it all, and the ‘hunt’ to find the perfect sweaters to recycle. Most of all I love using the yarns I create, and seeing others use them as well!

What are the most challenging things about recycling/upcycling?

Like all things in my life – simply finding the time! I really enjoy spinning and dyeing, but I’m also a full time grad student, so I really have to make time to do it. Other than that, it has only been a positive experience!

You have such evocative names for your yarns - how do you come up with them?

I choose my yarn names with a lot of care. I don't come up with them until they are fully dyed and dried, and then I think about what the colors remind me of. So many colors in our lives are associated with certain moments. One of my favorites is the "vintage gingham" yarn, I specifically remember those colors being on a tablecloth that someone in my family owned. It may help that I'm a painter in 'real life,' and that my vocabulary for color is fairly wide. Painting and naming yarns is similar in many ways to painting and naming artwork.

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Future plans for the cassiemarie Etsy shop include listing larger ‘lots’ of yarn, vegan yarns, and knitted items. You can see more of Cassie’s work on Craftster and Ravelry (username cassiemarie), as well as on her blog, The Adventures of Cassie.Cassie's paintings can be seen at
all photos in this post are copyright Cassie Christenson and are used here with her permission.