How to … recycle tights :)

Knitting book + tightsWhat do you do with old tights? Maybe they’re now holey, maybe they just never quite fit right, maybe the colour wasn’t quite what you expected … here’s one answer: crochet with them!

(knitting would also work)

So here’s how it goes:
1) Start with some tights / footless tights / stockings that you don’t wear.

5 pairs of tights / stockingsHere I have:

  • a pair of berry-fuchsia tights (which I’ve worn for several years, but now are starting to come apart)
  • a pair of dark purple knee-highs which were kind of okay but cut off my circulation
  • some light grey stockings which I love but throughout the day they creep downwards which isn’t a good look
  • … and two pairs of leggings – metallic purple and metallic dark grey – which turned out to be just a tiny bit too short and a tiny bit too translucent for me to be happy with them (but then, I bought them on sale for about £2 each, so that’s okay).

2) Get out your nice, sharp fabric scissors, if you have some! Sorry, I’m quite excited about mine. These were a present from my parents for Christmas 🙂 and this is the first time I’ve had occasion to use them. Sharp scissors make such a difference …

ScissorsStart snipping tights into loops. It’s easiest if you can fold everything up so that you make a whole loop with each ‘snip’. You’ll have some big loops, from round the waist, and some smaller ones from the legs … it doesn’t matter, it all works :). I say make them about 1cm wide (they’ll roll up a bit). Like this:

Scissors snipping tightsPile of loops 1Bigger pile of loops :)

I did this whilst watching Glee. Good times.

3) Once you have a big pile of loops, you want to start chaining them together – like in this e-how (which is showing how to link rubber bands together). Roll them up into a ball as you go along:

Starting the ball of 'yarn'Finished ball of 'yarn'You see how they start to curl up and look more like yarn and less like strips of fabric … it’s all starting to come together. Aren’t the colours pretty?

4) Now – you’re ready to crochet! I started by tying a knot in the end of the end loop and using that instead of making a slip knot – means I didn’t have an end to tie in:

Beginning to crochetI then went online and looked up single crochet as I couldn’t quite remember how it went … it’s easy enough to find tutorials; e.g. here’s one. I used the largest crochet hook I could find.

(That’s why you can see the corner of an iPad in this photo – I was using it to look up crochet advice)

Beginning to make it into something ...Now – you can go ahead and crochet anything you like!

When I started off I had half an idea of making a bit of a rug … because the material you create is dense and springy. But I realised that I wouldn’t have enough to make a decent rug from what I had here, besides which I didn’t really need one … and then I realised that I could make a neckpiece from it instead.

Like a collar, rather than a scarf, because I wouldn’t have enough for a scarf (and I wouldn’t want a scarf this dense and springy anyway, I think I’d hit things with it) but asymmetric and chunky and neat.

(The asymmetric kind of happened halfway through when I realised that I’d been accidentally decreasing a little bit by not working into every stitch on every row (hey, I’m a beginner at crochet …) and then I realised that I thought that worked). So I just kept going – deliberately decreasing, after I worked out that that’s what I wanted to do – and then ended a row with about 8 inches of tail, which I then used to sew up the end.

So now I have an enormous stretchy collar … and I think it’s cool. Definitely something I’ll wear. Look:

Modelling the collar Modelling the collar IIThe nice thing is that because these were all tights that I bought and wore / really intended to wear, colour-wise they go with lots of my wardrobe … plus I have big fabric / leather / felt flowers that I can pin onto it to change it up a bit :).

What do you think? Do you have old tights / stockings lying around that you don’t want – I’d love to take them off your hands and make stuff, this could get addictive … would you have a go at this yourself?

In the book Mason-Dixon Knitting by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne (which, by the way, is £15.29 in hardback and £11.32 in paperback on, is a really fun book to read and really quite awesome) there’s a section on “calamari knitting” in which they describe how you can take anything that can be made into loops, chain them together, and knit with them.
The idea apparently came from messing about with potholder loops, which are loops of fabric which you kind of weave together to make fabric heat-resistant pads to put pots on. Anyway, since I started reading about this, I’ve wanted to make something by recycling tights … and on Thursday/Friday this week things finally aligned and I was able to!
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One Response to How to … recycle tights :)

  1. Pingback: Creative DIY Ways to Recycle Old Tights –

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