Paper was of course invented by the Chinese, however it is neighbouring Japan who has become highly skilled in the manufacture of high grade paper and its various uses, including cloth making. Paper yarn seems such an anomaly – surely it melts away in the rain? Of course, without treatment, or mixing with man-made fibres, it certainly would do that. It is perfectly possible however to launder paper yarn as long as it is done correctly – no scrubbing, harsh chemicals or hot water.
There are three types of paper yarn which is available for crafting:
- The top grade fine washi yarn which is manufactured by traditional methods made from the long inner fibres of plants – wa meaning Japanese and shi meaning paper. Much of the washi production is still carried out by hand. The plants used are all native to Japan – Kozo, Mitsumata and Gampi. The yarn is fine and used in ceremonial clothing and fashion garments.
- Paper yarn mixed with man-made or natural (usually linen) fibres to produce ribbon-like yarn in a large array of widths and weights. This type of yarn is becoming widely available and can be used for summer fashion items, household projects and crafting with children.
- Recycled paper yarn which is not usually manufactured but home or artisan made. For more information on these have a look at http://www.greetjevantiem.nl/ and http://greenupgrader.com/2138/handspun-recycled-newspaper-yarn/ and http://earth911.com/news/2012/01/27/see-yarn-made-from-recycled-newspaper/
The yarn itself is incredibly practical, with the correct treatment, durable and there are no boundaries to the colour hues which it can be dyed. The way it can be used is also highly versatile – knitted, crochet, woven, twisted, folded and sewn. The texture is crisp and dry and the items usually soften with use. The fashion world is increasingly using paper and paper yarn as an alternate form of expression and it also has strong green credentials. http://www.dailyartmuse.com/2009/04/30/vitalis-knitted-crocheted-paper-garments/
I couldn’t possibly write about paper yarns and not mention Habu Textiles, www.habutextiles.com, who make the most amazing and beautiful yarns, including paper.
If you can knit and crochet with wire and leather, why not paper? I love it. Have a look at my previous post, Crochet Paper Placemats for Summer, for an idea.