Hand Spun Newspaper Yarn




I love to experiment and I am totally obsessed with up-cycling, so spinning newspaper into yarn just seemed like such a great idea.

Making paper yarn is not a new invention, a traditional Japanese paper textile called shifu (cloth woven with paper thread) has been around for a few centuries. However, this paper thread requires the use of specialty paper and skilled instruction to produce a high quality, beautiful product.

I am interested in up-cycling paper that we use everyday, turning it into a different product to give it a new life. There are only a handful of tutorials online that explain how to spin paper into yarn, so I have decided to join them and make an instructable to share my experience with spinning newspaper into yarn.

Step 1: Gather Supplies

You will need:

  • Newspaper, go grab one off the recycling pile
  • Scissors
  • A spinning wheel or spindle to twist the paper (you can do this by hand but it is very time consuming). I chose to use my Electric Eel wheel 5 spinning wheel, I will tell you about the pros and cons of this in step 6.

Step 2: Cut the Newspaper

Take 1 double page spread of newspaper and leave it folded in the center. Fold it four more times.

You need to decide how thick you would like your yarn and cut it into strips. I chose to spin a thick yarn so I cut the newspaper into approx 3/4 inch strips. The thicker the strip of paper the thicker the yarn.

Step 3: Tie the Newspaper Onto the Bobbin

Take a strip of newspaper and twist one end of it between your fingers (going in one direction) to start making a section of yarn. Use this section to tie onto the bobbin in a double knot. Be careful not to break it when pulling the knot tight.

Step 4: Start Spinning the Newspaper

Put the bobbin on your spinning wheel and thread the orifice.

Depending on which direction you have spun the first section between your fingers will determine which direction you need to spin the wheel. I recommend you use a slow speed for spinning as it gives you time to smooth over the spun paper to prevent it from getting lumpy. This is one reason I used the electric spinning wheel because I was able to set a constant slow speed, concentrating only on the paper and not the treadling.

I only wanted to spin singles so I decided to give the paper lots of twist but not to over twist because I was cautious that over spinning might break the newspaper. After experimenting with different widths of paper I have found that the thicker the paper/yarn the stronger it is and more twist you can give it.

Step 5: Joining Strips of Newspaper

I found the best way to join the strips of newspaper was to overlap each piece by approximately 1 1/2 half inch and tuck the top end into the twist to ensure the pieces stay together.

Step 6: Pros and Cons...

My little electric spinning wheel would not uptake the thick newspaper yarn onto the bobbin no matter how tight I had the tension. Therefore I had to manually wind the yarn onto the bobbin as I went. I didn't mind this at all because it spun the paper with ease to produce a nice result.

Moreover, I do not own a spindle so using my electric spinner to twist the yarn was a lot quicker than doing it by hand.

Step 7: How to Get Neat and Smooth Yarn

I twisted the the paper between my fingers in the opposite direction to which it was spinning. This kept the yarn neat and smooth.

It was actually easier to twist in the opposite direction than in the same direction, I am not sure why.

I hope the video helps to explain this step.

Step 8: Finish

Once you have spun enough newspaper yarn, let the end wind back on to itself so it doesn't unravel. Take it off the bobbin and wind it into a ball. I used 2 pieces of newspaper to get this much yarn.

Do not get it wet because it will become soggy and break easily.

You will probably have newspaper print all over your hands. Luckily it comes off easily with soap and water.

Step 9: What Can You Do With the Yarn?

You can use the yarn to make several weaving, knitting or crochet projects.

This is what the newspaper yarn looks like when crocheted.

Thanks for reading and have fun!

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    12 Discussions

    Nancy JG

    1 year ago on Step 6

    I have seen the center post thingie from a package of blank CDs or DVDs used as a hand-spinning spindle


    1 year ago

    Have you triedto use plastic grocewry bags. you could braid a rug


    1 year ago

    Note that newspaper paper (!) is not uniform, but rather directional: You may easily rip near straight pieces along one direction (same direction as your strips, I think), while not in the other. I would expect the best results if you cut the strips along the "easy" direction, since the paper is stronger along that direction.


    1 year ago

    What an interesting yarn. I'm thinking hats and scarves for two extensions of this. Thank you for your creativity.


    Penolopy Bulnick

    1 year ago

    That's a neat idea! I never would have thought of spinning newspaper :)


    1 year ago on Step 8

    Leave your newspaper for a few weeks. Once the ink has a chance to dry completely you will not get it all over your hands.

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    I have tried it with an old newspaper and still got covered in ink. I'll leave it a bit longer and see how I go. Thanks for the tip.


    1 year ago

    I do have drop spindles and a navajo spindle and I found myself having to carfully wind the yarn around them as I went as well. I think I tried to clip the yarn to it when I wanted to take a break since it does take a bit to twist. I almost wonder it I would have been better off winding it around, say, a large spool and doing it like that. Then you'd get to wind on more yarn as opposed to the cone you end up with on a spindle.

    Can't remember what I did with it. Probably crocheted liners for the fruit bowl or something.

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks for sharing. Great idea of winding it straight onto a large spool. The spinning wheel definitely made a quick and easy job of twisting the paper.