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Paper Yarn: interview with PaperPhine

You may remember the paper bag that I knitted from 100% cellulose yarn… it felt like paper, but wasn’t actually yarn made from paper (despite the yarn being called ‘paper’). But, after a little bit of poking around, I’ve found some beautiful yarn made from actual paper!

yarnsTo delve into this topic a little further, I contacted Linda – the woman behind PaperPhine- who makes lovely yarns from real paper. At left, you’ll see two thicknesses of white paper yarns from her shop… isn’t the packaging beautiful? Her paper yarns come in many different thicknesses and colors… and you can also find finished items for sale in her shop. Below is a short interview I had with her… and if you scroll down, you can see what I crocheted from paper!

When did you first fall in love with paper? Have you loved it your whole life? How many hours a day do you spend with paper?

I’ve always loved paper and as a little kid I was very happy as long as a pile of paper and some glue were nearby. Luckily my Mom mostly tolerated me cutting up and making her “grown up paper” into animals, decorations, jewelry, etc. (all one-of-a-kind and highly abstract pieces, of course). The most beautiful papers – no matter if oranges’ wrapping papers or scraps of handmade rag paper – I would just keep and look through my growing collection from time to time. Paper is still an important part of my life – new, old, vintage, recycled, made into beautiful books, paper yarns and all kinds of products – its versatility amazes me again and again. Some form of “paper” is around me the whole day!

How did you come up with the idea of making yarn from paper?

I was interested in paper making from a very early age on and my first self-directed tries date back to elementary school (lots of toilet paper suddenly disappeared at home to turn up again “upcycled” to “real paper”). Later on I attended professional papermaking workshops. While studying Textile Arts and Design I met Swiss and Austrian weavers who were using Finnish paper yarn as well as handmade Shifu paper yarn. You can imagine that with my papermaking and paper loving background I was hooked immediately! Exciting paper yarns can be made from nearly any paper and they somehow incorporate the story of their original material.

What’s the most creative/ exciting thing you’ve seen made from paper yarn? Are there any really great paper yarn ideas that you’re just at the planning stages of?

The most intriguing pieces I’ve seen so far was an ancient Japanese firefighter’s jacket made of Shifu yarn that had been made out of old accountant’s books. They soaked the jacket in water before putting it on and then it would protect its wearer from the flames and the heat.

Personally I’m working on new, all-flexible bangles crocheted of industrial paper yarn with some details in handmade paper yarn at the moment. The two yarns complement each other very nicely though they have very different qualities that have to be incorporated into the design. It’s a my first try to combine the two paper yarns – industrial and handmade – and it’s really exciting.

For us novices, how is paper yarn made? What kind of raw materials are used?

Handmade paper yarn is traditionally made of handmade Japanese, Korean or Nepali papers with very long fibres derived from different plants (e.g.mulberry trees). The sheets are cut in a zig zag patterns, carefully dampened and then hand torn to form one long strip of paper. They are either spun between the hands or using a spindle or spinning wheel. For papers with shorter fibres (e.g. newspaper or most western papers) the process has to be adjusted.

Industrial paper yarn is made of very thin cellulose paper (made of wood) like the paper used to roll cigarettes. This paper is cut into extremely fine, endless strips that are then machinespun. The resulting yarn can be as fine as a single hair or, at the other end of the spectrum, as thick as your small finger…

What’s the best way to purchase your yarns? Your etsy store?

Yes, my etsy store is the best way to purchase my paper yarns. I stock some of the finest paper yarns you’ll find worldwide. It’s a great material to work with and I do care about people’s projects so I’m always happy to help! With my background in textiles, papermaking and bookbinding there has never been a problem that I haven’t solved together with my creative clients and friends.

To read about Linda’s paper adventures, visit her site. To purchase some lovely yarns for yourself, visit her etsy shop.

necklace3 Look what I did with my paper yarn! I crocheted a chain of flowers using a crochet flower pattern that I found online. To add a little bit of pizazz, I pre-strung my yarn with some seed beads, which I integrated as I crocheted. To finish the necklace, I just added a simple little jewelry clasp to the back. What a fun project!

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