Give a darn about t-shirt yarn.

By: Laura Kraus, Spare Parts Volunteer Coordinator

One of the first memories I had of visiting my grandparents in California were the amazing t-shirt rugs made by my great grandmother. Spiraled up and tightly braided, they were multicolored, cushy things perfect for digging your bare toes into as you noted all the work that went into them. Of course, at the time I didn’t pay attention to the work. It was only years later, when I actually attempted to make one that I fully appreciated what goes into a braided t-shirt rug. And I’m not just talking about the braiding and sewing together of the t-shirt yarn! Have you ever stopped and thought about what goes into making a plain old t-shirt?

It takes about 400 – 600 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to make a t-shirt. This really surprised me, as well as scared me, considering how abundant t-shirts are in our society. That’s a lot of water. According to an article in the Economist, making 1kg of fabric of any kind generates 23kg of greenhouse gases on average. Further research on the website Mental Floss led to this surprising information about how a t-shirt is made and where all it has to travel to become the t-shirt that you see in a store: After the cotton is grown on a farm in one part of the world, a process that requires large amounts of water and pesticides, it needs to be treated, woven, and dyed at a facility, sometimes in a totally separate country.

Yes, this is depressing, but we can do something about it, and as a matter of fact, there are people who already are, like Alex Eaves, who made a business out of reusing old t-shirts. He even made a documentary called, “Reuse! Because you can’t recycle the planet” and Spare Parts is featured in it. Eaves prints his message on old t-shirts and sells them to help fund his cause.

What can you personally do about it? Refuse fast fashion. Reuse once you wear out your favorite t-shirt by making it into t-shirt yarn, using one of the tutorials in the links below. Tell your friends. Be social and get the word out on the “interwebs.” We can make a difference together. And don’t forget to tag Spare Parts on social media with a photo of your own reuse creation! #reusegotmethinking #reusesanantonio

Resources on how to make T-Shirt yarn
The Spruce – How to Make T-Shirt Yarn
Instructables T-Shirt Yarn


How to make T-Shirt Yarn

The Circle School #StartEmpathy Philosophy Welcomes Spare Parts’ #Take5forSA

Hello it’s Kara Salinas, Spare Parts artist/educator highlighting The Circle School’s participation in our #Take5forSA project. This challenge is a Spare Parts month-long online residency, conceived by Executive Director Mary Elizabeth Cantu, that invites the public to reimagine trash by creative reuse.

How it works: five pieces of trash are found and collected daily, and then creatively reimagined into something new in order to encourage trash awareness. The Circle School students cleaned up litter in their neighborhood and Brackenridge Park along with their classmates and teachers. The Circle School students hope to inspire others in San Antonio with their art to curb littering, promote reuse and reduce overall consumption of single-use items. #Take5forSA took place during the month of February 2018, and the following photographs showcase the inspiring creations of the student change makers attending The Circle School. Photos were either taken by me or Circle School staff. I posted daily #Take5forSA a collage of images.

From top left to right: The Circle School logo and the Circle School educators pictured from left to right Rachel Reed and Mickey Barcus learn about Spare Parts #Take5forSA with their creative reuse art through an initial meeting. Bottom photo above: The Circle School of San Antonio located in Mahncke Park Neighborhood.



The #Take5forSA challenge consists of daily posts on the Spare Parts Instagram account of five discarded items and creative transformations as reuse art. The Circle School enlisted help from students and family members with a school-wide call for “trash” materials. This supplied #Take5forSA reuse materials, which resulted in the diversion of household trash from the landfill/recycling centers. The Circle School educators are familiar with the concept of reuse, and often lead regular classroom challenges called Beautiful Trash.

From top left photo: The Spike Cannon, The Light Saber, Tar Pit, The Magic Boat, The Fire Bed, The Boat Trying to Get Home, The Life, The Shark of the Dead, and The Slingshot. These pieces are a few examples of creative reuse art made by the star room kindergarten class during February 8th-14th, 2018.

From top left photo: The Amazing Camera Shop, The Gum Shop, The Invisible House, The Time Machine, The Zipline Sign, and The Drill. These pieces are a few first grade classroom examples of creative reuse art during February 15th-21st from the Sky room.


After the month-long #Take5forSA challenge with Spare Parts, the Circle School students incorporated their collected reuse materials into one large installation artwork which opened at Hijole SA, a professional, public gallery at Blue Star Art Complex on Saturday, April 21st. Students wrote meaningful messages and wove them throughout the exhibition. One read, “We did it because the trash hurts the ocean and sea creatures. Now this trash is used for something else and won’t hurt the animals.” The large installation titled, “Undersea” was a school-wide collaboration from Moon, Sun, Star, Sky, Peace and Dream classrooms. The “Undersea” installation consisted of reuse items such as hangers filled with jellyfish litter, eels made from plastic packing materials and a sea horse made from candy wrappers. Students wrote about their art, “We did this piece of art because the fish in the ocean are dying because there is trash in the ocean.”

Above Photo Collage: The Circle School Art Showcase and Installation at Hijole SA, 1420 S. Alamo building B, San Antonio, 78204 on Saturday April 21st. All student created artworks are made from litter and discarded materials.
From top left photo: The Circle School Art Showcase and Installation at Hijole SA from the inside of the cardboard fort dome by 9 year old student Jaden Kindred Longoria. Top right photo: Jaden Kindred Longoria posing next to his cardboard fort and a family member. Bottom right photo: On the left Circle School art teacher “Mickey” Sara Barcus welcoming an Hijole SA exhibit visitor.


The Circle School students continue to #startempathy on behalf of the environment by promoting eco-consciousness. These young change makers are motivated to help make a difference in the world.