As a relative newcomer to Oregon and the Willamette Valley, I am still finding my way around the region, learning all the amazing resources it has to offer. As the planning committee for the Recycled Arts Festival starting its effort five months ago, one of the requirements was to introduce me to some of the best scrap resources that exist nearby.
One, located in Portland, is Scrap, an amazing center of donated materials that are sold at great prices. This store was mentioned by more than one of the artists who will be showing and selling their work at the Festival.
Tess Mattos enjoys Scrap a lot, and even teaches classes there. As a volunteer she also offers her expertise with yarn to review all the donated material. Those that have enough length are offered for sale. Those that are not long enough for a knitting project grab her attention.
“I work with reclaimed materials for the variety inherent in them, as well as for the fulfillment of making something useful out of something useless,” Tess explains.
“In each Second Chance Skein, I combine short lengths of at least 20-30 different yarns. The mixing of so many colors and textures is precisely what makes the end result so fabulous and fun. So having a wide variety of yarns to work from is essential. And since I only use a few yards of any given yarn in a skein, it is a perfect way to re-use short amounts of yarns, that are almost useless by themselves.”
Tess can trace her interest in the basic idea — of mixing multiple yarns, colors, and textures in one skein — to expensive commercial versions of “wild” art yarns, at least fifteen years ago. Over the ensuing years, she developed many different techniques to blend a variety of yarns within a project, such as free-form crochet, or changing yarns on every row or two. However, it is only within the past year that I pulled together my love of mixing yarns, and my interest in re-use and upcycling, to start making Second Chance Skeins.
Upcycling everyone else’s leftover bits and pieces not only provides the diversity and variety Tess enjoys, but she also finds the effort to take what others throw away, and turn it into beautiful, exciting art yarn extremely satisfying.
Tess Mattos and Second Chance Skeins are at Table #12.