here’s what i know about makin’ a rag rug

So now I’ve made a rag rug, and before we leave this subject (and all those tshirts) behind for a good while, I want to share what I learned with you all. Okay,…maybe I just want to show you another picture….

rag rug with jackdog

Overview:  I made my rug out of tshirts I cut up into yarn. I then used a size 11 crochet hook, chained about 8 stitches and connected them in a circle. After that I just continuously worked my way around with a single crochet into each stitch.

When it started to bow up like this:
rag rug needs stitches

I added more a few more stitches in here and there.

When it started to curl up like this:
rag rug too many stitches

I went back and took a few stitches out.  It should lay flat.

I wanted my rug to be an oval, so I purposefully added more stitches on the ends and less on the sides. Here are some things I learned are important in your rug making adventure:

1. Make sure you have a lot of material. You’ll need more than you think you will. I’m guessing that I put at least 75 shirts into my rug. It turned out to be about 5 1/2 feet long by 4 feet wide.

2. Make your strips uniform. Because I worked on my rug at random times (while watching The Wire (with which I am now obsessed)) my tshirt yarn ended up being somewhat un-uniform. This poses a problem because the thick yarn pulls too hard on the thin yarn. See here:

rag rug

See how the pink strip is pulling the blue/gray strip? This makes the rug unstable. I didn’t realize this until I was well into the rug, so I dealt with it by going back and tying little strips around those unstable parts like this:

rag rug repaired

To be honest, this alternating thick and thin yarn bugged me too because I like symmetry and the rug was already so irregular with the mix of colors. The different size yarn, to me, makes it look all the more uneven and unplanned. But, if you like that sort of thing, then, by all means, mix it all up! (I’m looking at you Meg!)

3. The rug is totally malleable. Even when you think you’re finished, you can stretch and pull and manipulate its shape. This may seem obvious to you, but I was disappointed with how round my rug had become when I was almost finished. Luckily I was able to pull on the ends and smoosh in the sides and create the oval shape I wanted. But that being said,…

4. Go in with a plan. A circle would be really easy. An oval isn’t difficult, it just takes more planning, so if that’s what you want, make sure you’re working towards that goal. (In rug making, as in life.)

I wish I had something else to share with you, but really it’s easy. You can’t really screw it up. If you do feel as though you’ve messed up, you just take your stitches out and re-do it.

Now, we are finished with tshirts and rugs. For the time being. Actually, there are a number of ways to make rag rugs – crocheting is just one of them. You can tie, braid, sew, etc. You can use sheets, actual rags, old clothes, etc. Hmmm…maybe next year.

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