Archive for crafts

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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tshirt rug: a retrospective

I finally finished my expletive tshirt rug!

tshirt rug complete

I was pretty tired of it when all was said and done. After I tied down the last stitch, I grunted my way up from the floor, took a look and harumphed out of the room. I peeked back in a few hours later and I was in love! I think this is why I craft – the feeling of accomplishing something. I didn’t know what I was doing (or why I was doing it for that matter) when I started my rug. But after hours of labor and thought and attempting, undoing, and retrying, I’ve finally accomplished something. Maybe it’s a rug, but it’s a Something.

Let’s have a look back at the evolution of the ole tshirt rug. It was only yesterday that you were a mere idea in my mind…

This is hilarious now, but here are the tshirt yarn balls I started with. I really thought I would make a rug out of these….

tshirt yarn

…and then we got this tiny thing.

tshirt rug 1

Actually, I was really proud of it at that point. I wish I could have kept up with the color scheme, but I didn’t have enough shirts. That’s when I started scouring all my resources for free tshirts.

tshirt rug 2

Progress! Feelin’ good! Oh wait, how big is it really?
tshirt rug 2 with jack

I really didn’t have use for a tshirt doormat, so I kept going.

tshirt rug 3

Hey, we’re gettin’ somewhere. This was when poor Jackdog decided it was his new bed, which made it difficult to work on. He’s a big guy. So I gave in and bought somewhere around 30 tshirts. Whatever size rug I was going to end up with after that would be it!
tshirt yarn balls

Now you see why those first 8 balls are so laughable? So, long-story-long, I’m finished! I’m finished! And it’s nice. (I’m a bit surprised.)

tshirt rug 4

tshirt rug complete with jack

If you’re interested, look back in a couple of days and I’ll post about all the things I learned. If you’re not interested, look back anyway just to be nice to me. Thanks, friend.

So that’s it! I’m finished! What the heck do I do with myself now?

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stuff other people made

I’m a total sentimentalist – it’s always the thought that counts with me. If you just happen to accidentally by chance give me something really nice that I’ve always wanted, I’ll never love or appreciate it as much as I would something simple that shows that you really thought about it. There’s nothing much worse than being the afterthought of someone who is your forethought. (She postulates.) 

Since I’ve been supremely uncrafty lately, I thought I might share with y’all just a few of the things other people have made for me. Get excited!

1. Table by Dad. He made this table as a wedding present 30 years ago and when the happy couple didn’t need it anymore, I did! He fixed it back up and we stained it and now you will have to pry this thing out of my cold dead hands. I could write a whole essay on what this table means to (and for) me, but I’ll spare you. (For now.)

dad table

dad table 2

2. Jane Painting. Sister J made this for my birthday a couple of years ago and I love it. She is quite crafty as well (it just might run in our family). I also happen to be the only in the family to have such a gem. Lucky me.

flower painting

painted flower

3. Bookmarks. One by my gramanie, which is quite simple for her if you know her at all, but means the world to me all the same. The other a valentine that Thing 1 gave to me last year as I was leaving the house. He said “Aunt Kate, wait a minute!” and returned 2 minutes later with this valentine made out of paper, a leaf, and a press-on earring.


valentine bookmark

valentine bookmark 2

4. Necklace by Megan. I wear this necklace almost every day to work and hope that all my friends will come to their senses and move to Austin already. (Sorry for the terrible photography Megan, it doesn’t do your necklace justice.)

bow necklace

5. Painted pottery. This was the “thing” to do when my parents would visit me in college. I now have painted pottery all over my apartment. My mom, of course, did the plate with the house; my dad, the bowl that cheerfully says “good morning.” This actually pretty accurately highlights their personalities.

mom plate

dad bowl

6. And just for good measure, here’s a picture a homeless man drew of me and then my friend bought from him. As he was drawing he looked at me and said: “Something in your eyes makes me want to apologize to you.” That has always stayed with me.

kate drawing

These things might look goofy or downright silly to you, but they’re my treasures. There are some (relatively) expensive things I own that wouldn’t even cross my mind in an emergency situation. But, just try to put a glass on my table without a coaster and you’ll see a very unpleasant side of me. When Lil A broke that bow necklace (kids, hmph) I basically demanded my friend make me a new one. And when I thought I lost that red bookmark on a plane I got grown men to get on their hands and knees to look for it.

Do you have something like that? Some gift that only you know the significance of? I’m guessing it’s probably not your Xbox. Unless, of course, you fought tooth and nail for it, in which case it might always remind you of that one time you got pepper-sprayed in the electronics section of a Wal-Mart. Which is, let’s hope, a kind of once in a lifetime experience.

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i’m still makin’ stuff!

Actually, not so much. I’ve got a couple problems. (I meant craft related problems guys, geez.) First of all, I’m a little burned out. I was really motivated when I had just moved into my apartment, but now I feel pretty settled. Actually, I think the place is looking pretty cute. But all that makin’ stuff has left me out of ideas. 

Segundo problemo is I am workin’ on some things, but they’re Christmas gifts so I can’t go postin’ them on the internets. I’m sure something weird and crafty will come to me soon.

Anyway, today I did make some stuff. Rather, I cooked some stuff. Slllooowwwwlllyyyy. Apparently I am a slow, messy cook, and I can only do one thing at a time. This all came to light tonight. In fact, I still have something in the oven that I’m angrily checking every 5 minutes in hopes that it’s done and I can go to bed. So I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to be a dinner-party-hostess-lady, but I make a swell guest! (just sayin)

Tomorrow afternoon I’m heading over to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving. So of course I did that thing that you’re never supposed to do because I’m that kind of person: I cooked three things that I’ve never cooked before.

1. Sausage/Cheese Balls. I accidentally made what felt like a billion because the cute meat dude at Sprouts threw some extra on top of what I ordered. I’ll invite you all to our wedding!

2. Baked Macaroni & Cheese. I just can’t show you this picture because I’m a terrible photographer and it looks really unappetizing (in the picture, not in real life) and I’m hoping the three people that are reading this will eat it tomorrow.

3. Gingerbread – partly because I love the way it smells, mostly because my grandma loves it.

If you’re thinking it would look fabulous with some powdered sugar on top, then I’m with you! Tomorrow, friends.

BY THE WAY, my never ending rag rug that I will never finish is coming along:

tshirt rug
Poor Jack thinks this is his bed now since I make him take pictures on it. Poor kid, I’m always having to teach him about disappointments.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all! I hope you all surround yourselves with those that you love and give some of your time to those that love you.

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This past weekend slash early this week I finished up these pillows that I have been wanting to work on for a while. You might remember I picked up the shirts and ties at Goodwill (for more than I wanted to spend).

blue manpillow

green manpillow

I call them manpillows! I have made pillows similar to this before, but I added the ties this time. For fun, you know. 

Here is how to make your very own manpillow (if you need convincing, let me tell you – they’re great for snuggling):

1. Cut the sleeves and arms off of your button-down shirt.

manpillow step 1

2. Sew down the middle and leave a hole to flip the pillow later. This way your inevitable strip that you have to stitch up at the end will be hidden from view (by the tie). Then I removed all the buttons – I might need them later.

manpillow step 2

 3. Sew on the tie to hold it in place. I didn’t realize until the second pillow that I could have just pinned the tie down and sewn it with the perimeter, but…better safe than sorry.

manpillow step 3

4. Measure equal distrance from the center on each side, mark your sides, and pin. This is only important if you care about precision. If you want a willy-nilly-free-form pillow, then by all means, just skip this step and go for it. Be sure to pin your pillow (and sew it) with the wrong sides facing each other. Don’t skip that one.

manpillow step 4

5. Sew and trim the edges. Then, of course, flip right side out through that hole you left originally.

manpillow step 5

6. Stuff, stitch up  the hole and stitch your tie down. Voila. OH, I also made a little knot in my tie at the last minute.

manpillow finished

And now I’m exhausted. I’m having a bit of a crazy, tiring week. I have way too many things bouncing around my head right now. If I can make any of them sound interesting, I’ll fill y’all in.

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fabric flower headband

I told you I wouldn’t let those fabric flowers go unused! I just so happen to know one sweet (on second thought, let’s go with semi-sweet) little girl who loves girly stuff. I threw together a a little headband for her.

fabric flower headband

She really liked it!

fabric flower headband 2

She liked it so much that she kind of destroyed it. And that’s why she gets the semi prefix.

I also made a bracelet for my nephew that was way too funky-weird to be picture worthy. He either loved it or was nice enough to pretend that he loved it. But that was a few hours ago, so I guess it could very well be destroyed now too. Oh well. If that one moment of success is all I can get, I’ll take it!

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fabric flower wreath

Remember the other night when Sister M and I worked on fall wreaths? Well, Sister M finished hers that night.

fabric flower wreath

Sister Me did not. It took me a couple more days of planning, arranging, reviewing and deciding before I could confidently glue everything down. We’re different in that way (and oh so many others).

flannel fabric flower wreath

fabric flowers

You might notice that I didn’t use the flowers I started with. When I put them on my wreath they looked really small and a little too Halloween-y for my taste. I’m actually going to use them for something and someone else.

By the way, it’s beautiful in Austin today. I hope you’re enjoying  your Saturday as much as I am enjoying mine.

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