Posts tagged tshirt yarn

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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i’m makin a rag rug

….and I’m not done yet. But I wanted to give y’all a preview, if you don’t mind, so I can explain what’s going on with it. It’s got a ways to go.

Here’s where we stand at the moment:

But now look at it with my shoes on top for size perspective:

I think we’re just getting started.

Things I’m proud of:

1) Progress. I’ve been wanting to do this a long time and I think it looks pretty fairly decently okay.

2) Colors. I like the mix of greens.

Things I don’t like:

1) Size. It’s taking a lot longer than I thought. I worked on it for a good while and proudly laid it on the floor only to discover that it’s basically an oversized trivet at the moment. I’ve also already used up almost all the tshirt yarn I made.

2) Colors. I don’t like that strip of light green that doesn’t make it the whole way around the outside. If I end up making the rug significantly bigger then maybe that one line won’t be a big deal, but for me (right now)  it makes the whole thing look a bit more rinky dink than it should.

So far I’ve really honed one particular skill while working on this rug – patience. When I complete it I will share with you the things I learn which you might actually find helpful. I can tell you from my short experience thus far that it’s pretty simple (if you’ve already got that patience thing down) and you can do it too!

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tshirt yarn

Last week I made some tshirt yarn for the first time. It was fun and super easy – perhaps because I followed this very helpful tutorial at Polka Dot Pineapple. I’m not going to repeat it here because I really don’t have much to add, but I encourage you to go check it out.

So some of the tshirts that started like this:

ahem...uh...picked at random of course.

were cut up into one clever long strip that looked this:

and then were stretched and rolled into a lovely little balls like this:

Like I said, super easy. Here are some notes that will help you out if you’ve never tried this before.

1) Remember when you pull the strips they shrink up (in width). I thought my strips at 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide were big until I pulled them and thought they were small. I wanted big yarn for my forthcoming tshirt rug.

2) You don’t get as much yarn out of a shirt as you might think (if your strips are as wide as mine). So even though your tshirt yarn ball stack may make you feel like you’ve got a lot to work with, you may not get very far with each color. If you’re planning a big project, I would make sure to have a number of similarly colored shirts so you don’t get weird short patches of one color.

3) After you are finished creating yarn, take a look at what you have left over. The top of your shirt can serve a purpose too. I cut the sleeves off all the tshirts I used and had a nice little stack of rags to add to my rag box (to cut down on paper towel use).

Of course you know I kept the other scraps too. I can promise you will see them again at some point.

This yarn is very versatile. You could make a million things! The sky’s the limit! Seriously, use your imagination. You can cut your strips skinny and have tshirt yarn that’s just about the size of regular yarn; or you can cut your strips really wide and create something bulky and sturdy. While I was stretchin and rollin my tshirt yarn balls I started imagining headbands and bracelets and bags and all sorts of interesting tshirt concoctions. What would you make?

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