Friday, November 12, 2010

Crocheted Rag Rug Tutorial

A friend of mine showed me some rugs she had woven with a loom and recycled t-shirts. I loved the idea, but don't have room to use a loom in the camper so I thought I'd crochet one instead. I had originally hoped to knit one but found my hands aching too much after a few rows.

Here's what you need:
Size Q crochet hook
7-10 shirts depending on size. (might need more depending on size)
Pattern of choice or this leaflet. (which is what I used)
A good pair of fabric cutting scissors


First, you need to prepare your material into "yarn". You do this by cutting your shirts into strips. I found several methods for cutting t-shirts and joining the ends. Which I will talk about here. But, do also check out  this method, which makes one continuous strip of material.

You do this by first laying the t-shirt out folded in half like this. If you notice, I've already cut the hem off. I save them in case I might need just a little bit more material. And if I do, I simply cut it in half. If you have a good pair of scissors, it's not hard to cut out at all and makes the procedure go by a little faster. I've even tried folding the shirt in half again but it's too hard to cut comfortably.




Oh, and I didn't think it mattered if the t-shirt had writing on it, but what happens is that the design especially if you used a lighter color will eventually show through. It really all depends on the shirt. Some printed shirts would stretch with the design on them, while others cracked and did not turn out well. You just have to figure it out for yourself.

I simply cut about 1-2 inch wide strips. I'm not too picky about measuring the strips. I just cut what looks like the right size and set them aside.



Then, I grab a hold of each end and stretch it until it won't stretch anymore. I repeat that process until I've got all the pieces stretched out. The thing I love about t-shirts is that when you stretch it, the ends curl inside and create a nice "tube". This means that your material won't fray. Not that it frays much anyways, but it gives it a neater look.

Shirts awaiting to be stretched:


I like to bunch up the shirts like shown above if I am making a colorful rug so I can see which colors look good together. But most times, I just start crocheting it grabbing whatever color I want and if I don't like the way it looks, I pull it out and start over. 

After that, I use a square knot to hold the strips together. I was using another technique at first but found that the material slipped out and since this is a "rag" rug, I figured that knots were acceptable. When I crochet the rug, I try to get all the knots to the back anyhow. To tie a square knot, learn here. The reason I use a square knot is because it won't slip out. Here is a picture of my square knot:



The actual picture you see above is just an example. Had I used it, I would have snipped the frayed end off that you see. In fact, after I knot the ends together, I snip the material as close to the knot as possible. Once all my ends are knotted together, the "yarn" is now ready. Now, you just need to follow the instructions on your pattern.

Or if you don't want to have to worry about connecting so many strips together, follow this method to create one long continuous strip of material. You'll still have to connect the colors together, but will have way less knots to deal with. Click here.

Have fun crafting!



P.S. I will add that some t-shirts won't make good rugs. Sometimes the material will just fray. I've found that if you look closely at the t-shirt, if it looks like garter stitch it will work. However, if it looks like stockinette stitch, on the inside, don't bother. I made the mistake before I knew any better and bought a bunch of shirts with the stockinette look at a garage sale and was disappointed to find that I could not use them in my rug making. Remember also when choosing shirts, try not to get ones that have too much of a design on them. Even though your material will only show the inside, the printed part often makes the material "crunchy" and won't roll right.

I also made some heart shaped ones and some oval ones.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cables and looms

I was browsing the Internet this morning and came across a dish cloth pattern rated "Easy" that used cables. So I decided one of my things to learn this week is going to be how to use a cable needle in my knitting. I've come across plenty of beautiful patterns that call for them but have always just skipped right past them because of my lack of knowledge with them.

After deciding that I wanted to learn to use a cable needle, my friend loaned me this book. The book explains how to use a cable needle among other things. There are plenty of basic patterns that I hope to try out including a pair of diagonal knit spiral tube socks.

My friend bought the book for her kids to learn to knit but they decided it was too hard to learn.

It's my fault, really. Since I showed them how easy it was to use my hat knitting looms,  they decided they would much rather use the looms than knit!

And they both have made several hats already. Along with a blanket and baby bunting.

I have since loaned my looms out to other friends who also love to use it. One friend made a lovely blanket using the largest loom. She was able to figure out how to wrap the yarn around the loops halfway. Something I have yet to figure out.

Together we learned how to do the knit and purl stitch by watching youtube videos. How I love youtube! The stitch I learned with is the twisted knitting stitch. Once I get my looms back, I hope to make several swatches with the different stitches for comparison.

The friend that loaned me the knitting book loaned me a flower loom she got many years ago. I think it's similar to this one. But it was actually by the brand, Boye. I had a lot of fun making flowers with it and am kicking myself for not snatching the loom up several years ago. There was a time when I saw these looms at every garage sale I went to. But I thought they were dumb (why!?) and paid no attention to them. I suppose for less than $3 I can't be too angry with myself.

I won't be able to post up pictures of my cable swatches until I get my camera fixed but I'll be sure to post right here to tell of my accomplishments!

Jalapeno Jelly

My neighbor's garden is coming to an end and today he told me I could pick some of their jalapeno peppers. I took a handful and as I walked back to the camper, I thought to myself, "Now what will I do with them?"

No sooner did my hand touch the door a thought came to me. Jalapeno Jelly!!!! So I went back and gathered a few more and now the peppers patiently sit waiting for me to transform them into a yummy treat.

All year long I have missed eating Habenero Jelly from Burt Craig Farms. Brandi hasn't made any this year so I could not buy any from her.  But the craving was still there. So, I guess my jalapeno jelly will have to do.I just hope my batch of jelly can be half as good as hers!

My favorite way to eat it is to dump a jar on a block of cream cheese and enjoy with Ritz crackers. Yum!

Plantain

Plantain is my friend. When I'm itchy from a mosquito bite, I rub some of her leaves on my skin and she takes the itch away.

I like to make salve with her leaves. I soak them in olive oil and mix with beeswax. Great for dry skin and chapped lips.

Wasp bites are no bother with plantain around either. The juice from her leaves brings relief.

And she grows all around me. Plentiful.

Thank you plantain.

Blessing bags completed.

The first batch of blessing bags have been completed. Here are the last of them. Next challenge is to make 25 more in a Christmas...