Crochet t-shirt rug

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a great Christmas and New Year and that 2014 has got off to a good start for you. I’ve only worked two days so far and the weather’s been pretty rubbish so it’s been a good time to work on some of my works in progress! I’ve finally managed to finish my crocheted t-shirt rug that I’ve been working on sporadically for quite a few months now.

Ta Da - The finished rug
Ta Da – The finished rug

So I started with a post I found on Pintrest here and a pile of my boyfriend’s only t-shirts that he didn’t wear anymore. It’s a pretty easy thing to do once you get the hang of it although it is a bit time consuming. I used this free pattern as a starting point. Here’s my quick guide how it works…

My boyfriend's old t-shirts
My boyfriend’s old t-shirts
Cut the hems off, fold twice but leave 1 inch margin at far side
Cut the hems off, fold twice but leave 1 inch margin at far side
Cut the fabric into strips, stopping at the margin. Cut all the way across only when you reach the sleeves.
Cut the fabric into strips, stopping at the margin. Cut all the way across only when you reach the sleeves.
Open out the fabric and join into one long string by cutting across the margin from one strip to the next.
Open out the fabric and join into one long string by cutting across the margin from one strip to the next.
Pull the fabric into one long string
Pull the fabric into one long string
A big pile of t-shirt spaghetti!
A big pile of t-shirt spaghetti!
Make into a ball
Make into a ball
My different colours of t-shirt yarn ready to crochet
My different colours of t-shirt yarn ready to crochet

The rug is worked in double crochet (UK) throughout in a continuous spiral, increasing where necessary to keep the oval shape and to keep the work flat. I did have to find some extra t-shirts when I realised it was going to end up smaller than I’d wanted. I put the call out to my friends at work and I was offered 3 white t-shirts that had belonged to of one of their husbands and were in the bag to go to the charity shop! I started off using a plastic 12mm hook that I bought on ebay but then for Christmas I was given a set of bamboo hooks and I found it much easier for some reason with the bamboo hook of the same size – it didn’t make my hand hurt so much.

Starting chain
Starting chain
Colour change
Colour change
Finished article!
Finished article!
Up-close
Up-close

I used each ball of yarn until it was nearly finished then tied on the new ball with a figure of eight knot. As I continued on with the new colour I’d catch the knotted ends in the next stitch so they don’t show too much. For the last coloured section at the outside I ended up going back to the bits of left-over t-shirt – the neck and sleeves. To get the most out of these I cut them into short strips, pulled them into string and tied them together as before. This results in a yarn with lots of knots but they can be hidden in the work in the same way as before. When I’d finally almost run out of yarn I finished off and darned the end in the reverse side of the rug. I also made sure that any tails from the knots that were still sticking out were pulled through the stitches on the back to neaten it up. I’m pretty pleased with my finished product which is a great way of up cycling old t-shirts otherwise destined for the charity shop or the bin, into something new and useful for the home! I’m sure you could make other things with this t-shirt yarn, like maybe a pouffe for your sitting room. I’d love to hear your comments and if anyone else has had a go at this sort of method?

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Sewing a zip in a knitted project

It’s been aaaaages since my last blog – sorry about that! Things have been very busy lately and I’m struggling to get everything done (but what’s new).

The other day I had an urge to just get something finished. One of my projects that I’ve had ongoing for ages – and there are many of these at the moment! I’ve been knitting a cushion cover for my living room. I wanted quite a chunky but professional-looking finish but was pretty short of cash when I first started this project when we’d just moved house and got back from holiday! I found some aran yarn in Poundstretcher – somewhere I’d never normally think to look for knitting supplies but I just walked past it and it was the perfect colour. It also seems pretty good quality for an acrylic and is really soft and warm, but best of all it was only £2.49 for a 200g ball!

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I bought two. One day I’ll get around to making a matching cushion cover!

The pattern for the cushion was from The Knitting Book http://www.amazon.co.uk/Knitting-Book-Frederica-Patmore/dp/1405368039 and is called the Strawberry cushion. It was easy to follow and the cable stitch was straightforward. The fact that it is on a garter stitch (knit) background made it fairly quick to do once you get going. The two sides are worked in the same way and there is a special “cable” cast on that creates a pretty edge where you sew the zip in. I’d had to look this up for another project previously. It is easy to do and creates a lovely edge.

So here was my kit for sewing the cover together…

2013-09-25 20.34.43  16 inch long zip, pins, matching sewing thread, contrasting embroidery thread and spare yarn for sewing up the rest of the cover.

I began with some trepidation as I’d never added a zip to a knitted item before. I followed the instructions in the book and it turned out to be pretty straightforward, if somewhat lengthy. I’ll summarise the process here for you… First I pinned the zip to one side of the knitting, working with the right side facing and pinning the zip to the decorative cast-on edge. I started with the ends of the zip then spaced my pins evenly along the zip. I used lots of pins and the instructions advised to pin at right angles to the zip rather than along the same way. Using the contrasting embroidery thread I then tacked the zip in place on this first side. Then I used the matching sewing thread to back-stitch all the way along the edge and then turned the work over and ran a zigzag stitch along the edge of the zip to secure it to the knitting. I did everything by hand as I didn’t dare try to do it on the sewing machine. I made sure the decorative cast-on edge was quite close to the teeth of the zip. I then repeated this with the other side – which was a little bit tricky to do by hand as it was quite a big piece by this time and you’re stitching across the middle of it rather than an edge.

2013-09-25 22.40.58  My finished zip closure!

After I’d added the zip, working on the wrong side, I pinned the remaining three sides of the cushion, ensuring that the zip was open so that when I’d finished stitching the cover together I could turn it back the right way out! And here she is, the finished cushion…

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I’m really pleased with it and am looking forward to doing another one later in the winter when I’ve caught up with some other projects. Do you thing I should do another identical one or in a slightly different pattern? I think I’d like to stick with the cable but do a slightly different version – it would be great to hear your thoughts!

Here’s an update on my patchwork blanket made of knitted and crocheted squares that I showed you earlier in the summer – I still need to make a few more squares but I’ve started to sew them together!

2013-09-19 18.02.39  No grand plan – just trying to spread the different colours out throughout the blanket. I’ll keep you updated in future posts. I’m also working on a rag rug made from old t-shirts which I plan to feature in a blog post soon hopefully…

2013-09-18 22.34.54 What do you think of it so far?

Finally before I go, I thought I’d mention that I hope to finally feature some baking on the blog pretty soon! After moving into our house the landlord didn’t provide a cooker so we had to save up for a little while and make do with an electric hob thing for a few months. We finally have a cooker though and I’ve organised a “bake-off” at work which we do every so often in homage to the Great British Bake Off. I can’t believe we’re more than half way through the series already, I don’t want it to be over!

Until next time… x

 

Breathing new life into an old Wardrobe

Two rented properties ago, R and I bought a really cheap flimsy pine wardrobe and chest of drawers that we thought would “put us on” until we could afford something better quality.  When we moved from our old flat to our last house we thought it probably wouldn’t survive another move as it was pretty rickety. However, when it came to moving again this year R persuaded me to give it a chance and promised he would sure it up a bit to make it strong enough to stay in use, at least in our spare room. I agreed – on one condition… the pine finish had to go!

I forgot to take a photo of the wardrobe before we started but here is a picture of the matching chest of drawers so you can see the original style.

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Not very attractive, I’m sure you’ll agree.  So we set about a transformation! At first I thought the best thing would be to paint the wardrobe white and I bought some spray paint and some lovely new handles in a light green with polka dots that matched the curtains in our spare room. I say “spare room” but it is the room we’ve been in since we moved as what will eventually become our bedroom is still a general dumping ground. I digress. The spray painting was easy to do but we were really unsatisfied with the finish. It appeared quite “stripy.” I’m sure it was probably our technique rather than the product’s fault (we used Rust-oleum Universal spray paint in satin white) but we also didn’t achieve the coverage stated on the pack and had to buy more than we’d initially estimated and we still didn’t like the final effect, even after two coats. We’d thought the advantage of spray paint would have been not having to prime the wood first but in the end it would have been a better option! Anyway, I won’t keep you guessing any longer – this is what it looked like after each panel had two coats of the spray paint and the wardrobe was re-built (with lots of extra screws to keep it together!).

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That’s R on the right, busy applying the next finish! The handles did look nice on it when I tried them out – but it needed a better finish and I didn’t like the white in this room. So I decided I’d like a greeny-grey colour to complement my curtains and the dark wood furniture in the room and thought I’d look for an eggshell paint.  I settled on this   2013-08-05 20.07.34 Acrylic Eggshell in Moonstone Grey by Graig & Rose from B & Q. It was a bit of a punt really as I felt inspired to get on with it and didn’t want to spend ages poring over the different options and never getting around to actually painting the wardrobe! So I decided to trust my instincts and just go for it!

2013-08-02 19.14.31    This was after the first coat. Pretty rough – lots of brush marks!

We applied two coats of the eggshell paint by brush (we tried both gloss and emulsion rollers and both gave an awful finish!). Once it was dry I reapplied the handles (which now blend in more than stand out as I’d originally intended) and decided to lightly distress the wardrobe in places to give it a bit more character.  To do this I just used some fine grade sandpaper and went back to the wood in some places and in others just back to the white coat underneath, which looks quite effective although I wasn’t very brave with it and it doesn’t show up in the pictures too well I’m afraid.

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It was all a bit of an experiment but was good experience and I think we’ve turned something ugly into something much more attractive – I hope you’ll agree! We’re planning a bigger project further down the line that I will report back on here eventually, and the experience with the wardrobe will be invaluable I’m sure. Doing this project has reminded me how much I love painting – I can’t wait till we own a home one day and I can paint walls not just furniture!

Finally before I go I just wanted to share a couple of photos from the weekend. On Saturday when we weren’t busy painting we went to the Emley show and had a great day out. These shots are of the mast and the beautiful sky… (I’m now totally inspired to enter my craft projects and photos in local agricultural shows in the future too!)

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A taste of things to come

It’s been great to see that people enjoyed my first post. I thought my next one should be a little taster of some of the other projects I like to do, as I’m generally into doing anything creative!

The first is this present that I made for my parents’ wedding anniversary. 

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I put the design together from various motifs in Jo Verso’s cross stitch books.  Despite having these books for years (probably over a decade, eek), I’d never actually done that before but I really enjoyed the process. I adapted the colours to match the clothes my parents’ had worn on their big day, and their hair colour etc.  I already had loads of colours left over from other cross stitch projects I’ve done over the years, so it was just a case of selecting the right ones.  The whole process for this one was really enjoyable – as was the reaction from Mum and Dad when they saw it!

The next few pictures show how much much my crochet skills have improved this year. I taught myself to crochet from books last winter and am loving it. Though I’ve always enjoyed knitting I’d been itching to learn to crochet for ages and finally bit the bullet. My favourite things about crocheting are that the projects seem to grow more quickly than knitting does and it’s also so versatile. Here is my tablet cover that I knocked up on the morning of my birthday to protect my brand new present!

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It is basically just a long piece of double crochet that I joined up at the sides with single crochet. Then I started this project from Crochet Today magazine.  It was designed to be a basket for a bicycle but as I don’t have one of those I thought it’d make a great craft bag, so I made some longer handles to put on it. It was made from oddments of yarn that I had in my stash so all I had to buy was the plastic canvas to line it and the cotton to sew that to the crochet pieces. I must admit this took some time and I would tend to make a section and then leave it for a while. I probably started this last winter and have only recently finished it but I’m so pleased with the result! I also had to learn the difference between British and American crochet terminology as I discovered that the stitches are the same but have different names! I kind of love the 70’s vibe of the colours and it is definitely my most adventurous crochet project to date.

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The last crochet project that I wanted to share was inspired by a post I saw on Pinterest. The original pin was for a framed piece of wall art made from 9 granny squares.  However, as I had tons of little balls of different coloured yarn I found I just couldn’t stop – and in the end decided they needed to be made into something practical. So they became a cover for my ugly black printer!

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I had to look online for tutorials for the half granny squares along the bottom row (the printer is deeper at one side than the other) and in the end pretty much just worked it out for myself as I found it easier that way.

Finally, I’ve been trying my hand at a little sewing. I’ve “borrowed” my mum’s sewing machine which it almost 30 years old but she’s never really used it much and still works really well. Although it terrified me at first I’m getting used to it now. I was determined to make my own travel laundry bag for our holiday to America earlier this summer so I bought some lovely Clarke and Clarke fabric and some matching ribbon.  I started adapting some instructions from Knit and Stitch Collection (Bergere de France) but was freestyling it by the end (as usual)!

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It’s the first thing I’ve ever made in this way and am really proud of it.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post and if you have please feel free to spread the word! Now I’d better go and get on with some more projects or I’ll have nothing to write about next week… Smile