Saturday, May 9, 2009

Knitting rag rugs

Lately, I have been recycling good clean t-shirts by cutting them into neat ribbons and knitting them into rugs. Actually, I have done this for years, with a variety of fabrics, but I have gotten very savvy about reclaiming every last scrap and using it as a rug.

This is a rug I named Stagecoach. I had it for sale in my eBay store, but I worried that whoever bought it might be unhappy with it because it was lumpy. (Can't let an eBayer go unhappy! I've had nightmares about my powerseller feedback going down the toilet. ) Eventually I decided I had to keep the rug rather than risk having somebody buy the rug and flame me over it.

Turns out, it was never a problem. The lumps flattened within a short period of time. Not only that, but it became flatter and more stable with extended use. I have had it in an extremely high-traffic area of my home for 3 1/2 years and it still looks wonderful. I had heard that rag rugs last a long time, but I am shocked by how resilient this one is, since it was my first knitted rug.

More recently, I made a rectangular rug. Again, I had intended to list it for sale, this time on Etsy. But when it began to turn out crooked, I decided there was no way it would sell. It is in my bedroom now.

The rectangular rugs with straight garter knit are the easiest to make. Cutting the fabric strips of uniform width helps. I generally aim for 3/8" because narrower strips tend to break and wider strips get bulky. But if you are cutting a particular fabric and notice it is bulkier than another fabric you are using in the same project, you might want to shave a fraction of an inch off that cutting width.

I use size 13 or 15 needles and cast on up to 60 stitches, depending on the width I want. Plastic needles seem to work better than other types; you want the least friction you can achieve. Then I knit a straight garter stitch and keep it loose. T-shirt and knit fabrics stretch pretty well, but if you knit tightly, your hands will hurt after awhile. Another way to get more stretch out of the fabric is to cut strips on the bias.

If you are a purist and do not want that dotted line that appears when you add a new color, be sure to add a new color ONLY when the right side of the rug is facing you. Otherwise, you can add colors willy-nilly and consider the rug to be reversible. Tra la! I love them.

The circular rugs require considerably more detailed instructions, which I will try to get before I die. I have one almost completed somewhere in my yarn studio. I named it Taos because that is the town I was in when I began making it. I hope to find that before I die, too. As I recall, it's almost four or five feet in diameter.

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