Rag Rug

A couple of years ago, my Aunty approached me to do a demonstration at her local museum which she runs. She asked if I could demonstrate a crochet rag rug, which my mum had actually made.

Now, I had not made a rug before, but said yes anyways.

So I spent some time figuring it out, and then writing some instructions, and today, I’m going to share those instructions with you.

Rag rugs are a great way to transform old, worn textiles into something that is both practical and beautiful. You can crochet your own from materials you have on hand.

Last week we looked at ways of making yarn. Now it’s time to crochet!

I will give you a run down on how to crochet an oval rug. You could make it any shape you desire of course! But the oval is a good place to start. With the oval rug, you increase on the ends and maintain the sides. the longer the starting chain, the longer and skinnier your rug will be. The shorter your starting chain, the shorter and fatter your rug will be. Be prepared to wander from these instructions. It is hard to give instructions on how to make a rag rug, as variances in yarn can change the way the crochet material acts.

When choosing a hook, find a nice big one. The size of your hook could depend on a couple of factors. The width and thickness of your yarn, and your tension – how tight or loose you crochet. I am using an 11.5mm, I find a 10mm to be a nice size too. Test out a couple of hooks and see what works best for you, your yarn and your tension.

You will need to know how to work a chain and a single crochet. I abbreviate these through out the instructions to – chain (ch) and single crochet (sc)

To begin, make a chain (ch). I find 12 ch to be a nice number. The last two ch equals 1 sc, giving you 10 stitches to work with.

Work a single crochet (sc) into the second chain from the hook. Continue to sc into each ch until you reach the last ch.

In the last ch do 3 sc to increase. Continue around with 1 sc in each chain until you reach the last ch to increase.

On the sides of the rug you will continue with 1 sc into each. Only at the ends will you increase.

For the second round of increases sc into each of the stitches on the previous row. When you get to the 3 sc increases on each end, do 2 sc into each. Continue to 1 sc into each sc on the sides.

Continue in this manner, 1 sc along the sides and increases at the ends. For each round your increases will get further apart. For example, on the third round you will do 2 sc into one, then 1 sc into one, 2 sc etc. Then on the fourth row increase the sc between increases to 2, so you have 2 sc in once, 1 sc into one, 1 sc into one, 2 sc into one etc. The 5th row you will have 3 sc between increases and son on and so forth until your rug reaches the desired size. You may need to play with where your increases fall and experiment with what works best for your yarn.

This diagram gives you an idea of how to begin a rag rug, and the first few rows of increases at each end.

The finished mat! I added a scalloped edge!

Trouble shooting

Your rug may start to go wobbly or maybe even start turning up like a basket. If it goes wobbly, it means you have too many increases and need to do less increases. If it starts turning up like a basket, it means you have too few increases and you will need to put a few more increases in.

If, when you finish, your rug won’t lay flat, you can try blocking it. To do this you will need to lay it out on something that can get a bit damp. I have a piece of acoustic board which I cover in towels, and I can pin directly into. A plastic sheet on some carpet will work the same as well. Lay your rug out and pin down. Moisten the rug with water. Move your hands over the cloth and press down on any places in need of smoothing out. Stretch, pin and shape as necessary. Allow to dry, then unpin.

Another project in progress. This one became a cat bed. I stopped increasing for the last few rows to allow edges to form. I have made baskets and bags in this way too.

I love working with scrappy yarn, it gives so much texture. There are many different things you could make besides a rug. What else can you think of?

Have a creative week!
<3 Cate

Making Yarn for Crochet Rag Rugs

When I worked retail in a craft store I was often confronted with the question “What yarn can I crochet with?” In which I responded “Any of them” and then the reply came “No, I don’t want a knitting yarn, I want something to crochet with” *sigh* I pointed them in the direction of ‘crochet cotton’. They didn’t know they were talking to the girl who has tried to crochet things most people couldn’t comprehend, things like plastic bottles, copper wire, her favorite t shirt…

I want to share with you some instructions for a crochet rag rug I wrote a couple of years ago now, but I thought I’d break it down into two parts. Today I want to show you some ways to turn textiles you have laying around the house into yarn, which I consider nice yarn for these rag rugs.

scissors laid looking like its cutting into fabric which unravels into yarn and a crochet hook lays looking likes its crocheting
cutting t-shirt yarn to crochet

Making Yarn for rag rugs

Rag yarn can be made from various textiles, including old clothes, bed linen and off cuts from craft fabrics. The best I have found to work with are old cotton t-shirts, bed sheets and all the long strips leftover from quilting projects.

Knitted and woven fabrics give you different effects. Knitted fabric, with a light tug, will roll in on itself and give you a nice round yarn to work with. Once crochet, it has a nice clean, contemporary look about it. Woven fabric on the other hand, stays flat and has an inherent fray to the edges. This produces a rustic look. Both are beautiful in their own right. And both equal in their ease of use.

Once you have created your yarn, I reccomend rolling it into a big ball. This will stop it from tangling up. Now, I’ve always hand rolled my balls, but recently I’ve seen Gypsy Weaver Studio working with rag yarn using a ball winder, and I think this is a fabulous idea!

When cutting your yarn, it is ideal to have a width of 1.5 – 2 inches. A rough estimate is all that is needed as any discrepencies will dissappear in the crochet stitches.

To cut continuous yarn from a t-shirt, cut straight across the top just below the arms. starting at the bottom, cut in a spiral to the top.

Cut t-shirts in a spiral

To cut continuous yarn from a sheet or large piece of fabric you have two options.

The first option is to round off the corners and cut in a spiral until you get to the middle.

cutting fabric in spirals

The other option is to start on one edge and cut strips twice as wide as you want your finished strips to be, making sure you stop about 2cm from the edge. Then, from the other edge, cut straight down the middle of those strips, again, making sure you stop before you get to the edge. I use this technique a lot, especially when dealing with fabric off cuts that are a tad too big and need to be cut down.

Cut from each side, making sure not to cut right through!

Now, I personally work with a lot of patchwork off cuts (mostly because people are always giving mum scraps!) and that means working with a lot of smaller lengths, so of course you are going to have to join them! You can just knot them, and use them as a feature! Marion has successfully done this with a rag rug and made the knots sit on the top of the rug for a kind of “pile” look. But it that’s not what your going for you will need a some what invisible way to join them. You could sew them together. I’m too lazy for that and use a slip knot technique.
Cut slits in the ends of the pieces you want to join. Slip the end of one of your strips through the slit of the other, then through the slit of itself. gently pull until the join rests neatly within itself.

Joining ends with a slip knot

Cutting can be hard on your hands. As can crocheting with bulky yarns. Make sure you give yourself plenty of breaks and listen to your body!

By all means, this is not the only ways to make yarn! And of course these are not the only things you can make yarn from! Please share your tips and tricks and the craziest things you have made yarn from 🙂

I’ll be back next week with a brief over view on how I made a rag rug!

Have a creative week!
<3 Cate

Happy Valentines Day – A Softie Portrait

Lets flash back to 2014.

I made a soft portrait of the one and only Guy.

For the first six years of our relationship, everything was about paintball! Guy lived, ate and slept paintball! So it made sense (at least at the time lol) to portray him in his paintball essence!

I started out sketching a pattern, then starting to work in fabric.
I worked the details with embroidery. Can you see all that beautiful hair I embroidered, just to sew a sandanna over the top! haha!
Arms and legs were stitched directly to the body.
Even the pants got the embroidery treatment to look more like paintball pants!
I shaped a pb marker and goggles from wire, aluminium foil and polymer clay, and Guy helped me paint them.
More embroidery for the jersey. His actual real life jersey is on the left.
and all finished
The real life Guy
The Softie Guy

If I were to make a softie portrait of Guy today, It would be suite wearing, cheeky grinning corporate Guy! But his heart is still the same funny, cheeky, caring one that I met some 11 years ago.

Happy Valentines Day. Even if you don’t have a “valentine” I hope you take a moment to appreciate those that you love, those that take you on those crazy adventures and those that make your life that little bit special!

<3 Cate

Crochet Shrug

I had an “Aha!” moment one day at work. The children were “make your own costume”ing, in which, they were given a bag fabric fabric and let loose! The pieces of fabric I dug out of the cupboard for this experince were decent sizes, the smaller ones 1m x 50cm, up to pieces approx 3m long.

The “aha!” moment came when a child made a hooded vest from a rectangle of fabric and one line of sewing. They folded the fabric in half, and stitched one short edge together, this formed the hood. They then cut arm holes. This made me realize that garments don’t need complicated pattern drafting, simple can be really effective!

And thus I set off exploring ideas of what I could make with a simple shape of fabric and a few well though out cuts or seams.

I decided to have a go at making a crochet shrug from one granny square.

My shrug story may have started with an “AHA!” moment, but the supplies started with a box of wool roving, leftover from making my wedding bouquet! (I’ll admit, I bought extra, so I could spin some!)
The roving turned into gorgeous hand spun yarn!
And then I started crocheting one big granny square, using my gorgeous hand carved hook I made years ago!
Once I had made a square big enough to go around me (occasionally check by using safety pins to hold it together) I gave it a bit of a wash and then pinned it out onto a piece of acoustic board I picked up at the Green Shed.
I folded the square together and stiched partway along the edges. This made arm holes. After that, I crochet about 3 rows around the main edge.
The finished shrug on the dress makers dummy. I think i need to make a nice wooden shawl pin! It’s currently held together with my wooden crochet hook!
The back view, you can really see the granny square pattern 🙂

It’s still wayyyyy too hot to wear this! But I’m all set when the weather starts to turn! I think it will be nice to wear over a long sleeve shirt for a little extra warmth!

I’m so in love with the hand spun yarn I used for this! I have one ball left! Do you have any suggestions on something small I should make out of it?

As for making garments from simple shapes, there are many more ideas to explore! I’ve seen a few circle shrugs made from crochet, where they leave arm holes in the making process. I would also like to explore something hooded. So many possibilities!

Have a creative week!
Cate