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

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