Sunday, December 4, 2011

Crocheted rag rug: Part 2

About 2/3 of the way through.
Last time I posted, I wrote the first part of a semi-tutorial about crocheting a rag rug out of old t-shirts. The rug's now complete, so I thought I'd post pictures of the finished product and share a few more tips.

I crocheted the entire thing over the course of a weekend, and it's a great project to do while you watch a movie, since it doesn't require that much concentration or counting once you get going.

I used this basic tutorial for crocheting an oval, but of course you can do any shape you like--round, oval, square or rectangle (in the round or in rows). If you're doing a circle or an oval, once you get past the first few rows, don't sweat too much making sure you're doing the "correct" number of increases around the curve. Keeping the rug flat is more important, and since your "yarn" isn't going to be perfectly uniform in width, you might have to add or subtract increases to keep things even. No big deal! Just trust your instincts and adapt as you work.

Hobbes-approved, so you know it's good.

Overall, this rug took ten t-shirts (size adult small through extra large) and its final size is around 17 x 30." If I'd had more t-shirts, I might have kept going, but I think it's big enough. I used a Lion Brand P-15/11.5mm hook, but if I do this again I might use a bigger one. I tend to crochet pretty tightly, and by the time I was finished, my hands were aching a little.

Right now it's in the laundry room being used as a place mat for the cats--a glamorous use for a very glamorous piece of DIY home decor.

If you're looking for more rag rug inspiration, or more detailed instruction, there's a great rag rug Flickr group (of course there is!). Some of the tutorials I looked at include:
Plus, there about a zillion more links and videos to be found with a quick Google search. Happy crafting!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

New project: crocheted rag rug (part 1)

T-shirt yarn!

Raise your hand if this situation is familiar: you graduated from college in the past few years, and you are absolutely drowning in slightly over-sized, no longer wearable souvenir t-shirts from every high school and college event or activity you ever participated in. I've got sports t-shirts from high school, service project t-shirts from high school and college, club t-shirts, you name it. I even have a t-shirt that my Brownie troop made in elementary school. And I don't--or at least shouldn't--wear them anymore. I've already turned half of them into housecleaning rags,* but there are still a bunch left.

What's a crafty girl who hates throwing things away to do? Turn them into a rag rug, of course!

To that end, I've spent the past several evenings cutting a pile of t-shirts into long strips and rolling them into balls. Luckily nearly all the shirts are part of the same gray/white/blue/navy color family, so the finished product will look nicely unified.

To cut the t-shirts into strips, I started at the bottom hem and cut the body of the shirt into a long, continuous spiral all the way up to the armpits, rolling the strips into a ball as I went. I tried to keep the strips about the same 1" thickness, but didn't really sweat it. Perfectly even strips of material aren't necessary, but try to keep them all between 1/2" and 1" in width. Wider than that and it'll get harder to catch with your hook, but going much narrower might make your "yarn" too weak. Now that I've started crocheting, I would also recommend cutting off and discarding the bottom hem entirely, and starting your cut just above it. The double thickness of the fabric is really hard to stitch with and makes the final product lumpy.

A little bit of printing on the shirt is okay, but it does make the fabric a little stiffer, so avoid shirts with very large overall designs, or anything that feels stiff in your hands. Since the fabric tends to roll in on itself as you crochet, printed designs won't make the final product look weird.

For the first few t-shirts, I also cut the sleeves into strips as well, but now that I've started crocheting, I don't think it's worth the effort--it doesn't make a very long length of material, and all that joining really slows the speed of my crochet. But if you don't have that many shirts to start with, it might be worth it for you.

If you don't have t-shirts, old bed sheets, or pretty much any other scrap fabric, will also work. It is a rag rug, after all! 

*Pro tip: old t-shirts make great cleaning rags. They're soft, absorbent, tough, and if they've been washed enough times, almost totally lint-free.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

More faux bois

There isn't much to say about this, except: yay! faux bois! I love it so. The design is my own; I sketched it out freehand and then used dressmaker's carbon paper to transfer it to the fabric.

I don't know why I love faux woodgrain so much. It looks a little like a fingerprint, and drawing it seems to have a sort of zen-garden effect on me. So I cover everything with it.

(DMC floss, regular quilter's cotton, 4" hoop)

Friday, July 8, 2011

All we want to do is to eat your brains

You're going to regret taking his stapler.
The Corporate Zombie is another project from Christen Haden's amazing book Creepy Cute Crochet (which I raved about here). In fact, I believe he was the first project I made from that book, in celebration my husband's first "grown-up" job.

I'm fairly pleased with the way he turned out, although the details of his making are rather dim, at this point--I made him more than a year ago, but only just got around to taking a picture.

Unfortunately, Shambles here has not had an easy life. My husband doesn't have a desk of his own at his current job, so Shambles moved back in with us... and the cat. Hobbes is a nice cat, but he has a huge, epic, totally cliche obsession with yarn, and the things I make out of it.

He didn't destroy the zombie totally, but he did rip out most of his hair and seriously damage his cute felt accessories (the dripping blood and necktie). I'll have to re-do them at some point, although I think he looks more like a proper zombie now.

The details: As I mentioned above, I really don't remember many specifics... I probably used an F hook. The main body (shirt and pants) are made from Lion Brand Cotton-Ease, but I believe the head is Lily Sugar 'n Cream. The hair is an anonymous brown acrylic.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Amigurumi Android

(He's stuck to the computer with velcro.)

My dad is a computer geek, and he loves anything free, open source, and Google-related (especially his Android phone)--so when I saw this free pattern for a crocheted Android robot, I knew I had to make it for him for his birthday.

It was pretty easy and fast to make, and it turned out very cute. I made just a few changes to bethsco's original pattern. Mine has black eyes, not white, because all I had on hand were black safety eyes and I didn't have time to go searching for a white alternative. I used either an E or F hook (I can't remember which) instead of the recommended H hook, in order to make it smaller. I also used Lion Brand's Cotton Ease yarn in lime, which I thought was closer to the color of the actual Android logo.

(Side note: that lime green yarn has been so much more versatile than I ever would have expected when I bought it. It's been the perfect shade for Cthulu, Yoda, and now the Android bot. Go figure!)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Totally radical cross stitch

Okay, kids! Let's play a fun game called "find the mistake."
I think I've mentioned before that although both of my grandmothers (and at least one great-aunt) crocheted, I didn't learn the craft from either of them. (I am kicking myself for that now.) The embroidery and knitting (such as it is) are self-taught as well. But there is one craft in my arsenal that's been "passed down" from a family member, so to speak, and that's cross-stitch.

My mother (and my aunt and a very close family friend) is an accomplished cross-stitcher, so she taught me when I young. I never really picked up her passion for it (or more accurately, I never really had the attention span for it), but once you learn how to do something like that, you never really forget.

So when I found the Wee Little Stitches Etsy shop, and saw their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cross stitch pattern, I knew I had to make it for my fiance's birthday. As a (male) child of the late eighties/early nineties, he is a huge fan of TMNT, and also, conveniently, a huge fan of my geeky crafts.

I'm still not an expert--I had to get my mom's help with stretching* and framing it, and there are a few mistakes in there that the keen of eye can spot--but overall I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. Cross stitch has a unique look that I really enjoy sometimes, especially when it's contrasted with a more contemporary design.

*And rest assured, the final product is much more "square" than the picture, which I took after my unsuccessful first attempt at framing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Love Grows" embroidery

I completed this embroidery last week, though I bought the pattern from Urban Threads months ago (back when I had--or thought I had--disposable income). I have, as I'm sure I've mentioned, a wild and crazy love for faux bois, and the faux-er it is, the better I like it. This may not be faux bois in the traditional sense, but it's a tree and there's woodgrain and I love it.

Plus I think it will look delightful in our bathroom, which is decorated in shades of brown and has a tree-patterned shower curtain. I'm planning a "cluster" of small tree, forest, and woodgrain themed embroideries in there, as many as I can make and/or my fiance can tolerate. Which is a lot, I suspect.

This pattern reminds me of the "The Giving Tree" a children's book so monumentally sad that I actually teared up a little bit when describing its plot to the Fiance, who apparently did not have it in his childhood library. (He was too busy reading Calvin and Hobbes, I suspect, and I can't criticize--that's time well spent.) But "The Giving Tree" is a happy sort of sad, and this pattern isn't any sort of sad at all--especially not with our initials "carved" into it, and the blooming flowers. (Urban Threads calls this pattern "Love Grows" and I like that title very much.)

Monday, April 25, 2011

It's retro and aqua: what's not to love?

Ridiculous. Ruffled. Retro.
In my last post, I think I said I probably wouldn't be doing much in the way of crafty things for the next few weeks, on account of how I'm getting married in twelve days or something crazy like that.

Really, I should know myself better than that by now. The crazy reality of getting married in twelve days is all the more reason to do crafty things, because they are an unparalleled form of procrastination. The secret to successful and less-guilty procrastination is to do something productive. It's hard to feel as though you've utterly wasted your time when at the end of the day you have a ridiculous ruffled potholder to show off, even if what you were supposed to be doing was making wedding favors.

That little philosophy pretty much defined my senior year of college as well. You want me to write a thesis? What? No, sorry, I have Very Important Afghans to make.

Sure, I may regret this in a few days, when the guests may or may not have favors or table numbers or whatever else weddings are supposed to have, but more likely I'll just look at that potholder, smile, and consider it time well spent.

Because it was.

Technical details: The pattern is from Crochet Today, a free one you can download right here. I used Lion Brand Cotton-Ease in Seafoam and Lily Sugar 'n Cream in Ecru. (Both worsted weight, cotton-blend and 100% cotton respectively.) Size H-8/5.0 mm hook.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I may have to rename this blog "Hooray Fiber Arts!"

If I were the tattooed type, this phrase would totally be on my wrist
I think I mentioned previously that I've begun embroidery. I have also gotten slightly better at knitting than I was last time I posted. Then again, I could hardly have gotten worse. (And "better" is clearly a relative term: I can still only cast on and knit stitch. I haven't yet tried to learn how to purl or cast off.)

The embroidery, though, is going swimmingly, and I am so excited about it that my various crochet projects have been neglected. My creative impulses tend to careen about wildly like that, so I'm sure sometime soon I'll be back to crocheting with abandon. For one thing, I promised a co-worker I'd make him a Superman hat. (New motto: will crochet for beer.)

The little slogan to the left is my most recent completed project, which I will hang over my desk at work as soon as I wash it and get it properly secured in its hoop. I need that daily reminder there, because while I love my job, it's overwhelming if I think about it too hard. Plus, I love the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and I'm interested in seeing who else gets it.

This post aside, the radio silence around here is likely to continue for awhile yet: I am getting married in eighteen days (!!!) and it turns out weddings are a lot of work. Even if you started out your engagement swearing that you will not get stressed out by this, you probably will. Or maybe you won't, but I did. I'm very excited, of course, but that just makes it even harder to care about place cards. Or the cake. Or finding an organist for the ceremony. People keep asking me questions about it, and I suspect I should know the answers, but, um, I don't.

So I just embroider instead. Don't panic!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hooray knitting?

I am trying to teach myself to knit. What finally convinced me? Good patterns, mostly, and also the fact that knitting uses so much less yarn than crochet. The savings on yarn alone should totally offset all the money I'll have to put in my swear jar while I teach myself. It's just economical.

And, since wrangling the dog (he wants to eat my yarn, my knitting needles, my sofa, and everything else) and constantly pausing and rewinding the YouTube tutorials isn't distraction enough, I thought maybe I'd live-blog the process.

Step one: Make a slip knot. Slide the slipknot onto your needle and tighten it. Okay, yes. YES, I can do this. Knitting is easy! I will conquer the fiber arts! I will knit ALL THE THINGS.

Step two: Grow a third hand. Uh oh.

Step three: Using all three hands, the yarn, and the needle, make a complicated cat's cradle and stick the needle through it. Rinse, repeat. Um, what? What is happening? How did you make the yarn do that?

Step four: watch the same twenty seconds of YouTube video sixteen times, pausing every four seconds. There is something on your needle now. Regard it skeptically. Quizzically, even. Rinse, repeat.

Step five: realize that all this time, you've been doing...whatever it is you've been doing, which probably isn't knitting--with the tail of the yarn. Not the part attached to the ball of yarn.

Step six: realize how conveniently, temptingly pointy a knitting needle is. Try not to think about stabbing something.

Step seven: introduce the second needle to the first needle, your three hands, and whatever it is you've got going on needle one. Yes, that's right, the second needle. You'd forgotten about that. Because crochet has left you spoiled.

Step eight: realize that you need to use a pointy stick to pull a loop of yarn through a different loop of yarn. Sweet fancy Moses, isn't that what they invented crochet hooks for?

Step nine: repeat step six. Except that nothing is actually accumulating on your needle now. You seem to be making negative stitches.

I'm not giving up yet, but I think it may be time to make another pot of coffee and read another romance novel.

And maybe crochet something.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The mighty Cthulu

Well, October was a bust, which for various reasons I should have foreseen. I did finish some projects, but I also spent a lot of time absorbed in Real Life. It happens. We'll call it a wash.

He's dark and fearsome. No, really!
I'm working on getting back in gear creatively after a crazy last quarter of 2010. (Lesson learned: never move around the holidays. Terrible life choice!) I've recently taken up embroidery (more on that later), and I'm on the last round of a crocheted baby gift. I'll share pictures of that once it's completed and delivered. In the meantime, I'll just say that it's turning out so great I'm half-tempted to make one for myself.

Since I can't share pictures of that yet, how about some pictures from an old amigurumi project? My fiance loves the creepy tales of H.P. Lovecraft, so when I saw the crocheted Cthulu project in Creepy Cute Crochet, I knew I had to make it for him. (I believe it was his Christmas gift in '09.)

I'm really happy with the way it turned out (and the fiance loves it), although those tentacles took several tries to perfect. Luckily, the author provided a couple of really helpful tutorials on her blog, a fact which neatly sums up Why The Internet is Awesome.

Technical details (as far as I remember them): Lion Brand's Cotton-Ease yarn (worsted weight) in lime for all the stitching, with either an E or F hook.