Saturday, 31 August 2013

My first attempt at creating and crochetting t-shirt yarn: men's t-shirt into a chunky doily

Most people these days like to re-purpose/upcycle/recreate/recycle their stuff, or other people's stuff. Op Shops are a big thing now, and there doesn't seem to be any of the social stigma that once went with thrift shopping. I adore Op Shops. I seek them out wherever I go. It is the thrill of the chase, hunting for that thing you collect or are missing, plus the pleasure of getting something for a bargain as well as helping a charity that gets me in.

After watching a few Youtube clips on how to recycle t-shirt into t-shirt yarn, I thought I would give it a go. I went to our local Vinnies and bought a XXL plain red mens t-shirt (Target brand) and a purple plus size ladies t-shirt that had some inserts sewn into the side seams to make it into a swing top. The transformation of clothing into yarn into this...

...goes something like this:

Lay out the t-shirt.

Cut off at the armpits and cut off the hem.

Fold one side seam over to almost meet the other side side. Leave about 2cm gap between the two.

Use a rotary cutter and ruler if you have one, and cut strips from the bottom to the top, but not cutting all the way through! Cut through the lower seam only. I cut these 0.5 inch thick.

When you're done it should look like this: something like a hula skirt.

Shake out the ends and gently open it up.

I missed the first photo of the next process, but what you need to do here is to cut on the diagonal from the other side of the first strip, through to the raw edge at the seam line. This is the start of your yarn. It will have a tapered end if you have done it right.

Then, staying parallel to the first cut you made (so that is on the diagonal) cut across to separate the strips. Keep working all the way along. I would recommend cutting just a few and then double checking to make sure you are doing it right.

When you get to the other end, cut from the strip to the raw end side, just like you did in the beginning.

And now you have a long ribbon of t-shirt material.

Working along the ribbon, gently stretch it and the sides will curl in and it will become thinner, longer and tube like. This is where I realised that Target t-shirts are only sewn together with one row of overlocking, not a seam and then overlocking, which came apart very easily with my narrow ribbons. So I ended up with stacks of shorter lengths. Then I had to join each one, which took about two hours. AAARRRGGHHH!!! Each strip was so tiny!! If you can find t-shirts that are made from a tube of stretch material that have no seams, this whole process will be much easier.

And this is the finished ball of yarn, next to a ball of Carnival 8ply. It is a bit thicker, but not much.

OK, so now I have learned about cutting such fine strips, I tried this purple t-shirt using 0.75 inch strips.

Because it is a swing t-shirt, I couldn't use the ruler so I just went by eye. They are not perfect, but it is going to be stretched and crocheted, so small differences won't be noticable.

Here is the finished ribbon. The larger you cut the strips, the less yarn you will end up with at the end.

And here it is after stretching...

And in a ball. I would use a big hook for this, possibly 8, 9 or 10 mm.

Now, back to the red yarn, I thought I would make a chunky doily. I have seen a lot of giant floor doilies around the internet, some made with rope which are fantastic. I thought I would try a pattern I found online, but for the life of me I can't find it now. If you recognise it, let me know and I will reference it and put in a link. It turned out to be about 12.5 inches, the perfect size mat for little Bessie. It is soft, thick and has some stretch. I think you would be able to throw it in the wash with no worries. However, I think I will use it as a table doily/heat pad.

Eddie wasn't so pleased to be outside on a windy day, but he's so cute!

Thanks for stopping by!

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