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I love to crochet. I don’t usually write about my crocheting here on this blog because I don’t write the patterns– and how many times does anyone want to read “I did some crocheting today”? But, today I want to tell you about my latest crochet-related endeavor: making tubular yarn.
I wish I could say this idea is mine, but it’s not. Ages and ages ago (or so it seems) I had a pattern for making a braided rug. The rags used in this rug came from old shirts or other material that was cut/ripped into strips and sewn together to make one long strip. (Hmmm. I’d still love to make that rug!) I started thinking that maybe I could crochet the strips instead of braiding them.
As I searched Pinterest, I came across patterns for baskets made from old t-shirts. We have a lot of those around here! I usually gather a full paper grocery bag before I take them down to Goodwill. And often, when I go through them a second time before donating them, I realize they are not in the best shape and not quite worthy of reselling. But, they’re not ratty enough to throw away, either. So I looked at those patterns on Pinterest again.
One of the patterns included a link to another blog that had pictorial directions for making tubular yarn. It is the best tutorial I have seen, so I’m sharing it with you here. For those of you who don’t want to hop all over the Internet looking at tutorials, I’ve included a few photos and a description of the basic instructions below. (But you’ll probably still want to check out the other blog I’ve referenced.)
Making Tubular Yarn
The first step is to cut away what isn’t usable. I do this by folding the shirt in half and lining it up along a straight edge. I then cut across, just below the underarms. (See figure 1.) Throw out the top half of the shirt and use the bottom half for making tubular yarn.
If the shirt has any graphics on it, you will need to cut below that. Most graphics don’t allow the “yarn” to stretch and roll properly. There are always exceptions! I had a few shirts with graphics that were still usable. My rule of thumb is: if I can close my eyes and feel the shirt and not know where the graphic starts by touch, I will use it; if I can feel it, the graphic gets cut off.
Unfold the shirt and then refold it the same way, but, this time, leave about an inch more underneath. You will be cutting one-inch strips from this, as shown in figure 2. Do not cut all the way through! Only cut through the doubled part — leave that extra inch that is sticking out uncut. You will use this section in the next step to make a continuous strip.
Be sure to cut away the bottom cuff of the t-shirt. You won’t need this part.
Making a Continuous Strip
After you’ve made all your cuts unfold the material, laying the uncut section in front of you. You will now cut diagonally, from the first to the second, from the second to the third, and so on. This step can be confusing– there is a better photo on the blog I referenced above. In figure 3 you can see where the next cut will be; I already cut the first strip loose, and now I’m about to continue cutting diagonally to make a continuous strip.
You may have noticed that I used a rotary cutter for making the strips, but regular scissors for the diagonal cutting. It just worked better for me that way. You can use whatever tools work best for you.
Stretching Into Yarn
Now comes the fun part! Once you have a continuous strip, start at one end and begin pulling it. Just tug it gently and it will roll and stretch into a tubular shape. This part of the project would be ideal for a young child to do! I’m sure they would love stretching the material and watching it magically turn into “yarn.”
After all the stretching and pulling to make it tubular, you can roll it up into a “ball” of yarn. The first ball I completed, made from a large (size) boy’s t-shirt, came out to be about 24 yards in length. Some of the balls were smaller due to graphics or smaller t-shirts.
I am so excited to try out this yarn! My plan is to create a bath mat for our bathroom, for on the floor in front of our shower stall. I don’t have a pattern, but photos will be posted on Facebook when it’s finished.
Have you ever made tubular yarn? What did you make with it? Leave a comment and let us know!