Knitted T-Shirt Rug - The Surznick Common Room

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Knitted T-Shirt Rug

Lately I've been really wanting to try my hand at making a rug. Nothing big or fancy, just a small rug to put in front of our kitchen sink. I've seen lots of other bloggers weave or braid their own rugs, but I've been on a knitting kick lately (remember this and this?), so I decided I would knit one!

It just so happens that I already had the fabric I needed lying around our house (and I bet you have it too): t-shirts! Nick and I have ton of t-shirts that were either already in a pile for Goodwill or were put in a drawer and rarely worn. T-shirts were a perfect candidate for our rug fabric because they're soft, we didn't feel bad about cutting them up, and most importantly, they're free!

Since I planned to knit my rug, my first step was to make "t-shirt yarn." Here's how you do it!
- Lay your t-shirt out flat on the floor or table.
- Cut straight across the shirt, right underneath where the arm holes start. Also cut off the bottom seam. You should be left with rectangle piece of fabric (basically the torso part of the shirt).
- Starting from the side of the t-shirt, cut 3/4-1" strips across the shirt, leaving about a 1" allowance at the other end. (I didn't measure while doing this, just be careful not to make your strips too thin or they may rip later.)

- Next, unfold your seam allowance and make diagonal cuts between the strips in order to make one continuous strip (i.e. outside to strip 1, strip 1 to strip 2, strip 2 to strip 3, etc.)

- Now you should have one really long strip of t-shirt. In order to turn this into yarn, gently pull on the strip. The sides will curl in, making it circular.

- Do this for the entire length of t-shirt strip. Once you're done, roll it into a ball and you're ready to knit!

Knitted T-Shirt Rug
You need:
- T-shirt yarn (I used 12 shirts, not all of them in their entirety)
- Large knitting needles (I used size 15)
- Scissors
- Safety pin

Here's what what you do!
- First determine your size and pattern. I decided to knit my rug in two panels (since you can only fit so many stitches on a knitting needle) and sew them together.
- Panel 1: Cast on 18 stitches. Knit until you have about 6" of yarn remaining. Work in your next ball of yarn and continue knitting. Repeat this process until you reach your desired length. Cast off.
- Note: I didn't pre-determine the length of my rug. After my 5th ball of yarn/color block, I was satisfied with the length. Since I wanted my pattern to be similarly sized color blocks, I knew another entire ball of yarn/color block would make my rug too long.

- Panel 2: Repeat the steps above for your second panel.
- Helpful tip: Since my first panel established the length of my rug, I made sure that the final color block of my second panel was a color that I had multiple of (in my case, white). When I reached the end of my first white ball of yarn, I had not yet reached the length needed to match panel 1, so I had to work in another ball.
- Your panels will have several pieces of yarn hanging out of them from casting on/off and working in new balls of yarn. We need to sew these into the rug to hide them. Since I don't have a needle with an eye large enough for t-shirt yarn, I decided to put a safety pin through the end of the yarn pieces and work the safety pin through the panels.

- Now it's time to sew the panels together! I figured the most durable way to do this would be to use more t-shirt yarn. Using the same process as above, I put a safety pin through the end of my yarn and sewed the two panels together, knotting tightly at each end. I also wove my yarn through the stitches to further strengthen the seam and also make it look a little cleaner. Again, I used the safety pin to sew in the end pieces.

What do you guys think?! The rug is pretty squishy and super comfy to stand on. I love the color it brings into our dark, neutral kitchen. And it's much better to stand on than that hard stone floor!

I'm really happy with how it turned out for my first rug knitting attempt! The only money I spent for this project was $3.00 for a pair of needles, since I didn't have any large enough. Not too shabby, huh?

Anyone else have ideas for repurposing some old t-shirts?

Sarah & Nick


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