16 June 2006

the ground beneath our feet

recycled t-shirt rug
Recycled T-Shirt Rug
Gather together

-One set size 15 needles (or whatever giant needles you've got lying around)
-A bunch of shirts in various stages of disrepair (bring me your stained, your holey, your stretched out, your too-grody-to-wear-but-too-sentimental-to-throw-out)
-One pair pinking shears
-Patience. Sweet, sweet patience.

In a nutshell: cut the shirts into (really) long strips. I recommend pinking shears. Start at the bottom and just cut around in a spiral, keeping the strip a couple inches wide. The edges will roll up so you probably don't want to cut too thin. (Depends on fiber content of shirt, how much it will unravel, how much you care about gauge--if you are a gauge fiend you might want to try another project!) You can keep cutting over side seams, if it is a shirt constructed that way. (Most t-shirts seem to be seamless from the botttom hem up to the armpits though.) Be prepared for cottons to get lint all over the place.

At this point you can sew the ends of the various strips together (by machine or by hand) if you want (to make "yarn"), or you can go all crazy freeform and just change colors the same way you would when knitting. I did half and half. Sewing the ends makes it more neat. But hey you are knitting a rug out of t-shirts, you might not be a big neat freak.

If you want to, determine a stripe pattern, or decide to go freeform. My stripes were determined by how much yar
n I had of that particular color. As you can see I half-assed some symmetrical sort of deal. I was thinking about doing some kind of circle thing but stripes seemed easier (and they were).

Cast on. The width of my rug was determined by the length of my rather stubby needles. I ended up doing a weensy garter stitch border that barely showed up in the finished project, but did keep the edges from rolling. Your call.

Knit! This will take arm strength and hand strength! I do not recommend using a cut up Army shirt for yarn, like I did, that almost killed me. I could barely get the stitches off the needle and the knitting was not even that tight. The thinner, older cotton t-shirts worked the best. I used a stretchy nylon blend dress shirt for one of the yarns and it was nice and slippery on the needles, so maybe give those a try.

This thing will get heavy in your lap as it grows. Cast off when it's too fat, ugh, nothing worse than getting squashed by your knitting. Can you block cotton? I don't know, but I fake-blocked this by dampening the rug and putting it between two bath towels and then covering it with heavy books.

Now it keeps my feet comfy while I'm washing dishes!

Closeup of stitches:

rug stripes

Gauge (hah!) averages about 2-3 stitches per inch.
Moderate Googling will get you some interesting links about the topic, if you're inclined.