Wednesday, November 16, 2011

T-Shirt Yarn Tutorial

My favorite online forum is Mary Jane's Farmgirl Connection.  It's for gals like me who do "farmwife" stuff, whether we live on a farm or just dream about living on a farm.

One of the posts today was about repurposing clothing, with a specific question about t-shirt yarn.  So, I thought I'd share the process with all of you.  This is a fantastic way to reuse shirts that may not be suitable for charity donation because of stains, holes, stretching - you know the ones I'm talking about.  By cutting them into strips, you can eliminate the holey or stained sections and still use what is good.

Cutting mat, quilt ruler and rotary cutter OR
Yardstick, 1-foot ruler, marking utensil (tailor's chalk, pencil) and scissors

Hubs generously donated this t-shirt for the tutorial.  Kind of appropriate, doncha think?

Start by folding your t-shirt in half, and laying it flat and smooth.  Be sure to smoothe out as many wrinkles as you possibly can.

Start cutting from the hem end.  Cut the hem off, and make the lower edge straight.  From here on, for the cutting, if you are using the yardstick method, use the smaller ruler and mark lightly on both edges, every 1/2".  Then carefully line up your yardstick to match each mark.  Cut with scissors.  Repeat the lining up and cutting.

My photos show how to do it with the rotary cutter.
Removing the hem

Continue cutting all the way up to the base of the sleeves (aka the armpits - can you say that on a blog?).  You will have a bunch of long loops.  I got 29 out of a size medium shirt.  If you don't mind some shorter segments in your finished product, you can repeat either process with the sleeves (without folding them in half first).

Now this is the part I could not explain in words only, so follow the photos if the directions seem confusing...

To make these loops into yarn, you are going to connect them with larkshead knots (thank you, Bubba - I knew there was a reason we have you in Boy Scouts!).  Take 2 loops.  Open one of them up.  This will be Loop A.  Insert Loop B as shown.

Now take the "tail" of Loop B and insert it THROUGH the front of itself, going over the end of Loop A.

Pull tight to make the knot.

Continue with all the loops until you have joined the last one.  Be sure to attach at the ends of each loop -  not in the middle or you will have "saggy" sections and tight sections (don't ask me how I know this - I will plead the 5th!)  Wind carefully into a ball.  This "yarn" has a lot of stretch to it, and you don't want to overstrectch it.

Make as little or as much as you want.  Make lots of colors - when following a pattern, joining Color A to Color B is as simple as another larkshead knot.  You can make a variegated (aka multi-color) using loops from different shirts, or mixing sleeve loops from one shirt with big loops from another.  Make rugs, bags, baskets, scarves - anything that would take a bulky or rug weight yarn - whatever your imagination wants to try!

Give it a go the next time you have a pile of old t-shirts!

1 comment:

Amy said...

Thanks for sharing! I have been thinking about crocheting a rug. This would work great. Do you have any projects you have crocheted with t-shirts?