Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ever wanted to knit with recycled t-shirts?

I have such a backlog of projects to describe!  A lot of them are left from the winter, which seems odd to write about in July.  This one is perhaps least inappropriate, so here we go!
 Soon after I moved to Minnesota, I realized living here involves 6 months of bringing gritty, wet boots into the house.  For my first year here, I just left them on a rectangle of cardboard by the door, which gradually grew more grimy and water-stained.  Classy.  Not content with, say, buying a rug (horrors!), I decided to make one.
 I decided to use t-shirt "yarn" for it: turns out, if you cut apart a t-shirt in a spiral, it makes surprisingly great knitting material.  And here's how!
To begin, hit up the thrift store for some t-shirts to chop up.  It's worth it to look for extra-large sizes; you can get up to twice the material from each one.  Try to get ones without much printing: the vinyl-y lettering will interfere with the curl of the fabric.  Also stay away from t-shirts with spandex: it interferes with the yarn curling to form a pleasant tube. 

Fold the shirt almost in half, so that there's about an inch that does not overlap.
Trim off the doubled-over hem of the shirt. 
 Next, begin making vertical cuts, parallel to the hem.  Cut all the way through the top layer, but not the bottom layer.  You want to leave all the "slices" hanging onto a backbone of fabric.
Cut the whole shirt this way, up to the armpits.  You can discard everything above the armpits (they make good rags for house-cleaning).
Now for the cool part!  Lay out the strips as neatly as you can around the "backbone".
Now it's time to cut apart the strips.  You want to connect cut 1 with cut 2 to create one continuous strip (not straight across, that will result in a bunch of useless rings).

In this one-off fashion, jon all the cuts.  You should now have one long strip that looks like fettucine.
 Don't be surprised if it looks awkward for knitting, there's one step left.  It's the easiest, and completely magical.  Take the "fettucine," a foot at a time, and give it a brisk tug.  Once stretched, it will curl in on itself into a nice, smooth tube. 

 And that's it!  I used size 13 needles to make my rug, with a simple pattern of stockinette stitch with a garter stitch border.  With that pattern, I got about 65 square inches (about half a square foot) of knitting per t-shirt, depending on size.

1 comment:

  1. I have been thinking about doing this for a few months. What a great tutorial! Thank you!