The final product stuffed with alpaca yarn.

The final product stuffed with alpaca yarn.

Last year while browsing a local crafts gallery  in Provincetown I noticed some throw rugs made from strips of T-shirts crocheted together. I loved the idea, and it seemed like the sort of project that I could handle with my basic crocheting skills. Since then any worn out or outgrown T has been secreted away into a growing pile, and today I began using my pile of treasure to create.

The first step is to cut the T shirts into strips by laying them flat and cutting straight across from side to side to form big loops. I had tried doing this by hand with scissors, and that was awful. I really recommend using a rotary cutter to preserve your sanity and produce consistently straight lines. The “yarn” is made by pulling the loops through one another to form a chain.

For my first attempt I cut the T’s into 1″ wide strips. The largest hook I have is 10 mm, which is just a little too small to handle the 1″ wide strips, though I did work a row just to see what the texture was like. It came out pretty close to the weight of the rugs I had seen in P-town, and as soon as I get a bigger hook I’m going to go ahead and finish a rug.

I decided then to try a thinner strip, and I cut 5 T’s into 1/2″ strips. This thickness produced a slightly lighter fabric, which seemed ideal for making small baskets, placemats, bags, and belts. I figured I’d try to make a small basket to hold my alpaca yarn while I figure out what to make with it. I’m moderately pleased with the results, though the basket is a little soft, and I wish I had prepared more “yarn” to make it a little bigger or give it handles. I think next time I’ll wait until I have twice as many T’s and make a taller farm basket with handles to use while harvesting things from the garden.

One note of caution if you try this at home: when you cut T-shirts, be prepared for a lot of lint dust to coat everything around you. As far as messy crafts go, this is pretty mild, but you don’t want to work this around anything sensitive to dust, like computers or wet paint.