Thursday, April 8, 2010

Crochet Projects- Rugs

I am positively addicted to throw rugs. I only desire them in two places, the kitchen and the bathroom, but I loveLOVElove them! I swoon over color and texture, the more variety the better. A rug will switch up the color scheme, set feeling...and feel amazing underfoot. I think my addiction to them stems from the fact that I get a feeling of connectedness from looking at homemade rugs, and also from the fact that there are SO many to choose from.

Shortly after Christmas this year, as I was knitting a scarf, a friend asked me if I crochet and upon hearing I could never figure out how, swore that if I could knit, then surely I could crochet. She then sat me down to teach me. Right off I was, well, hooked. I'll admit that I have a lot of crafter's ADHD, or maybe I'm just scatterbrained when it comes to projects, and frequently have 2 or 3 in the works simultaneously. When I saw instructions on a crafting website for making simple crochet rugs out of old sheets I knew that was a project for me! Rugs! That I can make myself- out of sheets! A more perfect media for rug making I cannot think of- sheets have a variety of fibers, designs, and colors- and are widely available for little or no cost. I put the word out immediately to friends and family that I needed all of their old, unwanted sheets.

The method is simple- even if you don't crochet. This is even easier than braiding. First, you snip the sheet at 1 1/2" -2" intervals with scissors. Then use the snips to tear the sheet into strips. You could just cut them, but that would take forever. I did notice straight off that some sheets are more prone to fraying or stringing than others. 100% cotton sheets are by far the easiest and nicest to work with- but if there aren't any available, then any polyester or cotton/poly blend sheet will work. You can use strips of old fabric scraps as well. Pillow cases are a bit of a pain for just a little fabric, so I've been saving those for 1 "crazy quilt" style rug. If you are using fitted sheets, just cut the elastic portions off, then remove the corner seams and snip and tear as you would a flat sheet. Be sure to tear them in such a way as to get the longest strips possible so you'll have fewer "ends" to deal with later.

My first attempt was an oblong rug- it was a disaster. I used the method I had read about, working in concentric semi-circles- increasing in size, and putting extra stitches on the short ends so that it would shape into an oblong rather than round, but I just couldn't make that darn rug be anything but round. I unraveled it to start over.

My second attempt I decided would be a large kitchen rug, and I decided it should be a rectangle. To make it, I used a strip of one color sheet to chain the width I wanted the rug to be- I believe it is probably about 25 or so. At the end of that first row, I added 2 chains (the turning chains) and turned it and worked a second row. When one strip of fabric ran out, I cut a hole in the end and just threaded the next strip into it.

The website that gave me my initial inspiration and directions was:
She has beautiful pictures of the rug I WANTED to make ;) and also really good instructions for "anyone can do this" crochet. P.S. Follow her advice about rolling the fabric strips into balls- they REALLY are easier to contend with this way!

On my rug, rather than working in circles round and round, I worked right to left then turned then right to left then turned (a back and forth pattern). Doing this does require adding a couple of chains at the end of each row to turn, but it's really a snap. By changing colors at the end of every other row, I achieved a lovely stripe pattern. This first rug, worked in yellow gingham print and white sheets, is about 5 feet long and 2 feet wide- perfect for in front of the kitchen sink. It's lovely and thick, and makes standing at the sink and doing dishes a less dreadful task. It took about 5-6 full size sheets to complete- though some were fitted. I used a size P crochet hook (11.5mm)- I started out with a size N hook, which would have worked fine, but the P makes it SO much easier.

My next rug project, which doesn't match my kitchen at all, is worked in black sheets, intermixed with a sort of hot pink and then a white/pink/orange stripe sheet. I've got no idea where in my house it'll go, because DH is NOT girly in the least, but so far I am loving it! Such a hip color combination!

These rugs are fantastic for welcome mats, high traffic areas, kitchens and as bathmats. When they get dirty, you just throw them in the washer and you can even machine dry them. Very easy maintenance! I suppose that you could make a super long one for a hallway runner, but that would take a LOT of sheets. The texture of the crochet makes them ideal for use in front of doors, beside the cat box, anywhere that you want to stop dirt. My very old dog also discovered that they are very comfy to sleep on, as it's sort of like an inch thick cushion. They also work great to put next to the bed if your floor is hardwood or some other cold, hard material. My next creation will be round, or hopefully oblong. Really the sky is the limit with these rugs as far as color, pattern, size and shape. The same technique could be used to make a basket- for easter, napkins, to store balls of yarn for other crochet projects- most anything! Happy hooking!

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