Do you have any old jeans or cotton t-shirts in the house that you no longer wear? Are these too good for the rag bag, but not good enough for the charity shop or selling at a market? Do you hate throwing stuff away and are looking for a way to recycle the material?
Brigitte from Purls of Colour has the perfect upcycling solution: knit them!
I was at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Dublin last week and showed people how to knit with t-shirt and denim yarn, and I now reveal my secrets...
First of all, you need the fabric - this could be cotton t-shirts, a pair of old denims, a worn-out silk scarf or fabric remnants from a sewing project. If you haven't washed any fabric remnants beforehand, I'd advise to wash them to make sure the material doesn't shrink terribly or falls apart. I've just ruined a cushion cover by washing it and I had no idea that it would totally go to pieces.
I prefer working with natural fibre, but I know people have knitted with plastic bags rather successfully. I also tried to knit with ties (and am still working on that one), but again, wash them first, because some silk ties lose shape after washing.
You also need a pair of BIG NEEDLES - yes, needles that put fear into the hearts of men! Size 15 or 20 - if you can get any bigger, go for it! At the last Knitting and Stitching Show, a lady knitted rugs on needles that were the size of broomsticks!
Then you need a pair of scissors and the fun starts. There are various ways of cutting the fabric. Some cut strips and then sew the ends together by hand or machine. Some knot the ends of stips together, but that means you either let the ends hang, or you have to sew them in later on.
To avoid too much sewing or knotting, you can cut your piece in the round or in serpentines to have longer strips.
Yes, you get corners, but they aren't too visible when you knit, and the ones that show look rather arty and interesting.
That's really it. Once you have enough strips sewn or knotted together, you just roll them into a ball and start knitting scarves, hats, bags, rugs...
This is a rug I knitted from cotton t-shirts and cast off with denim (the loopy bits are the corners of strips cut out in the round).
I've even used some denim in my latest Austerity Neckwarmer!
Although I love love love wool, I am beginning to develop a soft spot for knitting with fabric, so there are Purls' creations in the making which mix wool and interesting fabrics.