Rags to Stitches

Last year my mother started a new tradition in our family: Craft Night.  We all get together at my mom’s house one night per month and work on our various projects while we chat. It’s a relaxed-type of party and we get a lot of work done! This is not just for women—we’ve had several men in the family participate as well.

My sister Naomi has been working on a braided rag rug. She showed me how she sews up long braided strips of fabric with a needle & thread. I decided to make my own so I ripped several cloths into strips and then thought maybe instead of sewing them I would just try crocheting them instead. I think it looks quite nice! Here is a picture:

This rug gives me the same sentimental feeling of a quilt made from pieces of people’s lives. The rags that are currently in my rug are made from fabric which had different household uses in my various apartments. It’s fun because they jump out at me like a scrapbook. It’s also a great way to recycle your old linens!

  • Sheet Magic: Games, Toys & Gifts from Old Sheets by Peggy Parish, J745.5 P. The turquoise strips in my rug are made from an old turquoise sheet. Check out all the different things you can make with your old bed linens!
  • Eco Craft: Recycle, Recraft, Restyle by Susan Wasinger, 745.5 WAS. I only know how to crochet, but if you know how to knit you can make a rag rug using this pattern by Wasinger using old wool sweaters you can find at thrift stores.

Another recycling craft tip: my sister-in-law taught me to buy big sweaters at thrift stores and unravel the yarn and re-use it to make our own crafts! It’s also cheaper than buying skeins of wool.

Here’s a snap-shot of some of the other things we’ve worked on at our craft nights:

♣ roasting coffee beans

♣ making crystal necklaces

  • Rock and Stone Craft: Creating Art and Functional Objects from Natural Materials by Elyse Sommer, 745.5 SOM. The jewelry section (p. 70-77) is really interesting! It shows you how to make cool chunky stone necklaces, rings and bracelets.
  • Making Colorful Wire & Beaded Jewelry by Linda Jones, 745.59 JON. This is a step-by-step guide with pictured instructions, mostly for charm-type of necklaces.

♣ making a kite!

  • Kids’ Book of Adventure Projects by Gary F. Hartman, J 613.69 HAR. Chapter 11 shows you how to make a kite. It also explains how kites work and how to fly them. 🙂

♣ knitting a beautiful dark green sweater and a Harry Potter scarf. Here is a picture of my sister’s boyfriend Chris wearing his Harry Potter scarf (while reading Harry Potter of course!):

  • Stitch n’ Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook by Debbie Stoller, 746.43 STO. This book tells you everything you need to know about knitting. She has modern, funky designs too!
  • Stitch n’ Bitch Nation by Debbie Stoller, 746.43 STO. The second book by Stoller takes you across the nation to different knitting groups and shows you fun designs from each place.

♣ setting the ink on silkscreened t-shirts by ironing them

♣ mending, hemming and patching piles of clothing

  • Mend It! A Complete Guide to Clothes Repair by Maureen Goldsworthy 646.2 GOL. In case your mother didn’t teach you, here are timeless step-by-step instructions on every kind of mending you may come across.
  • Threads Magazine located in the upstairs “Old House”. Threads always has lots of unique and interesting projects of different skill levels with inspiring pictures!

♣ haircutting!

  • Cutting your Family’s Hair by Gloria Handel 646.72 HAN. Handel has homemade shampoo & conditioner recipes, information about hair and detailed easy-to-understand instructions about haircutting.
  • Great Hair: Elegant Styles for Every Occasion by Davis Biton 646.724 BIT. This is a fun book for a girls’ night out because it has lots of fancy up-do styles that you can do with a friend. There are simple instructions with pictures for each step.

♣ stringing mullein leaves to dry

♣ patching bike tires

♣ making Halloween costumes

  • Super-Simple Creative Costumes by Sue Astroth, 646.478 AST. This book shows you how to make many fun accessories that really make a costume! Funky hats, crowns, wands, ties, glasses, wings…

♣ crocheting a “log cabin” afghan, skirts, scarves and sweaters

  • Knit and Crochet Your Own Designs by Francesca Parkinson, 746.43 PAR. This is a great book for those of us who have trouble with patterns! It shows you how to measure yourself and turn it into your own clothing pattern. I’ve made 2 skirts and a biking sweater by my own design which are, admittedly, homey-looking but you wouldn’t believe how many compliments I get on them!
  • Hip to Crochet by Judith L. Swartz, 746.434 SWA. A bunch of cute, easy patterns from sweaters to hats to baskets!

♣ I experimented with felting a few times. The first time I tried it I made a big hat out of wool and washed it in my washing machine with hot water to shrink it. Unfortunately I didn’t make it big enough. The hat turned out so small it could only fit a doll. So the 2nd time I went to the other extreme and made a monstrous bag, hoping it would shrink down to the size of a purse. It turned out a little wonky so I use it for my craft bag now. Maybe I should have consulted these books first!

  • Felted Knits by Beverly Galeskas, 746.432 GAL. This is a simple guide to felting with many fun patterns to try. The author stresses the importance of taking the time to do a test gauge, which I always skip because I’m too excited to start my project! But she’s right, it saves a lot of extra work…
  • Uniquely Felt by Christine White, 746.046 WHI. This book is for the more serious felter who wants to go all out and make some crazy stuff! The title is true, there are some very different and weird-looking items in here!

I’m off to Craft Night now… we have one more month of winter so let’s get some projects done!

Jesse Lee Harmon is the bookkeeper/library assistant at OWL and is currently humming the song Coming Around Again by Carly Simon off of her Reflections album, CD FOLK-ROCK SIM.

3 thoughts on “Rags to Stitches

  1. Great tips! I have to check out the “Stitch n’ Bitch” books! Always interested in new designs!!! :o)

    Just as an aside… I have found that with doing crafting it prevents me from unconsciously eating (like in front of the tv) because you’ll get your craft all dirty! ;o) Diet tool too! :o)

  2. Fun and creative blog Jesse. What fun you have! I love crocheting too, although I’ve only done blankets and scarves…I’d like to try skirts or hats. Making things on your own is so rewarding and fun 🙂

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