I began rag crocheting in October 2010, when I made the “Easy Urban Carryall” (aka ‘the beehive’) from Complete Crochet Techniques and Projects. It was a really easy project, very customizable, and perfect for any beginner. After the first, I made them without a pattern, like the light blue bag that I use to hold extra skeins of yarn during projects.
The ‘frozen earth’ rug is loosely based on a pattern that I found via Ravelry. I followed the directions for five or six rounds, and then I needed to go off on my own and follow the lay of the fabric. It measures 37 inches in diameter, just over three feet. It’s not quite big enough for all of Luna, but she likes to lay on it and wishes to claim it. She would even try to nose it off of my lap while crocheting. Sweet doggy-girl.
I’ve had a lot of inquiries about rag strip crocheting lately. I am no expert, but I have learned a few things through trial and error.
1. There are many items that you can use for rag strip crocheting, but thus far I have used mostly sheets. (I look forward to trying other fibers in the future.) I look for fabric that has been worn thin from use and washing. This will produce a lot less dust and it will be easier to work. Make sure that there aren’t any lint balls on the sheets. Mostly, I would avoid things like flannel and heavy fabrics unless you’re wearing a face mask and/or working outside.
2. Trim the strings as you go. I start the strip, which is 1/2 – 1-inch in width, with a snip of my scissors, and then I tear it to within a half-inch of the opposite edge. I tug on any strings that want to unravel and cut wherever they are attached. Then, I snip the opposite end and rip again before taking care of those strings. The first time that I stripped a sheet, I didn’t cut off any of the strings until I was done tearing it up and I had a terrible rat’s nest at the end. Also, despite all of this, expect to encounter strings. Sadly, some of the best fabrics produce the most string, as seen in the comparison of the blue and green balls that I made. (That green ball, the better fabric of the two, weighs 1.88 pounds.) While working with the green, I frequently stopped to trim more loose strings. However, this fabric was smooth enough for the rug and the blue turned out too heavy. I’m saving it for another project, an experiment.
3. Speaking of rat’s nest, I find it helpful to roll my yarn balls as I tear my strips. I let it build up for a little bit and then I wrap it. If I don’t, I will have a knot of that too.
4. Rag crocheting with sheets is a workout. I have found it helpful to take frequent breaks, especially until you are used to it. Adjusting one’s grip on the hook, fiber, or project to may help to keep hands and arms from getting too sore. I work less with my hands and more with my shoulders, particularly that right deltoid.
5. If working on something flat and round, like a rug, the increases may need to be adjusted to accommodate wrinkles or curling. If it begins to curl, there needs to be more increases. If it wrinkles, there are too many increases. When changing fabrics during a project, that may cause sudden curling or wrinkles as well. I sometimes need to unravel and adjust. When I added the last color into the rug, it immediately began to wrinkle although I was not increasing at all. I never increased again after adding that color. Weird.
6. Instead of stitch markers, a piece of yarn works just fine for keeping track of where your rows/rounds start. I use this method for most of my crocheting.
7. If the rug still wrinkles or curls a bit when done, you can mist it with a water bottle and smooth out most problems with a hot iron.