Sunday, 15 January 2012

I want to ride my bicycle and take my teddies along!

For christmas my daughter had the most wonderful retro style bike.  She really loves to ride her bike, and goes to school on it everyday.  One thing she really wanted for it was a basket to put her teddies in, but the shop only had  hideous and expensive bright pink plastic things.  My budget couldn't quite stretch to a wicker one, especially as I would have had to commission someone to make one to fit, as I couldn't find one small enough.

Over the christmas and new year, inspired by my success from the rag rug, I have always wanted to have a go at making something from supermarket carrier bags.  Not that I am an hoarder or anything, but I seemed to have acquired a few of late.

Before I made the basket, I had to figure out how to make the plastic yarn or 'plarn' as the crafty types refer to it as.  I tried the method I used for cutting the yarn for the rag rugs but the joints were fragile and broke easy.  I tried cutting strips and knotting the ends together but this made the work bulky and messy.  Then I found this tutorial which is the best way, for me at least.   You will need about 20 - 30 plastic carrier bags to make the same basket as the one I made pictured above.  No I didn't have this number of bags in my house.  I have to beg a few from various folk when I realised I would have no where near enough.

Working with plarn is very different to working with wool or fabric.  For starters plarn is stiffer and doesn't stretch in the same way requiring a little bit of brute force to make complex stitches such as the clusters I used for making this basket.  From the same site that I found the plarn tutorial, I also found this tutorial for a recycled gift basket that I adapted for the purpose of making my bicycle basket.  I omitted the handles and opted to make a red finish with a basic flower pattern.  Below I have written a pattern for the basic flower:

Pattern for crochet flower
Join with a SLST to form a ring
*CH 6
1 DC into ring*
Repeat from * to * 4 more times and finish with a SLST
You should now have a basic flower with 5 petals
You can make the petals more defined by doing the following:
DC into each petal loop 6 times with a SLST in-between each petal
Fasten off
Now that you have mastered the basic flower, experiment with making the flower bigger by adding extra loops.
Attach your yarn to the central circle in-between each petal with a SLST and make larger petals by adding longer chain loops (approx 8-10) and extra DC’s on these loops.
Please ask for help if you are unsure how to do this.

CH – Chain
SLST – Slip Stitch
DC – Double Crochet

Now Sneaky can come for a bike ride!
UPDATE:  We have discovered that this basket will start to degrade after 2-3 yrs!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Making a rag rug for the new year!

I have really enjoyed having a break from work over the Christmas and new year.  I say I have had a break but I have, amongst other things, been working on projects that I hope to translate into workshops in the coming year.  This has been a project too long on the back burner but, finally, I have mastered the art of making a crochet rug:
It really took no time at all after I had prepared the yarn and I didn't really use a pattern and, instead, made it by instinct.  There are many ways to make rag rugs.  The traditional way is using old burlap sacking and poking short lengths of fabric through the sacking with the aid of a bodger.  Some plait lengths of fabric and then stitch together and others crochet with the aid of a large hook.  After lots of searching and reading I decided to go for the crocheted version.

To get going you first need to search your home for textiles to make into yarn.  I  used some old fabric that I had acquired.  Mine was stretchy rather like t-shirt fabric and very easy to work with.

Next you need to lay your fabric out ready for cutting.  I folded mine over to make the length shorter.  You will need a very sharp pair of scissors to get clean cuts:
Starting at the folded end, I cut 1 inch strips as I wanted a chunky effect to my rug.  There is a quick and easy way to get consistent 1 inch strips and that is using a method I call the 'rule of thumb'.  Get a ruler and measure from the tip of your thumb (or thumb nail if they extend beyond your thumb) and make a mark where it ends.  I no longer make a mark because I know that the first crease on my thumb knuckle is exactly 1 inch! 
using the 'rule of thumb' makes it easier to get equal strips
Use your thumb as a ruler by lining up the inch marker on your thumb with the edge of the fabric and then making your cuts snuggly above the tip of your thumb (or nail).   This method will help to speed up the process of making your yarn.

Once you have cut all you strips open out your fabric.  You will have lengths that are cut nearly to the end.  Cut each alternate strip to the end so that you have uninterrupted consistent lengths (as illustrated above).  Wind your lengths into a ball like this.  My kids thought that it was great fun to play football with them, much to my dismay!

Once you have all your yarn prepared you can start making your rug.  I started with a size 10mm hook and made a chain of 11.  I then worked back along this chain in Double Crochet (DC) starting with the 2nd chain from the hook with 3 DC into the last stitch in the chain. Then I continued along the opposite side of the chain with 3 DCs into the last chain.  I continued in 'the round' increasing stitches if it started curling up at the sides and decreasing stitches if it became wavy looking.

If have never crocheted before, making a ragrug is fairly easy to master.  I found this fantastic tutorial that goes into more detail on how to create these wonderful eco rugs for your home.