Tribal T-shirt Fringe Choker

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Sometimes I have to burn off my excess creative energy by doing something I can finish quickly! These wild textile jewelry pieces fit the bill, especially since I’ve been trying to clean my shamefully stuffed craft storage and shredding stockpiled t-shirts is a pretty effective method for me to do that.

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This tutorial is a guide for the refashion-centric among us, and you don’t even really need to be able to crochet to make it! Only the simplest crochet stitch, the chain stitch, is necessary. It’s explained here for those who don’t know how.

There are lots of different methods for cutting t-shirt yarn, and you don’t have to cut yours the same way as shown here, but this method is featured because you can use t-shirts with lots of seams (ex: Women’s fitted t-shirts). Of course, if you want to save yourself the trouble, you could just buy some commercially produced t-shirt yarn instead!

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Materials:
1 Jersey knit cotton t-shirt, plain
9.00 mm crochet hook
Scissors

Step 1: Lay out your T-shirt and cut up the side seams  on both sides of the front and across the top. It’s okay to cut a little wonky to get extra material from the bust area below the collar, but I’ve found it’s best to keep in GENERALLY rectangle shaped.

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Step 2: Beginning with your wonky – cut side (or any side if you don’t have one) start cutting a strip about an inch in width. The goal is a thin-ish strand once you stretch the material. It can be a little more or a little less than an inch depending on the material, but be careful because if it’s too thin, it’ll break when stretched. Leave your strip attached by about an inch of uncut material.

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Step 3: Flip your t-shirt piece around and cut  about an inch to the opposite side of the uncut end. Do this 3 or 4 more times to get  a long uncut strand (for a small size) or 2-3 more times for larger t-shirts. It’s better to have more than you need than not enough, and in fact you could cut the entire piece of t-shirt material this way, but I don’t like to because cutting this way leaves tabs. Speaking of which….

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Step 4: Once you’ve got your long piece, start gently stretching your strip to curl the material to make it round and yarn-like. Use a light touch at first! Now, to deal with those tabs created by zigzagging the material. Take your scissors and round those babies off, then stretch them a little more (be careful here – rounding the corners makes the fabric thin and therefore weak to stretching). Still a little messy, but stitching will mask that.

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Step 5: Set your long strip aside – I had almost 3 yards. Now lay out your remaining rectangle of t-shirt fabric and get one inch strips straight across, shearing them completely from the main fabric so that they are individual strips. Stretch each of these strips. For a standard amount of fringe, you’ll want to have 23-26 strips, so use cut out the back piece of the t-shirt and use it for more short strips if you have to.

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If you are using commercial yarn or a continuous strip in this step, cut your strands to DOUBLE the length you want your fringe to be.

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Step 6: Grab your hook and your long strand. Leaving a tail of yarn about 10″ long, create a slipknot loop. With your hook in the loop, grab the long end of your yarn with the hook and pull it through the loop, leaving your hook in the middle of the new loop. One chain stitch made.

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Repeat until you have 25-ish chain stitches, or however long you need your chain to be to fit your neck. If you’re feeling adventurous, try using the Double Chain technique instead of the regular chain. I like to use this on the fringe chokers because it helps them lie flatter around the collarbone.

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Once you’ve completed your stitches, tie off (i.e – pull the rest of your strip out through the last loop), and leave a 10″ tail when cutting off excess yarn. If you complete your required stitches but don’t have a 10 inch tail left over, just tie it off for now. We can use a short strip to attach an adequate length of tie later.

Step 7: Finally! Fringing time! Lay out your chain. Grab some of your short t-shirt strands and double them over. You might have some that are shorter than others – aesthetically I like those to be on the outside toward the shoulders but you might not care. Anyway, double those puppies over.

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Insert your hook into the loop on the bottom of your chain or double chain, from back to front, and catch the doubled side of your strand with the hook. Pull it through so you’ve got a loop.

Now catch the loose ends of your short strand with the hook. Pull those through your loop completely. Tighten.

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Ta-Da! Now do that until you have fringed the entire choker, or at least the majority of it.

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Step 8: Attach extra ties at the end of your chain if you need to, for fastening around the neck. You could be done at this point, but I like to add a little knotwork around the top.
To add knotwork, take two adjacent pairs of fringe and separate one strand from each pair (make sure the strands are also right next to each other). Pick up both strands and tie in a simple knot. Repeat across.

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These can be used as a base for adding even wilder decorations like beads, feathers, leather strips, chains, etc… But since I’m short on time, I’ll leave those for another day!

That stylish bikini underneath the necklaces is also made from recycled materials. Check out my post, the Bindu Recycled Sweater Bikini, for more on that.

-MF

Time and Tied

My ideas have seemed a bit dammed up lately, to be honest. Not for lack of inspiration, and not even for lack of time  – okay, maybe a little bit for lack of time. Even though I have tons of time to work on crochet et cetera, it never seems to be enough for the amount of things I want to do and create. And, as many creative types know, the more you create the more inspiration you get, and so you are doomed because you cannot possibly ever keep up because the harder you work the more ideas you’ll have.

At least, that’s what it’s like for me.

But I don’t mind things feeling a little tied up, because my experience has been that in matters of creativity it’s best to let things come to you when the time is right.

For instance, my giant bag of orphan yarn has contained, for several years now, balls of recycled yarn from scads of thrift store sweaters. I used a bit here and there, but no project seemed to be eager to fit the bill for the sheer quantity of recycled yarn in this particular weight (usually the sweater yarn I get is somewhere between lace weight and sport weight).

That is, until I just accidentally decided to use some of it in the free pattern for the  Mandala Duster I made recently based off of my original Lotus mandala motif. Suddenly a whole new world of possibility opened up for these former sweaters! In between the actual pattern writing for my paid patterns and working on my stash of art yarns and hand dyed wool roving, I busted hook to do as the yarn commanded.

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And so out came the “Emmy Lou” duster jacket, made primarily out of recycled sweater yarn but also featuring a good bit of yarn that I spun myself (see this post for more info on that handspun).

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I haven’t gotten pictures of it on an actual person yet because I couldn’t wait 😉

In addition to the pattern being free (see the link at the beginning of the post), I also wrote an extensive, somewhat insanely detailed tutorial last year on how to reclaim yarn from thrift store sweaters, which can be found in three parts:

Everything You Need to Know to Start Recycling Sweater Yarn:

Recycling Sweater Yarn cover

Getting Started and Breaking In V. 1

Breaking In V.2

Unraveling & Finishing

Naturally, before I have even made much of a dent in my stash of previously reclaimed sweater yarns, I ran out and picked up these misty-hued beauties from the thrift store for a future recycled sweater lace duster. I didn’t mean to, I swear. I was looking for summer clothes at the time.

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Of course, I have to wait until some of the dam of ideas I have sifting around in my head find their proper place in new patterns and tutorials before I can wail away on more recycled sweaters. I guess the moral of the story (not to be confused with the morale of the story) is that everything has to come in its own good time. So, if you are like me and experience the pangs of creative blockage from time to time, don’t stress. Someday you may find your patience amply paid for when your ideas find the right vehicle and you realize that’s what you were waiting for all along ❤

-MF

P.S – here’s some more stuff I’ve done that’s made out of recycled sweater yarn. Just for fun.

Lotus Mandala Duster aka the “Stevie”

After seeing some great circular vests and talking about them with a fellow crocheter last festival, I came home inspired to do something I’ve had in my notebook for a while – rework my Lotus Throw pattern into a mandala-based circular vest! Which I did, and actually I did twice, which is why this post is a two-parter – each with a different FREE pattern guide. The sister pattern to this Lotus Mandala Duster is called the Lotus Circular Vest and can be found here.

Fair warning, these have not been worked over with a fine-toothed comb as I do with my paid patterns. But hey, its FREE.

ACT ONE

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The Lotus Mandala Duster was one of those gravitational crochet projects that start with a small directionless idea and sort of grows and develops a certain gravity that pulls in other ideas and materials until it is way bigger than I meant it to be! It also qualifies as what I call a “sweater hack” since a large part of the materials came from yarn that was rescued from a boring old sweater and restitched into a new form.

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This first piece was a doozy, because I wanted a really earthy western influenced duster style jacket and I also wanted to use up some #2 weight yarn doing it – I ended up using my fractal plied handspun for the center and outer accent, some recycled cotton blend sweater yarn** I’ve had forever, and a DK weight cotton blend to fill in the gaps. And I made the only partially conscious decision to add a little Lannister influence with a dramatic pointed bell sleeve. I guess I’ve been watching too much Game of Sleeves. I mean, Thrones.

**To get your own recycled sweater yarn, see my extensive tutorial Everything You Need to Know to Start Recycling Sweater Yarn.

Both patterns a bit more like guides, since the basic circular pattern makes it easy to add or subtract rows, adjust sizing, and freestyle if desired (it’s encouraged.) The “Stevie” Duster  was made in size small, a few of the outer circle worked on only the top half (to balance the length since the armholes are placed high) and the sleeves are tutorial style instead of written in stitch counts.  Since the Duster style coat was made with a bunch of homeless recycled yarn, I have don’t have a precise yardage requirement. My best guess is 1500+  So basically if you start this project with a specific store-bought yarn in mind, make sure you can get more of that specific yarn if you need to.

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Stevie Duster

Notes: The Lotus Circular Vest has better close-up photographs of the central motif, so if you are having trouble figuring out a round you might find it helpful to look at the pictures on that post 🙂

5.5 mm hook, #1, #2, or #3 weight yarn – the recycled yarn I used was around 17 WPI, which could be fingering or sport depending on which chart you look at. Be sure to test your gauge, listed below.

Gauge: 3.25″ measured across the diameter after Rnd 3.

Final Dimensions:
22.5″ radius (measured from center of motif to bottom edge)
50″ diameter (measured from collar to bottom edge)

Some terms:

4-DC Cluster – Work 4 dc stitches, keeping the last loop on the hook for each. YO and draw through all 5  loops on the hook.

Shell – 2 hdc, 1 dc, 1 tr, 1 dc, 2 hdc

Make Magic Ring.

  1. 8 sc into the ring, tighten. Join with a slip stitch in first sc of the round.
  2. Ch 4 – counts as first dc + ch 1. (Dc in the next sc, ch 1) 7 times. Join with a sl st in the 3rd ch of beg ch-4.
  3. Sc into the next ch-1 space, ch 1 – counts as first dc with last loop on the hook. Dc into ch-1 space 3 more times, keeping last loops on the hook. YO, draw through all four loops on the hook – first 4-dc cluster made. Ch 3. (Work 1 4-dc cluster in the next ch-1 sp, ch 3) 6 times. Work 1 4-dc cluster in the next ch-1 sp, ch 1. Hdc in the top of the first cluster. This positions your hook in the middle of a ch-3 sized space to begin your next round.
  4. Ch 2 – counts as first dc with last lp on hk, dc into ch-3 space 3 more times keeping last loops on the hook. YO, draw through all four loops on the hook – first 4-dc cluster made. Ch 2, work 1 4-dc cluster in same ch-3 space, ch 2. (Work 1 4-dc cluster in the next ch-3 sp, ch 2, 4-dc cluster in the same sp, ch 2) 7 times. Join with a sl st in top of first cluster.
  5. Sl st in first ch-2 space. Ch 2 – counts as first dc with last lp on the hk. Dc into the same space 3 more times keeping last lps on hk. YO, draw through all four lps on hk – first 4-dc cluster made, Ch 3. (Work 1 4-dc cluster into the next ch-2 space, ch 3) 14 times. Work 1 4-dc cluster in the next ch-2 sp, dc in the top of the first cluster.
  6. Ch 3 – counts as first dc, 2 more dc in same space, Ch 3. (3 dc in the next ch-3 sp, ch 3) 15 times. Join with a sl st in the 3rd ch of beg ch-3.
  7. Sl st in the top of the next dc. (Sk next dc, 2 Hdc, 1 dc, 1 tr, 1 dc, 2 hdc in the next ch-3 sp – shell made. Sk next dc, sl st in the next dc .) 16 times. Join with a sl st in first sl st.
  8. Ch 6 – counts as first dc + ch 3, sc in the top of next tr stitch in the middle of the shell, ch 3. (Dc in the next sl st between shells, ch 3, sc in next treble, ch 3) 15 times. Join with a sl st in the 3rd ch of beg ch-3.
  9. Ch 3. Yarn over twice, insert hook into next sc and draw up a lp, (YO and draw through 2 lps on the hk) twice – one treble stitch leaving last lp on the hk made. Treble in next dc, leaving last lp on the hk – 3 lps remain on the hk. YO, draw through all 3 lps, ch 7. (In same dc as previous treble, treble crochet leaving last lp on hk, treble in next sc leaving last lp on hk, treble in next dc leaving last lp on hk – 4 lps on the hk. YO, draw through all four lps on hk, ch 7) 15 times. Join with a sl st in top of first treble.
  10. Ch 4 – counts as first dc + ch 1. (Work 1 4-dc cluster in the next ch 7 space, ch 2, 4-dc cluster in the same space, ch 2. 4 dc cluster in the same sp, ch 1*, dc in top of joined trebles, ch 1) 16 times, ending last repeat at *. Sl st into 3rd ch of beg ch-4.
  11. (Ch 3. 4-dc cluster in next ch-2 space, ch 2, 4-dc cluster in the next ch-2 space*, ch 3, sl st in next dc) 16 times. On 16th rpt, end at *, dc in same st as beg ch-3.
  12. Ch 3 – counts as first tr with last loop on the hk, tr in top of next cluster, ch 4, 4-dc cluster in next ch-2 space, ch 4. ([Tr in top of next cluster leaving last lp on the hk] twice, YO and pull through all 3 lps. Ch 4, cluster in next ch-2 space, ch 4) 15 times. Join with a sl st in the 3rd ch of beg ch-3.
  13. Sl st in next ch-4 space. Ch 3 – counts as first dc. 4 dc in same space. (1 dc in top of cluster, 5 dc in next ch-4 space, 1 dc in top of joined trebles, 5 dc in next ch-4 space) 15 times. 1 dc in top of next cluster,  5 dc in next ch-5 space, 1 dc in top of joined trebles. Join with a slip stitch to top of first dc.
  14. Ch 4 – counts as first dc + ch-1. Sk next dc. (Dc in next dc, ch 1, sk next dc) 95 times. Join with a sl stitch to the 3rd ch of beg ch-4.
  15. (Sk next ch-1 space, 1 hdc, 1 dc, 1 tr, 1 dc, 1 hdc in next dc, skip next ch-1 space, sl stitch in next dc) 48 times.
  16. Ch 3 in the same st – counts as first dc. Sk next st, 1 hdc in next st, 1 sc in next st (1 hdc in the next st, sk next st, 1 dc in the next st, sk next st, 1 hdc in the next st, 1 sc in the next st) 47 times. Hdc in next stitch, join with a sl st to the 3rd ch of beg ch-3.
  17. Ch 5 – counts as first dc + ch 2. (Sk next st, dc in next stitch, ch 2) 95 times. Sl st in the 3rd ch of beg ch-5.
  18. (Sc in the next ch space, ch 3) 95 times. Sc in the next ch space, ch 1, hdc in the first sc of the round.
  19. Sc in the same ch space, ch 3. (Sc in the next ch sp, ch 3) 94 times. Sc in the next ch space, ch 1, hdc in the first sc of the round.
  20. Rpt rnd 19.

Armhole round:

  1. Ch 3 – counts as first dc in V-stitch pattern. (1 dc in the next ch space,  ch 3, 1 dc in the same space) 10 times. Ch 30, sk the next  6 ch-3 spaces, (1 dc in the next ch space, ch 3, 1 dc in the same space) 10 times. Ch 30, sk the next 6 ch-3 spaces, (1 dc in the next ch space, ch 3, 1 dc in the same space) 63 times. 1 dc in the next ch space, ch 3, sl st in the 3rd ch of beg ch-3.

22: Ch 3 – counts as first dc. 1 dc in the next dc (3 dc in the next ch-3 space, 1 dc in ea of the next 2 dc) 9 times. 3 dc in the next ch-3 sp, 1 dc in the next dc. 1 dc in ea of the next 30 ch sts. 1 dc in the next dc (3 dc in the next ch sp, 1 dc in ea of the next 2 dc) 9 times. 3 dc in the next ch sp, 1 dc in the next dc. 1 dc in ea of the next 30 ch sts. 1 dc in the next dc (3 dc in the next ch-3 space, 1 dc in ea of the next 2 dc) 63 times. 3 dc in the next ch-3 sp, join with a sl st to the 3rd ch of beg ch-3. – 480 sts (It has come to my attention that this stitch count, and therefore some of the other counts following, might be off, so please bear with me until I can check it!)

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The placement of the armholes determines the size – measure straight across the shoulder blades to check your sizing.

  1. Ch 4 – counts as first dc + ch 1. Dc in the same st, sk next 2 sts (1 dc, ch 1, 1 dc in the next st. Sk next 2 sts) 158 times. 1 dc, ch 1, 1 dc in the next st. Sl st in the 3rd ch of beg ch-4.
  2. Sc in next ch-1 space, ch 3 – counts as first dc + ch-1. 1 dc in the same space. (1 dc in the next ch-1 sp, ch 1, dc in the same space) 159 times. Sl st in the 2nd ch of beg sc+ch-3.
  3. (Sc in next ch-1 space, ch 4) 159 times.  Sc in the next ch-1 sp, ch 1, dc in the first sc of the round.
  4. Sc in the same space, ch 4. (Sc in the next ch sp, ch 4) 158 times. Sc in the next ch sp, ch 1, dc in the first sc of the round.
  5. Sc in the same sp, ch 5. (Sc in the next ch sp, ch 5) 158 times. Sc in the next space, ch 2, dc in the first sc of the round.

28-30. Rpt rnd 27.

  1. Sc in the same sp, ch 6. (Sc in the next ch sp, ch 6) 158 times. Sc in the next space, ch 3, dc in the first sc of the round
  2. Sc in the same sp, 6 dc in next sc – one fan made. (1 sc in next ch-6 sp, 6 dc in next sc) 159 times, join with a sl st in first sc of the round.
  3. Ch 5 – counts as first dc + ch 2. Sc in 3rd dc of fan, ch 1, sc in the next dc, ch 2 (dc in next sc, ch 2. Sc in the 3rd dc of next fan, ch 1, sc in the next dc, ch 2) 158 times. Dc in the next sc, ch 2, sc in the 3rd dc of next fan ch 1, sc in the next dc, work 1 hdc in the 3rd ch of beg ch-5.
  4. Ch 4 – counts as first hdc + ch 2. (Hdc in the next ch-2 space, ch 2, hdc in the next ch-1 sp, ch 2, hdc in the next ch-2 sp, ch 2) 159 times. Hdc in the next ch-2 sp, ch 2, hdc in the next ch-1 sp, hdc in the 2nd ch of beg ch-2.

At this point the bottom of my duster was the length that I wanted it, so I switched to working the following rounds on the top half only so that the bottom wouldn’t be too long.

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  1. Sc in the same space, ch 2 – counts as first dc. (Dc in the next ch-2 space, ch 1, dc in the same sp) 480 times. In first ch-2 sp of round, dc, ch 1, join with a sl st to 2nd ch of the beg ch-2.
  2. Sl st in the next dc and in the next ch space, ch 2 – counts as first dc with last loop left on hook, work 2 more dc in same space, leaving last lps on the hk. YO, pull through all lps on hk -3 dc cluster made, ch 2. (3 dc cluster in the next ch-1 sp, ch 2) 480 times. Join with a sl st to the top of the first cluster.

Work next round over entire brim of sweater.

  1. Sl st into the next ch-2 space, ch 3 – counts as first dc. 2 dc in the same space. (3 dc in the next ch-2 space) around. Join with a sl st to the 3rd ch of beg ch-3.

Cut yarn and tie off.

Sleeves:

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After Step 1 of the sleeves

Step 1. Attach yarn on the inside of the armhole, ch 2 – counts as first dc.. 2 dc in ea ch space, 1 dc into the base of all 30 ch sts. 2Join with a sl st to the first dc of the round. For larger sleeves, work 3 or 4 dc sts into each ch space. Work the same number of dc sts into the base of the chain.

Step 2. Sc in the same st, ch 3 – counts as first dc + ch 1. Sk next st. (Dc in the next st, ch 1, sk next st) around. On the last repeat, replace the ch-1 with a hdc to position your hook in the middle of the space to begin the next round.

Step 3. Sc in the same sp, ch 3 – counts as first dc + ch 1. (Dc in the next sp, ch 1) around. On the last repeat, replace the ch-1 with a hdc to position your hook in the middle of the space to begin the next round.

After a couple rows of this, size down to a smaller hook if desired. I sized down to 4.5 to make the sleeve snug on my upper arm.

Rpt row 3 until your total reaches 17 rows, or until the length reaches your elbow.

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Locate the ch space that is centered at the back of the elbow and mark it. (14th space from the join for me) This will now be  the increase center.

Step 4. Sc in the same space, ch 3 – counts as first dc + ch 1. (Dc in the next ch space, ch 1) until you reach the increase center. (Dc, ch 1) 4 times in the increase center. The middle chain space made in this repeat is now the increase center. (Dc in the next ch space, ch 1) the rest of the way around. Repeat until short side of sleeve is about mid-forearm (9 rounds for me)

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3 spaces created in one chain space forms the increase.

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After several rounds of Step 4

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Side view – Step 4

Step 5. Sc in the same space, ch 3 – counts as first dc + ch 1. (Dc in the next ch space, ch 1) until you reach the space before the increase center. (Dc, ch 1) 4 times in the next space. (Dc, ch 1) 4 times in the increase center. (Dc, ch 1) 4 times in the space after the increase center. The middle chain space made in the middle increase is now the increase center. (Dc in the next ch space, ch 1) the rest of the way around.

Step 6. Sc in the same space, ch 3 – counts as first dc + ch 1. (Dc in the next ch space, ch 1) until you reach the middle of one increase before the increase center. (Dc, ch 1) 4 times in the middle space of the next increase, work dc + ch 1 in between middle spaces. (Dc, ch 1) 4 times in the middle space of the next increase, work dc + ch 1 in between middle spaces. (Dc, ch 1) 4 times in the middle space of the third increase. The middle chain space in the middle increases made in this repeat is now the increase center. (Dc in the next ch space, ch 1) the rest of the way around. (Basically, put a 3-space increase in the center of each increase, dc + ch 1 in every other space.)

Step 7. Sc in the same sp, ch 3 – counts as first dc + ch 1. (Dc in the sp, ch 1) around. On the last repeat, replace the ch-1 with a hdc to position your hook in the middle of the space to begin the next round. – repeat until you reach 2 rows from where you want your sleeve to end (just past the wrist for me).

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Sleeve Detail. Witchy!

Step 8. On the 2nd to last row, 2 dc in ea ch-1 space, 1 dc in ea dc around.

Step 9. One the last row, 1 dc in ea st around.

Cut yarn and tie off. Repeat sleeve on the other side.

Weave in all ends.

And yes, I named it “Stevie” after the famous singer and songwriter, Sleevie Nicks. I mean, Stevie Nicks.

-MF

Update ! : Here are some photos of Steps 5 &6 of the ultra-ruffle sleeves, by request.

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After Step 5. As you can see, each of the spaces of the [(Dc, ch1)4x] increase have a [(Dc, ch1)4x] increase. For step 6, you will increase in the middle space of each of these three increases.

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Dc, ch 1 around the sleeve until you get the the middle (2nd) ch-1space of the first of the three [(Dc,ch1)4x] increases. (Dc,ch1) 4 times in that space.

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Dc, ch1 in ea ch-1 space until you reach the middle space of the next [(Dc, ch1)4x] increase – three times in this case. [(Dc,ch1) 4 times] in the middle space.

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Dc, ch 1 in ea ch-1 space until you reach the middle space of the third [(Dc, ch 1 ) 4x] increase. [(Dc, ch1) 4 times] in the middle space. Continue the sleeve by working one (Dc, ch1) in ea of the rest of the ch-1 spaces around.

It does hang kind of wacky at first, until you add more non-increased rows in Step 7 to balance things out.

T-Shirt Rug Tutorial

Here’s another project that fits firmly into the “tired of staring at it because it’s been sitting on my desk for over a year so I might as well finish it” category!

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There’s no real reason that it took me so long to finish, other than I got continuously distracted by other projects and lost my momentum on it. It was the fourth crocheted t-shirt rug from this series that I posted a while ago, in which I allude to the method but don’t provide much of an explanation. Today I am remedying that!

But FIRST! Here’s how to make T-shirt yarn via Endlessly Inspired.

I got the idea of using yarn to crochet around the t-shirt strips from Pinterest (of course) but felt that I could make things a little more interesting by experimenting with stitch designs..
MerryPrankster2…. which was fun, but sometimes one desires a more mindless exercise. So I experimented with ducking the t-shirt yarn strip in front of and behind the stitch, and came up with a design that makes the strip form  eye-pleasing rings of bobbles or nubs, or in the case of my most recent rug, stones on sand.

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Crocheting around the T-shirt yarn in this way is soooooo much easier, neater-looking, and more economical  than trying the crochet the t-shirt yarn itself. I always make my own t-shirt yarn, so it’s also better because it’s easy to switch from one ball to another with this method. So enough talk… how is it done?

Crocheted T-shirt Rug How-To

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You need:

A large amount of cotton or acrylic yarn (A skein of Caron One Pound usually gets the job done nicely, with some to spare)

T-shirt Yarn (I use home-made, but store bought works too!)

A 6.00 mm hook

Start by making a magic ring. 6 sc into the ring tightly. Sc into the first sc of the first round to begin a joinless, in-the-round crochet circle. *

*I will not be giving instructions for increases in the round because I’m making the assumption that the crocheter already knows how to handle this – just work them in the same proportion as you usually would or decide how many you need to keep it flat as you go. 

In the second round of stitching, hold the t-shirt yarn flat against the last row and start to stitch the single crochet over the tail of this yarn until you have worked 3-5 stitches or have anchored it securely. Once you have secured the t-shirt yarn, you will begin weaving it in and out of the sc stitches.

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This isn’t a picture of the second round, but you can see where I have begun the new strip by anchoring it within the sc stitching before I start weaving it in and out.

Continuing to work in the round (and adding increases where necessary), hold the t-shirt yarn to the back of your work and work a sc in the next stitch. Keep in mind that the t-shirt yarn should be completely to the back of the work so that the yarn is not held within the stitch at all.

*Tightening the sc after working it by holding the loop steady and pulling on your working yarn makes the rug nice and firm and helps the t-shirt yarn bobbles look neat.

Before you work the next stitch, bring the t-shirt yarn completely to the front of the work, so that you are working your next sc behind the t-shirt strand.

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Work the next sc, tighten it down if necessary, then return the t-shirt strand to the back of the work – this will wrap the t-shirt yarn around the stitch you just made, creating a little t-shirt bobble.

With the t-shirt yarn at the back, make another sc in the next stitch.

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Continue alternating holding the t-shirt yarn in front or back, until you get near the end of the strand or decide to change colors. Return the t-shirt yarn to the top of your work and work a series of several sc stitches OVER the yarn, so that it is trapped in the stitch again. Do this until the end is reached, then begin the next strand the same way.

I like to vary the proportion of bobbles in the front (i.e – bring the t-shirt yarn to the front every two stitches, every three stitches, etc) to provide visual interest, or alternate rounds of bobbles with rounds of t-shirt yarn carried along inside openwork stitches.

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T-shirt yarn carried inside openwork stitches (granny blocks in this case)

As I’ve mentioned before, carrying T-shirt yarn along while you crochet regular yarn is a lot easier on your hands than trying to crochet the t-shirt yarn itself!  And this way, there’s tons of variations you can try.

My rugs usually end up being somewhere between 32-45″, for use as small accent rugs or even table centerpieces (and if you use all cotton materials, really awesome hotpads are possible!)  Lately, I’ve been thinking more about making them specifically for use as djembe rugs for the drum-circle going type! This of course has nothing to do with the djembe I recently purchased after a drumming workshop.

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Ain’t she pretty?

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Typical. I finally finish a project that I’ve been dragging my feet on, and I immediately want to start another.

-MF

I Sing a Song of Plastic Bag Yarn

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Out of all the materials I have ever crocheted with, I would have to say one of the most fun and rewarding is Plarn. For those of you who don’t know, “plarn” is the common terminology for “yarn” or cordage made from repurposed plastic grocery bags (plastic + yarn = plarn).

Despite the name, plarn actually contains no yarn and is made up entirely of strips from these grocery bags. Many countries have put initiatives in place to stop the enormous amount of plastic grocery bags from entering landfills and polluting the environment – but in America, we are mostly still woefully wasteful when it comes to these things.

That’s why it’s so satisfying to turn them into art instead!  Also it’s like SOOOOOO FREEEEE.

Did I mention how durable this stuff is? You may not think that plarn would be strong, since grocery bags are relatively weak, but once you combine and stitch them, they are astonishingly durable. The first plastic bag yarn bag I ever made was in 2010, a nice simple drawstring mesh bag. For 6 years I have crammed my shower supplies and towels in that thing and dragged it from camping trips to festivals to cross-country journeys and it’s still holding up. Mind you, I have not treated the poor thing gently at all. That’s how strong this stuff can be!

I won’t show you a picture of that bag, since it is pretty dingy after all that back woods hippie behavior, but I do have a few others to show. Here’s one from 2012…

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I used tapestry crochet for the trunk on the flap of this messenger bag and then slip stitched the green plarn on the surface to make a swirling leaf design.

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If you’re friends are nice enough, they will save you special colored plastic bags and you can make something like this mandala messenger style bag out of colorful plarn!

There’s lots of different ways to make plastic bag yarn, so I’ve collected a few links to tutorials I find most helpful to narrow down the search:

This HubPage article by Moira Durano-Abesmo demonstrates both the double-strand and the single-strand method for creating plarn (I use the double strand method)…

…while this Hubpage article by the same author talks about ways to make plarn softer by spinning it or working it.

Look At What I Made has a great post about making plastic bag “thread” for use in smaller plastic bag projects. Also, she mentions that plastic bags in the UK are mostly biodegradable now and therefore not good for use in projects you want to last! Again, here in wasteful America this isn’t a consideration, but something to keep in mind for readers from other countries.

Another great video on making plarn and then spinning it can be found on Youtube in a video from Wind Rose Fiber Studio.

Of course, there’s a million billion awesome creative uses for this plastic bag yarn once you’ve made it. I tend to make bags (I call them Bag Bags), but one simple Pinterest search will overwhelm you with other ideas – like this awesome Hammock project from Too Many Hobbies, Too Little Time.

One thing I searched for but couldn’t find was a tutorial for the “whole bag method” that was taught to me by a member of my festival family that he used to make recycled plastic rope. It’s stunningly simple AND you don’t have to worry about throwing away those pesky handles!

The theory is similar to the double strand method, only you use entire bags to make the loops instead of strips of a single bag. To start, you need some plastic bags (duh) and scissors.

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Take the scissors and cut down the side of the bag, from the bottom of the handle opening down to the seam at the bottom. Repeat for the other side.

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Grasp the bottom seam in one hand and the top handles in the other, and smoosh the entire bag into one big loop.

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Grab another bag and repeat, making other big loop.

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Overlay the loops and pull one back through itself, creating a knot.

Continue making whole bag loops and looping them together. The cordage that this makes is really thick and stronger than normal plarn, especially if you twist or braid whole strands of this stuff together into rope!

It’s so thick that I haven’t tried to crochet plarn (plope?) made from this method, although I am sure there are intrepid bulky crocheters or knitters out there that have done so or will do. What about you? Have you worked with plarn, and if so, what do you like to make with it?

-MF

 

Flidais Hooded Cowl

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I’ve had this lovely thrifted sweater hanging in my closet for about a year now, waiting patiently for the sweater hacking that I knew was to come.

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Sorry about this photo. Inspiration doesn’t always strike when there is convenient lighting.

It was missing a couple buttons and the sleeves were ridiculously long in addition to the main body being short and boxy. It was sort of cute in  a 90’s way, but the components were what I bought it for. The faux fur on the collar was in pristine condition and the yarn was a soft wool blend, plus the buttons that remained had a rustic wood-looking finish. It could be something really fun, but it needed to be deconstructed first.

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So I took it apart, using the sweater yarn reclamation method I wrote about extensively in my post series Everything You Need to Know to Start Recycling Sweater Yarn. The faux fur collar was finished on the back, so I very carefully freed the knit backing to keep the original finish. I would come back to that later.

After some pulling, I obtained enough yarn to make the bulky-weight yarn version of my Rhiannon Hooded Cowl pattern. I planned to use the faux fur collar as a bold hood trim, after I fixed the loose finish by stringing the knit stitches onto a needle and casting them off with a spare tail of yarn – score another for being bistitchual!

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It worked, and I had the perfect chunky yarn to finish it off with the drawstring detail, but the hood trim was a touch floppy. I could have just secured it with a few whip stitches, but if there is one thing I always end up striving for in my designs, it’s versatility. I love choices! Even though the Rhiannon Cowl is designed to be worn several different ways, I felt like I could put in one more “look” option with what I was now calling the “Flidais” Cowl. And I already had these conveniently matching buttons, which just happened to fit inside the eyelets of the stitch pattern.

So I sewed the buttons onto the back of the faux fur trim, enabling them to be secured with the fur either outward, as a trim, or inward – deepening the pixie style hood and providing a warm lining in the front.

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And then I ran out to the woods to play dress-up. Of course.

I have a penchant for mythology (obv): “Flidais” is the name of a Celtic woodland goddess, and was the original working title of the “Rhiannon” cowl, until I decided that Rhiannon better fit the silvery look of the pattern model cowl I made. So I was delighted that I had come up with an interpretation of that design that I could call Flidais (pronounced “flee-ish” in Gaelic) after the mythical goddess of hunting and herding.

Both the Flidais Convertible Cowl and the pattern for the Rhiannon Hooded Cowl are available in my Etsy shop!

The Rhiannon Hooded Cowl pattern was recently featured on Moogly and P2P’s linkup – as the most clicked project for the round! Thank you everyone for the clicks and the love, and thank you to the hardworking linkup hostesses!

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I’ve got plenty more patterns in the works – follow my Facebook page for the newest updates!

-MF

Tights to Top Refashion

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Refashionistas… we’ve all seen it. That tutorial about how cutting the crotch out of your old tights makes a killer long-sleeve crop top. But does this really work? It can’t be that easy, can it?

Well, as (shamelessly) mentioned before here, I am ever in search of ways to not wear a bra – which is easy if you are of a certain body type which does not happen to be my body type. For me, not wearing a bra can sometimes be as uncomfortable as wearing one.  So the opportunity to both comfortably skip the bra and force my summer clothes into double-duty as winter clothes could not be passed up.

Plus it trains me for future opportunities in creating bellydance costumes out of Goodwill finds.

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I have my victim lined up – an awesome print on a warm knit pair of tights that are just slightly too small to function as they were originally intended.

And of course I have my idea, which came from this youtube video I found on Pinterest. The creator of the video uses sheer nylon type tights, but the idea is the same, no?

Yes and no. We’ll get to that.

FIRST you cut out the crotch. I went with a wide V-neck type of neckline, but you could pretty much do anything here as long as your head fits through.

Then you STICK YOUR HEAD THROUGH THE HOLE. I think maybe your arms go down the legs too.

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Are we done? Is it that easy? Kind of. This very much works as a finishing point, especially if you are working with tights that have a lot more elasticity. But mine were too saggy in the arms, with too much bunching of the material under the armpits. But the boob-holding department was on point (ha)!

So I used the very advanced and technical sewing equipment known as a plate and a Sharpie to fix the arm problem.

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Measuring about 7 inches from the bottom of the top (that is the waistband of the leggings), I used a plate to evenly mark out a dip in the fabric for the armpit.

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And then measured a short straight line from the crest of the plate marking toward the waistband, to taper the otherwise sudden change in the cut of the garment. I also measured off a long tapering line from the other side of the crescent all the way down to the cuff of the sleeve/leg to slim down the fit of the arm. I did this for both arms, of course.

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I pinned it and sewed it all up with a zigzag stitch BEFORE cutting the extra fabric, just in case I was unhappy with the result. I wasn’t!

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Hooray! I had successfully eliminated most of that saggage. I proceeded to cut off the extra fabric and finish all the edges with an overcasting stitch (I don’t own a serger, but my Brother HS-2000 does a decent job sewing knits on “08” stitch setting.  Time for the fashion show!

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I haven’t washed my hair in 7 days!

That’s it!

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-MF