My big Black Friday goal was to find a set of matching 5×7′ area rugs for the carpet-less office (with free shipping, if I could be so lucky). But I wasn’t happy with any of the deals out there, and more so, I didn’t like any of the patterns or sizes available in my price point. Although after spending time browsing sites and shops, I do think I’ve settled on keeping the floor covered in carpets of neutral grays, and that decision at least makes me feel a little more grounded as I plan with other office decor (like, maybe I can proceed with painting my cabinets).
I did pick up one little guy. It’s a 2’x3′ West Elm piece that was only $12.99/free shipping, although I didn’t order it specifically for the office. I think the woven grays on ivory look pretty nice in the living room with the soft grays of the roman shade and ottoman.
But back to real topic: I didn’t find an area rug for the office.
While I’m still keeping a watchful eye on holiday retail sales, I did melt for something that I saw xoelle blog about. A fantastic shag carpet made using cotton t-shirts and a latch hook base. Ooh la la, so lush + cush. Her rug was cited as a 36″x36″ and utilized 51 t-shirts (wowza), but was so well-made (and well-photographed) that I could actually imagine walking on it through the computer screen (nicely done, lady). She cited that it took her 60+ hours to complete. I didn’t believe her. That’s foreshadowing.
I’ve thought through a few different ways to execute a shag rug for the office. I like the idea of having something thick and soft underfoot, and this might do the trick. As for designs, I considered duplicating her idea of a solid color, or maybe designing something striped or more intricately organized (I still kind of like the idea of a gradient from gray to white), but what I really decided to do was make a less-expected shaggy bear rug. Beary fun.
I started with a pre-cut package of latch hook fabric from JoAnn’s. A 50% coupon meant that this 36″x60″ piece (plus Baby’s first latch hook tool, not shown) was $6.
To see how a bear-shape would actually play out on fabric of this size, I did a rough layout with masking tape to map out the general plan. It was utter cuteness.
Well, cuteness, yeah, but bringing that bear rug to reality was going to require a lot of fabric. I was slightly panicked at the idea of needing to find (and cut) 100 t-shirts into strips to cover a canvas of this size (because this piece of material was almost twice the size of xoelle’s), so I started by buying 4 yards of white fabric, the closest to jersey cotton that I could find. At $9.99/yard, it would have cost $40 but another 50% off coupon brought my single-cut to $20, bringing the total cost of the rug (so far) to just $26. (There seem to be a million 50% off coupons this month, keep your eyes peeled.)
I set out to dye the fabric before I cut it into strips, selecting the same Silvery Gray iDye shade that I tried when I made my bedroom headboard curtains (I remembered that the gun metal gray alternative by iDye is unexpectedly more blue than gray). Also, I wanted to try and achieve a very light gray instead of something rich and dark, and considered that that a small combination of dye and bleach might do the trick, as much as it sounds like a chemistry experiment oxymoron.
My strategy was this: Prepare the top loading washer as usual per the instructions. Cut a wee corner off of the dye packet (I’m saving that other 90% for something else) and wash the fabric as instructed.
Once I saw how dark a little bit of dye made the fabric, I washed the fabric again, this time, adding a tablespoon of bleach the the wash. I planned to continue to wash with a tablespoon of bleach until I reached the desired color, but fortunately it lightened the fabric to perfection the very first time.
(Side note: I cut my original 4 yards of fabric in half before I attempted my dying/bleaching experiment to offset the loss if this totally backfired. Because the batches were done separately, the end results were slightly different shades of light gray. Not big enough of a different for me to care, I’m just being careful to use both shades equally as I proceed.
The dyed fabric, dried, was cut into a series of 1″x4″ strips (just like xoelle had done):
I used some new sharp scissors, which made cutting through multiple layers at a time really wonderful. By folding the fabric a few times before cutting the strips, I was able to get through all 4 yards in about 2 hours whilest clearing my DVR of Modern Family and Parks & Rec.
The last time I latch hooked anything, I must have been 7 years old and in 3rd grade art class, so I’ve had to reteach myself the technique. Fortunately, it’s easy (I’ll outline it in my next post when this bearstrosity is done), but unfortunately, the 1″ strips are much wider than thin yarn and take a bit of workin’ to properly knot into place. The benefit of the closely hooked knots though, is that this is going to be one suave, cushy rug when I’m done.
That brings me to the present. I spent three hours sitting and knotting over the weekend.
And I’ve completed almost all of the left foot.
Why is it taking so long? I’m afraid it’s actually going to take me a month to finish. Consider these points:
- The blue-lined grid marks every 100 holes.
- Xoelle’s rug used 50% of those holes, meaning she latched in every other available space for lushness and desired comfort.
- I’ve been latching in every 4th space and staggering the gaps, meaning, I’m averaging 25 loops per blue-grid-square (and still seeing very cushy results).
- To do 25 loops takes about 15-minutes if I’m on a roll and not distracted.
- There are about 200 blue grid squares in the working area of my bear shape. That’s about 20,000 holes all together, meaning 5,000 to hook.
- And if I’m doing 4 blue grid squares an hour, in rapid fire succession without distractions, it will take me 50 hours to complete the rug. So her estimate of 60 hours is not the least bit unreasonable (she’s doing twice as many pieces of fabric, but I’m doing a larger rug).
I think I’m going to need more fabric. And replacement fingers.