I’ve been reluctantly showing off some of my big project failures in the last few months. I don’t always do things well, and like most of us, I have to learn from my experiences. I think it’s worth sharing some of those oops-moments here so you can observe and learn too (and maybe/possibly/hopefully someone out there can guide/inspire me to do it better).
This first effort at knitting my own carpet runner morphed itself from being a winning idea into a poopfest in a matter of hours (and I wasn’t keeping track of my time investment the same way I had been doing with the big bear shag rug, but there were many hours spent sitting at home, and many more hours of knitting in a car on a 6-hour road trip to Boston which only resulted in awesome car nausea), but here I am, sitting and writing about it and trying not to get too worked up because what I learned did lead me down a much better path. I’m finishing up the real-deal carpet runner this week, and I can’t wait to show it to you guys.
The original plan involved morphing a substantial piece of vintage cotton fabric that I bought (for $1) at a garage sale earlier this summer into a giant ball of DIY yarn that could be transformed into a real home accent, and then using that to create one helluva unique rug to sit across the sliding glass door entryway to the deck.
The fabric itself was 5 yards in length and 45″ in diameter, so it was a nice piece of fabric that could have been used for a multitude of projects. Its texture and color, I loved, and I initially thought that crocheting it would be a fun project until I came to terms with the fact that I’ve never crocheted before and even after tutorials on youtube got me up to speed on some basic crochet tips, the act of hooking the entire thing at my beginner-crochet-star pace would have taken a long, long while. And it probably wouldn’t have looked all that awesome in the end.
I do know how to knit. A little bit. Like, thismuch. My mom, a knitting all-star who (not all that surprisingly) knit us everything from matching sweaters, to Christmas stockings, to assorted cold weather hats and mittens, taught me how to knit when I six or seven or maybe eight, although in learning at that age, I never focused much on the intricacies of building actual wearable forms or doing complex patterns like she did, but I rocked out some sweet straight scarves when handmade scarves had a resurgence sometime around 1998.
Once I had decided that knitting was the safe path for this effort, I began by rolling out my 5-yards of teal fabric across our desk-slash-dining room table and began cutting end-to-end making 1″ strips. At approximately 5-yards in length and 45″ in width, I estimated that I could make 525 feet of “yarn” for this project. That’s a lot.
Cutting the strips was easier (and faster) than I expected it to be. For one thing, I was working with really sharp scissors. This made it easy to zip the scissors along the fabric the same way you can sometimes successfully slice through good wrapping paper without actually having it make the scissoring motion to get a clean cut. You know what I’m talking about; it’s a good feeling. It also ripped through really evenly for the most part, so each strip ended up being just about 1″ in width.
Note that this 5-yard strip of fabric was cut with intention of being one long strand, so I trimmed in a way that the cuts made the fabric zig-zag, and therefore was able to make some very long sections.
I rolled the lengths up into a yarn ball as I went. And only occassionally (twice) did I zipline the scissors off course and sever my uber-long strand of fabric. It was really painful the first time I messed up (emotionally, I mean), but in the end, after about an hour and a half of cutting, I had myself three large bigger-than-grapefruit-sized balls of DIY yarn. I suppose it was a good thing that the yard severed accidentally, or else the resulting single ball of fabric would have litch-rully been bigger than my head.
When it came time to knit, I made my own knitting needles out of a 48″ wooden dowel. At $4, it was an easy solution since I could guarantee that my rug was at least 18″ wide, and even better, upwards of 24″ wide since each needle could accomodate being wrapped along all 24-inches.
See? So comfortable, so easy. Except it was probably 90-degrees in the sunroom while I knit, and I was wearing pants, so, yeah, I’m aware that I look like I’m melting.
I had done some preliminary guesswork on how long I could knit a runner if it was only 24″ wide and I had 525-ft of yarn to be working from. The result, I expected, would be between 5′-6′ in length, which I considered not too shabby for what still was just $1 worth of fabric. Most of the runners I had been shopping for prior to this adventure cost $80-200, and often were too-long a length for what I was looking for.
What I didn’t expect up front is that this fabric yarn has a lot of play to it, and what started as a 24″ wide rug had quickly morphed into a 48″ wide rug after knitting about 5 rows in garter stitch style (just knitting stitches, not purling stitches).
As demonstrated here, the rug should really be about as wide as the needle is long. And I overfired my aim.
Sulk-sulk-sulk, tear it off, write off 3 hours of work, and rewind the yarn onto the ball. And then go run through the pink sprinkler in the yard, because it is h-o-t.
I started again. And then again. Each effort, reducing the number of loops that I cast on the needle, ending up with a mere 25, having estimated that each loop was only going to stretch to fill about 1″ of width.
The width, in the end, I think I got right, but for some reason, it was taking much more fabric than expected to achieve a good length runner. The fabric stretched to meet the width of the rug I wanted, but lacked the stretch to run lengthwise, and after knitting through two whole balls of fabric, I somehow only had a square that was 24″x12″. One more yarn ball would only have gotten me to 24″x18″, which nowhere near the proportion I wanted. Although, look at it the other way and maybe it’d have made for a successful bathroom mat.
This DIY yard/knit runner was a fail solely because it wasn’t the right amount of yarn, but the one I’m preparing to show you on Monday is spot-on what I think I needed all along.