One time, I tried to make a knit rug I made using a piece of vintage fabric. It turned out great!
This time, I sought out a new material to construct with. While yarn would be an obvious choice, I knew I wanted something thicker. The placement of the runner I had in mind would lay in an area that gets a lot of daily traffic.
For a moment, I considered buying mass amounts of woven polyester rope at a marine store. Rope is colorful and sold in various thicknesses, but expensive: 60 cents to $1.25/ft.. Knowing already that I’d need more than 500 feet of thick material, the options at a local boating and fishing store and West Marine were just way out of my price range.
One common material was closer to my price range though: the much-loved woven carpet material Sisal. Sisal’s like Jute, but often a little coarser I think some would say. Home Depot had some affordable options for long lengths of sisal, but nothing compared to the pricing of 1/4″ sisal rope. (Editor’s Update 2023: Whoa, sisal on Amazon isn’t super cheap anymore.)
How Much Sisal/Jute Should You Order?
In 2012, 100-feet sold for $3.85. This meant I could save more than $7 per roll over what I saw at Home Depot, so I bought 6. Shipping for one roll was $7 (not Prime-eligible) but adding 5 more rolls to my order only bumped my total shipping to $11.72, making my total order (and my total to-be carpet runner) only $34.62. I purchased 600 feet in total.
Really, that’s a lot of rope. 600 feet, yo.
Cast On Oversized Knitting Needles
I started out this sisal knitting project with my handmade 24″ knitting needles. I began the same way you might begin any knitting venture, but used row after row of knit stitches (not purl).
I remained focused on the first few rows to assess how the rope would stretch. The thing is: it didn’t.
The sisal, unlike most yarns, did not have a tendency to want to stretch width-wise. Only length-wise.
As I worked from one spool to the next, I tied the ends of the ropes together using a square knot. The square knot is an easy but strong knot with little tendency to want to loosen. If you’re looking for a knot-tying tutorial, I validated my knot-tying know-how on this site. It has a square knot and many others nicely illustrated.
I was feeling pretty confident in how this project was going as I moved to the third spool of sisal. At 300 ft. of 1/4″ sisal rope, my carpet runner looked like this.
It’s not easy to demonstrate how challenging it is to work with ginormous needles. It is a lot more manual than knitting with small needles. I spent about 6 hours finishing this rug (1 hour per hundred feet or one spool per hour).
See how bulky the needles are and how chunky the rope is? It was difficult to maneuver such large needles. To give you a better visual, I would pin the needles to either side of my waist, and then manually feed the rope to knit each piece by hand, loop by loop. There was not a lot of flailing needle movement necessary, in case you were curious as to how I wielded a set of 24″ needles on the couch comfortably.
Even before cast off, I knew the new runner was p-e-r-f-e-c-t for our home.
Cast Off and Enjoy Your New Sisal Rug
If you look really closely at this next picture, you’ll see one of the ends where the two spools of sisal are knotted together. It’s not obvious on its own at all, but also can be tucked right into the weave to be completely invisible.
No ropes were cut in the making of this rug, so those manufacturers’ taped ends will help to prevent fraying.
It started as a thick rug with a lot of texture, but it’s already started to compress a little bit just after a few days.
To dispel rumors of it being too rough to walk on, it’s perfectly comfortable. The knit texture, if nothing else, is amazingly like a foot massage.
And it has no tendency to want to unravel or snag either if you’re curious, even with the weave being as loose as it is. The color is neutral and as favorable as any woven rug you’d admire at the store.
Its finished dimensions are 24″x56″. If I had an extra roll, I’d definitely have extended it another 6″ to completely fill the space in front of the door; right now, it’s just a little short. If it still stands out to me after we live with it for a few weeks, I might pick up a 50′ length of sisal to finish it out.
The price ($34.62 + $4 wooden needles) can’t be beaten. (2012 pricing!)
Make anything inspired and fun with common rope lately?