One time, I tried to make a knit rug I made using a piece of vintage fabric. As a follow-up, I sought out a new material to construct with; while yarn would be an obvious choice, I knew I wanted something thicker and more heavy-duty since this runner was being designed to lay in front of the sliding glass door to the patio, an entryway and exit that gets hit with a lot of daily traffic. For a hot moment, I considered buying mass amounts of woven polyester rope at a marine store (the products are sold in various thicknesses and colors, and I still think it’d make for a fun rug if it weren’t so expensive: 60-cents to $1.25/ft. for the kinds I liked best) Knowing already that I’d need more than 500-ft of a thick material, the options at a local 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 I found could compared to the pricing of 1/4″ sisal rope on amazon.com (aff link). Sold in rolls 100-feet long for only $3.85/each, I could save more than $7 per roll over what I saw at Home Depot, so I bought 6. Shipping for one roll was pushing $7 (it wasn’t Amazon 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.
Really, that’s a lot of rope. 600 feet, yo.
I started out this sisal knitting project the same way that I started my previous effort, using only knit stitches row after row (not purl), but kept great focus on the first few rows that I knit to assess how the rope would stretch. The thing is: it didn’t. The sisal, unlike most yarns, and unlike the fabric I had worked with previously did not have a tendency to want to stretch width-wise, only length-wise.
It held its form really nicely as it grew, still not stretching width-wise, and fitting perfectly on my handmade 24″ knitting needles.
As I worked from one spool to the next, I tied the ends of the ropes together using a square knot, 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 onto the third spool of rope and continued to knit. At 300 ft. of 1/4″ sisal rope, my carpet runner looked like this.
Side note: Wet hair. My own appearance is rarely well-planned, but aren’t those Anthropologie sandals cute?
It’s not easy to demonstrate how knitting with ginormous needles is a lot more manual than knitting smoothly with tiny fits-right-in-your-fingers needles; I spent about 6 hours knitting this rug, which is about 1 hour per hundred feet, or one spool per hour, which wasn’t all that bad. I completed most of it watching DVR’ed episodes of America’s Got Talent, and only asked Pete to snap this picture of me with my iPhone as I neared the finish line last week. See how bulky the needles are, and how chunky the rope is? To give you a better visual, I was basically pinning the needles to either side of my waist, and then manually feeding the rope to knit each piece by hand, loop by loop. There was not a lot of flailing needle movement, in case you were curious as to how I wielded a set of 24″ needles on the couch comfortably.
It was apparent even before I casted off that the new runner was p-e-r-f-e-c-t for the space I envisioned it for.
If you look really closely in this next picture (click to enlarge, if you wish), you’ll see one of the ends where the two spools of sisal were 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 manufacturer’s taped ends will help to prevent fraying.
It’s a thick piece 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 of it’s as neutral and favorable as any woven rug you’d admire at the store.
Its finished dimensions are 24″ x 56″, and 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 at Home Depot and give it an extra bit of length.
In any case, the price, which so far has still just $34.62 + $4 wooden needles can’t be beat.
Make anything inspired and fun with common rope lately?