Looking at the title you might be forgiven for thinking that I’m about to tell you some thrilling story full of jolly japes and spiffing adventures, but in fact I’m about to show you the transformative powers of ripping up old bedding to turn it into a form of chunky cloth yarn, (or ‘clarn’ for short) because that’s what I’ve been doing a lot of this week. I hope you’re not too disappointed!
I love making clarn as I hate to waste anything and always seem to have a lot of fabric hanging around. The boys are too grown up for their space/cowboy/monster themed bedding these days and some of my old sheets are just too frayed and tattered to be of any practical use in their primary function anymore so I have a ready made supply of raw materials.
With a couple of projects in mind I set to work snipping and ripping some of the prettier coloured bedding into strips ready to crochet them into something completely different.
I started with a pile of over washed, slightly faded cloth that had definitely seen better days. In fact this is the very best kind of cloth to use because it has a well worn softness which makes it really easy to work with. If you don’t have a surplus of old bedding then charity/thrift shops are always a good, cheap source.
Very patiently I slowly turned them into lots of clarn balls of various sizes. This is always best done outdoors if possible unless you’re a massive fan of both dusting and sneezing because the ripping always generates lots of tiny fragments of cloth. I’m not keen on either of the above so luckily the weather has been good enough to allow me to spend a few hours in the garden getting the job done and leaving nature to assimilate all the dust particles into the environment so I don’t have to worry about them.
I made this clarn out of strips about 2 cm wide and used a 10 mm hook for all my projects but you can make them thinner or fatter and change the hook size according to your fancy. Most of this fabric is polyester cotton or pure cotton but there are many other fabrics that will do just as well. Old Tee shirts work great and give a stretchier yarn or if you’re feeling really flashy you can get some beautiful results with silk. Even plastic bags can be used. I would suggest avoiding anything with a heavy weave such as a brocade or any fabric that contains a lot of natural wool as these can both be very heavy and messy to rip up and will fray a lot.
The quickest way of creating clarn is the snip and rip method where you make a small cut in the top of your fabric roughly 2 cm in from the edge (1) and then rip it all the way down to within 1 cm of the opposite edge (2). Make another cut 2 cm to the side of the edge of this (3) and rip down the length again, stopping 1 cm short of the edge again (4). Carry on in this way until you have a couple of metres of clarn before beginning to wind it up into a ball.
Keep winding your clarn every few metres so you don’t get into a terrible tangle. This stuff just loves to get knotted up on itself if you don’t keep an eye on it.
I pull off any large messy knots of loose fibres as I go but you don’t need to be too conscientious about eliminating all of these frayed threads as they will mostly crochet into the fabric or can be pulled off later once the crochet is finished.
Now as fun as all that is my favorite part is making it up into useful and beautiful items. Rugs are a great use for this stuff. I’ve made three already, (not all this week I hasten to add!). One was for the kitchen and one for the bathroom which you can read about here. And I also made one for my studio to add a bit of colour and warmth to the bare floorboards.
They scrub up a treat too which is essential if you’d rather be looking at all the pretty colours rather than a thick layer of cat fur! Here’s the one from my studio drying in the sun after a quick whizz in the washing machine.
Cats and clarn are generally another of those matches made in heaven – from a cat’s perspective anyway. Mine find the stuff totally irresistible. If you share your home with a feline or two then some of these cosy rugs, or just even miniature cat sized ones, would be the perfect gift for your moggies. And here’s the hard evidence – in case you want some proof before you spend hours making them a pressie they may turn their noses up at…
Here’s the reason I have to wash the rug so much!
Playful Pogo loves to get involved when balls of clarn are rolling around. It’s not always that easy to get them back either. He’s got some fearsome teeth and claws on him and more than a bit of (c)attitude.
Tigger’s favorite spot in the house is his basket with the garden window view. It’s made even more comfortable by the addition of a crocheted clarn liner. He spends hours curled up in here every day. There’s some wierd perspective going on here by the way. The basket is much bigger than it looks, or maybe I should say that Tigger’s head is much smaller than it looks!?
Mojo couldn’t even wait for me to finish this one…
… and Minnie will quite happily sit on either the balls of clarn themselves (though they’re not at all squashy), or the finished pieces.
All three of my boys are on their summer holidays now, all exams are finished and assignments handed in so they are hanging around at home much more than usual. In order to encourage long and leisurely lunches and dinners around the table I wanted to make some cushion pads for the dining chairs. A numb bum is not conducive to sitting and chatting and they’re all so skinny they could use the extra padding.
Here’s a couple of finished covers just waiting for the cushions to plump them up.
They’re very comfy and puffy when the cushion pads are in place. I laced the opening shut with a bit of matching fabric as I didn’t fancy putting zips in – and I didn’t have any to hand anyway. These laces will be easy to take out if I need to wash the covers so it seemed like the perfect solution and the ends of the laces are going to double up as ties to attach the cushions to the backs of the chairs.
It’s all light and brightness in my kitchen now since hubby and I went on a decorating spree. We only planned to repaint the walls and ceiling but we got a bit carried away and now the only things not painted are the floor and the worktops. We’ve done the cupboards and the skirting, the table legs and the chairs. I’ve even painted up my old stripped pine dressers and can’t believe how much life and energy it seems to have injected into the room! I always forget to take ‘before’ pictures but here are some ‘afters’. You’ll just have to imagine the dark, orange toned, grubby stained wood underneath that used to be on show.
These cushions are going to be transferable from kitchen to garden. They’ll be ideal for cozying up the benches so we’re going to get plenty of use out of them. Clarn makes great place mats and coasters too. I’m going to need a few of these for the kitchen to help protect the newly painted surfaces. This is my first one and took about ten minutes.
I’ve got plenty more sheets to rip into and lots more plans for things to crochet with them. I’ve been collecting ideas on my Rags to Riches Board on Pinterest for a while now so I’m not short of inspiration. I’m really enjoying crocheting on such a chunky scale again. Everything works up so fast and after spending the last five months making my Mexican blanket that feels like a very welcome change.
If you’ve made anything out of recycled cloth I’d love to hear about it. As always your most welcome to leave me a comment or hop on over and share a photo on my Facebook page!
X Thanks for stopping by x
Update: A free pattern and full tutorial for how to make these chair pads can now be found here. Happy Crocheting!
June 26, 2015 at 5:31 pm
I love the lovely soft colours of your clarn. I have used old curtains, a doily pattern and a 20mm hook to make a rug and I have also used old t-shirts to make a momento rug for my little boys’ bedroom but you have given me even more ideas! Thank you.
June 26, 2015 at 5:54 pm
Gosh, i bet a 20 mm hook takes a bit or wielding, the largest I’ve used so far is a 12 mm! That’s such a nice idea to make a memento rug for your son. My oldest is away at Uni now so a rug made out of all his old bedding would brighten up his room and hold a few memories too. Thanks for the inspiration!
June 26, 2015 at 6:23 pm
It was hard going but worth it. I will try and get a post up soon so you can see the end results. I found the t-shirts more difficult as their stretchiness varied so much so the rug kept getting fatter then thinner so I have even been considering reworking it in the round. PS Your Mexican blanket is gorgeous!
June 27, 2015 at 10:24 am
Ooh yes, please do, I’d love to see!
June 26, 2015 at 7:59 pm
Thanks for the great ideas! I made my first t shirt yarn last week,but hadn’t really thought of using sheets. I think braiding it would be nice for a rug too.
June 27, 2015 at 9:43 am
Hi Katie, I’m making some T shirt yarn today after having a good root through the kids old clothes. I noticed some lovely braided rugs on Pinterest. I’ve never tried that but it looks fun. One more project to add to the list!
June 26, 2015 at 8:52 pm
Wow, you really have been busy, what gorgeous colourful rugs. x
June 26, 2015 at 8:59 pm
Very clever idea…..I like I like!!
June 27, 2015 at 10:18 pm
Excellent way to use old sheets! Thanks for sharing 🙂 I need new rugs and your’s are an inspiration! They are so beautifully color-schemed. Love your cat pics too xox
June 28, 2015 at 10:58 am
Thanks! They’re a doddle to make as well and I love how they work up so quickly.
June 28, 2015 at 4:45 pm
I made some bathroom mats out of t-shirt yarn. it’s so easy to care for, as you say. I just throw in the washing machine. Using sheets is a great idea. I’ve also made some yarn out of silk scarves and cotton skirts, but I haven’t made enough to use it yet. I’m going to check out your pinterest and FB pages.
June 28, 2015 at 4:51 pm
Hi Teresa, I bet the T-shirt rugs are be lovely and soft on the feet! Look forward to seeing you on FB and Pinterest!
June 28, 2015 at 8:08 pm
Great idea, I’ve been wondering how people make the t-shirt yarn, so thanks so much for the tips. I shall be rummaging through my Mums’ old bedding and probably a trip to the charity shops very soon too! I love how your cats love all your makes too, I’ve recently lost my cats, but plan to get some more soon, and these rugs will be welcome additions to the house. Thanks, Katherine x
June 29, 2015 at 5:26 pm
Glad to hear you enjoyed the post and sorry to hear you lost your cats. I’m sure any new pets will love your cozy rugs!