For a few months, there's been a fabulous initiative happening in the south of Glasgow. It's trading by the name of StitchUP and oh, it is so to my liking. Once a month from 6-9pm, one can drop into a very cosy basement of a very nice cafe, and get crafting with fabric and yarn. There's a state of the art sewing machine, fabric, buttons, threads, felt, all kinds of pieces, knitting yarn, crochet hooks and more. People come along and share their skills, and every instalment of StitchUP has a couple of projects that people may or may not make. One evening, I brought my knitting that needed a bit of a push to get finished, and I ended up showing someone how to change colours while knitting. Another time I made crochet snowflakes which really helped me not lose my very basic crochet skills and expand on them at the same time.
It's family friendly, so I can bring my kids, which is of course not particularly conducive to getting a project done (especially if your preschooler is so fascinated by the sewing machine that she needs constant supervision lest she brakes the needle or worse the machine) but everytime I went, I came home having learned something new.
Next up will be rug making. Which is just fabulous because for about 4 years I have been meaning to make some rag rugs. I collected and stored old t-shirts ready for making t-shirt yarn. Finally, I got to dig them out and start making t-shirt yarn, ready for the next StitchUP where the yarn will be made into a rag rug.
T-shirt yarn making is great fun and there's a bit of magic going on. It's extremely therapeutic I found, and nothing beats preschooler joining me at midnight for a round of tugging and spooling. Such a special surprise when my wee ghosty came down the stairs and joined me in some magic yarn making.
The magic lies in the fact that one t-shirt makes much more yarn than you think. And this is how:
For a tutorial, you're best visiting craftpassion - I can't really explain it any better. To get you started, it's important you have a proper pair of fabric scissors because otherwise you'll just get rather aggravated. You will also need t-shirts ideally with no print and no side seems (so many women's cuts don't work). Obviously the bigger the t-shirt the more yarn you'll get, but even so, a medium or small t-shirt will still yield rather a lot, so don't dismiss them! I have used t-shirts with some print and it's not all that bad, but you don't want to have too much print as it'll affect the quality of the yarn. Finally, check the label - the t-shirt should be 100% cotton. I'm not really sure what happens if it's not but may try out just to be radical. Once you're set, go to craftpassion for your tutorial. The magic happens when you get to tugging your yarn. For some reason (er, magic) the yarn lengthens when you do that, at least doubling your yarn length. I get quite a thrill out of that, and so did Cubling.
You may be able to get some more t-shirt supplies from charity shops, however I found that plain, side seem free, 100% cotton t-shirts are not considered to be good enough to be sold in charity shops, maybe they tend to be too plain. It may be worth while building up a relationship with one or two charity shops and telling them about your passion for plain cotton t-shirts and get them set aside for you before they go into the fabric bin. What worked for me was just asking a few friends and colleagues for unused old t-shirts.
Apparently, now that I've got t-shirt yarn, I'm all set to crochet (!!!) my rag rug. This is where StitchUP comes in - there is no way I could actually do that by myself, even in the age of youtube, I need someone to show me and to check that what I'm doing is actually what I'm supposed to be doing. So I'll be bartering t-shirt yarn for expanding my crochet skills ;)
Next up I'll run through a few ways of making rag rugs, but I'll wait with that until I actually know how to make them!