Knitting With Fabric Strips

 

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So, there were enough questions about this, and not enough info on the world wide web, that I decided to write a little tutorial. I hope this is helpful, and clear enough.

I cut fabric strips 1 inch by the width of fabric (usually 40-42 inches.) I did find some recommendations to tear the strips, which they said would result in less fraying. While I agree with this in theory, I don’t like the way the torn strips get all distorted. I like the way the cut strips look. Also, I am a non-pre-washer of my quilting fabric, so none of my strips are cut from pre-washed fabric. I think that it might be more enjoyable to knit with pre-washed fabric. But again, I’m not going there.

I use size 15 needles. I went and bought myself a nice pair of bamboo circular needles, because I like that their ends are not so pointy. Remember, cotton strips of fabric are not nice and stretchy like most yarns, so you want to try to knit not too tight (that’s why I wanted needles that were less pointy.) I did a gauge swatch, and it seemed like I got 2 stitches per inch, so I cast on 40 stitches for a rug 20 inches wide. I just measured, and it is only 18 inches. So there you go. You want to knit in a stitch that will lay flat. Garter stitch is the way to go (knit every stitch.)

Progress on current rug. Sophie supervises.

Progress on current rug. Sophie supervises.

After you cut a million and one strips, you need to join them, so you will have a continuous strip of fabric to knit with.  Take one strip (you can cut off the selvedge ends or leave them on,) and fold the end over on itself like so (you can see I am actually doing both ends at the same time.)

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Neatly cut a slit in the end. Don’t cut close than 1/2″ to the end of the strip, or it might tear when you join the strips.)

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I sit and cut a pile of these while I am watching TV in the evening. When you have enough, take two strips, and PREPARE TO JOIN 🙂 Slip the second strip through the slit in the first strip.

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Now bring the long end of strip two, and insert it into the slit in strip two, and start to pull it all the way through itself.

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Pull it ALL THE WAY through .

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Then pull both strips taut, and TA DA! You have a continuous strip. Continue doing this until you have a big pile of fabric “yarn.”

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When you roll your strip into a ball, you might notice that it is getting a bit twisty. You can overcome this by winding forwards for a while, and then reversing and winding the other direction for a while.

When you first wash your rug, there will be a TON of frayed threads. Yes, I give the rug a haircut. Its kind of fun 🙂

You can crochet with fabric strips, but I find it very hard on my hand, and I noticed that another blogger said the same thing. Proceed at your own risk. Even knitting for a long time with this heavy fabric and big needles is tiring. Proceed cautiously. Your rug will develop quickly. No need to wear your hands out making a bath mat. (I keep saying bath mat, but I think they make great kitchen mats.)

Also, Shelley reminded me that the first thing I did with fabric strips was to knit Christmas stockings. They are so cute. For these I cut the strips 3/4 inch, and I knit on 4 double point needles size 13. Just use a very basic, simple sock pattern. Use a contrasting solid color for the heel and toe.

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12 thoughts on “Knitting With Fabric Strips

  1. Thanks so much for the great tutorial!!! That idea is definitely popping up/gaining popularity around me, also!!! Since I’m not in favor of “reinventing the wheel” when such an excellent one exists(!), I’m reblogging this for my readers!!!! Thanks, again, Debby!!!!!!

  2. Hi Debby,this sounds like fun, but I’m wondering why we don’t simply machine stitch the ends together. Just lap them over each other and stich or zig zag them. I guess I could try it out and let you know the outcome. Cheers

    • I did read that somewhere on the internet, but the person who wrote it said it was too time consuming. I think I would say that unless you double or triple sewed it, it might be more in danger of coming un-sewn, and then ultimately your knitting would unravel. But yes, if you try it, be sure to let me know!

  3. Hi – I don’t know whether it’s too late to get a response to this, but I found this post because I was wondering about knitting with cotton rag strips. I would like to make coasters this way, but since they’re so small, I would have to join a lot of pretty short strips together to make them interesting (i.e., more than one fabric per coaster). What do you think of using shorter, narrower strips and small needles? Would the joined parts be too lumpy/distracting to make such a small item work? Thanks!

    • I think you could easily use 3/4 inch strips, and try size 12 or 13 needles. I think the joining knots might be too lumpy for a coaster. This might be where it was worth the time to sew the strips together. Or, my first thought was to find a big print fabric that had enough color changes to make the coasters interesting. I love the idea of making coasters! I think I will try this and if I do, I’ll blog about my results.

  4. Last night I was reading about a friend who is crocheting rag rugs. I can crochet but prefer knitting. I knew I could do it. However, I wanted instruction on size to cut scraps and needle size. You answered my questions. Thank you. My scraps will soon be knitting rags and I shall make rugs and maybe purses.

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