Saturday, April 13, 2013

Easy Stretchy T-Yarn Crochet Basket

My scarf collection was getting out of control. The scarves (which seem to reproduce when my back is turned) were all sprawling and falling out of a flimsy little wicker basket on a chest at the foot of the bed, continually tangling with each other and with the blankets.

Also slightly out of control was my stash of ancient t-shirts. The tees - too baggy, or short, or tight, for my present taste - sat woefully stacked on a shelf in my closet, with no apparent purpose left in life. (I think I've said before that I have a hard time getting rid of things.)

But Crochet Has Come to the Rescue! (Sound the trumpets and penny whistles.)

A quick and easy basket, stitched in stretchy "yarn" cut from those same old tees...

...and finished with a handy laced tie to increase the scarf storage potential...

...has solved both my problems at once - and very neatly too. I call it my Scarf Corral.

The Scarf Corral holds an amazing amount of scarves (and hats). Take away all those scarves on top, and you'll find another layer below:

Take those out, and the easy spiral construction is revealed in all its stripey glory:



The Scarf Corral is stitched entirely in the back loop - which gives it extra stretch and makes the most of the available t-yarn. Back-loop-only crochet curls naturally outward; in a shorter basket this forms a pleasant brim. (The Scarf Corral is very floppy when empty. For a more solid, though less stretchy basket, crochet in both loops.)

If you've never worked with t-yarn, here are some tips:
  • 100% cotton tees work best. Avoid lycra or spandex blends.
  • Jersey knit fabric strips curl when stretched, and give a smooth, spaghetti-like yarn which is easy to crochet.
  • Rib-knit fabric strips do not curl when stretched, but give a ribbon-like yarn that is harder to crochet. (I used both kinds in my basket.)
  • Be aware that T-yarn does shed tiny bits of thread.
  • T-shirts with seams are harder to cut, but will work just fine and add texture to your project.
  • Use very loose tension when crocheting, or your work may pucker. Draw up longer-than-normal loops for each stitch.

Jersey knit curls when stretched;
rib knit stays flat.

To change colours while working, I like the path of least resistance: cut the ends of both strips at a long angle, from one edge to the opposite corner, to form long skinny points. Tie the points together with a simple overhand knot.

Scarf Corral Materials:
Old t-shirts (I used 4)
Size Q/15-16mm hook, or whatever feels comfortable with your yarn

Cut t-shirts into continuous 1/2"-5/8" wide strips. (Click here for a handy t-yarn tutorial from Polka Dot Pineapple.) Vigourously stretch "yarn" and wind into balls. (If using rib-knit, keep strips no more than 1/2" wide - your wrists will thank you.)

Basket Base:
Round 1: Make a magic ring (or Knotless Chain 2). Single crochet 6 in ring (or in 1st chain). Do not join. 6 stitches. Place marker to indicate last or first stitch of round, and move marker up with each round.
Round 2: Single crochet 2 in each back loop around. 12 stitches.
Round 3: (Single crochet 2 in next back loop, single crochet 1 in next back loop) around. 18 stitches.
Round 4: (Single crochet 2 in next back loop, single crochet 1 in next 2 back loops) around. 24 stitches.
Following Rounds: Continue increasing 6 stitches per round, as above, until base is desired size. (My basket base is 11 rounds wide - 66 sts around - and about 10½" across.)

Basket Sides:
Slip stitch in next stitch. Place marker if desired.
Chain 1.
(Single crochet in next back loop, chain 1, skip 1 stitch) around. 33 single crochets and 33 chain stitches (or whatever adds up to the number of stitches in your final round). Do not join.
Continue working this pattern (sc in next back loop, chain 1, skip 1) in spiral rounds until basket is desired height.
To finish, slip stitch or invisible join in next single crochet. Weave in end.

Basket Tie:
Chain t-yarn to desired length. Loosely weave through basket at desired intervals (mine was every 5 single crochets). Tie a knot at each end of chain, then tie ends into bow. Note: because basket is worked in a spiral, you will have to skip up or down a row at some point when weaving in the tie to make the ends come out level. (Hope that makes sense.)

See how much you can stuff into your stretchy new basket!

~ ~ ~

This is not the t-yarn project I set out to make, by the way. I very much wanted to crochet a little Tunisian rug using Astri's exceedingly fun Rockman afghan pattern - but t-yarn and Tunisian together were too hard on my wrists. (Terribly tragic.) So I made a basket instead. :)

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  1. That is nifty, Sue! I am keen on making some baskets and currently am crocheting one done in flat sections [from the book SimpleCrochet]. Thanks for sharing your experience and sources :-)

    1. Thanks Gracie - I almost made this in flat sections too - using Tunisian - but alas it didn't work out. I will look out for basket photos on your blog. :)

  2. Awesome basket! I have a ton of scarves too, but unfortunately not enough spare T-shirts to make this. Maybe bulky yarn would work if you did more increases....hmm...

    1. I think bulky yarn would work fine. Or you could use multiple strands of worsted - maybe 3 or 4 held together.

      Thanks Cogaroo! :)

  3. Great idea Sue......I have a pile of t shirts in my wardrobe......I had rag rugs in mind, but doubt I'll ever make one, but this is a definitely a do-able project.

    Claire :}

    1. Gosh I'd love to make a crochet rag rug but doubt if I have the stamina. But this basket came together in an afternoon.

      I thought you would turn your old t-shirts into 3-D applique zinnias or something.... :)

  4. I turned out so nice, Sue. Such a great idea to hang the scarfs on the outside too. I love these up-cycled projects.

    1. I meant "It" not "I" although sometimes I'm nice....

    2. You are ALWAYS nice! :)

      Thanks Astri.

  5. What a fabulous idea! thank you for sharing the how to's and the handy tips :)

    1. You're welcome! I am absurdly proud of the way my scarves look now. :)

  6. I love it and I love your scarf stash. I put my scarves in a hanging shoe container I bought for my closet, It holds 12 pairs of shoes, but lot more scarves as I can fit two in a compartment.
    Hugs to you,

    1. That's a great idea for scarf storage. I like my stash too ... and did you notice a particularly lovely brown drop-stitch scarf in the top tier? It's one of my favourites. ;)

  7. What a clever idea! You always amazed me with your talents. :)

    Blessings always dear friend.

    1. Thanks, Stitchy, and blessings to you. :)

  8. Replies
    1. Thanks Janet ... can you tell that purple and pink are favourites of mine? The basket fits very well into our purple-y bedroom colour scheme. :)

  9. I'm totally into upcyling and in love with your basket. :-)

    1. Thanks Regula! I love using up things this way. :)

  10. That basket is so very cute! I need to look for some old t-shirts.

    1. If you can't find any there is always Goodwill.... :)

  11. How creative! I've been saving up a bunch of T-shirts, but they've been headed for a quilt all this time. Maybe this is something I can do with the rest of the shirts after I cut the designs out for the quilt...

    1. Well, a quilt is definitely a worthy upcycling use of tees. :) Perhaps you can come up with a way to cut the backs into t-yarn ... and blog about it of course!

  12. You are one clever woman, Sue!


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