How to Make Yarn from Rags, Sheets, or Bags

Upcycle worn sheets or plastic shopping bags!

Many years ago I accompanied my mother to a farm auction. Amongst the sale items, I was captivated by a couple of colorful rag yarn balls. As the auction went on in the background, I studied the “yarn” balls until I figured out how the strips were attached to each other. The balls are fun to make and display, even if you never knit anything with your “yarn.”

After you've cut up your rags for knitting, download the patterns for the rag bath mat and the doily rug.

How to cut rags for knitting

1

Step 1

You can use any kind of fabric for this, even t-shirts or bedsheets. In this example I'm using plain muslin bed sheets from IKEA ($1.99 for a twin size). To make strips for a #19 needle, cut slits about 1 1/2" apart across the bottom. For really big knitting on #35 needles, cut them 3" apart across the bottom.

2

Step 2

Rip at each slit so you have a pile of strips like this.

3

Step 3

Cut slits like button-holes in each end be about 1" long, like this.

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Step 4

Your strips should now have slits at the end.

5

Step 5

Feed the end of one strip through the slit in the next strip.

Make sure that as you form a ball, you always poke the end of the strip attached to the ball through the slit first!

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Step 7

Now take the other end of the strip (not attached to the ball) and feed it through the remaining slit, like this.

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Step 8

Now carefully pull on the strip you just fed through the slit…keep pulling and you’ll get this.

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Step 9

Pull a little more until they are snug like this.

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Step 10

Ta-da! Keep doing that and you’ll end up with a big ball of rag yarn.

If you need to rip more “yarn” to add to your work-in-progress (WIP), proceed backwards from your working yarn. If you try to attach a new ball of yarn to existing WIP, you will have no free end to pull through the slit, so you’ll have to tie a knot. It’s not the end of the world, but for a completely knot-free piece it’s something to think about…

How To Cut The Bag

What do you do with all those plastic shopping bags that multiply in your cupboard? You knit with them, of course! After you've cut-up your bags for knitting, download the free re-bag pattern.

1

Step 1

Lay the bag out still pleated.

2

Step 2

Cut off the handles and the bottom (if you don’t cut off too much a Target bag will yield 18").

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Step 3

Unfold pleats and lay flat.

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Step 4

Now mark 3" from one folded edge.

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Step 5

Fold the bag over to meet that 3" mark.

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Step 6

Now fold again to the 3" mark.

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Step 7

Across the folded section, mark 3" intervals.

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Step 8

Now cut only through the folded section at those 3" marks.

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Step 9

Draw lines that begin on the left side of each 3" section and end at the top 1.5" over to the right.

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Step 10

Fold the top over and continue each line over the top and to the right until it meets the slit to the right of the 3" section.

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Step 11

Finished lines.

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Step 12

Now cut on those lines through only one layer.

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Step 13

Finished cutting.

When you pull on the end, you will find it is one long piece ready for knitting. Once you get the hang of it, you won’t need to draw the lines for cutting.

Comments

Cocoknits

Thanks for letting us know Sue! It should work now :)


Sue Lindsay

This is Brilliant Julie, thank you! Can I mention that the download for the re-bag pattern is not working? Love your designs x


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