Rag Knitting

Many years ago I accompanied my mother to a farm auction. Amongst the sale items, I found a couple balls of colorful rag yarn. 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.

Cocoknits Rag Bath Mat and Doily Rug

How to cut rags for knitting:

Plastic Bag Knitting 1You 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 a #35 needles, cut them 3″ apart across the bottom.

Plastic Bag Knitting 1Rip from each slit so you have a pile of strips like this:
Plastic Bag Knitting 1Now cut slits in each end about 1” long like this:

Plastic Bag Knitting 1So now you have strips with slits in the end.

Plastic Bag Knitting 1Feed the end of one strip through the slit in the next strip:

Plastic Bag Knitting 1Make sure that as you form a ball, you always poke the end of the strip attached to the ball through the slit first! Like this:

Plastic Bag Knitting 1Now take the other end of the strip (not attached to the ball) and feed it through the remaining slit, like this:

Plastic Bag Knitting 1Now carefully pull on the strip you just fed through the slit…keep pulling and you’ll get this:

Plastic Bag Knitting 1Pull a little more until they are snug like this:

Plastic Bag Knitting 1Ta-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 WIP, work 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…


  1. and I thought I was smart!..this is a great tip …no more knots in my rag projects………..thank you

  2. Almost finished with getting my rags stripped and then onto the rag bath rug. I,m so excited to start. Will definitely comment when the project is half way finished.

  3. Loving the info on this site, you have done great job on the articles.

  4. Lynda

    Oooo I am definately going to have a go, I love this idea! Just had a thought if you buy a couple of cheap sheets in a charity shop, you can then dye to your chosen colour and then strip n knit…hey present a rag rug in your chosen colour !!! ……

  5. Ellelee

    Would cutting at shirt body in a continuous stip work?

  6. Wanny

    I’ve been doing this for years, mostly using thrift store sheets. My sis tells me (she who turned me on to this) that it’s common in Scandinavia. Very nice at the kitchen sink or bedside also. I tried it with T-shirt yarn but much prefer sheets. Three sheets will make a very nice variegated yarn/pattern. I rip 1″ and knit w/#13 circ. C.O. 55, garter stitch with a slipped edge. Thinking about a chevron or wave pattern next. Only fun!

  7. Annette

    Just started making a t-shirt rug and loving it. So sorry I took boxes of t-shirts to good will last year and now have to buy them back.
    If you do this go for the XXL or as large as you can get.
    Almost done my first rug and now will make another one with lighter colors.
    Thanks for sharing.

  8. What fabric was used in the other half circle rug, it looks gray? Was it also an Ikea sheet?

    • It was a King-sized flat sheet that was khaki colored…I am not sure where I got it – probably either Ikea or Target.

  9. LOVE this idea of pulling ends through slits. I’ve made rag crafts using strips that I’d wrap the ends or sew together. This is so much better. I’m very glad I have a couple big bags of “outgoing” textiles, some of which I’ll do this instead!!

  10. R K R

    Is there anything to coat the underside with, to make it non-slip?
    Most of the products I’ve used in the past have either peeled off after drying/curing or washed off in the first cleaning.

    • Hi,
      I’ve had people tell me they use caulk in a tube (available at hardware stores) for non-slip dots on the bottom of their hand knit slippers. I haven’t tried it – but it might work! For rugs that stay in one place, I use the rubberized non-slip rug mats cut down to size. Let us know what works and we’ll share!

  11. Laurie

    How does this hold up in the wash?

    • I have found as long as it’s not an open fabric, but fairly close (meaning strips on the thicker side) it washes okay. If the fabric is too floppy and open, it gets too stringy looking. Hope that makes sense!;-)

    • Laurie

      Yes that makes sense. Thank you. I tend to hand wash the things I’ve made by hand anyway, just to be safe ☺️

    • Good, keep us posted!

  12. Crystal Owen

    I am using linen cloth for strips. There are so many strings unravelling. Is that going to be a problem after the rug is knit? Should I braid the strips first, or is there a method for de-fraying strips?
    Thank you for the great pattern!

    • Oh boy, linen does fray more, I’ve never tried it for this. But when I work with linen and want a raw edge, I stay-stitch the edges approximately 1/4″ in so the fabric doesn’t fray further than that. What a pain to do that for all these strips! On the other hand, maybe after a certain point it will stop fraying…?! Wish I had a better answer, good luck and keep us posted!

  13. Melanie - Knit for my Sanity

    I totally want to try this now! And with my kids spilling and tearing up sheets, I have plenty that I was going to throw away. Now I know what to do with them! Cut away the stain and use the current rips as a guide and I’ve got yarn! And hey… as a little punishment for not taking care of their things, I’ll have them cut the strips for me! Heehee! I kid, but what a great project for us to work on together! Love it!

    • Oh, I had my daughter rip years ago;-) I started the little scissor-cuts along one edge and she enjoyed ripping each strip all the way to other end! It is a fun project with kids! Enjoy!

  14. Elizabeth Shattuck

    I’d love the pattern for the half circle rug! I’ve made rag rugs years ago as braided rugs and also using a “needle” made of a plastic toothbrush handle. See aunt philly’s toothbrush rugs. Using a core of denim strips, a lighter fabric is wrapped with a single crochet stitch, if I’m remembering correctly. Makes a great sturdy rug, but does not wash well. Mine is now relegated to the basement!!

  15. Lina Reid

    My eyes lit up reading the process….wow!,

    Can’t wait to try

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