Tag Archives: DIY

Crochet Kitty Basket from T-Shirt Yarn

How Old is Eleven?

How old is eleven? Not too old to receive a Kitty basket!

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The idea for this basket came about a while back, when my niece M.’s birthday was still quite far off. I was crocheting a roundish basket with fabric yarn, and when I looked at the shape, or rather, when I felt the shape in my hands, I found myself thinking: If only this were in white… And had ears and whiskers… You see where I’m getting to.

But when M.’s birthday was nearing, I stopped to wonder for a moment – is eleven still okay for this? You know, eleven – old enough to babysit the neighbors’ kids, and understand a lot of things, and make beautiful drawings and handicrafts, and help around the house…

The answer I gave myself: Of course!

Crochet Kitty Basket from T-Shirt Yarn

I made a white, roundish basket, then made ears, and eyes, and whiskers, and a little bow. It was such  fun to make, and fun to give! And judging from M.’s response, I think I got the answer right.
Probably, not a moment too soon…

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Some Tips for Making a Kitty Basket:

The basket was crocheted in yarn under single crochet stitch (a favorite stitch with me), using a size 10 hook and white fabric yarn. The basket was formed by crocheting in a spiral.

The ears were crocheted separately and stitched on with fabric yarn (at just the right angle…)

The eyes and nose are cut from felt, and sewn on (you could probably paste them on with glue).

The whiskers were stitched onto the basket (each whisker is a single, jumbo-size stitch), and the thread is an old glasses cord.

The bow is made from a scrap of fabric yarn.

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crochet t-shirt yarn mandala trivet

Happy Mandalas

I find the parallel between the basic geometry of a crochet round and that of a mandala intriguing.  A humbler sister of the ritual mandala, the crochet mandala is nevertheless soothing and meditative to  make, and pleasing to the eye.

This simple mandala pattern is basic but priceless, because if you’ve got it mastered, you are on your way to making rugs, which are the same thing only bigger, and baskets, which are the same thing but with sides.

In the meantime, you can place your hot pan or kettle on it. Scatter a few and you’ll have a gay and festive table setting.

The pale pink and purple mandala was made with t-shirt yarn I cut from old shirts. I was able to use a kids’ size t-shirt for the middle, so that’s another nice thing about it – and of course it’s a great project for using up leftover strand bits, which is what I did in the hot-pink and orange mandala. I got the shirts from the ladies at the charity second-hand shop, who opened up their “for discard” shack for me… Such fine, sturdy, pretty cotton fabric salvaged! And t-shirt cotton is so perfect for protecting the table and keeping the pot-base warm.

I wrote up the pattern, below, and hope you enjoy making it. One word of advice: Give your mandalas freely to your friends and family, or you’ll end up like me, with a zillion different colored ones in your kitchen drawer!

Note: I don’t recommend using this as a pot-holder, because fabric yarn is bulky and the gaps between the stitches can make it unsafe for this purpose.

crochet t-shirt yarn mandala trivetcrochet t-shirt yarn mandala trivet

How to Make Happy Mandalas (can be used as trivets):

The top mandala is made from recycled t-shirts but for the green rim (I used two old children’s t-shirts).

The bottom mandala is made from bought cut strands.

I used a size 12 hook, but any size works well as long as it suits your strand.

I used 3 colors for each of these (1C, 2C, 3C)

Using 1C, make a magic ring.

Row 1: Ch 3. This counts as the first dc. Make another 11 dc into magic ring. Close with sl st. (12)

Row 2: Chain 3. The ch 3 counts as the first dc. Dc into base of ch 3 (the top of the ch 3 in previous row).  2 dc in every following 11 st. Close with an invisible join, cut. (24)

Row 3: Using 2C, start with a free-standing dc into any st. 1 dc into same st. 1 dc into next st. *2 dc into next st,  1 dc into the following st*. Repeat x 11. Close with an invisible join.(36)

Row 4: Using 3C, start with a free-standing sc into any st. Sc into next 4 st, 2 sc into next st. *sc into  next 5 st, then 2 dc into next st*, rpt x 5. Close with a sl st. (42)

Row 5: Sl st into each st on previous row (surface slip stitch). Close with an invisible join and cut. (42). The surface slip stitch evens out the rim of the mandala to make it smoother and rounder looking.

Weave in the ends.

Or – and this is my very fancy secret technique, which I have titled “draw as you stitch”, but you have to be a little skilled. It  goes like this:

Row 4: Instead of adding stitches, sc into every stitch, close with an invisible join and cut strand (36). As you are working, draw the hook a bit after every stitch to make the loop longer, before beginning the next stitch.  That way, the final row will not turn bowl-like even though you haven’t added any stitches.
As you can see in the top mandala, where this technique was used, it gives you a smoother-looking and more circular edging than if you add stitches, but it requires you to draw the loops consistently to make for uniform stitches. With a little practice, it can be mastered, and is worth the effort!
For this mandala, I didn’t make a row of surface sl st (Row 5). That’s because when you use the draw-as-you-stitch technique, the last row already comes out even looking.

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Crochet basket with recycled fabric trim

Autumn Bounty

Walking home from the bus stop I passed by the clothing recycling bin. Next to the bin was a plastic bag with some children’s clothes, and on the top was a boys’ dress shirt in turquoise with purple-pink stripes. How could anyone think of turning that into clothing pulp, or – as rumor has it – cloth wipes for the car wash industry? Mercy knows no boundaries, and so I picked up the shirt and took it upon myself to deliver it to the second hand shop, whose earnings all go to scholarships for disadvantaged girls. Which is how it landed upon my good deed roster to also launder it. It was only when I took the clean shirt down from the clothing line that I noticed it: An amoeba shaped fade-stain on the front right next to the second button from the bottom. By now, however, there was no turning back: Our destinies were intertwined, and knew I had to do what I had to do – tear the shirt up into strips and crochet it.

Crochet basket with recycled fabric trim Crochet basket with recycled fabric trim
Whether bounty or burden, I could not deny the delight of hooking this delicious color as a trim for a small basket.
I used an equally delicious pale magenta strand to make a soft but sturdy basket that I have not yet decided how to use. In the meantime, it is posing here with some hand-picked tangerines, a gift from our dinner guests, or rather, from their tree. Is there anything fresher or sweeter?

crochet fabric yarn basket

The architecture:

Crochet basket with recycled fabric trim

Crochet basket with recycled fabric trim

And a close-up view of the recycled trim. The frayed edges give it personality, but also actually keep it from unraveling better than cut edges:

Crochet basket with recycled fabric trim

Crochet fabric yarn rug textile yarn

My Sunshine Rug

It took quite a few baskets and a several highly experimental rug attempts until I was able to muster up the courage for a simple proposal to a very special someone:
“Umm… Of course if you’d like a rug…”
How delighted I was to receive that simple leap of faith:
“Sure, why not?”
A quick trip to the fabric yarn shop, and back I was with two bags of everything bright and pretty.
The choices were made by the recipient of the rug (the colors and their placement  – I’m not sure I would have been as bold!), whereupon stitching was begun… And not stopped until I had this!
It reminds me of a bright sun in a circular sky, and so the title, but I admit it also has to do with the recipient.
Crochet fabric yarn rug textile yarn

Crochet fabric yarn rug textile yarn

Crochet fabric yarn rug textile yarn


How I Made the Rug:
I used a size 12 crochet hook and medium-width, medium-stretchy fabric yarn.
I started with a magic ring, stitching 12 dc into it, and ending the row with a sl st into the first dc.
To start a new row, ch 3 (or ch 1 if you’re starting a row of sc).
To start a new strand/color in a new row, sl st into previous row, and chain the number of stitches needed (ch 3 for a row of dc or ch 1 for a row of sc).
I used dc or sc alternately, depending on the texture of the strand – for softer or thinner strands, I used dc. For less flexible or thicker strands, I used sc. Another consideration was the color pattern – for example, rows 4-5, the orange, were done in dc, but for row 6, I used sc, because another row of dc would have made the orange circle too large for the composition.
How did I know this? Because I tried it, of course!
This is my favorite designing method – make, undo, remake until you’re happy with the result.
Of course, a row of sc takes up less thread too, so when you’re nearing the end of the strand, this may be a consideration (not so in this particular case).
The increases are made as usual – 12 increases for rows of dc, 6 increases for rows of sc.
When I reached the green strip, I switched to woven stitch (here is my explanation on woven stitch).
But you can continue on with sc.
The main reason I used woven stitch here is because my green strand was thicker than the blue of the previous row, and I thought the woven stitch would be less bulky.
Accommodating stitches to the strand type is one way to integrate different types and widths of strands in the same project.
But whatever stitch you are using, it’s important to remember that if you have a thicker strand, you may need less increases in the first row of that strand, and if you have a thinner strand, you may need more increases in the first row of that strand.
So there is always the formula for increases, but you have to look at the outcome and see if your rug is lying nice and flat.
Generally: Flat is good, wavy means you have too many increases, and bowl-shaped means you don’t have enough increases.
The final crazy-colored row was done in 2 sc into each space of the previous row (space = below ch st).
Increases for this row, when needed, were done with 1 ch st between 2 pairs of sc.

Crochet Fabric Yarn Basket for Cat Textile yarn basket t-shirt yarn plarn trapillo

A Basket for Louis

Louis needed a basket to snuggle in. His people mentioned something about it rather inadvertently (I thought I heard the word “cat”, or maybe it was “bat”? And there was something about “basket”, but it might have been “brisket”, I’m not sure). At any rate, when I offered to make Louis a basket of his very own, they didn’t object. Well, not very insistently. I knew of course they were only being polite so as not to trouble me and so I assured them I’d be delighted to make it.
I asked them what color they wanted it to be (I am so very careful not to impose my designs on my friends’ décor). They said maybe dark red. Fortunately I had some, and I thought it would go well with the gray.
Louis’s people liked the basket, and I hope Louis will too (Right now it’s high summer so Louis spends most of his time outside, stalking frogs and such). If you want to know how I made the basket, please scroll down.
The cat in the pictures is not Louis, but our cat, who always joins me whenever I’m taking pictures of my projects in the garden. In this case she seemed especially interested, and in the end I could see why. I had to re-tie the bow a few times but now it’s back to it’s original elegant form.
(For updates on Louis and his basket, and a rather regal surprise, see The Prince and the Not-Exactly-Pauper.)
Louis 5bLouis 8Louis 9Louis 3

How I made the basket: I asked Louis’s people what size they thought it should be. They measured the newspaper basket he usually settles in and said, 30cm X 40cm. Since I wanted to make an oval, I subtracted the width from the length (40 – 30 = 10) and that gives you the length of the starting chain.

Make a starting chain of 10cm (I used a size 12 hook), ch 1, then sc into the 2nd st next to the one on on your hook, and into every one after but the last.

When you reach the end stitch, make 3 sc into it. Continue with sc into each st on the other side. When you reach the end stitch, sc 2 into it, which will join the one sc you made at the start.

Continue with sc in a spiral, always adding 3 sc on the round part of each side every time you crochet along it, the same way you pick up your salary whenever you pass ‘start’ in Monopoly.

When your width is 30 cm, your length should be 40 cm.  Stop adding, and make a row of 1 sc all around. Finish it off with an invisible join and cut.  Start a new thread for the next row (mine was red), crocheting with woven stitch around the base (crochet from the outside, with the right side of the base facing upwards), and close the row with 1 sl st and 1 ch st. Continue upwards with woven stitch, closing each row with sl st and 1 ch st. Notice you are no longer crocheting in the spiral but closing with a sl st  and ch 1’ing at the end of each row.

When you reach the desired height, finish off the last row with an invisible join and cut.

Make the trim using sl st into back loops only of top row of sides, finishing off with an invisible join. Leave a tail at the beginning and end of the trim (mine was gray as you can see).

Draw the tails outside, and cut a separate piece of red strand.  Try and simulate tying a bow before it’s cut so you know how long to cut it. Now place the cut strand on the inside of the basket where the gray tails were, draw out the tails of the red strand, and tie a pretty bow on the outside.  Snip the ends to match the length of the gray tails. I tied a single knot at the ends of the gray tails because it made them hang down a little better, so if you want to do that, tie first before matching the length of the red.

Crochet fabric yarn basket

Peach and Purple

But actually, neat and sturdy stitches aren’t limited to Baskets for Guys. I had fun making these for the lovely young ladies, splurging in peachy orange, sparkly purple and pink-striped trim. I’m sounding bold but all along there was that nagging hesitation too – will the baskets fit the color scheme of their destined surroundings? Will they suit the receivers’ individual tastes, which I so admire and respect?
But if we went along with thoughts like that, there’d be no give and take, would there, to use Eeyore’s terms. And thinking of that, weren’t Pooh and Piglet a little hesitant about their own gifts too, and wasn’t Eeyore so very pleased to get them nonetheless?
And does a flower ask itself every day if its colors are just right, and if its petals are facing the exact right direction?

Bird of Paradise
So, I guess all we can do is pick up our magic wand and crochet that pumpkin – or lilac – and send them on their way!

Crochet Fabric Yarn BasketBird of ParadiseCrochet Fabric Yarn BasketCrochet Fabric Yarn Basket

The baskets are posing here with a little something in them, and in real life, there were other little somethings inside.
No problem with ribbons this time!

Crochet Fabric Yarn Basket

How I made the baskets:
Using a size 12 hook and fabric yarn, I made a round spiral base in SC. I worked the sides in yarn under single crochet, working into the back loops only of the base. I made the trim in crab stitch, or reverse single crochet. I left a tail at the beginning and end of the trim, and used it to tie the bow. That’s it!

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Crochet Fabric Yarn Baskets

The Gift of Baskets

In our family, guys get baskets too. I’ll have to say they were sweet about it, though! And I for my part did my best to meet the design challenge: I made a round base and finished it off, then started working the sides into the back loops of the last row of the base. Both the base and the sides were done using yarn under single crochet. What is that, you ask? Oh! (Shrugging nonchalantly…), only the coolest and most useful stitch that I’ve just recently discovered… It’s a good stitch for when you want a neat and sturdy style.  Did I mention I was making these for the guys? Crochet Fabric Yarn BasketCrochet Fabric Yarn Basket The trim was made with a complementary color, in good old-fashioned single crochet.  No ribbons and bows this time… Crochet Fabric Yarn BasketCrochet Fabric Yarn Basket The fruit is for the picture. In reality there were other things inside, and the guys, being sweet, pretended along with me that they didn’t know whatever was in them, no matter how carefully chosen and well meant, was just an excuse to give them one of my very own creations 🙂 Crochet Fabric Yarn Baskets

Crochet Fabric Yarn Basket

Spring Basket

It’s still spring in Basketland – Look what sprouted in my garden!Crochet Fabric Yarn Basket

After more spiral-crochet baskets than I can count, occupying a total area which far exceeds the sum total of surface areas in my house AND all my friends’ and relatives’ houses combined, I’ve decided it’s time to switch to… A new type of basket! My research on more sturdy sides, allowing for a slightly less roundish and more cylindrical shape, led me to the waistcoat stitch. The stitch, despite its anything-but-botanical name, actually yields a lush leaf-like texture, which totally looks like something growing from the spiral base . And so it is fitting that it should have a daisy-ish trim. I made the trim with a combination of single crochet (the white) and slip stitch (the yellow).crochet fabric yarn basket

And of course, the bow.Crochet Fabric Yarn Basket

fabric yarn basket

Chunky Gray Basket With Trim

I had this broad-band gray knit strand.
It wasn’t quite as soft and cottony as t-shirt yarn, so I thought this was a good chance to make a biggish and firm rug. Or basket. Or rug. I started single-crocheting around in a spiral with my no. 15 hook, stretching out the loops at the end of each stitch to make sure it didn’t round in and I could postpone the decision of whether it would be a rug or a basket until… That was it, and it was time to go up now – or forever be flat on the ground. I went up, and crocheted around the edges until the fab-yarn* ran out. Luckily the sides were just tall enough to keep a something in the basket.
2014-2-canon 224 1 edI then pulled out the pink strand with black polka dots. It was just right for the trim, which I made in the reverse single crochet stitch (rsc). There was enough left for a cute bow tie. I know it’s a little too much but I couldn’t resist it… Pink polka dotted yarn has a certain effect on me.
2014-2-canon 239 1 edBy now I’d decided the something in the basket would be pomegranates.
I started with two beautiful ceramic pomegranates (made by Ayelet, like all the beautiful ceramic art in my photos). One of the pomegranates has a dusty pink shade that reflected the pink strand nicely.
2014-2-canon 224 edPomegranates are in season here and they are a symbolic fruit for the coming Jewish New Year, too.
The two ceramic treasures were joined by some real ones.
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Can you tell them apart?

2014-2-canon 242 1 edIf only the new year could be as sweet as pomegranates!
Just a thought: Have you ever considered the fact that seeding a pomegranate has much the same appeal as crocheting? As the little chunks of bright color gather at your fingertips, they make you want to keep at this pleasant task by sending some secret signal to our hunter-gatherer brain that says, “keep gathering those little berries… Roots… Seeds… Soon your family will be fed and you will be happy.”
The pomegranates are delicious (the edible ones). 2014-2-canon 244 1 ed

*Fab-yarn is a term I invented, it’s short for fabric yarn, and if it hasn’t been invented before, I get cheers and claps – but only if it catches. I’ll Google it in a few weeks (or years?) and we’ll see if it’s out there!

black fabric yarn handbag

Little Black Bag

The place where I buy fabric yarn had black on sale. I’m not big on black for home décor, but it occurred to me that I do need a new handbag. Badly.2014-2-canon 245After some crocheting and un-crocheting I figured out the problem with fabric-yarn bags: They can be very weighty. I realized the bag I was trying to make would outweigh my present sack before I ever put anything in it. I decided to try the unlikely approach: Instead of going for dainty and delicate as I had done, which resulted in a tightly-textured, sturdy but very heavy tote, I would go for loose and large – more air, less weight. Out came my no.15 rag-rug hook.

2014-2-canon 243I made a small oval base starting with 9 stitches using the chainless foundation method (link below if you’re not familiar with it).  For the second row of the base, I used single crochet worked into the back loop (I’m using American crochet terms here).  I increased as necessary at the ends to create the half-rounds of the oval (for more details on the oval base, roll on down).  From then on I just went straight up with the woven stitch (no more increases at ends of rows). The woven stitch is a really cool stitch because it is so simple and yet the texture really looks like checked or woven fabric.2014-2-canon 231It’s made by working 1 single crochet, then one chain, and skipping a stitch in the previous row, and so on; In the next row, you alternate and work the single crochet into the gap where you skipped in the previous row, then chain one and skip. Besides the cool checked effect, you get texture that is strong but not dense, and while there are skips and gaps, what you see – and get – is pretty solid, no visible holes, no functional gaps for things to fall through. So with the big hook, and all that air worked in – you get a bag that is light and yet tight.

Crochet diy fabric yarn bag

Little Black Bag

The body of the bag was worked in a spiral. Of course you don’t really see a spiral; When you finish the oval base, you just continue working into the last row of of the base with the woven stitch. When you finish the first row of the woven stitch you don’t slip stitch and chain two etc., instead you continue working into the first stitch of the first row and on from there. No stop signs, no traffic lights, just crochet on and on until you reach the desired height. I made 15 rows for the body of the bag. Just one thing: Finish the last round at the side edge of the bag so you don’t see a jump in height, and use an invisible join after the last sc you make. This will happen after you attach the rings.

2014-2-canon 235The rings: While working the last row, I attached the rings (wooden curtain-rod rings). Here’s how: After completing the first sc stitch from the side of the bag, you push the hook into the ring and draw the yarn from where it was, and complete a chain stitch with the ring inside it. Skip one stitch on the row below and insert the hook for the next sc as you normally would, keeping it tight to help fasten the ring securely. Complete the single crochet: Ring attached. As you near the end of the row, attach the second ring in the same way starting one before the last stitch, so it is the same distance from the edge. Do the same on the back side of the bag, for 4 rings in all, making sure they are aligned and in equal distance from the edges.

2014-2-canon 240So, where did I get that cord? I had a stash of goodies given to me by a loving family member. In our family, stashing Useful Things That Can Be Made Into Something crosses generations, and sometimes, so do the stashes themselves. I think it must have been a belt for a dress somewhere in the seventies. It’s strong enough to carry the weight of the bag, but soft enough to distribute it comfortably.  I should say, the bag is not very big and not intended for carrying very heavy things. I tested it with a water bottle, a phone and sunglasses and it worked.

2014-2-canon 249So it’s probably more of an evening bag by me, and replacing my potato-sack day bag will have to wait till I find/make something bigger
Notice the bag is worked in a continuum, which is what the spiral does, so there is no stitching, no matching, no stopping and going, one piece to crochet, and one piece visually – a small item that has one basic pattern (besides the base) which makes it neat and smart, creating a kind of contrast with the true nature of fabric yarn, which is soft, rustic and uneven. That true nature is still there but kind of in hiding, which is what makes it cool.
It’s almost autumn so I took some pictures with a mug of tea and a couple outside under the oak tree with some romantic and very authentic autumn leaves.  The pretty mug was made by Ayelet.
2014-2-canon 2512014-2-canon 2372014-2-canon 236

How I made the oval base:  So, the inside of the oval base is the foundation row which already has sc (single crochet) worked into the chain, and you work sc on the other side as well. I made the necessary increases to create the half-rounds at both ends of the foundation chain.  How to increase at the ends of the base to create the oval: When you’ve completed the 9 stitches of the chainless foundation as below, *sc again into the last chain, chain 1, sc crochet again*, then start working the other side of the foundation chain.
When you reach the other end, repeat from *.
Slip stitch into the next stitch (which is the first sc of the foundation chain). Ch 1. *Sc into the back loop of every sc for next 8 remaining stitches. Increase for next 3 stitches to create the round*. Repeat from *. Now sc into the ch1 you made at the end of the previous row, and continue with the woven stitch in a spiral from there.  So the first row of the woven stitch is worked into the last row of the base, and note that since it is a woven stitch it is done the normal way, not into the back loop.

The chainless foundation: : http://makezine.com/craft/how-to-chainless-foundation-for-single-crochet/

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