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Amy Solovay

Crocheting With Innovative Materials

By April 22, 2009

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Have you ever considered the variety of materials that can be used for crochet? Yarn and crochet thread aren't the only possibilities.

Embroidery Floss in a Rainbow of Colors Embroidery Floss in a Rainbow of Colors - Photo Amy Solovay

Embroidery floss is an alternative to crochet thread, and it is available in a wider selection of colors. It's ideal for use in doll clothing patterns, such as this strapless top for 11 " fashion dolls.

Crocheted Top for Barbie and Other Fashion Dolls Crocheted Top for Barbie and Other Fashion Dolls -- Photo Amy Solovay

Craft stores offer a treasure trove of materials for crochet. The fabric aisle is filled with intriguing possibilities, since fabrics can be cut into strips for use in crocheted rag rugs and tote bags. You are also likely to find a variety of cords, ribbons, and trims that can be used for crochet.

When looking for potential crochet materials, you aren't limited to shopping at the craft store. At the hardware store, look for wire, rope, twine, and other possibilities.

Dollar stores offer even more crochet materials. In my wild and crazy college days, I crocheted a bikini top using speaker wire found at the local 99-cent store. I had a friend who crocheted a tote bag using strips cut from plastic garbage bags and grocery bags.

Have you crocheted a project using unconventional materials? Have you seen a unique crochet project that was made using recycled or re-purposed materials? Please comment and tell us about it!


June 18, 2009 at 6:18 pm
(1) ErinLindsey says:

Hi Amy, I’m the moderator of the crochet forum (at least so far…my mod name is ErinCrochetMod)

I’ve used unconventional materials to crochet with. Ever crochet with wire? It’s kind of fun to play with, doesnt frog very well, but it does look neat.

I’ve also crocheted with thin rope to make a “cushion” to sit on the cement bench in front of our house. (bench sits in direct sunlight)

June 19, 2009 at 5:56 pm
(2) crochet says:

Hi Erin,

Thanks for the comment. Your rope cushion sounds so creative. That is such a great idea. Thanks for the inspiration!

I’ve dabbled with crocheting wire. You’re right, it doesn’t frog well at all; at least, that has been my experience too. I find myself having to plan more carefully than I do when working with yarn. I really enjoy the challenge, though.

Thanks for dropping by.


June 22, 2009 at 9:13 am
(3) Kelli says:

I like to cut old clothes into strips and make balls of yarn with them. I also made a purse out of curling ribbon. I make little device cozies out of ‘fape’. As in fake tape. It’s plastic marking tape about a inch wide, no adhesive. It’s kind of stretchy so the finished product feels springy.

I came up on a gigantic lot of embroidery floss that a store was getting rid of. I make a lot of little doilies, lighter cozies, and little pouch necklaces. Among other things.

June 22, 2009 at 8:36 pm
(4) Ellen says:

I love to crochet with embroidery thread! It’s so silky and comes in so many colors. Right now I’m using some Altin Basak (It’s from Turkey, I googled it) thread that someone GAVE me, and I’m using a size 7 steel hook and mini-mizing graany square patterns to make earrings. They’re soooo tiny! Having fun though.

June 23, 2009 at 1:40 pm
(5) Kay says:

Here is a link to my blog about a project bag I made from grocery bag “yarn”. http://stitchingtimes.blogspot.com/2007/11/grocery-bag-yarn-new-take-on-recycling.html
I would love to see more information about turning strips of fabric into yarn. I’ve been thinking about it, but can’t quite wrap my mind around how this would work with something fairly “sticky” like a quilter’s cotton. On the other hand, I have gobs of that so would like to figure it out.

June 29, 2009 at 7:38 pm
(6) Kay says:

Amy – I’m not sure where the best place is to leave this comment but wanted to let you know that 1) I love the dishcloth pattern – really cute and 2) I was wondering if you might post a link that would make it easy to print out the whole thing, since we aren’t going to sit in front of the computer while we work, and printing it a screen at a time is a bit of a nuisance. Just a thought. Thanks.

July 6, 2009 at 11:23 am
(7) Norah says:

Here is a link to an article about making yarn out of different materials, such as plastic bags (I made a strong rug like this), vegetable netting (I made a dish scrubber out of this), t-shirts (I am working on a rug now), newspaper, VHS tape, etc.: http://www.craftstylish.com/item/46018/newspaper-plastic-bags-dog-hairupcycle-them-into-yarn

Here is the link to making fabric yarn: http://www.cocoknits.com/info/tutorials/ragknit.html
This isn’t the tutorial I saw when I made a rag rug (out of a plaid flannel sheet, which came out great, but I want to get contrasting plaid material to outline it). I think the tutorial I used (which I can’t find now, of course) didn’t run the first slit against itself, but the end result looks the same. The tutorial I used had you put one fabric on top of the other so the slits lined up and then thread the top fabric underneath and up through the slits (it’s better with pictures). Note: I found trimming the joined ends a little bit worked well so I didn’t have tufts of fabric sticking out of my rug. FYI: I used a fitted queen-size sheet, about 1-inch wide strips, and a P-hook, and that much fabric yielded me a small entry-way size rug (welcome mat). Granted, I lost some fabric because of the “fitted” sheet part and some because there was a long rip in the sheet and weak fabric around that part, but that does give you a sense of how much fabric it takes.

Another tutorial I saw suggests sewing the strips together for fabric yarn. That, to me, seemed like a project in and of itself!

The “plarn” (plastic bag yarn) and fabric yarn both are very sturdy, and the plastic netting is holding up well as I scrub dishes! One kind of cool idea if you get the newspaper delivered in plastic bags is to make plarn and turn it into a rug or totebag (especially neat if your local paper has a distinct color in its delivery bag; the one in Cleveland was, until recently, safety-cone orange, and the New York Times where my parents live in NYC is a nice blue). I try not to get plastic bags in the first place when I shop, but this doesn’t always happen; I tried to make the plarn out of ones that had little holes in them (I didn’t use that part) and therefore were no longer useful.

I had a lot of fun doing these projects, and I also felt like I saved stuff from going to the trashpile when they still had a use! I am thinking about making the dishscrubbers to give to friends as those plastic netting things keep piling up. Making a rag rug out of fabric that meant something to people, but is no longer useful, would be kind of cool, too.

These are great “yarns” to make totebags for others. I also pack a lot of non-bag gifts in a reusable totebag to help encourage others to use it when they shop. A little off topic, but not really as we are talking about reusing materials: about two months ago, right before I moved to the Cleveland, OH area, I was waiting for a friend outside a suburban Philadelphia, PA grocery store, and I saw maybe 40-50 people/families go in and out, and only 1 family brought their own bags! Considering how easy this is to do, this was depressing! And the government wants us to paint our roofs white (something that is easy, takes a few hours, and can save us lots of energy/money as well as the environment), but we’ll see if that will happen since many people can’t even do this simple step when they shop. All right, off the soapbox and back to crocheting!

September 21, 2009 at 11:12 pm
(8) NANCY B says:

One of the neatest for making tote bags that I use is the nylon Mason twine #18, from the hardware store. They have a great variety of neon colors – pink, green, yellow, white, orange. It washes up nicely and I like it because if it gets wet, oh well..

September 21, 2009 at 11:14 pm
(9) NANCY B says:

On pot scrubbers, you can use netting from the fabric stores. I like the vegetable netting idea.

May 7, 2010 at 4:06 am
(10) Kelli says:

VCR tape? I’m trying that next!

March 17, 2011 at 10:43 am
(11) Cathi says:

Hello and wanted to introduce myself. I learned basic crochet years ago and quickly “learned the language”. I always used worsted weight/standard yarn but I am unhappy with how “fuzzy” my projects turn out (I am into short term items like coasters, sachets, bookmarks, etc.). I tried once a few years ago what I thought was the proper thread and despite my vast hook sizes – I had a very hard time with it. I do have a collection of polyester ribbon in various widths and although I have over 50 pattern books – I can rarely find anything that uses ribbon as decor or to weave two pieces together (like a sachet). Anyway, is there something (in terms of width) between standard yarn and embroidery thread? Yarn is great for afgans and other items – but I would appreciate any advice on moving more towards a less bulky material. Thank you :)

July 2, 2012 at 3:34 pm
(12) Helen says:


I’ve crochetted with wire for many years. I make jewellery – the most recent being a black pearl and brown enamelled copper wire necklace and bracelet. I have lots of fun experimenting, creating my designs and, eventually, selling them.

Its lovely to see alternative materials being promoted.

Thank you,


October 31, 2012 at 6:09 pm
(13) howtowebdesign.eu says:

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February 9, 2013 at 2:28 pm
(14) Moly says:

I use #18 Mason twine to crochet dog leashes and I sell them on Etsy to donate the proceeds to dog rescue. It is something I found I can do in my spare time and it benefits dog owners and shelter dogs waiting for a home. It’s a little slippery, but the end product is well worth it! I won’t ever buy a store leash again!

May 1, 2013 at 10:13 am
(15) Letty Brown says:

I cant do crochet I want to learn

June 21, 2013 at 11:33 pm
(16) Beate Smock says:

In regards to Cathy’s comment ( 11). The yarn company you choose, which makes your 4 ply worst weight yarn is very important. Years ago the yarns where horrible, but lately I feel there was improvement of 4 ply yarns.
The problem with ribbons to crochet is that they at times do not lay flat enough to make a even weave for the crochet fabric, in other words the twist of a flat ribbon makes “bumps” in the surface of the fabric and will take away from the smoothness of the execution, similar as if one splits a thread.
I would suggest you work with # 3 cotton with a sheen to it, so you will have the satin ribbon effect and a pretty surface.
I just opened my crochet business in February of this year. named Pattern Tried and True.
My “unusual” material is jute. I like to work with jute, since it is available all over the world, has the same gauge at all times and one can make many things from it: hats, totes, pocket books, vests, toys…….It is durable and predictable. It can be even dyed.
If I can be of assistance to anybody, please do not hesitate to look me up.

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