Throwing a Tarn Bowl

Wabi-sabi Tarn bowl

Ms. SpoolTeacher has never worked on a potter’s wheel; but throughout the process of crocheting her Tarn Bowl, she got a sensation that it was a similar experience.

She started out making what was to be a round rug, but after she got to increasing every 8 stitches, she changed her mind. She has never crocheted with tarn (t-shirt yarn) before and is quite certain that she should have been using a larger needle and one that had more traction, (wasn’t metal). Crocheting is something that only through practice does one pick up on the subtleties that can be manipulated to create variables that are either desirable or not , intended or not, and/or an expression of creative license, i.e., art.

She was quite having fun. She was utilizing her acumen and a very good video to remember even this beginning stage of crocheted creations.

She had previously made some t-shirt yarn, tarn as it is called; and as it turned out, the denier was variable as she had differing weights of t-shirt material and she had cut some a little different width than others.

This is all new to her.

T-shirt yarn. Each ball represents a whole shirt

The ball of t-shirt yarn she started with, a muted green/aqua, was cut after the rolls in the above picture. It had seams but she decided to go ahead and try it.

She’s on a learning curve with this and wants to be able to tell others why to or not to use seamed pieces, etc. She kind of likes imperfections anyway. Wabi-sabi! Serene Melancholy. Spiritual Longing. Doesn’t that evoke the language of Art?

[1] “If an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi.”[2] “[Wabi-sabi] nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”[3]

Wabi-sabi tea bowl, 16th century

Wabi-sabi tea bowl, 16th Century. Image courtesy

So as she was sitting on her bed, late at night, watching some thought-provoking recording she’d made (in the days of having TV) of something from Free Speech TV, she decided to quit increasing and make a bowl instead of a rug.

The aqua only lasted long enough to apply about 3 rows, give or take, up the sides before she had to determine which roll of tarn to use next. She chose the gray.

Wabi-sabi Tarn bowl

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, thrown on an “artists” lap

Well, as she got going, she realized that it was quite fatter denier and was making it bulge slightly. She thought about taking it out, but no, she kind of liked that idea and she rolled her fingers around the circumference as she would if she was throwing a clay bowl, seeing if she could pull it up and/or stretch it into aligning with the aqua. She used various tensions with the tarn/yarn in her fingers as she continued on making stitches up the side to see if she could control the bulge. More “imperfections”. All the while, she was thinking it was looking like a bowl some artist had created intentionally that way on her potter’s wheel.

Well, the gray yarn ran out in no time and then what color next? She opted for the white. It had printing on it, so there would be that as a subtle “imperfection” as well. She wasn’t quite sure how tall to make it; but after two rolls of white, both slightly different denier, she decided that it was tall enough.

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, thrown on an "artists" lap

Now for how to finish it off and maybe add handles? (Ms. ST just spent an hour trying to find a tutorial for adding handles to her bowl but all she got was Etsy and Pinterest links without help) After scouring all the images, she thinks she can figure it out on her own.

Oops! Never give up. She thinks she found a tutorial!

But as you can see, it looks rather simple to do.

More rows could be added to make a fatter handle.

She also saw many, many beautiful examples and some interesting ways to finish it off.

She usually likes things rather simple. Why complicate things? Right?

Isn’t this a pretty one? Not made out of t-shirt yarn, but very pretty.

So here are a few more images of her Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st Century …

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, thrown on an "artists" lap Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, thrown on an "artists" lap

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, thrown on an "artists" lap

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, thrown on an "artists" lap

It ain’t particularly purdy, but it’s Wabi-sabi to her.

Serenely melancholy is one of her favorite colors! And now she realizes that she photographed it wrong side out. Wabi-sabi her. Tarn it!

Update! Update!!!

Ms. SpoolTeacher turned the bowl right side out and added handles in purple and white. Everything looks better with a touch of purple. Here is the near complete bowl, (just have to tuck in some tails)… and a preview of the next project, a braided rug.

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, with handles and a touch of purple


Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, thrown on an "artists" lap

Bottom up!

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, with handles and a touch of purple

Strings yet to weave in…

And the next project upcoming, a braided rug from t-shirt yarn…

Braided rug fom t-shirt yarn.

Additional pictures can be viewed at this link.

Available for sale on Etsy:

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, thrown on an "artists" lap

Also available for sale on Etsy:

Tarn Bowl


Tarn. T-Shirt Yarn

Ms. SpoolTeacher mentioned on her Facebook page that she is making t-shirt yarn. She has discovered many things already.

She just took what she has on hand from t-shirts she has stopped wearing. Seamed tee’s are no good. They can be used, of course, but seamless t-shirts are the best. Seamed ones leave a bump every seam and don’t curl at that point. So you might want to cut the seams and splice as you go, but that means little short strips. Seamless t-shirts allow one continuous strand.
The hems cut off from t-shirts before making yarn from them

The above picture is of the hems at the bottoms that are cut off first. She’s sure they will find their own usefulness.

Her rotary cutter had no sharp edges left so she just got out her favorite pair of Crafter’s Companion scissors and started cutting away. “Fooey”, she says, on having the latest greatest tools. Don’t let that stop you. It is amazing how skilled one gets at cutting exactly one inch strips, (or whatever size she wants) as she goes along. It’s rather therapeutic to sit and cut around and around the t-shirt and see it all pile up.

1 inch makes a nice size yarn, but she liked 1 1/4″ better as she plans to use it for a rug. Later she saw some very fine ones on Etsy that she may try as well. Fine meaning they were probably 1/2 inch before curling.

T-Shirt Yarn by ArtWildflowers on Etsy

T-Shirt Yarn by ArtWildflowers on Etsy (click picture to visit)

After you cut it off, you pull it to stretch it. You need to give it a good pull and be consistent. As you pull, the edges curl in on themselves and you want the raw edges tucked into the turns. She realized that the material curls into the front, the back exposed, so any images printed on the front only show as a “bleed-through” shading. Not necessarily bad.

When stretched, the material is supposed to curl on itself into the yarn it becomes

When stretched, the strip is supposed to curl in on itself. The turquoise one refused to do so. It will have to find a different use, she supposes.

T-shirt yarn. Each ball represents a whole shirt

Here’s her pile so far. She also noticed on Etsy that many people selling it have learned to spool it such that it looks very professional. Here’s an example:

EcoTees on Etsy

EcoTees on Etsy, click picture to visit her shop

So, Ms. SpoolTeacher is trying hard to dig in to her Resource Central and get to making things she might use or sell on Spare Shelf on Etsy. Currently her Etsy shop looks like she prefers to knit or crochet; but it is really a telling sign of what resources she has already made use of. She works with what she has and makes the most of it.

The t-shirt yarn making started with this image of a finished rag rug that Ms. SpoolTeacher thinks is gorgeous.

image courtesy of Good Ideas For You via Olino Hobby

image courtesy of Good Ideas For You. Click picture to go to website.

Olino Hobby made this rug

Close-up of above rug. Olino Hobby made this rug, but the tutorial is foreign language. The pictures there tell everything without words, however. This picture links to her tutorial.

rug made by greenatheartrugs on Etsy

Ms. SpoolTeacher loves this girls work. Click picture to go to her Etsy shop.

Ms. SpoolTeacher also made a few more Yo Yos and has learned a thing or two there as well. She likes the bigger gathering stitches that tighten closer in the center. She’s still not skilled at knotting them off and getting pleats to look right at the end.

Yo Yo pile increasing

Yo Yo pile increasing


yo yo's in the making

click pic to read, “Hey, Yo” post by Ms. SpoolTeacher


The main thing is to be productive and to utilize resources on hand.

For your viewing enjoyment, here are two more of her inspirations:

rag rug inspiration

image courtesy of: odpaam on Etsy.

Rag rug inspiration

And here is one made from fabric other than t-shirt yarn. Image courtesy of: RagsMadeRight on Etsy.

Doesn’t this all make you want to tear something up? Maybe cutting would be neater.

Have fun and here is a great tutorial for using just plain old scissors.

I Love You, Lon Chaney

puffy heartsWhen little Ms. SpoolTeacher was about eight or so, she was in love with a boy who lived up the street from where she did. He was also in her class. Oh, she swooned over his presence. He was a typical boy with “drop dead” written all over his face. That didn’t deter her though. She pursued him with the fervor only a little girl with an unfiltered and as yet, unbroken heart could.

She was somewhat of a stalker then and has always been an over-sharer. She wasn’t quite brave enough herself to do the deed, so she recruited her girlfriend to run a hand-written-on-restroom-paper note out to him during recess one afternoon and waited with bated breath for the outcome. As soon as she had done it, (or rather, had it done), she felt a sense of doom and was riddled with regret. Her emotions have always run ahead of any good sense. Sometimes it has served her well, other times, not so much.

She can’t quite remember if it happened that day or if she had to suffer a length of time before opening her desk top to find “drop dead” notes in all of her school tools.

She was grateful to eventually see his bare feet. It was only then that she was able to let him go and it was over the minute she saw that he had “duck” feet. His toes spread out like a fan and that was it, she couldn’t like him anymore. All the feelings disappeared instantaneously. She didn’t know it at the time, but that would forever be an indicator of whether or not she would be able to bear out any and all other discrepancies she might have with potential suitors in the future. Weird, but none the less, if she can like his feet, she can take just about anything.

And yes, his name really was Lon Chaney. And no, she wouldn’t know who the actor was herself if others hadn’t said, “The actor?”. As if.

And that event didn’t keep Ms. SpoolTeacher from later walking across the High School gymnasium where the girls were lined up on one side and the boys the other to ask her next intended victim for a dance. Well, they weren’t gonna make the attempt. They’d all stand there all night talking sports if someone didn’t take action.

She’s always been brave and always worn her heart on her sleeve. And remembers Valentines Day fondly. In the 60’s it meant purchasing and signing a collection of festively printed paper hearts to take to class for a party with cupcakes and room mothers and see how many “likes” you could take back home in exchange. She wasn’t any better at it then than now. But she’s brave and isn’t particularly upset if she doesn’t have a thousand friends on Facebook. She’s somewhat of a recluse and an introvert and has a grand imagination that keeps her warm and cozy and far from lonely. But she did love those little paper hearts and giving love, even if she didn’t get much in return. The ones she got were precious. And friends she probably still has.

She realizes it’s barely the New Year, but as she told one friend who saw what she thought were premature “puffy hearts for sale on Etsy” posted on Facebook yesterday, “It’s called competition.” It’s also called there’s nothing new under the sun. No sooner did she (really) labor over making them (before doing any due diligence, as per usual) she would discover that someone else had made some similarly and done a fabulous post that got 6100 visits and is featured in her “Top Posts of 2013”. She’s not even gonna think about (envy) getting that many “likes”. Just brave it out and cross that room and ask that boy! Ya can’t strike gold if you don’t pan or dig or do whatever it takes. If you don’t start, you can’t finish.

So here’s how she went about making her not so “easy” little cookie cutter, ragged-edge, Valentines Day, puffy hearts….

She used a cookie cutter to trace the hearts onto the red corduroy and then cut them out. puffy valentines day hearts

Next time, she thinks she will use a chalk pencil to trace (it dusts or washes off) as the black marker is permanent. Wasn’t a negative here as the third of the four layers of fabrics is a black and red checked flannel. Flannel works in lieu of quilt batting to give the ragged edge more of the frayed look she was going for. She outlined on the wrong side of the fabric, however, both sides are visible as the raw edges are on the outside of the finished product. This is why placement (order) of the fabrics counts in the final outcome.

puffy valentines day hearts

The first consideration for the order of layering didn’t quite “feel” right…

puffy valentines day puffy hearts

The second didn’t either….

puffy valentines day puffy hearts

Ahhh, just right…

puffy valentines day puffy hearts

The red fabric in these order pictures is a plain cotton, not the red corduroy as Ms. SpoolTeacher wasn’t mindful enough to take these pictures before she stitched them up and used all the corduroy.

Front view:

puffy valentines day puffy hearts

Reverse view:

puffy valentines day puffy hearts

Next, she took the length of black satin, 1/8″ ribbon and tied a knot in it, thinking it would remain more anchored in the seem that way. It was placed between the four layers, two layers on each side and then she stitched about 3/8″ around the whole perimeter except for about a 1″ gap on one of the lower, straighter edges to allow for stuffing.

Stitching around curves is a little tricky for beginners, but it is a matter of “holding your mouth the right way” and using tension with your fingers holding the fabric and slightly dragging it as it corners under the pressure foot. puffy valentines day puffy hearts

Be sure the tied loop knot is below the seam line and stitch all layers together, holding mouth right!

puffy valentines day puffy hearts

Take a handful of polyester fiber fill and poke it in through the 1″ gap between the two layers on each side and then stitch that gap closed. (Ms. ST used the eraser end of a pencil for this task as it grabbed the slippery fiber fill just enough to get it in.  Making multiples, it is useful to use a postal meter, if you have one, (Ms. ST does!) to weigh the stuffing so they are more uniform. You can use your best judgement and it really doesn’t matter as long as they are close.

Crafter's Companion ScissorsNext, clip through all layers of the raw edges just up to the seam, but not through it at 1/4″ intervals. (She has the most fabulous pair of paper crafting scissors from Crafter’s Companion that are her favorite scissors EVER. They have stayed sharp and able to nip right up to a seam through many layers at times.)(She doesn’t get paid to say anything).

The hearts looked kind of cute like that, but she was going for the ragged edge, so into the washer with detergent for a cycle and then the dryer to fluff them up.

Valentines Day puffy hearts

To make the bows, she made two loops and wrapped one around the other.

Once they were washed and dried, it was time to sew on the bows, by hand. Suppose you could glue them, but this goes against Ms. “Spool”Teacher’s grain and doesn’t seem as authentically hand “spooled” in her mind. Do what you may…

puffy valentines day puffy hearts

All finished. Multiple washings may have ragged the edges more, but she was satisfied.

Great to hang as bunting, give as a gift, hang on a gift bag, or like Ms. SpoolTeacher did, she has them hanging on her gold display tree while she waits for a sale on Etsy…

They are there along with some of the Christmas Candy Bar Stockings…inside the house of course.

Valentines Day puffy hearts

Valentines Day puffy hearts

What do you think. Do you likey?

She hopes to paint a mural on that blue wall of her garage-that-wants-to-be-a-studio. As it is now, it is mostly yellow. This was the color she was testing for the background (she won’t tell you how many years ago now..okay, about 3) and the door to her studio is her favorite purple. Most people can’t stand projects in varying states of completion, but Ms. SpoolTeacher thrives in this environment. Keeps her on her toes! And hers aren’t duck toes/feet!!!! Not that there is anything wrong with ducks, they’re supposed to have duck feet.

And she has evolved to have much more tolerance of the variety of feet that there are in the world. Have you noticed how many people photograph there own?

There’s something there.

Happy New Year. This is gonna be a great one, she is sure.

And for her competitor’s puffy heart tutorial, here you go…

Easy Fabric Hearts

Image courtesy:

And here is her post featuring her Top 10 Posts of 2013

It’s a very fun and popular site. Enjoy.