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.

While She Was Spooling a Vintage Tablecloth Apron

A sunflower in the making.

Outside while she spools around, a sunflower is in the making.

Ms. SpoolTeacher has a sign in the front of her house welcoming passers-by to inquire about services she provides. Among them is, of course, Spooling and Alterations.

Lately one of her neighbors called asking her if she would make up some aprons from vintage  fabric tableclothes.

She informed Ms. ST that they are hot properties and everyone wants one.

The neighbor has a good job that she goes to everyday but also has a space at an “antiques and collectibles” shop that she is trying to develop for her retirement.

Ms. SpoolTeacher would love, love, love to be able to sit and spool aprons all day. But there is a problem…

“Well, let me ask you a question. How much are these aprons selling for?”

“Oh, gosh”, the lady replied, “they are selling for $30!” (as if that is a lot of money.)

“The problem is”, she said to nice neighbor, “I see aprons for sale all over for as little as $6 – $15.”

“Oh, but these are very well made and unique.”

“Oh”, Ms. SpoolTeacher said.

“Here’s the problems”, she said as nicely as she could… “It would take me, at a minimum, three hours to make an apron of any sort. I have to charge at least $10 p/h for my labor. How could that be profitable for you?”

She waited with bated breath…

“Three hours! Why would it take you that long?” (the all too familiar refrain Ms. SpoolTeacher has heard for decades)

She wanted to ask nice neighbor if she already had the aprons designed, cut and ready to stitch. If she has all the thread and finishing notions purchased. Then she wanted to ask her if she had looked into China for cheap labor or if she would be willing to hire illegal aliens!

She didn’t though. She went on to talk to nice neighbor for about an hour, because nice neighbor realized she knew who Ms. SpoolTeacher was and remembered her shop…

“I always wanted to stop in and see what that little shop was all about. It looked so unique and wonderful from the window at night as I was driving by.”

“Hmmm”, Ms. SpoolTeacher said in her mind.

For many years, Ms. SpoolTeacher herself has haunted antiques and collectible’s shops. She even had a space in one at one time but realized it is all about Real Estate, and that seldom do the vendors actually create a living for themselves. But she did manage to hoard a collection of things that were worth more than they were asking for. This has long been her way of saving for the future, thinking that another day along her Road Less Traveled, she will have a shop again and sell these treasures for what they are really worth, along with her labor in the form of an already “very well made up and unique” apron from a vintage table cloth…

cut in four squares

Voila! In a mere two or three days of here and there hours, upon hours of designing, planning, measuring, cutting, stitching…

It shall remain in her repertoire of things she can teach others to make unless someone is willing to pay $200 or more for the labor and it’s intrinsic value.

It’s not enough to make things once…

It’s not enough to make things once… Ms. SpoolTeacher has a bad habit of making little wrong assumptions against her better intuitive judgement.

She originally made this little “Springing From The Hem” apron and hadn’t yet made the belt to slip through the waistband gather-able casing. She had been using a belt to show it’s capabilities. Finally, lately, she took a length of green plaid cotton and married it to a width of red gingham, wide bias tape to make a “drawstring” for the waist. Well…what was she thinking! She had to make it again to make it long enough…

Long enough now! (oh look at those great coffee drops)

Shame, shame, coffee stain! Time for Paint Monster to emerge again.

And as one of her motto’s says, “No Scrap Left UnSpooled”

So what do you suppose she can do with these…???
Go over and see what Mary Adams does with her scraps… and then let her know what you do with yours.

And isn’t that a beautiful purple lovingly crocheted doily Mrs. Diaz made and then gave to Ms. SpoolTeacher!

Twinkie, Twinkie, little star, that is what you are.

Cupcake, muffin, doughnut…are secret words for those who know, Ms. SpoolTeacher’s secret club words…

You know who you are don’t you?