Knitting - a shaker-style rug

4 March 2009
Although I knit all year long, autumn and winter seem to be the seasons I dive head first into it. I love knitting, not only do I make those things I need around the house and unique gifts for family and friends, knitting keeps me sane. It's like meditation. The repetition, the clicking of the needles, the feel of the yarn between my fingers, and the slowness of it as one by one the stitches form a new creation, all combine to comfort and calm, even on the hectic days.

Since I slowed my life down, and even now as it's trying to speed up again, I've noticed that often, things I need just come to me, right when I need them. I'm not sure why that is. Is it that generosity returns to you, or does opening yourself up to everything allow what you need to find you.? That is a question I'll be thinking about for a long time to come but in the meantime I just accept what I am given and give as much as I can. During the week, while I was at work, bags of knitting patterns, yarn and knitting and crochet needles appeared. A bag of craft items had been donated to us the week before and was sitting there waiting to be put away - we have a learn to knit group that my good friend Bernadette leads. So that had been there, I wanted to look in the bag but didn't have the time, but then a second bag came in - full of yarn and needles. That made me look at exactly what we had and there it was, I discovered my winter knitting project.

In the first bag I came across "The Art of Knitting", a series of booklets for new knitters. They are full of small and easy to knit projects, with clear instructions and good photos. The thing that caught my eye was a reoccuring project that features in every edition - a Shaker-style throw rug. It's made of wool scraps and leftovers from other projects and each edition features a different stitch, colour or decoration. It's like a sampler quilt in that you can be learning a new stitch on the 15cm x 15 cm (6 inch x 6 inch) squares that are all joined together to form the rug. This is the perfect project for me. It's something that is portable, small, easy, yet it will make up into something more complex and very functional. I'm starting on it this week.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

If you can find "The Art of KNitting" at the newsagent, it looks like a good investment to me. If you'd like to join in on this project, I'm happy to share the details of what I'm doing with you. I'm not following their instructions, I'm just going with the idea of it and working with whatever stitch I feel like doing. The squares are made sometimes of textured stitches and sometimes garter stitch or stocking stitch. The textured squares still use plain and purl stitches, but in differing ways that make up textured patterns. You can either make many squares using different patterns in different colours, or find a pattern you like and knit it into squares, just changing the colours. We will be making squares, like patches for a patchwork quilt. The size you make is your decision, it could be a knee rug, a baby's crib rub or a larger queen size bed quilt. All you need to do to make it bigger is knit more squares until you have the size you want. I think it would be a nice idea to show our finished rugs, if you have a blog, you can show your progress and the finished rug on your blog. If you don't have a blog, send me a photo of your finished rug and I'll include it in my final rug post at the end of winter.

I'm starting on a ladder pattern square, but if you have a knitting book of stitch samples (or search online), you could choose any pattern you like the look of and knit it to the 15cm or 6 inch square size. I'm using no. 6 (4 mm) needles with 8 ply acrylic yarn. I usually don't knit with acrylic but I have a fair bit of it here that's been given to me and I'd like to use it up. If you want to use pure wool, or a natural pure yarn or blend, go ahead. As long as you end up with squares the right size, you'll be right. I'll be decorating some of my squares with simple embroidery and backing it with polar fleece, but we can talk about that later.

So, do I have anyone willing to knit along with me?


  1. I can knit, but so far, I feel tense when I try to do it.So I don't knit a lot! But I wanted to share something about a rug my grandmother made by hand after WWII. The ground for it was a duffle bag, from a soldier. She pieced this foundation material to make a circle about 8 feet across. It looked, when finished, something like a hooked rug, but this is not what it was. She drew the pattern she wanted on the duffle - it was a circle with flowers in the center, bordered by a larger area with vines and leaves, and the outer border was black. She embroidered it solidly with french knots of wool and it lasted more than 40 years. Actually it is still in my attic and if I could fix it it could perhaps still be used. There is now some moth damage. But it was a wonderful rug. I asked her once how long it took her to make it and she said nine months.

  2. Hello Rhonda,

    I'm doing a similar sort of thing with tapestry wool skeins that I was given. I cast on 10 stitches and then started to knit, changing colours when each skein runs out. So that is about 6" to 8" each colour. When my knitting gets to be about 24" long I join the side seams to make a tube. I then start to coil it round and round securing it on the back. You must ease it round though so it will lay flat. I'll be using mine in my sewing room on the wooden floor.Its very bright and colourful and cost me nothing as the wool was given to me. I often see tapestry wool in op shop for next to nothing, so it could also be a very cheap rug to make even if you have to buy some wool. I am still learning how to get my photos onto my blog site. Just a beginner at all this, but when I do I'll post some pictures for anyone who wants to copy the idea. So in my way I'll be knitting along with you. Great to have these sort of projects in tough times. Sadly as each day go on it seems to be getting worse, so we need sites like yours to keep our spirits up.
    Many thanks for all you do on your blog.

    Blessings Gail

  3. Good Morning Rhonda
    Oh yes I like the sound of this project. Just right for putting in my bag for when I'm out. I would love to join in with you.

    Have a good day.

    Pippa x

  4. We used to make rugs like this at school as class projects, everyone could knit as many squares as they could manage and then we stitched them up and gave them to charity.

    Cath Kidston has a beautiful knitted blanket made from squares but all just in garter stitch in her Vintage Style book, it looks wonderful on her bed.

  5. I'll crochet along with you, is that ok? I might yet learn to knit, my sister is taking lessons and I'm thinking about it. But until then, if ever that is, I'll continue with my brand of therapy which is crochet. I am about to start making some pot holders for the collection I'm starting for my sister. Not sure exactly what they will look like yet, but that's part of the fun or creating.

  6. Hi Rhonda, Count me in please. Its just the right sized project for me. I love to knit but cant do it for long as my hands and shoulders ache. Little 'pick up and put down' squares are just the thing for me. I hope lots of others take it up too as its nice to think of us all over the world knitting our rugs. I've noticed that the knitting bug is 'catching'. Whenever I knit in front of other people there is always someone who says would I show them how to knit or that they used to knit years ago and now feel like trying again.
    I hope all the wedding plans are going well Rhonda.
    Cheers, Eileen in England.

  7. That sounds so good. I am so busy at work and getting wound up about it. Making a blanket sounds like a balm to ease my heart. I have lots of yarn too. So I will start this tomorrow night! :-) makes me smile just thinking about it.

  8. hey! i would but i need to start a crochet throw for my grandmother... i can't seem to get back into knitting right now. have fun though!

  9. Rhonda,

    I wish I could knit...I have tried looking at books to learn... I just can't get the hang of it. I can crochet and I love to do it. I would love to learn how to crochet some socks that looked knitted?

    I do have a quick question...lately I feel like I just do the same old things day in and day out. How do make each day fresh?



  10. Kristi, that rug sounds wonderful, nine months and filled with all those memories. My father had his fingers on one hand cut off when I was a small child and part of his therapy was rug making in hessian. He made some great pieces.

    Thanks a great project, Gail. Mine isn't a floor rug, it will be for the couch, to warm us during winter.

    Crocheting is fine, Ottermom.

    So, we have a little group of knitters and crocheters who will join in. I really like the idea of this. Pippa, OtterMom, Eileen and Juanita - ladies, take up your needles and begin.

    Renee, I think it's a mindset change. I feel like everyday I can do whatever I want to do. So even though my days are often similar, I make deliberate changes that provide diversity and interest. It might be knitting or sewing project, a new recipe, decluttering, changing the garden, whatever. I will never get close to the rapid fire change of modern life, I don't want that. I want a slow and interesting life and going along with my routine and adding those different things, gives me just the pace and freshness I need. BTW, you can crochet along with us if you want to.

  11. I have crocheted a shawl or two in my time [the triangle ones] this rug sounds like a good idea can I crochet along with you all? Regards ELLIE

  12. I'm in! Although I will be crocheting on a lap throw that is already in progress. But now as I work on it, I'll just keep imagining that I'm sitting in this little group of wonderful ladies, all doing their own 'thing'!

  13. Hi Rhonda,

    What a neat project! Little and often, and justabout doable for this very green knitter :o) I have just started to make your dishcloth and I'm surprised to find that I can actually do it! So when that is finished I might tag along too in making this throw - better get looking on Trade Me for cheap wool :o)

    On a different note to do with preserving, do you (or any of your readers) know of an easy way to get (commercial)labels off jars? I soak them and then often scrub myself silly and still end up with a sticky mess! Any wisdom on this subject would be much appreciated :o) (if it is in your archives I apologise, I'm busy reading every post as time allows and am only up to August 2007!)

  14. Wow! There isn't anything you can't do Rhonda Jean!
    I have knitting on my to learn list now just trying to find the time!
    Thank you for sharing so much of you with us...your blog is a blessing!

  15. Have you tought of doing a knitting biggest kitchen table ? Do I say it right ? You tell us how large the squares you need and we send them to you when we are finished ? Wouldn't it be a special rug ? ;)
    Kisses, Lucie

  16. And wouldn't it be an incentive for those of us who stopped knitting and those who wish to learn ? hihihi
    Lucie again

  17. I would love to join in too! Been lurking for a while and am currently reading through the Archives. My sister and I are currently working on a rug for her grandchild and I have another one waiting to be done this winter as well. Through this blog I feel as if I have made a whole bunch of new like-minded friends.

  18. Woo Hoo!!! I am in...
    I think this is a great idea. I have been knitting for 26 years off and on but still not that confident but I have lots and lots of stash ;-) This will give me incentive to use up odd bits and to gain a new stitch or pattern that I would never have even heard of otherwise.
    Maybe everyone participating could contribute a different pattern or stitch.
    Thanks again for a great blog and start to my mornings
    Lea-Anne in Adelaide.. now off to start my first square YIPPEE!!

  19. Rhonda I will remember this in years to come when I have bits and pieces to use up. It is a wonderful idea, thanks for sharing. I do agree with you regarding knitting and am loving winding down with knitting at the end of each busy day. I have been knitting cotton dishcloths for gifts and am so grateful for your inspiration. The waffle pattern is wonderful. I am glad I found something to knit in summer - thankyou.

    Now it is Autumn I am off to knitting mittens, and muffs and bedsocks and finishing the rug for my baby I started last year when she was just a few months old.

    Knitting - such peace!

  20. I'm in. When do we start. If you post the instructions of what you are doing I will endeavour to knit it.
    I dont normally follow patterns, because I just dont get them, but I managed to follow your waffle dish cloth so I have faith that I will follow all your other directions.

  21. If you haven't seen it already, and you have lots of sock yarn leftovers, check out the sock yarn "blankie" that Shelly Kang did (

    It's a work of art. I've got one in progress-- probably won't finish till I'm 80, but that's okay.

  22. love the knitting. my daughter is a knitter and we all benefit from her gift. you continue to amaze me

  23. I've had so much fun doing the potholders you blogged about - then I got to thinking I needed coasters for the coffee table and so I knitted squares (mostly 3x3) and stitched matching fabric on the backs just like the potholders, but no batting. They turned out fantastic! I love the thought of knitting small squares to make a rug! I can handle it because I can finish the squares quickly and watch my project grow! Thanks so much for the inspiration! blessings - carol

  24. Ohhhh, I would love to join in with this!! You have such wonderful ideas.
    I actually started to knit one of these blankets last year and it was an absolute disaster because I used different textured wool and the squares all came out different sizes, so I gave it up; so I would love to follow you along with it.
    Rachel L

  25. I love your comments about knitting helping to slow your mind & life down,almost like a meditation. I am going at full speed most of the time and even tho I have been interested in knitting for some time, I can never sit down to concentrate on learning. Thanks for your insight! Hopefully it helps.Blessings,Suegail

  26. count me in this, Rhonda. Just the thing to have beside my armchair for night times. Cannot knit in the daytime spare minutes as you have me addicted to stitchery and I am enjoying it so much. Only 20 years since I last did some and I had forgotten the pleasure it brings.

  27. Hello everyone. It's so good that you're joining in. I hope it will be an incentive to those who want to learn to knit, to pick up their needles and start.

    Touchatou, I would like everyone to have the benefit of their own work, so knit what you would like and please use it. : - )

    Marjon, I use eucalyptus oil to remove sticky labels and all kinds of glue. It's very good.

    Hi Karen, welcome!

    Angela, I'll write about it again tomorrow, hopefully with a pattern you, and everyone else, can understand.

    So, I've added ellie, lilmom, marjon, leeanne, angela, carol, rachel L and blossomvic. I nice group of knitters.

    I've written everyone in my red diary so I can keep tabs on who is doing this.

  28. Hello Rhonda,
    Reading this knitting article lead me to read your other articles and I found the one on, Reducing Waste.
    One bugbear with me is razors. When I lived in Darwin years ago, one could buy a small tool that sharpened razor blades. It was the size of a matchbox with a draw string.I would like to encourage their comeback and to get one myself. Also biro's are another problem and perhaps we will see a return to refillable pens.
    I wonder if cellophane would be any good to wrap school sandwiches in. The old fashion stuff was around many years before cling plastic and I think is biodegradeable.

  29. Maybe, I'm tempted to join, but for something like this - I've seen this pattern around for the last few years and have kind of thought of designing something similar for myself. I just need to get around to looking up a lot of aran patterns.

    I joined a monthly dishcloth knit along last year - we get the patterns for 2 new dishcloth patterns each month. Some are picture cloths, but others have different patterns & techniques. Joining a group like this could provide a lot of inspiration/patterns for different squares for a rug. If anyone is interested in joining the group (it's free, via Yahoo Groups), there's a button with a link on my blog.

  30. Oh, and someone mentioned that they had tried to learn to knit from books, but couldn't pick it up. If you really want to try again, try looking on YouTube for how to knit videos. I had trouble working out the long tailed cast on, found a good video & finally understood. Actually watching someone can make it a lot easier to learn than trying to follow diagrams in a book

  31. Oooh yes, I would love to join you.
    I have quite a few projects on the go - The Dishtowel/Hotplate swap, a jumper for my son and knitting dishcloths, but I would still love to join you. I would love to learn lots of different ways to knit and that sampler rug looks fab.
    My local knitting shop sells loads of left over balls of wool really cheap and I think there are sometimes some in my local charity shop.

    Will you be telling us what pattern you are currently knitting so we can copy or is it just a show and tell at the end when we have all finished?

    Thanks for involving us in your wonderful life again Rhonda.
    Hope you have a good day
    Lv Steph xxxx

  32. Hello Rhonda, is it too late to join in? I love knitting and have 16 squares that I have knitted over the last 10 years (in amongst 3 chidren !) intendeing to make into a rug like this project, so this will be a good incentive to finish this project! I have started a new rug using a pattern called 'magic squares', where you join each square as you knit, so you are knitting the rug as one piece and there is no sewing up at the end. It is fun and pretty easy ( I am not an expert knitter!)I am going to try and take a few photos and do a post on my blog soon. This is a great idea, Thanks!
    Regards julie

  33. Am I allowed to join in with a blanket I already started? I would love to join in but don't think starting another project from scratch would be a great idea at the moment. I have a blanket of little knitted squares, single size, that I had all the sqaures finished for and was in the process of sewing up, and then I met my husband and got married. I keep thinking I ought to knit more squares so it's big enough for a double bed and finish it off. This might be just the incentive I need to do that. I really like the idea of embroidering some of the squares, too.

    I'll enjoy following along anyway.

    Best wishes,

  34. oooer im in
    its quickly becoming that knitting time of the year for me..:)

  35. Me please too Rhonda, just now I am kntting apullover for DH. but I know I am going to have wook left over, funnily enough I started knitting squares with the wool left from my scarf, hat and gloves that I knitted, some squares are muliti coloured, some plain......

  36. I'm working on something similar. Well I was and put it down and am almost ready to pick it up again. So I'd love to join in. I need some inspiration to get me back into the swing of it!

  37. Oh goody. I just started to knit and this is something I will definitely do with the leftovers.

  38. I have about four things in my craft basket that I am working on knitting at the moment. So ... while I'd like to finish them before I start anything else, I'll still be 'knitting with you' ! Sounds like fun ! And maybe when I'm finished with my current ones, I'll make a rug of squares too !

  39. I love your blog. I'm a knitter AND a spinner. I can fully relate to knitting as meditation. Try spinning! It is a similar feeling. I've done some weaving and it brings me the same inner peace. As far as knitting goes I am knitting a very advanced cabled throw (the chart takes up an entire page). I wanted to do it as a sweater, but the cables are so intricate I thought I'd try it WITHOUT the complications of fitting my body and just practice learning the pattern. BTW I drew real inspiration from your knitted dishrags. I don't like the normal size of dishclothes, too big, I prefer something more of a sponge size. But looking at the instructions I realized- MAKE THEM SMALLER. Duh. So I made an slew of them about 3" by 3" and I LOVE THEM. I love the fact that I can just throw them in the wash or hang them on the line as needed. THANKS for your blog, my next project is homemade soap, something I've always wanted to try and you've given me the confidence to do it.

  40. A lot of my crochet is to give away, and I am going to make a few pot holders for my sister. But this time, I'm making something for myself. I started on a case for my eyeglasses last night and I'm nearly finished. I proudly admit that I am addicted to yarn!

  41. Good morning! I would love to knit along with the group. I am currently completing a similar project for a baby shower on the 24th - 9 squares that are 9" square. Hmm - lots of 9's. =) My rug will be a combination of yarn types - blends to 100% cotton, etc.
    Do you think that will work? Mixing types I mean?
    ~ Annette

  42. OK, here's a silly American question... is what you are calling a "rug" what we would call an afghan? From the picture it doesn't look like this beautiful thing should go on the floor.

  43. Can I join in please Rhonda Jean ? It will have to be crochet though, because I like the way it grows so quick.
    I crocheted my first hexagon last night before I read your post. I'm using my stash to make my son a blanket/throw as he's just about to move out on his own and I would like him to have a bit of home to take with him.

    Hereford uk

  44. Hi Rhonda

    I'm new here. I learned to knit at Christmas and I love it. I got to big bags of mixed wools from a thrift store yesterday and was wondering what to do with it - a patchwork blanket had crossed my mind, so I would like to join in too!

  45. I've just finished a little pram blanket made from squares Knitted in different stitches, I found sewing it all together the hardest part!
    I might do a larger one now but join the squares together as I'm knitting by changing colour rather than casting off, so I'd only have the strips of squares to sew up.( Does that make sense?!)

  46. I made a knitted lap throw for my eldest daughter to keep her warm in her Uni house, and lined it with batting and backed with warm checked flannelette material. I agree, it's lovely to have something you can pick up and work on when you have a spare five minutes, and it's not a complicated pattern you have to "get back into". I look forward to seeing yours as it progresses.

  47. Thank you all for joining in. This will be fun. I'll do an update on Friday and have a couple of starting patterns for you.

  48. I am in the middle of a sweater though so I will have to go slowly and if there is a deadline, I probably won't make it in time.

  49. I left a comment yesterday, but the gremlins must've taken it, I didn't "show up".

    Second try....I'll join in too Rhonda, like for your father, good therapy for my arm and hand. It'll be lovely to be knitting again, and such an easy 'pick-up,put-down' project will be manageable.


  50. HI Ronda,
    I'd love to join you, I'll see if I can find some scrap wool somewhere, maybe a secound hand shop. I'd like one of my daughters to make one too, it'll be a good way for her to learn new stitches and we can work together, maybe when the others see her work they may want to try too. It will be nice knowing others are working on the same project.


  51. I started my first square last night. I love the rug and its a great way to use up the odd balls of wool we all collect. I'll be very slow though and it probably won't be finished by the end of winter as I can only knit for short periods of time. I have a problem with my wrists - most annoying.


  52. Yes, I'll join in on the knitting frenzy as well - thanks for inviting me Rhonda! Like you, as soon as the first sign of autumn was in the air I began to wonder about knitting. I'll be casting on tonight!

  53. This sounds like such a wonderful project! I'm just starting to learn to knit, so this seems like a great way to get in lots of practice with a variety of different stitches and patterns. I'm also extremely busy with work and school right now, and often find myself very stressed out, and little squares that I can pull out, work on for a little bit, and put away seem like just the thing to help calm me down.

  54. Hi Rhonda Jean - Add me to the list (if I am not too late). I am a beginner and will just be doing something simple like knitted wash clothes or hot pad holders - just something simple for me to start out with. Now, I need to see about getting knitting needles and yarn! I hope to get that organized in the next week and START. thanks for inspiring me. Emily

  55. lae and emily, it's good to have you knitting with us.

  56. I have just started knitting and I find it a great help in controlling my bi-polar disorder. I would love to join your knit along and make something really useful.

  57. I would love to join...though I am a little late here. I am a new knitter...decided to learn in 2009. I have made a couple of scarves is all. But squares sound right up my alley. Thanks for the idea.

  58. Yes, I would like to join in. I have knitted since I was a child in Tasmania, but now I have carpal tunnel syndrome and my hands go numb when I knit too long. Squares should be manageable and something to do in the cold evenings.(I live in Canada now)

  59. Hi Rhonda, I seem to have found your blog over a year after you posted it. I would love to get the pattern so that I can knit this throw. Maybe you can post it online? Shannon

  60. I love the needles with the red polka dot tops, can you tell me where to buy them please?


  61. Hi, i dont know if anyone is still reading this thread as its been a few years since the last entry was made, but i started this rug project in 2009 when I was pregnant with my first child, planning to have it finished by the time she was born in August of that year.. that didn't quite happen and now 9 years and 2 children later I am picking up where I left off. I had about half the squares done so i have lots more to do. Unfortunately not all the squares are the same size so i may have to re-do those! I'm looking forward to getting back into it.

  62. (PS the last comment entered by Anonymous about picking up the project again after 9 years was written by Tracey)

  63. Hi Rhonda I purchased a box of The Art Of Knitting yarn from the earlier edition around 2009. I see you made the shaker blanket. I was wondering if you remember or if you have the magazines still what the actual colours were called as it does not say on the labels. I actually got the later edition of The Art Of Knitting but it was different coloured yarns. I am using the yarn to make something else. I mostly crochet & sell what I make on my Facebook shop. Would like to know the actual name of the colours. Thank you in anticipation. Chrissie

    1. Hi Chrissie. I gave the magazines and yarn to a friend who has since died so I'm sorry I can't tell you exactly what the colours were. However, I googled and came up with this page If you go there and open each edition, it tells you the colour included that month.



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