You’ve probably heard of crocheting with yarns such as cotton, linen, or silk. But have you ever heard of crocheting with jute?
Jute is a type of natural material that’s popular in craft communities due to its affordable price and durability, and you sure can crochet with jute to create some useful household items that are long-lasting and highly practical.
How do you crochet with jute? The key to crocheting with jute is using a larger hook so stitches are not too stiff and tight. It is also good to use it for the right kind of items which need structure. It can be beneficial to soften, or wash, jute before crocheting with it.
There are some caveats when it comes to crocheting with jute, so in this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about this material, and how you can master crocheting with jute.
What to Know About Crocheting With Jute
Jute twine can be found in most craft stores, but not many people know what it is and how it is made. Jute is the second most-produced natural fiber, just behind cotton.
Jute is a plant-based fiber. After the fibers are separated from the Corchorus olitorius and Corchorus capsularis plants, they go through several stages of processing and then spun together to create the jute ropes that you can purchase in the store.
Jute is hugely popular around the world because it is a sustainable material that’s quite easy to produce cost-effectively. The plants that give us the jute fibers can grow quite quickly and requires hardly any pesticides or fertilizers.
There are so many types of jute yarns that you can purchase for different uses. Jute ropes that have not been treated with softeners often look more natural but will feel rough against the skin. These types of jute ropes are often used to make rugs, plant hangers, or baskets.
Jute can be further processed to make materials that are softer and kinder to the skin. For example, caustic soda can be used during processing to make the jute softer and pliable. Jute fibers can also be processed with wool, cotton, or synthetic fibers to create a softer and more breathable material.
As a material, jute has a lot of advantages that make it popular among arts and crafters. It is known for its strength and durability, despite being relatively affordable. It’s very eco-friendly; unsoftened natural jute is even biodegradable, so you don’t have to worry about negatively affecting the planet. Plus, it is a highly breathable natural material.
However, jute is only recommended for making certain types of garments because it can be quite stiff and prone to creasing. If jute is regularly washed and exposed to sunlight, it can lose its strength and colors. Therefore, it is not recommended to use 100% natural jute for clothing.
Depending on what you are making and the type of jute you are using, crocheting with jute can be a bit challenging.
Natural jute can be quite rough on the skin, and its stiffness makes it difficult to maneuver around a crochet hook. You will also need to use a large crochet hook to work with jute so that the stitches are not too tight and stiff.
Best Things to Crochet With Jute
Now that you know the pros and cons of crocheting with jute, you may also wonder what are some of the things that you can DIY with jute and a crochet hook.
Jute is a stiff material that will help you generate very firm and durable items, so it can help you make some amazing and long-lasting rustic pieces for your home. It’s also popular in macrame projects.
If you have never crocheted with jute, you can start with smaller items like a coaster, potholder, or plant pot cozy.
You don’t really need a pattern to make these items, since they are essentially circles of various sizes. To make a coaster, simply crochet a small circle using a half double crochet stitch. For plant pot cozies or potholders, you can continue crocheting to enlarge the circle.
You could also crochet a much larger circle to get a durable tablemat.
Bigger, more complicated items like baskets and rugs will require bigger-sized jutes and crochet hooks and a lot of patience. It will take some practice to become comfortable crocheting with jute, so you may find that crocheting bigger items a bit more difficult.
If you’d like to find some tips and tricks to help make crocheting with jute, read on to the next section.
Tips and Tricks When Crocheting With Jute
Jute twine has some very distinct characteristics that make it quite difficult to work with. First of all, it can have quite a strong odor that some people may find unpleasant. Jute twine tends to shed a lot of fiber when you work and especially in the wash, so you may find a lot of fibers sticking to your clothes and workstation.
And finally, jute twine is usually very stiff and difficult to maneuver with a crochet hook. The natural fibers may also hurt your finger, especially after a prolonged period of crocheting.
How to Eliminate the Strong Jute Smell
Since jute twine is processed from plants, a lot of jute has a strong musty smell, as well as the chemical odor left over from the processing steps. A lot of people find this smell unpleasant, so it’s a good idea to eliminate the strong smell before starting your project.
Fortunately, the smell of jute can vary depending on the manufacturers and even the batch of jute processed. You can try to find the batch of jute that smells the most tolerable for you.
When you’re purchasing jute, you can simply try to smell it first. If the odor is okay or even pleasant for you, that’s great! If you cannot find any jute that satisfies your nose, you can consider using some methods below to eliminate the smell before working.
One option is just to air out your jute before you work. Start by unraveling the jute from the spool and wind it up to create a loose hank – that way you don’t have to worry about the jute getting tangled in the process.
Then, you can air the jute out in the sun for a few days, checking occasionally to make sure that the odor is completely gone. Then, you can work with the jute as normal.
Keep in mind that for jute that hasn’t gone through chemical processing, the jute can lose its colors and yellow when you air it out in the sun. Therefore, this method is not recommended if you are using this type of jute.
If where you live rarely gets any sunlight, you can opt for gently washing the jute to eliminate the strong odor. Washing is also an effective way to soften the jute so that it’s easier to maneuver while you crochet.
In the next section, we’ll show you how to safely wash jute before crocheting.
How to Soften the Jute For Crocheting
Washing the jute is one of the most effective ways to soften it and eliminate some of the strong odor, which will make it easier for you to work with.
First, unravel your jute from the spool and create a hank. This step will make it easier for the fabric softener to reach every thread.
Then, mix a small amount of fabric softener with some warm water, and submerge the hank in the solution. You can swirl the hank around to make sure that it is thoroughly wet, and leave it for about 15 minutes.
After about 15 minutes, gently wring out the excess water and air dry the hank. You can leave it in the sun, making sure to separate the individual strands so that it will dry thoroughly. Alternatively, you can place the hank on a towel to air dry.
The finished product is jute that doesn’t have any odor besides the smell of fabric softener. It should also be softer to the touch and more pleasant to work with.
How to Protect Your Hands While Crocheting With Jute
While there are methods to soften the jute before you crochet with it, jute is still going to be a rough material that will be hard on your delicate hands. It will take some time to get used to the roughness and stiffness of the material, and your hands may be in pain and develop some calluses in the process.
To combat jute’s roughness, you can opt to use gloves while you crochet with jute.
We find that a pair of form-fitting gloves or cotton gloves work best for crocheting. Cotton gloves tend to be a bit more loose-fitting, so the gloves can shift around while you crochet. However, the cotton gloves will feel softer against your skin and make the experience more enjoyable.
You will need to take some time to get used to crocheting with gloves on, especially when it comes to tension control. It will take some practice to get a hang of it, and it will feel a bit constraining and awkward at first.
With some practice, you will find that this is a great way to crochet with jute without damaging your hands
How to Work Against Jute’s Shedding
Even after a few washes, jute tends to shed a lot. You may find it annoying when jute fibers are stuck on your clothes and your work station, and even irritate your skin if you are wearing short sleeves or shorts.
Jute fibers will shed even more when you crochet with it since there’s a lot of friction and twisting involved. Crocheting with jute on your sofa or armchair, and on top of rugs are out of the question, since cleaning up will definitely be painful.
When you work with jute, set up a designated workstation that you can easily clean up with a cloth. This can be your crafts station or even your kitchen table. You can even lay down a large cloth that you can wrap up and dust outside when you are finished working.
We also recommend covering up any exposed skin while you work with jute for a prolonged period. If you are making a large rug and leaving the piece on your lap while you work, the friction from the jute, coupled with the shedding, can really irritate your skin.
Instead, use an apron to cover up, or wear long pants to reduce any direct contact that the jute may have with your skin. This step will prevent any skin irritation that results from rubbing against jute.
Types of Crochet Hooks to Use With Jute
Since jute is a stiff material, you will find that it is much more difficult to insert the crochet hook into the previous stitch, if you are using the recommended size crochet hook.
We recommend using a crochet hook that is at least one size larger than the recommended size for yarn of a similar size. This way, your end product will not be as stiff, and you will find it much easier to create new stitches during the crocheting process.
Even with soft wool, crocheting tends to create very stiff works that do not drape well. Crocheting using a material like jute will not help you generate a product that drapes, unlike other types of materials.
This reason is why jute works best to create household items like potholders and baskets. However, if you are hoping to crochet jute items that drape well, you can experiment with using bigger sized crochet hooks.
Using a big sized crochet hook with a smaller jute twine will create a lace effect for your project, and the end result will drape relatively well, although it may appear lacier than other types of jute crochets.
How to Care For Jute
Although jute is a very strong and stiff material, it must be handled with care in order to maintain its strength and appearance.
Jute items should be hand washed with laundry detergent and fabric softener. You should not apply too much pressure on it or wring it out too strongly because it can easily crease and lose its shape.
You should also separate jute from your other clothing. Since jute tends to shed easily, you can find a lot of jute fibers on your clothing if you wash them with jute.
You should not wash jute in the washing machine or dry it in the dryer. The shedding from the jute can clog up your machines’ lint filters, and you will find jute fibers in your washing even after a long time.
If you absolutely must use a washing machine, use the most delicate cycle possible, and empty the lint trap immediately after washing the jute. You can also run a tub clean cycle after washing the jute to make sure that it doesn’t leave any jute fibers on your following loads.
After washing, you should lay out your jute pieces on a towel to dry. If your item is made of jute that hasn’t gone through chemical processing, do avoid drying it in the sun. Some types of jute can yellow under direct sunlight and lose their natural color.
If you run the jute items through the dryer, use the lowest heat setting or tumble dry. Similarly, you should empty the lint drawer immediately after drying the jute to make sure that the fibers do not get on your other clothes.
We don’t recommend washing the jute often. Washing the jute will make it lose its stiffness, and over time, it can strip the jute of its natural color, resulting in yellowing jute that doesn’t look great in your home.
Instead, you can opt to vacuum jute rugs and baskets and wipe down other jute items with a damp cloth. This way, your jute will stay new and fresh for a long time.