Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tutorial: Mug cardi/coaster combo

My knitting is progressing, but not very interesting to show again as I am working through the endless stockinette that is the body of the Rose Lace Collar.

Instead, we are going to take a detour and explore yet another use for socks with holes in them. We will be making a mug cardi, coaster combination. I call this a cardi rather than a cozy because it has button bands and buttons, just like a cardigan. It is a great way to explore steeking and get over one's nervousness at cutting one's knits. Also, it is a lovely use for those leftover, pretty buttons that aren't useful for anything else. You might have cut them off a favorite sweater or coat that has seen its last days, or maybe you found them in your grandmother's button box, or maybe you bought them on a whim because you liked them. Whatever, it is a great way to use them.
I started with these socks that had started to wear on the heels. The rest of the sock was in great shape.
I measured the bottom of a mug and cut a round from interfacing allowing a little extra all around. It is pretty stiff stuff. I then used this interfacing as a pattern to cut two circles from the foot of one sock, adding in a seam allowance. It so happened that I was able to squeeze both circles from one foot by leaving one side joined (therefore not requiring a seam allowance on that side). I also stretched the sock a bit. I don't recommend this because it did give the coaster a tendency to curl up. This doesn't affect its utility as the mug will hold it down, but it does affect its aesthetics.

If you can't fit this into one part of the sock, you will have to cut part of the sock up one side and make a flat piece. Do the same with the other sock and use one flat piece for the bottom of the coaster and the other for the top. The foot is a good part to use for the coaster.
I sewed the two circles together around the interfacing with a sewing thread and backstitch. Then I used some coordinating leftover yarn (mine was actually a worsted weight yarn so it is a bit heavier of an edge than if I had used sock weight yarn) to make an attached icord edge around the circle, enclosing the seam.

Since I was using a much heavier yarn, I had to adjust the row count to fit it flat around the coaster. If you are using a yarn that matches your sock yarn, you can work to the same gauge as the original sock (i.e. I used a lot fewer rows to go around the circle than I would have if I had used a sock weight yarn but I also have a much more prominent edge)
Voila! a coaster.

Next, I cut one of the sock cuffs to the height of the mug (from the top of the sock down) and worked a backstitched steek (exactly like a machine-stitched steek, but I used a backstitch instead of a machine-stitch) down the length of the cut piece and cut it.

I decided to put the sock ribbing on the bottom of the mug, so I worked the same attached icord edge around the top of the cardigan. The reason I did this was because the icord was so thick (remember I used a heavier yarn) that putting two icords together (from the coaster and the mug cardigan) would have made it rather bulky. Also, I thought the icord edge was rather pretty and wanted it on top. You can decide to do whatever strikes your fancy. But if you are going to put the icord on the bottom of the mug, you may have to plan and make your coaster a bit larger all around to accommodate the width of the icord in addition to the mug.
Lastly, I picked up sts from the steeked edge and made tabbed, seed-stitch button and button hole bands to close the cardigan around the handle. In this case, I had to make one of the bands quite wide as the sock was a good bit narrower than the mug. This is how you adjust the circumference of the cardigan to fit your mug. The bands have a section that is narrow and then a tab in the middle that extends out to go under the handle. I found two matching buttons and sewed them on. One larger button would also be sufficient. Plan your button band and buttonhole(s) to match the button(s) you have selected.
And there you have it! A cozy cardigan for your mug, a matching coaster to protect your surface, a chance to practice some new techniques, and a good use for a holey sock.

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