Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tea for Tuesday - Pottery Barn Inspired Mug Mat

A cool bistro stripe on a cute little mug mat.  Very nautical.  And inspired by a rug...

This is the original rug.  Don't these stripes just SCREAM BEACH to you?  This makes me think of someone's summer home out in the Hamptons, probably on their screen porch that overlooks the water.  Where they sit and sip Long Island Iced Tea.  Before they go have dinner at Ina Garten's house.  But I digress...

So the lesson today is this:  you can find inspiration anywhere.  And when you find it, use it.  Let's use this inspiration to make a mug mat.

You will need graph paper, a ruler to make straight sides, a pencil and eraser, colored pencils, cotton worsted weight yarn in your choice of colors (this is a good way to use up some stash), a yarn needle or small crochet hook, and the size needles you prefer.  Mine are size 7's.

If you see something that catches your eye, and you'd like to make if for yourself but just aren't sure where to start, a graph paper sketch will help you immensely! I've used this technique for everything from quilt blocks, to afghans, and now a mug mat.  I even designed our community garden with graph paper!

So I started with my graph paper to sketch out how I want my "rug" to look.  How many stitches wide?  How many rows long?  How wide do I want the stripes.

This original sketch was 20 stitches wide by 32 rows long.  Then I added the stripes.

You can see that I miscounted where I started, so I had an extra row on the end.  This pattern would have been fine, until I started to knit it out.  Twenty stitches was just not wide enough.  Then as I worked my way through the chart, it just didn't look right.  The rows, as they were sketched, were too narrow.  Now, each row on the chart is two rows in height.

So here's what I came up with:
And here's the pattern:
Cast on 28 stitches.
Rows 1-8:  Knit in ivory.  Change color by looping the blue over your needle.  Leave the ivory attached.

Don't worry if your first stitch seems really loose and sloppy - you can tighten it up in just a minute.  Be sure to leave a tail of the blue yarn about 2" long.
Rows 9-16:  Knit in blue.  Once you get in a few stitches of the blue in row 9, pull the tail of the blue and the connected yarn of the ivory to tighten the stitches.  Not too tight - just enough that they are the same as your other stitches.

Our something new today is how to carry the yarn of another color from one section to the next.  After working row 10, loop your ball of blue under the ivory and up behind it.  This will carry your ivory yarn up to the next section, and hide it pretty well, too.  This side edge will still look pretty finished, which is one of those little details that makes the difference between homemade and handcrafted.  Every time you finish an even number row from here on out, loop your working yarn under the yarn you are carrying.

Rows 17-20:  Knit in ivory.  Do the under and up thing again with the ivory.

Now you will add your third color - the brown.  It's ok - don't panic.  You already know what to do.  Just do the same thing you did with the blue, except now, you have to go under both the ivory and the blue when you get to the end of an even row.  As you continue, you'll have to be careful to not get these side threads tangled.  And they will - trust me.  It happens.  Just take your time with it.

Rows 21-24:  Knit in brown.
Rows 25-28:  Knit in ivory.
Rows 29-36:  Knit in blue.
Rows 37- 44:  Knit in ivory.

Let's look at how to bind this off.  Start by cutting the brown and blue.  You've carried them all the way up here, now it's time to set them free.  Be sure to leave tails that are about 2-3" long.

We'll do a typical knit bind off.  Start by knitting the first stitch.  Pull the tails between this stitch and the next, bringing them to the front from the back.  Knit the second stitch.  Flip the tails to the back.  Pull the first knit stitch up and over the second.  Leave the tails in the back.  Just leave them there.  Continue binding off the rest of the way across.  Cut the ivory yarn, pull the tail through the last loop to make a knot, and you are done.  Work all the tails in on the back side, and trim.

Et voila!  You have a new mug mat!

And let's play my favorite game:  What Else Can You Do with It!  Well, let's start with the basic design.  Make it wider, make it longer.  Do both and make a scarf.  Change the colors.  Do two instead of three.  Do every row a different color to use up your stash.  Make the stripes thicker or thinner.  Add fringe.

Let your imagination and your graph paper be your guide!

Have fun!