Archive for May, 2009

George: a Basic Coffee Cup Cosy Pattern

The inspiration for this coffee cup cosy was twofold. Firstly, my Mum doesn’t find it easy to grip a coffee cup without a handle and was trying to think of a solution. Secondly, although I rather like take-away coffee and hot chocolate, I don’t like the free advertising that the companies are getting from me on their cups.  This coffee cup cosy rectifies both of the problems in one pattern.

Following in the spirit of my grandad George (who would cut labels off everything and always turned supermarket bags inside out before using them) I have always liked to obilterate logos. Those of you who followed me in the @Platea Co-Modify performance, may well be surprised by this (but do remember, it was a performance and I couldn’t care less whose yarn I am using). However, those who know me in real life will find it difficult to think of any clothing or accessories which I have with a logo or visible label left intact.

George Coffee Cup Cosies

George Coffee Cup Cosies

So now you know the background, on to the instructions!

I’ve made this a really simple pattern which can be knitted up in around an hour, so would be great for a last minute present and is easy enough to knit in front of the tv or at the cinema. It is marvellous for stashbusting: it takes around 30 metres of yarn, give or take, but you could always use up lots of oddments by striping them. It is knitted flat, in stocking stitch and six buttons are added for closure. It fits a regular or large sized take away-cup, and as you can see, you can tailor it to be smaller and it fit through the handle of a mug too. This would be a great beginner pattern, teaching casting on and off, knit and purl stitches, kfb increases and eyelets.

Basic Shape for Coffee Cup Cosy

Basic Shape for Coffee Cup Cosy


Leftover chunky/bulky yarn (also works with 2 strands of DK held together, as above)

4.5mm-5mm needles

6 small buttons and embroidery thread for sewing


k = knit

p = purl

yo = yarn over (wrap yarn around working needle once)

k2tog = knit two stitches together

kfb = knit front and back in same stitch (to increase)


Cast on 32 stitches

Row 1: knit all stitches

*Row 2: k3, yo, k2tog, k to end

Row 3: purl all stitches

Row 4: kfb, k to last stitch, kfb

Row 5: purl all stitches*

Repeat rows 2-5, 4 times (21 rows total)

Row 22: k3, yo, k2tog, k to end

Row 23: knit all stitches

Cast off

Weave in ends and add buttons at appropriate places.

n.b. If you are making a mug cosy, repeat rows 2-5 only twice.

So, let me know how it goes if you decide to make one: would love to see pics if you have them! I will add some alternative stitch patterns for the cosy over the next week.

Please feel free to knit up the coffee cup cosies to keep or as gifts/charity fundraising, but please do not knit up for commercial purposes or reproduce the pattern without first seeking permission.

Copyright © Ingrid Murnane 2009. All rights reserved.


from hibernation to reinvention

I won some sock yarn in a competition a few years ago, but as I hadn’t tried socks at that point (and the mere thought of sock-knitting scared the be-jesus out of me) I decided to knit it up as a first lace project.

Lace Scarf of Doom

The Leafy Lace Scarf

I chose this pretty leaf pattern, which seemed easy enough and used my new red needles which made a great contrast to the mossy greens in the yarn. It all went quite well to begin with. Well, once I had got the hang of reading a lace chart anyway… I knitted away happily on the train and the bus and in front of the TV. The scarf was to be a present for my partner at the time who liked green leafy things and who had a coat which this would match really well.

So far so good…until we split up. Now, I know what you’re thinking: the infamous ‘Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater‘. Well I don’t really think that I can blame it on that, (or in this case perhaps the ‘Curse of the Girlfriend Scarf’) as I’d already knitted her a bag. But in any case, as you would imagine after the breakup I didn’t want to knit any more of it. Retitled ‘The Lace Scarf of Doom’ it was effectively put into hibernation as an UnFinished Object.

So, why am I telling you this?

Well the other day I happened across the UFO Project Administration Service which is a really interesting art project set up by Rachael Matthews of Prick Your Finger yarn shop.

UFO Project Administration Form

UFO Project Administration Form

The basic premise is that you can send in a UFO which you have totally given up on, or sign up to finish somebody else’s UFO. You sign up for an invitation and are sent a specially designed form on which you fill in details about both yourself and your UFO (or the kind of thing you might like to knit of somebody else’s). Rachael will then matchmake knitter with UFO. The brilliant thing about this is that you don’t have to continue to knit the original pattern: you can be as inventive as you like. Jumpers with extra arms, parts of tea cosies made into bags, using a totally different yarn to continue, crocheting something that was started in knitting; the possibilites are endless. Of course you can just continue to knit the original too, if you like. As you have probably guessed, I have decided to send in the Lace Scarf of Doom for somebody else to have a try with and I’m also going to ask for somebody else’s UFO to work on.

The Red Round: another possible contender

The Red Round: another possible contender

What I find so interesting to about this whole idea is that the unloved, unwanted knitted object now could gain a new lease of life and its social life and object biography will be added to in an unexpected direction. Every UFO will have a story behind it: that of its making, the yarn that was used, how the pattern was picked, about the person who knitted it, why they made it and what was going on in their life as they knit. As a UFO going through the Project Administration Service it will now have many added layers of history. Who knows what will happen to the Lace Scarf of Doom, but one thing is sure: it will be much more interesting than had I just finished knitting it to its intended pattern. I can’t wait to see what someone else does with it!

There will be an exhibition at the Jerwood Space in London from 10th June – 19th July 2009, which will also tour Britain and which will feature some of the now-finished UFOs.

Braiiiinwaves: further spinning experiments

I’ve been learning to spin on a drop spindle for a while now. I have two: a CD spindle with a hook which you can alter to be a top whorl or a bottom whorl spindle, and also a far heavier bottom whorl spindle without a hook. I like the latter the best, so far. A bottom whorl spindle seems much easier to use for me as I don’t like the whole ‘rolling the spindle on your leg‘ bit that comes with the top whorl. Seems awkward to me and means I can’t be ambidextrous in my spinning so easily (I like to do be ambidextrous where I can for efficiency and also in doing so I’m hoping to tone up both arms by spinning rather than just one!)

Bottom Whorl Drop Spindle (plying)

Bottom Whorl Drop Spindle (plying)

In previous experimentation I had tried core spinning the fibre to make something visually redolent of a brainwave pattern, but it didn’t really come together. I was trying to make a sketch; a drawing in yarn to work on from. Reflecting on this afterwards I realised that I had taken it too far when I had actually knitted it into something. It seemed like the natural thing to do with the yarn (the natural thing or the done thing? hmm), yet when I was knitting I felt as if I was taking something away from what I had created.

I also gave some to a friend who I was teaching to knit at the pub quiz, and as she knitted the yarn, she pushed the chunkier bits of the yarn along to straighten them out: to make it like a commercially spun yarn. I was horrified! (Having said that, I was very English and didn’t say so in case she thought I was rude.) But basically I had a breakthrough in realising that the yarn was the medium for expression in itself. If I want to sketch in yarn, then my technique for it presently must be spinning.

So I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and yesterday finally decided to try it out again. Core spinning, I made this:

Green Brainwave Sketch

Green Brainwave Sketch

It is made from a commercially dyed green blend of wool, with a commercially spun metallic silver crochet thread as the core.  I’m not liking the green much: I used it because I was thinking about ideas of ‘earthing’ the electricity (in older UK plugs the earth wire was green: now green/yellow). In the end my ideas changed somewhat from the time I drafted the yarn. The colour now doesn’t add anything to what I’m trying to say: it detracts in fact.  However it is a good spin because I can play around and sketch with the yarn: I’ll be working on the colour.

Brainwave Sketches

Brainwave Sketches

The amount of people who have asked me what I am going to make it into is into the tens now. Certainly within my circle of knitters, spinning for its own sake; as an end in itself seems a little ‘out there’. I aim to continue my experiments and will be coming up with more ‘redundant yarn’ as they put it, yet. It might get made into an installation, maybe a fibre sculpture, and certainly I will be working out my ideas and sketching with it. I don’t honestly have a good answer to what I am going to do with it all   …but I probably won’t be knitting it.

world wide knit in public days

WWKIP days 2009 are on the 13th and 14th June. I have taken part for the last two years and it has been great fun. The idea is that knitting, a generally solitary act is brought out into the wider sphere. I knit in public most days, especially if I’m travelling on a train or bus, but the collective experience of knitting with a large group of people is entirely different to that (you don’t get the nosy people on trains asking if you’re knitting them a scarf when it is obviously socks for a start!)

World Wide Knit in Public Day 2007 by Todd Huffman. Used under Creative Commons.

World Wide Knit in Public Day 2007 by Todd Huffman. Used under Creative Commons.

I like that it gives a sense of community that I might usually only get when I attend a knitting group, but the thing about WWKIP day is that these are people that I might never have met before. They will have new ideas about knitting, techniques which I’ve never seen before, ways in which they hold the needles that are different to mine, even yarns which I’ve never heard of.  I have learned to knit lace and cables, had books and patterns recommended to me and myself, taught three people to knit in past years. It is a time to share ideas and be open to learning new and exciting things.

The Cornershop, Winchester by Zabdiel. Used under Creative Commons.

The Cornershop, Winchester by Zabdiel. Used under Creative Commons.

This year I’m going to be at the Cornershop gallery in Winchester (just behind the Hambledon on St Thomas’ Street) where Linda Newington from Winchester School of Art will have an interactive exhibition of items from the Knitting Reference Library. There will be a knitting lounge, reminiscent of that set up at the In the Loop conference last year. I’ll be there knitting and teaching on both days and also during part of the previous week (more details to follow).

It all looks to be great fun: hope you can join us, or if not please do visit the Knitting Reference Library at WSA if you’re round that way sometime. It holds the collections of knitters and knitting historians Montse Stanley, Richard Rutt and Jane Waller as its basis and is a brilliant resource. There are books, patterns, knitted objects, tools, photographs and magazines. The librarians are really helpful with finding all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff, and it is definitely not to be missed if you’re at all interested in the history of knitting.

Co-Modify: the story so far…

I’ve been taking part in the @platea performance Co-Modify this week and it has been really interesting. I’m being ‘sponsored’ by Sirdar, the British knitting company. This has been my profile picture on Twitter, Facebook and Ravelry this week.

I said that Id be wearing a hat made from Sirdar yarn: I never said anything about it being knitted...

I said that I'd be wearing a hat made from Sirdar yarn: I never said anything about it being knitted...

I’ve not taken part in an online art project before and it has been so interesting to take part but also to have been documenting it. I think that I have got much more out of it this way. I’m going to blog about the experience properly in a couple of days to explain what I have been doing across my social media networks; indeed, to reflect on what I have learned from it too. I wanted to just give a quick update of what has been going on first though.

So, enough gabbing on: here is the blog post that I wrote for @platea today, which gives some of my favourite parts of the project so far.