Introduction: Felted Cup Caddy
There are some good patterns for cup caddies to be found on the web. However, as I originally created mine to be used on my scooter, it’s sturdier than most: it has a bottom and it’s felted. Felting strengthens the material and offers some degree of insulation. I designed it to hang from the scooter’s purse hook so it would swing free as I rounded corners, preventing spilling.
The pattern included is for the large, grey cup. I include images of a smaller cup caddy I made for contrast and inspiration. Your caddy size will vary depending on the yarn and needles used. Please use the pattern as a guideline only and use your own best estimates to get the size caddy you want.
Cast on (your preference)
Knit in the round
Purl in the round
Increase (your preference) [inc]
Bind off (your preference)
Seam two knit edges together
Double pointed needles (and perhaps a circular needle if the project gets too big for your DPNs).
An example of the kind of cup you are knitting a caddy for. I used a large soda cup for the grey caddy.
Finally, and most importantly, you will need approximately 200 yards of a worsted weight feltable yarn. Animal fibers ‘felt’ when the scales on the hairs relax and join with their neighbors. To test if a yarn is feltable, simply wet it and roll it about in your hands. If it fuzzes up and joins to itself, it has felted. Any wool that is not marked ‘superwash’ should do. Superwash yarn has been designed to not felt and so is not useful to us for this project.
Step 1: Make a Test Swatch
Whether you have bought yarn specifically for this project or you’re going through your stash, you will need to make a test swatch for your cup caddy to find out how much your yarn will shrink when you felt it. You can use any feltable yarn and any needle size for this project but you must use the same yarn and needles for the caddy as you use for the test swatch or your calculations will be off.
Using your chosen yarn and needles (I used Paton’s worsted weight Classic Wool and number 6 bamboo double pointed needles), cast on stitches sufficient to equal four inches. Trial and error got me to 19 stitches. Use any cast on you like. Knit your test swatch until you have a four inch square. You may use any stitch you like but understand that felting will erase any stitch definition. I used stockinette with the grey caddy, and seed stitch with the green.
Finish with any bind off you prefer. For ease later, trace around the swatch and mark the bind off edge so you can tell which way is up after you felt the sample. (It’s better to use a physical marker like a non-felting yarn or a wool of a contrasting color than to use ink which may wash away. A few simple knots should be sufficient.) This is the time to note the stitch and needles used. I made two swatches to illustrate the difference felting makes but you needn’t do that.
To felt your yarn, run it under hot water, soap it up and scrub it. The soap will remove the lanolin (a protective oil that coats each hair) and the scrubbing will encourage the fibers’ scales to expand and catch at each other. I’ve read you should shock the fibers by cycling through hot and cold water but I don’t know if this is absolutely necessary. What you mostly need is an absence of lanolin and a great deal of agitation. So use lots of soap and scrubbing. As you start to agitate the square, it will stretch—a LOT. That’s fine. Just keep scrubbing, rolling, agitating and working that square. At some point the fabric will start to shrink and felt up. Keep working past this point to be sure it is fully felted.
Once you are satisfied it has felted, measure it against the tracing you made. How much has it shrunk? Line up the bind off edge of the sample with the tracing: did it shrink more in one direction than another? In my sample, the swatch has shrunk uniformly from 4” square to 2.5”. I used a little math to find I was left with 62.5% of my original square but you could also just eyeball it and see that it shrank to about two-thirds its original size. (If your swatch has not shrunk uniformly, try felting it again. It is unlikely that the shrinkage would be very uneven but if this happens, you can calculate accordingly, or try a different stitch or yarn.) This tells me that I will need to knit my caddy about a third larger than its final size.
Step 2: The Pattern, Beginning With the Circular Bottom of Caddy
Cast on 6 st, divide for working in the round, two stitches per needle.
Rounds 1 & 2: Knit each st with yarn doubled (I used the tail) 12 st on the first row, 24 st on the second.
Round 3: Drop second strand of yarn, work in Stockinette stitch (St st).
Round 4: Increase every other stitch. 36 st
Round 5: St st
Round 6: Inc every third stitch. 48 st
Rounds 7 & 8: St st
Round 9: Inc every third stitch. 64 st
Rounds 10 – 13: St st. (This is where you start estimating size. I took my knitting off the needles to illustrate this but you needn't do so.)
Round 14: Purl.
Step 3: Pattern Continues With the Body of the Caddy
Round 15: St st until desired height. Inc by six stitches (two stitches per needle) every few inches. My final stitch count was 82 stitches but your number may vary. If you are making a small cup caddy, you may only need to increase once.
Step 4: The Pattern Concludes With the Strap
Bind off until you have 12 stitches left on the needle. With these, continue in St st until handle reaches desired length. Bind off and sew that end of the strap to the opposite side of the cup caddy. (If there is a seam, make sure it’s on the inside of the cup. Felting will blur sharp edges but won’t eliminate strong ridges.)
Step 5: Felting!
Now it’s time to felt your cup caddy. This can be tiring so feel free to take breaks. It’s the action of rubbing the fibers together that felts wool, not any particular chemical reaction that has to happen within a certain time. So felt until your arms get tired, take a break and come back to it when you’re ready. Some people like to use the washing machine to felt their projects. I prefer to do it by hand so I can watch the progress carefully and shape the item as needed.
Once it starts to felt, test your caddy against your cup example. When it has shrunk to the desired size, stop felting. It will take a while to dry. You can form it around the cup to have it match the size exactly, or you can set it somewhere to dry. Either is fine.
And there you have it! A sturdy cup caddy for all your delicious beverages to go!
Step 6: Alternate Step for Decorating and Embellishment
I like how plain the grey cup caddy is but that not may appeal to all. Your felted caddy gives you many opportunities for embellishment and adornment. You can knit it in stripes or use intarsia before felting or do some surface felting after the caddy is done. I added a few ribbons and bows to my green cup caddy to show you some possibilities. (The green caddy was knit in seed stitch and skipped the purl row for the base.)