Cozy Up Your Recyclables with Knitting!

Posted by on Feb 16, 2014 in Knitting |


I don’t know about you, friend, but I have a slight problem with the number of containers in my cabinet that I’ve rescued from the recycle bin. I have turned a few into containers for beads or small notions, but there are a number of containers without tops that are just begging to be used! Let’s do some knitting for them, shall we?

Let us convert them into not only useful items for our homes, but beautiful pieces in our everyday decor. Yes, you can knit AND recycle at the same time!

knitting for your recycle bin

How to knit a cup cozy

First, find a container to fit your needs.

I am a little embarrassed to admit this, but there were three frosting containers in my “saved from the recycle bin” box! When I first washed them and set them aside, I had grand thoughts of organizing a box of pencils and markers in my office. Maybe they could be put into cute little containers ON my desk instead of a shoe box UNDER my desk. Alas, project after project ended up on my knitting needles and my naked containers stayed that way. This is how, when I went to get a container to demonstrate this easy process, I ended up with a frosting container.

This sort of container is easiest to knit for. It has straight sides and a little lip for which your cozy to stay flush against. It isn’t completely necessary, though! I have knit (and crocheted) for all sorts of shapes and I will make a note when you might want to alter the pattern for different sizes.

Step 1: Measure your gauge

gauge swatches seed stitch

I suggest the simple seed stitch for the body of the cozy. Choose your yarn and a needle to accommodate the yarn weight. I used two strands of Vanna’s Choice and 6.5 mm (US 10.5) double point needles for this particular cozy. I had intended to use a chunkier yarn but I did not have the right DPNs for it! So, I have two gauge swatches (seen above).

Knit a gauge swatch as follows:

Cast on an uneven number of stitches [I CO 19]

Row 1: *K 1, P 1; Repeat across the row, turn.

Repeat that row for a few inches to get a decent gauge swatch.

Bind off in pattern.

Measure you gauge: Place your ruler on your swatch and count the number of stitches over a set number of inches. Mine was 12 stitches over 4″, or 3 stitches per inch.

Step 2: Measure your container

A pretty self explanatory step. If you suddenly cannot find your tape measure, I suggest wrapping a piece of paper around the widest part of your container and marking the circumference, then measuring that. My frosting container is 10.5 inches around.

Step 3: Determine the number of stitches to CO

I decided I wanted my cozy to be a little fitted, so I multiplied my container measurement by .95 and got 9.975. Next, I multiplied that number by the number of stitches per inch (my gauge: 3) and got 29.925. Rounded to the nearest EVEN number, I have to cast on 30 stitches for my cozy.

If you’re more of an equation type, here it is:

C = A * B

A = Gauge (# of stitches per inch)
B = 95% of your container measurement
C = The number of stitches you will cast on

Why do we want to keep in mind our gauge? Read more about gauge and why it’s important.

Step 4: Knit!

Cast on the number above and split onto double pointed needles, join to work in the round.

Round 1: *K 1, P 1; repeat from * around.

Round 2: *P 1, K 1; repeat from * around.

Repeat these two rounds until you have reached the container height.

Bind off in the established pattern. Weave in your ends. Feel free to change colors whenever you want!

Notes about different container shapes:

If you have a container that flares at the top (smaller at the bottom than the top), you can make a few changes to accommodate this.

  • If you measured the wider edge and are working from the top down, you add in a decrease round about halfway through.
  • If you measured the smaller edge and are working from the bottom up, you will need to add in an increase round about halfway through.
  • Working in chunky yarn will be more forgiving, as you can decrease two stitches evenly in the round and that would be it. If the difference in circumference is drastic (i.e. you have a big flared top), you might need more than one decrease/increase row.

knitting a custom cozy - finished cozy

If you want the cozy to be a permanent part of your container, hot glue works really well at keeping yarn attached to plastic! Just be careful that you don’t burn your fingers while you’re working.

Do you like creating something new out of your old trash? Does your knitting help you create beauty for otherwise mundane objects?