Materials: 2 colors worsted weight yarn, 100% wool (this is a good project to use up scraps, as you won’t use very much). I used some vintage navy blue wool my mom gave me, and a variegated hot pink mess I had despaired of ever finding a use for. It actually turned out nicer than I had feared. I used less than an ounce of each. Don’t use superwash wool, the point of superwash wool is that it doesn’t felt.
1 set size 10 DPN’s
1 beer can
Felting materials – either a top-load washing machine, or a sink, some dish soap, and 2 hands.
Gauge: I knitted mine at 19 stitches to 4” and 20 rows to 4”, but it’s not really crucial – mostly, you want the finished item to be larger than your beer can and then you felt it down to fit.
If you’ve never done fair isle before, this is a good starter project, because it’s small and the chart is very easy. Also, since you’re going to felt it, you don’t have to sew in any ends. The really important thing is to keep your floats on the wrong side VERY LOOSE because if they are tight you will wind up with a felted puckery mess.
Hints: When switching colors, pull your knitting to the right. This stretches your stitches apart, and makes it more likely that you will make a nice loose float. Also, when you have a float that goes from one needle to another, when picking up that color, use your pinky finger to press the float down to the knitted fabric – this will keep the float loose (this is my own technique that I just invented while working on this project, maybe it doesn’t work for anyone but me. But I thought I’d throw it out there).
Anyhow, cast on 48 stitches and work the following chart: (this is my very first chart! Isn’t it nice?). Obviously, the white squares are the main color, and the gray ones are the contrast color.
Chart has been fixed, thanks for your patience, everyone. I hope Google will not reformat it again. It is viewable here and should be publicly available: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Q79Bi7RxR2VLsZb3sCmi_4eU1lQYYzGB1JVGO35xE3Y/edit?usp=sharing
Anyway, to continue: After completing the chart, knit one more row in your main color. On the first 3 needles, k1, k2tog, and then work plain. On the fourth needle, just work plain. If you are using 3 dpn’s, then just k1, k2tog then work plain on each needle. Anyway, the point is to decrease by 3 stitches, more or less evenly, however you want to do it.
Now you’ll begin the bottom. On the next row, *k7, k2tog* 5 times. On the following row, *k6, k2tog* 5 times. I bet you’ll never guess what you’ll do on the next row, that’s right *k5, k2tog* 5times. And then k4, and so on. Keep doing that until you have 5 stitches left, cut your yarn, thread it on a tapestry needle, sew it through those 5 stitches and pull them tight.
Ta da! Now you have what should look something like a strange, floppy, elongated, small hat.
See? Also, there is the label of the vintage yarn so you can appreciate its vintageness.
Now you felt it! There are 2 ways to do this, and many tutorials exist on the internets, so I shall keep this brief. If you want to machine felt it, throw it in your washing machine (tying it in a pillowcase or something is a good idea so it doesn’t kill your machine with fluff) with some blue jeans, hot water, and detergent. Check it every couple minutes. When it starts to shrink, try it on the beer can to see if it fits. If it does, stop. If it doesn’t, throw it back in and try again in a minute or 2.
Felting by hand is more labor intensive but kinda fun (and if you’re a returned peace corps volunteer, it’ll bring back pleasant memories of washing your laundry on flat rocks. Ah, good times.) – wash it in hot water with dish detergent (you could also use regular soap, shampoo, whatever), and then agitate it by hand – I usually rub it briskly between my hands for a little bit, and then sort of roll it into a ball and moosh it together, kind of like clay. You will initially be horrified because it will stretch and grow, but keep at it, and it’ll shrink and felt. Eventually. Baking soda is supposed to speed the process, and switching from hot to cold water is also supposed to shock the fibers, so if you get bored, try those. Again, keep the can handy to try the coozy on.
Whichever process you use, once it is the right size, put it on the beer can, make any last-minute adjustments (I pressed down on the bottom so it’ll sit flat, and since the top edge wanted to flare, I kind of pressed it in), and let it dry! Yay! Now it will keep your beer insulated on the hottest days, and look a lot sharper than those foam fish coozies!
Edited to add: We tested this out today and it succesfully kept beer cold in 100 degree temperatures. It kinda worked for a beer bottle as well, although if it were skinnier and longer it would have fit better. So if you want to make it for a beer bottle, add a few rows and either felt it skinnier or lose one of the pattern repeats (although that might make it too skinny). I might come up with a bottle coozy pattern too, I'll let you know!