Yule gift-giving works like this in my family: everyone gets all of the kids something, but the adults draw names at Thanksgiving (which is in October, because we're in Canada), and then get the person whose name they drew presents. We have a dollar amount limit, but it gets broken regularly for "stocking stuffer" things. Basically, you spend the dollar limit getting what the person asks for, and then... top up a little if you find something you know they'll think is cool.
This year I drew my brother Steve's name, which was great because I'm always seeing stuff I know he'll like, but I never seem to get his name. He likes the band The Descendents, and passed me along a link to their 2014 Christmas sweater last year. We joked about making a handmade version that was less Christmas-y, and then the idea just sort of dropped.
I forgot all about it until I was packing up the other stocking stuffer things I'd got him. There wasn't enough time to make a whole sweater, but I figured I could dig out some sock yarn from the stash and make a coffee cup cuff.
I copied the motifs from the Descendents Holiday Mug. If you zoom in and squint a lot, the stitches actually work out — for once it seems that a fake knit design was created by someone who at least understands how knitting works. Steve likes knitted fabric with small stitches, so I automatically reached for my 2mm needles and worked out everything else from there.
Sock yarn on 2mm needles works out to a dense but thin fabric, and I wanted something reversible — because who wants to fuss with right and wrong sides when you just want to insulate a coffee mug? — so I went with double knitting. Double knitting carries a risk in that the method creates very wide, short stitches, so any motifs you knit in also come out wider and shorter than they would appear mapped out on, say, graph paper or cross stitch.
At first I just did a sample square of Milo to find out my gauge and to see how bad the distortion was. The square turned out with Milo looking like Milo, but it was enough work that I decided to just finish it off properly and make it part of the gift.
After that, it was a matter of doing some math, checking various free coffee cuff patterns for measurements, and knitting the cuff itself. I sewed the button onto the edge of the cuff so it could be closed with either side facing out, and made the button loop long enough to accommodate different cup sizes — if Steve wants to put it around a narrower cup, like a take-away paper one, he can just wrap the loop around the button a few times until it fits snugly.
The sample square was too small to work well as a coaster, so I looped a fabric-covered hair elastic onto it and made it a tree ornament.
Coffee cup cuffs are usually considered quick gifts, but this one took around eight hours. It was fun working through the planning and execution, though, so I think it was worth it.