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Mix It Up Mug Rugs

Use all your random bits of yarn to create custom colors.

Laura Lough Jul 3, 2024 - 7 min read

Mix It Up Mug Rugs Primary Image

The custom warp for these mug rugs comes directly out of your stash—whatever you‘ve got. Photos by Matt Graves

Whether they‘re leftovers that are too short for a new project, or unfortunate purchases you later regret, stash yarns without purpose take up space and can bring a weaver‘s spirit down. Designer Laura Lough tackles this problem by combining all those fibers into yarn that‘s magically new and wonderful. Here she is to explain how she does it.

Mix It Up Mug Rugs by Laura Lough

My stash is full of yarns without a purpose: all the odds and ends left over from completed projects, yarns bought on sale (but without a plan), and yarns in colors that looked better on the website. I designed this project to use even the smallest amounts of yarn in nearly any weight, fiber, or color. It’s also easy to scale the project to create full-sized rugs using the same technique.

A specially made weft that uses any yarn in your stash makes this project unique. I prefer to use natural fibers in my work, and those fibers make up most of my stash. However, I have also used blends that include synthetics without a problem. When planning a project, I gather colors I like without much attention to weight or fiber content. For this project, I pulled out lots of blues, greens, and purples, trying to get a mix of light and dark shades. Even if my overall goal is rich, dark colors, I find that including some highlights makes the dark colors pop more. Colors that you might not like on their own often look great when toned down or brightened up by other colors.

After gathering the yarn, find a space where you can spread out—preferably away from kittens. Organize your colors in a pleasing pattern. I usually follow the rainbow order, which in the case of these mug rugs meant purple, blue, green, blue, purple on repeat. Put each color in its own section—it’s fine if there is overlap.

Select about 6 strands of yarn from the first section of colors for a thick bundle. Use this bundle to work a daisy or crochet chain using your fingers, as you would chain a warp before beaming. The chain doesn’t need to be tight but should be consistent and comfortable for your fingers to create. After about 12", choose a yarn strand to drop and pick up a strand from the next color section, overlapping the new and old strands for a chain stitch or two before dropping the old one. Continue adding new strands to the bundle whenever an old one runs out and/or you desire a change. The resulting chain will gradually transition from one color section to the next. You can make the color changes as slow or fast as you want. Gradual color transitions will result in four mug rugs, each at a different place in the rainbow. Shorter transitions will result in more of the rainbow in each mug rug. Create at least 12 yards of chained weft, as each mug rug requires approximately 3 yards of chain.

A word about yarn weights: I often keep a variety of yarn weights and fibers in my bundle at all times. When I drop a thin strand, I’ll replace it with another so the overall size and feel of the chain stay consistent. A bit of change in the thickness of your chain won’t be a problem in the finished weaving and will add to the “scrappy” look—just don’t let the chain vary so much that it no longer works with the sett of the project or makes the rug too lumpy to set a mug on!

Once the chain is finished, figure out how much can comfortably fit on your rag shuttle. Starting at the beginning of the chain, wrap it onto a rag shuttle until the shuttle is full but not so thick that it won’t fit through the loom’s shed. Cut the chain and tie a knot at its beginning. Now, take the chain off the shuttle and measure it. Cut the rest of the daisy chain into sections that are the same length. While measuring and cutting the chain, tie a knot at the beginning of each section and keep the sections in order. If you won’t be using them immediately, label them to keep track of the order. Wind the first section back onto the shuttle, starting with the knot, and begin weaving with the unknotted end. Repeat with the other chains in order.

Four coasters woven in shades of blue with deep red.Use Laura‘s method of combining stash yarns to weave coasters in custom colorways—for your own table, or as gifts.

Project at a Glance and PDF Download

Visit the Handwoven library or log in below to access the PDF download for the Mix It Up Mug Rugs, available to Handwoven magazine subscribers.

STRUCTURE Plain weave.
EQUIPMENT 2- or 4-shaft loom, 5" weaving width; 12-dent reed; 1 shuttle; 1 rag shuttle.
Warp: 8/4 cotton rug warp (1,600 yd/lb; Maysville), Velvet, 140 yd. Note: Laura selected a warp color that went well with the stash yarns she wanted to use; pick a warp color that coordinates with your chosen yarns.
Weft: 8/4 cotton rug warp, Velvet, 10 yd. Assorted scrap yarns in any weight, color, and fiber.

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