teaching sewing confidence, tip by tip

Monday 2 March 2015

Knitted Tray Tute - A Great Gift Idea

Think of words you can put in front of tray: vanity; bits & bobs; candy; sweets; cosmetic; accessory; cutlery; letter; nail polish; ribbon; pencil; desk; organiser; make-up; storage; essentials and lots, lots more.

However, you say it, whatever you put in it, everyone can always use a tray.

Ever thought of making your own?  How about making them as gifts, stacking several sizes together or filling them with goodies for British Mother's Day coming up in less than three weeks or Easter on 5 April this year?

I love to knit them - that way I can choose my own dimensions, yarns, trims and colours and today I'm sharing with you how I do it.

Knit Your Own Tray
(finished size approx 8.5" x 8.5" x 3")

For this tray, I'm using a ball of Isaac Mizrahi's Lexington Craft yarn sold exclusively at Michael's  (don't you just love him on Project Runway All Stars?).  All the colourways are named after Manhattan neighbourhoods off Lexington Ave, how appropriate for me?!!!, and this one's Stuyvesant, I'm loving it.

Yarn details:
1 skein of Lexington Craft Yarn or equivalent - you'll use every last bit of the skein so don't go leave long tail ends or make your tray larger unless you don't mind buying more!
Weight: Super Bulky (6)
Contents: 85% acrylic, 15% wool
Skein Weight 4.93 oz/140 g
Yardage: 69 yd/63 m
Knitting Gauge: 7 sts - 10 rows = 4" (10 cm)
A small amount of British Double Knitting/ US Light Worsted (3) in a matching colour to join finished seams

Tools and Notions:
I used 8.0 mm, US - 11 knitting needles 
NB: the recommended needle for this yarn is 12.75 mm/17 US but using a small needle gives a denser knit which in turn makes a firmer and more stable storage tray/basket
Row counter or pen & paper to keep track of your progress
Super large-eyed finishing needle

Required Stitches:
Cast on and Cast off and British Moss/US Seed stitch.
NB: The pattern is worked in a stitch that has different names on either side of the Atlantic, in Britain we call it moss stitch and in the US it's called seed stitch.  Confusion can arise due to a variation stitch based on this original stitch known as a double moss stitch in Britain but  in the US called, you guessed it, moss stitch!

My tension is approx 9 stitches and 19 rows to 4" (10 cm).  
If your tension is looser you'll want to use a smaller needle as a looser tension won't give your work the firmness required for the walls to stand up on your tray/basket.  Also, it's likely you won't have enough yarn in 1 skein to finish the project if you work more loosely than this.

The Base (make 1):
With 8 mm/11 US needles cast on 19 stitches.  
Work in British moss/US seed stitch
Row 1: Knit 1, *Purl 1, Knit 1, repeat from * to end.
Repeat this row until you have knitted a square.(approx 28 rows)
Cast off in moss/seed stitch.

The Walls (make 4):
With 8 mm/11 US needles cast on 19 stitches
Work in British moss/US seed stitch
Row 1: Knit 1, *Purl 1, Knit 1, repeat from * to end.
Repeat for a further 8 rows (9 rows in total).
Cast off in moss/seed stitch.

Sew all ends into finished pieces and block pieces if you like to do that kind of thing - I didn't bother,

All finished seams are visible on the outside of the tray and seams are sewn together using a backstitch.  

internal seams
external seams

Ensure you join walls with the cast off edge of each creating the top open edge of the tray.

cast off edge
The cast off edge (above) creates a cleaner finished edge for the top of the tray in preference to the cast on edge (below).

cast on edge
Sew each wall to the base and sew each side wall to the next side wall to complete the tray.

After completion, I sprayed the tray with water and shaped/straightened walls as required then left to dry.

How To Vary The Size:
It's easy to make more knitted trays and even knitted baskets using the same method, just adapt how many stitches you cast on for your base and walls and how many rows you knit.  Keep an eye on your tension too, remember you want to create quite a firm knitted fabric so try smaller needles than usual for your chosen yarn to achieve best results.  Whatever size tray/basket you create you always need an odd/uneven number of stitches to create the alternating British moss/US seed stitch pattern.

Here're a couple of others I've made too:

Above is a basket knitted using two British DK/Light Worsted weight yarns at the same time - one pink and one purple and the walls are square as is the base - just knit 5 square pieces and join together.

And this one is again knitted with two British DK/Light Worsted weight yarns together, one cream and one brown and then the last five rows of each wall are knitted with Sirdar Foxy (Mink) bought years ago in England.  The fluffiness added weight to the basket walls so I inserted a 'cut to height' wooden kebab/bbq skewer inside the four corner seams for extra support.

If you do make a knitted tray or basket using my tute I'd love to see so please share via one of these links

Thanks to Michaels for showing some fb love :D

updated 12 June 2015:
and going all fangirl over this IG like from the man himself!!!


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  1. What a beaut idea and some of those trays are a work of art. Love them all!

  2. What a clever useful idea. Your color choices are wonderful too. This is going in the memory bank!

  3. Thanks for sharing your awesome knitted tray. I will definitely give it a go. What fun!

  4. Very cute basket!!! I like it much!

  5. that looks great - I have some super chunky at home though not as colourful a yarn - love it so bright and fun. Might have to stop off at the shop on the way home!

  6. They look great and you can't have too many little baskets! I especially like the fluffy one!

  7. Great basket idea! Thanks for sharing.

  8. How cute that would be done up to match nursery colors for a baby! Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty - we hope to see you again next week. :) #TGIF

    Life With Lorelai

  9. Makes me want to dig out the knitting needles, Chris. I especially like the one with the Sirdar Foxy (Mink).

  10. That is so cool - I want to make one right now! Actually my daughter is having a baby. These would look too cute in her baby's room!

  11. So cute! The yarn you used it's stunning! I love all!
    Have a wonderful week!
    Hugs and love from Portugal,
    Ana Love Craft

  12. Thank you for the pattern and those baskets look so robust and colourful

  13. What pretty trays and baskets. I love the colours of the yarn that you used.

  14. What a great idea, perfect for holding stash or projects too. Im not familiar with this yarn, but loving the great colourway. Thanks for the pattern xx

  15. They would be great in my stash room... ahem... of course I mean craft room, Love the yarn that you used but I especially love the fluffy one

  16. These trays look great. I LOVE the fluffy one :)

  17. So clever and colourful! Love the fluffy one too :)


  18. I think you get addicted to making these, they are wonderful. I love the colourful craft yarn and the fluffy one would perfect for make up.
    Ali xx

  19. Thank you so much for the tutorial. I'm only a very basic knitter but I think I could give this a try - the trays are delightful!

    Pauline (Rutland, UK)

  20. Vary nice tutorial on the baskets and I'm thinking it would be a nice gift for a beginner to have the basics. Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop! I hope you’ll join us again next week!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick

  21. Chrissie, I love the baskets! I especially love the one with the fun fur trim. I am definitely going to make some.

    Lucky you living in the city. I'm a Jersey girl but I love the city!

  22. Thanks for all the helpful tips. Very beautiful baskets you have made!

  23. Hope you can stop by Fabulous Friday again and share more of your very unique posts... ll oved the knitted tray that you shared at my last party http://www.simplenaturedecorblog.com/fabulous-friday-party29/
    Thanks Maria

  24. This is such a neat basket! And color options are endless. Great idea!
    I would love if you shared this at our Yarn Fanatic Party - http://eyeloveknots.blogspot.com/2015/06/yarn-fanatic-party-39-chalk-full-of.html.

  25. Very cute tute and you're right, a great gift idea! Love the idea of specialty yarn embellishments and this would also be great for using up yarn scraps. Thanks again for sharing!!

  26. Love the tray and made it using the same Yarn. Did you stiffen your tray up at all? Mine looks great but I was thinking of using something to make the bottom more rigid and so more mobile. Any suggestions???

    1. Oh you made one yourself, fantastic :D No I didn't stiffen the yarn and it works great but as you say you couldn't carry it around. I did wonder what wool is like if you spray it with starch, never tried it and don't know if/how it would work but it's one thought I've had. I have made the trays with string and with plastic bags and these are naturally more rigid. There's a pic of a basket in the post with a fur top and as I mentioned I used wooden skewers to strengthen the corners. I've wondered about gluing card or cork board onto the base too but then it wouldn't be washable - maybe use velcro to attach it? Again these are all just thoughts. If you come up with any ideas I'd love to hear them :D - Chris

  27. It's exactly what I was looking for to make my friend a Xmas box of goodys


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Chris Dodsley

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