The Virus shawl pattern has been around for many years and isn’t one of those Covid inspired patterns. The pattern was given the name virus as just like a virus it grows and grows. I have made the pattern twice before, once for myself and once for a friend.
For many years in my stash I had a skein of 2ply mulberry silk yarn. I tried knitting with it once before but it was so fine that I struggled with it. It sat in my stash waiting for the perfect project. After starting another project in similar weight yarn I remembered this yarn in my stash and decided a virus shawl was the perfect project for it.
The virus shawl pattern can be a little tricky as there is some counting and you need to get your crochet hook into the right spot in certain rows. Online I have read that a lot of people have struggled with it. It is one of those patterns you either take to easily or you don’t. Bella Coco has a great Youtube tutorial which I re-watched upon starting this and I do recommend the printed chart of the pattern which you can find online. Once I was familiar again with the pattern I didn’t have to refer to the chart. The pattern just repeats over and over so you can make it as large as you want. I have only used the one colour but you could change colours as much as you like. For the edge I just did a single row of trebles with a single crochet (UK terms) between each cluster section.
Crocheting with 2ply wasn’t as tricky as I thought. It was actually easier to crochet than knit with it. Initially I started this as a project whilst Mr StitchNSew underwent a procedure in hospital as I wanted an easy project to work on which I could pull back if I made a mistake. Working on this took my mind off watching the clock waiting for the nursing staff to call me when it was over. The downside to my job is that I make a terrible family member when I’m on the opposite side of the operating table as I think of every horror situation, I get nervous waiting even for routine procedures. Not long after the procedure we had a trip to the emergency department resulting in a long day sitting in a waiting room and again this shawl got me through it. Once you understand the pattern you can easily put it down and pick it up again. I was counting the stitches after I finished each cluster and of course the times I didn’t count were the times I missed stitches and only found out a row or 2 later when the stitches didn’t add up to the pattern repeat. Crochet is so simple to frog back (rip back) I just placed a removable stitch marker at the point where I made the error and pulled the yarn back to there.
I’m not going to wear this shawl spread out so I didn’t actually bother blocking this but had I it would have become even larger. I’m going to wear it wrapped around my neck. The reason for using this yarn in this project was so I could wear it close around my neck and it wouldn’t bother me. Sadly the reason I haven’t worn my original virus shawl much is that even though it is soft due to my yarn sensitive it still irritates my skin if I get hot under it. I crocheted this as a replacement for my original one which I will now pass on.
Better Homes and Gardens have released the 2021 edition of their annual Knitting & Crochet Collection magazine. Last year I set myself the challenge of making an item out of each years magazine after realising I buy the magazine each year but don’t do anything besides read them. If I didn’t start making items from them then I could no longer buy anymore editions and had to pass on the editions that I had. I have finished my 2nd pattern so can tick 2 editions off my list.
Oui Oui Mon Cheri is from the 2017 edition. The pattern is for a scarf and beanie. I opted only for the scarf. The pattern is a diagonally knit striped scarf using 2 colours 8 ply yarn. The pattern is all in garter stitch (knit stitch every row) so it is very easy to do, a great mindless knitting project. The pattern is created by increasing or decreasing a single stitch at the start of the row and changing colours.
Using various unopened balls of Stylecraft Special DK which is an acrylic yarn from my stash I was able to knit up 3 scarves which I will add into my charity bags this year. I did modify the pattern slightly by changing my colours every 18 rows not 12 rows so I have wider stripes. The pattern has you carry the non working yarn up the side of the scarf between each striped block. I never get a neat finish if I carry my yarn up more than a couple rows so I made the stripes wider and cut the yarn between blocks. The wider blocks meant I had less ends to weave in at the end (I’m a lazy knitter) I knit these one after each other. I won’t lie by the time I finished the last one I was very much over this pattern but it didn’t feel like a chore. I’m sure I will use this pattern again for charity or gifts as it was very easy.
I now have 8 editions in my magazine collection with 6 more to make from. I haven’t set myself a deadline to finish the challenge. I have noticed since I started the challenge I am actually using my magazines more. Before I virtually only read them once at the time I got them and would occasionally flick through the odd one if I was tidying up or if I was board. Now they are all stored on my bookshelf together and I am regularly taking them all out and looking through them. I have post it notes on potential patterns. Often I am picking them up before search Ravelry for ideas. I had no hesitation buying this years copy as I know I will use it, in fact one pattern has already caught my eye.
In my recent post about my reflections on my Digital Declutter 12 months on I mentioned that a habit I have developed is idle online screen time when I get home or later at night. Some of that screen time is productive reading blogs, emails, quick Facebook/Instagram check but once I have done all the “essentials” I’m just mindlessly scrolling. I’m often in front of the tv at the time and not actually focusing on the tv but my phone. I can’t just sit and watch tv I need to be doing something with my hands at the same time. If I’m crafting I’m still focused on the tv but if I’m on my phone I can’t focus on both things at once. In recent months I have been doing a lot of knitting on my Apple Core blanket and although that pattern is really easy and I have memorised it I do need to focus a little bit on it in parts. If I’m tired I lose track of where I am in the pattern if I put it down for even a couple of minutes. I have pulled many cores off my needles and started again after a memory blank forgetting what row I’m up to. Last week I decided I needed some autopilot knitting. Simple knitting that I can do without having to focus on stitch count or rows. Even late at night when I’m tired I can knit away and not play with my phone.
I have been knitting wildlife rescue pouches for WIRES for years but to be honest I haven’t had any of my needles for over 12 months. Before that I had always had at least one pouch on my needles. The way I knit pouches has changed over the years. I started knitting individual sides and joining them at the end then moved on to knitting them magic loop with a 3 needle bind off but in recent years I have knit them the most mindless way using Judy’s Magic Cast On and only having one end to weave in at the top. Pouches were the mindless knitting I needed to combat idle online screen time. Saturday I set myself the task of casting on a pouch.
I’m embarrassed to say it had been so long since I last cast one on that I couldn’t remember how many stitches I used or how to do Judy’s Magic Cast On. Luckily Very Pink Knits came to my rescue with her YouTube tutorial. After watching that my brain remembered and it was just a matter of working out how many stitches and how long to leave my long tail cast on. I had the number 72 so that was a starting point for my number of stitches. The way I was taught to work out the cast on tail is to wrap the yarn around the needle for the amount of stitches you need. What I forgot the first time I cast on was that with Judy’s cast on your only taking half your stitches from the tail yarn. The tail yarn I left was way too long after my 72 stiches as I only needed enough for 36 stitches. I’m a bit frugal with my yarn so I started again. after knitting a few rows I thought 72 looked too big so I took it off and started again with only 64 stitches. After knitting for a couple of centimeters I measured the pouch and it was only 16cm wide not 18cm so I started again. To be honest I lost count at how many times I started this pouch but I did discover I can do the magic cast on at 7.30 pm in front of the tv and actually have it work. 72 is my magic number. Although it does seem big at first once you get knitting it is the correct amount. I think I was knitting this until after 9pm which was great as I wasn’t playing on my phone but enjoying the tv I was watching whilst still having something in my hands.
I wanted to get back into knitting WIRES so I’m glad I finally have a pouch on my needles again, I have missed knitting them. I like the fact I can be productive with my knitting even late at night. It is helping to combat my idle online screen time. I’m still going to continue working on my apple core but I can do that earlier in the day or at times when I can knit and focus more.
This was one of my 2020 projects, I’m still getting my way through blogging about them all.
On the eve of 2018 I had a sudden urge to make a temperature blanket in 2018. If you’re not familiar with the concept of temperature blankets they are blanket in which the colour combination is is based on the weather temperature. Each row represents a daily temperature reading for each day of the year. At the time Mr StitchNSew was recording the daily temperature and I thought it was fun project that we could do together.
December 31st I decided we would do it. I went to my stash of Stylecraft Special DK yarn grabbing all the colours I had and told Mr StitchNSew to work out his colour chart from that. He chose 11 colours with each colour representing 3 degrees of tempreature. For example if it was 25 one day and 27 the next day I would use the same colour for 2 rows but if it was 25 and 28 I would swap colours each row. I used a bit of scrap cardboard to hold my colour key chart.
For each month I printed a chart that he would write the temperature each day. I went all guns blazing on the blanket for a few weeks but I then kind of came to a sudden halt. I got a little bit overwhelmed by it and from memory work was getting busy so I stopped. I think I had too many yarns coming off it at once as I was trying not to cut the yarn between rows. At the time my craft area was a mess and I had no room to really work on this. I think it lived on the lounge chair for a while before getting moved to a wardrobe and finally packed for the move. During packing I came across the rest of printed blank charts and put them aside knowing I would finish it one day.
Roll forward to September 2020. I unpacked all my yarn and came across this WIP and the yarn for it. At that stage I had started my Apple Core blanket which I am making with my leftover Stylecraft Special DK yarn. It was motivation to finish this blanket so that I could mix the leftovers in my Apple Core evenly, I didn’t want a heap of blue/green pieces. By chance Mr StitchNSew still had the temperatures recorded on the computer so filled out the remaining charts for me. This is crocheted using the V stitch. I did have to YouTube how to do the stitch again as I couldn’t remember from 2 years earlier. Once I started this again it flew off my hook and I finished it in a matter of weeks. Space wise I had a better set up. I had my bag of yarn on the chair next to me so I could easily reach for my colours. I had space on the lounge next to me to place my colour chart. I was looking 2 rows ahead to sew what colours were coming up. I didn’t make this in the traditional way in that I didn’t start each row from where I ended the previous row. If I was going to use the same colour in 2 rows time I cheated and started the next row from the opposite end so I could pick up my original colour for the 2nd row. It just made some of the side stitches look a bit un neat but overall it didn’t really make that much of an impact.
To separate each month we decided on a row of white. From the start I didn’t know how much of each colour I would need or even if I had enough yarn. Back then in my mind the solution was to buy more yarn if I ran out. I did run out of one colour at the end of October so in my stash I found another colour which hadn’t been used in the blanket and substituted that for the final 2 months. I didn’t know anywhere local that sold this yarn as I normally get it from the UK. I had so much momentum going on I didn’t really want to stop it to source it from somewhere local or wait for it to be posted over. I also considered the cost factor of having 1 ball flown over, I’m trying to reduce my yarn stash so couldn’t buy other items to justify my order like I would do in the past. The substitution made no difference and really it isn’t noticeable. You can see all the colours I used on my Ravelry page.
I hadn’t even thought of the border until I was nearing the end. Using white as I had heaps left I opted just for a single row of UK double crochet and then a row of trebles. I wanted the focus to be on the blanket and not the border. I am really happy with how it turned out. Yes it took a lot longer than originally planned but that doesn’t matter. It has been washed and put away to use this winter. The finished size was 78″ x 38″ which is a nice size for the lounge or for Mr StitchNSew to have on the bed as he gets cold.
I am unlikely to make another one as Mr StitchNSew no longers records the daily temps. This was fun when I had the time to actually work on it. Seeing the stripes was really interesting. I enjoyed working from my “pattern” charts ticking each day off as I went. It was worth it in the end.
Last month in the lead up to Christmas Bendigo Woollen Mills released a couple of their face washer patterns as free patterns. You had the choice of either a knitted or crocheted version, I download both but decided on the crocheted version PT 8419 to use for the face washers for this years charity bags. The pattern has 4 patterns within it. Each pattern looks a little different but they are all roughly the same size. The patterns are still available on the website if you click the above link.
Originally I thought I might try doing 3 of the 4 patterns. Urchin was the first I tried. It is really simple to remember and really mindless crochet. I tried a couple of the others but I didn’t feel the same rhythm as I was making them. My tension didn’t feel right so I decided to just stick the Urchin pattern for all 3. They are each made in the recommended 8ply cotton from Bendigo Woollen Mills that I had in my stash. I still have some of the pink but I have now used nearly all of the blue and lilac in various projects over the years.
These took no time to make. As I mentioned the patterns are easy to follow, even the others that I didn’t try this time. Each pattern only has 2 rows, a set up row then the row which you continue on for the rest of the face washer. These are really good waiting time patterns, patterns you can make whilst you’re waiting at the doctors or waiting for a train. You can just put them down when you need to and pick them up again to do a few stitches. I’m always thinking ahead so I might make these again next year or even to add to gifts this year. I know how quickly I can make them so they are good last minutes gifts.
I seemed to have spent more times knitting and crocheting this year which really is no surprise given that knitting and crochet is more portable and easy to pick up and do a bit when you can. I have really enjoyed my yarn projects this year. It has helped calm during stressful times such as the house move and Mr StitchNSew’s hospital admission. Yarn in my hands made me feel more at ease.
This year my knitting skills developed a little more. On basic garter stitch knitting I learnt how to pick up dropped stitches, in previous years I would pull the project off my needles and start again. I never posted it on here but I knit a face cloth following a printed colour chart. I did it as a test knit of the chart to see if I can use it in a double knitting project. I’m going to play around with the chart a bit before I use it in the project I have in mind. I set myself the challenge of working my way through all the editions of the Better Homes & Gardens Knitting and Crochet collection magazines I have in my magazine stash. I’ve actually now made 2 items (yet to share my second project here) Knitting the baby vest was another way of how my knitting skills have increased this year. Understanding the pattern and adapting it to be knit as one piece is something I’ve never done before, I’m slightly proud of that. With setting myself the challenge I found I am looking at the magazines more as I’m going to them first when looking for ideas on items to make.
My yarn tastes became more apparent this year as I took notice of the knitted and crocheted items I chose to wear and when. For items close to my skin like cowls and shawls that go directly near my neck I need to have cotton or silk yarns. There are some amazing wool and acrylic yarns out there but I can’t wear them due to my sensitivity issues. I do have a lot of lovely yarns in my stash which I don’t want to get rid of but I will have to really think about the project first before I use them. Future yarn purchases will be of those I can wear at any time. I did acquire yarn this year (birthday gift from Mr StitchNSew) but for the most part I’m working my way through my stash. I’ve got tubs of yarn to get through so it will keep my busy for some time yet.
Charity making was again something I did this year. With the exception of the nest I finished off for our overnight guest my focus this year was making items for my charity bags. I’ve already started on making items for my 2021 bags. Using yarns from my stash I’m sticking to simple patterns, I’m hoping to add in a couple of other knitted or crocheted items that I didn’t add in this year. Next year I’m hoping to get more items done for WIRES as I miss making items for wildlife rescue.
If I had to pick one favourite project it would be my Purl Crush shawl. It seemed to fly off my needles quickly. The colours I picked on a whim looking through my stash one day, together they look so bright and cheery. It was my project to focus on whilst I was packing. They day I finished it was a bittersweet moment. I was so happy that it was finished but I enjoyed knitting it so much I didn’t actually want it to end.
Looking ahead to 2021 I only have 1 toy I want to crochet apart from that I have no set yarn plans. I’m just going to go with the flow and see what projects I feel like trying. Even if I don’t get to make all the ideas I’m thinking of for my charity bags isn’t a big deal. I still want knitting and crochet to be my relaxing moments.
It seems it just isn’t summer unless I start making a large yarn project. It is a habit I have and it was certainly the case last summer when I started this poncho.
Ok for the technical details as I always forget to add this information in. The pattern is Emelyn Cowl Neck Poncho which is available on Ravelry in the size Adult. The yarn used is Stylecraft Special Aran in Empire and Graphite. I used a 6.0mm hook.
Wait a minute cowl neck poncho where is the cowl? The cowl is last section of the poncho. It is crocheted as a flat rectangle in rows which you join to the neckline each row as you go along until you come full circle back to the start. I originally started making the cowl section but my stitch count was off and I ended up with a rather massive odd shape that kept growing as I crocheted it. I was the issue not the pattern instructions. That was back in April. I ripped back the cowl and left it until I was in a better headspace after the move. I picked it up this month and had an honest think about it. Even though the yarn is a really soft acrylic with my yarn sensitive I knew it would end up irritating me if I got hot underneath it so I opted to leave it off. I actually like it without the cowl. The neck isn’t too wide and I’ll wear it with a cowl around my neck anyway so I will still get the coverage.
As soon as I saw this pattern I instantly knew I wanted to make it. A lot of ponchos are joined at the side. This one isn’t which was a big drawcard. I walk with a crutch and I need my arms fully free so that I can swing the crutch without restrictions. I find ponchos that are joined at the side restrict me. This poncho gives me the coverage over my shoulders but allows me to move my arm as wide as I need to.
My contrasting colour blocks are a little different to the pattern. I under estimated how much contrasting colour I needed. This is crocheted as one piece with the shoulder section done in the contrasting colour as one block of colour. As I was doing the colour block near the top of the front I realised I wouldn’t have enough yarn so I only did a small section (counting how many rows I did) then repeated the same colour combinations on the back. If I hadn’t said anything you would never have known. I kind of like just the small contrasting colour blocks.
It isn’t 100% to the pattern but I’m really happy with it. Without the cowl I know I will get a lot of wear from it next winter. It is very soft and squishy. I’ll wear it to work with my work jumper under it and a cowl or shawl. This poncho will give me the coverage over my shoulders and lower back without restricting my movements so is a winner. I have plans to make this again in a cotton (yarn fairies are posting it as we speak) The cowl in the cotton will be more wearable for me.
We have had an air fryer for years. If you are not familiar with them an air fryer is a kitchen appliance which fries food without food without having to submerse it in oil. The food sits in a wire basket and all oil that comes out of the food get is captured into a basket below. We use ours several times a week as I can put on dinner and walk away knowing it is cooking safely. One draw back is that sometimes oil can leak from the bottom of it. Our air fryer lives on our kitchen bench due to how often I use it. When we moved I decided to make a mat for it to sit on to protect the bench top it sits on.
The outside of the air fryer doesn’t get hot but I still wanted a material that was heat resistant as after all it is an electrical appliance. I raided my stash for a couple of balls of wool. The yarn I used I know is machine washable so I can toss the mat into the washing machine when it got dirty. I decided I would use the technique of double knitting so it would have the thickness to protect the bench plus I like double knitting and it was an excuse to do it. The yarn I used was 8ply so with the 2 layers it was like 16ply in thickness. You can get really creative with double knitting and do patterns but I kept it simple and just had one colour on the front and one colour on the back.
Believe it or not but there are no air fryer mat patterns on Ravelry! It seems no one else has been that crazy to knit one so I had to just make up a pattern. Double knitting is worked in pairs of stitches that you count as one stitch. It can be a little confusing but you knit the first coloured yarn and purl the second colour for every stitch you do. I consider Sockmatician the guru of double knitting. He has a YouTube clip showing how to cast on the stitches in alternative colours so that the cast on looks clean and seamless. For this using 4mm needles on a long cable I cast on 50 pairs of stitches (50 in the blue and 50 in the pink) I love how the ends look. I didn’t take a photo of the sides but I followed another of Sockmatician’s tutorials and did a slip stitch edge. By slipping the last pair of stitches per row in the way demonstrated in the clip the edges looked neater with the colours staying consistent. I just knitted the mat until it looked long enough. To cast off I did kitchener graft. It took a while but the end result was worth it. It has also gave me practice doing the graft as I need all the practice I can with it.
I’m currently knitting a second mat so we can have one in use and one in the wash. Once it is finished I’ll take photos of the sides to show the slip stitch edge and show you what happens if you don’t twist the yarns when you are doing the slip stitch.
I love Stylecraft yarn. It is my favourite acrylic yarn to work with. It is so soft and is easy to work with. After making a few blankets and other projects with it I have a large amount of scraps. I have finally unpacked all my yarn and realised I have 2 bags full of yarn scraps. I had been keeping them aside to make a project but I hadn’t really decided on one.
I searched on Ravelry for ideas. I didn’t really want to do a crochet blanket. I love the look of scrappy crochet blankets but in my mind I wanted a knitted blanket. I came across the apple core blanket. It is a knitted version of the traditional apple core quilt block. You knit individual blocks then join them together. I saved it in my favourites as I was looking for ideas but I kept going back to look at it. When I start doing that it is an indicator that I really like something.
After printing the pattern I spent a couple of afternoons/evenings working on it. The pattern is really easy to follow. At the most you have 18 stitches on your needle so these knit up pretty fast. If you’re a beginner this project is perfect as you learn how to increase and decrease stitches. With 18 stitches maximum if you make a mistake it is easy to pull it off your needles and restart again. The pattern gives instructions on how to do a sewn bind off, it is like a mini kitchener stitch but you’re only taking stitches off one needle. It is really easy to do and gives the bind off a nice look. To join them I’m doing a simple whip stitch from either the bind off tail or cast on tail. The tails are in the middle of the curve so I am slipping them through the back of the along one side so that I can join from a corner of the block.
You can either make all the blocks and join them at the end or join them after making each one. Just to get a feel of it I joined them after knitting them but from now on I’ll do them in chunks. I’ll knit up heap then spend an afternoon joining them. I’m using 4mm needles which I don’t have many of. I use 4mm needles a lot as most of my yarn is 8ply weight. This is going to be an ongoing project which may take me months or even years. I didn’t really want to have a pair of my 4mm circulars out of action for that long. I tried knitting them on straight needles but because I’m not used to knitting on straights anymore they felt long and awkward. In my needle stash I found a mini 4mm circular. It is perfect for this project as I won’t be using it for anything else. The first couple of blocks I knitted felt a bit strange as the needle tips are really short. I found knitting continental style was more comfortable on the small needles.
Originally I was going to use a mix of DK and Aran scraps as I have both in the Stylecraft brand. Aran is a 10ply and the blocks weren’t the same size when I attempted one. When it came to joining them to the other blocks it would be hard to fit them in. I don’t have a lot of Aran scraps so I will use them in another project at some point. I have no idea what size this blanket will eventually be. At this point I’m kind of starting from the corner out. This is my long term relaxing knit project. I’ll work on it when I want some mindless knitting. I might not pick it up for weeks or months but that’s ok. I don’t know if you would call it funny or how best to explain it but sometimes my yarn or fabric stash stresses me out a bit but once I decide what I am going to do with it I become a bit more relaxed. Crafting is meant to be my relaxing time but I can get overwhelmed by all the tools or stashes that comes along with it. It is fun going to into your stash and finding a project it from it but I also like having a plan a for it too.
As I was nearing the end of my Lucky Dip shawl I started going through my boxes of yarn trying to find my next project. As my yarn is still packed I don’t have any list of projects. I know what some of the yarn I have is but to be honest I really don’t remember what I still have.
I came across 2 50g balls of Papyrus by Fibra Natura. From vague memory I think I possibly brought it to make a gift for someone but to be honest I can’t remember. One ball had the tag removed so it looked like I had started something but I don’t have a clue what. The yarn is a cotton/silk blend and felt so soft and squishy. I decided I wanted to make something for myself as I knew it would be ok so close to my skin. I have yarn sensitivity so sadly a lot of yarns I can’t have directly on my skin.
I searched Ravelry and found the Garter Eyes Cowl I really like the look of the pattern and it used the yarn weight I had which is a light weight 3ply. The pattern only calls for 1 ball but I decided to use the 2 and just make it longer. It is knit as a flat piece on the bias from one corner until you reach a certain amount of stiches, once you reach the length you want you then decrease to form the other corner. Lastly you join the 2 ends together. It doesn’t actually tell you the method to join the 2 ends so I did just double crochet. I used 3mm needles and tried to keep my stitches loose so it would drape nice at the end. The pattern isn’t hard but in all honesty it took me 4 attempts before I got it right. The first 2 times I messed up my stitch count along the first corner section. Finally the pattern clicked in my head but on my 3rd attempt I missed the last lot of eyelet stitches as you start to work the main body of the piece. Had I not messed up some many times I would’ve easily finished this in a week.
I can loop it twice around my neck and it sits comfortably. I don’t feel like it is choking me at all. Depending on how it sits you can see the join section but I’m not bothered at all. I love the colour. It will go with a lot of my wardrobe (not that I really colour coordinate things) It is so light weight that I know I will get a lot of wear out of it, if I do get too hot and need to take it off it isn’t heavy or bulky to carry.
I used my good yarn on me decluttering some from my stash. I have a wearable piece for me which I know will get worn a lot. I call that a winning project all round.