Knitting To Combat Online Screen Time

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.


Knitted WIRES Pouches

I have been knitting the outer pouches for WIRES for a number of years. The outer pouches need to be made from 100% wool so that the animals once placed in cloth pouch linings can still breathe inside this outer pouch. A rescue career only goes through about one of these outer pouches a day per animal as opposed to the 5-6 they go through of the inner pouch linings.

I could never find set a knitting pattern only guidelines on finished size and needle size so over the years I have been knitting these various ways. I started by knitting 2 squares and seaming them along the 2 sides and bottom to make up the pouch until I realised if I knitted one big rectangle and folded it in half I wouldn’t have to do a bottom seam only side seams. Over the years the way I do my seams has changed I have tried whip stitch, blanket stitch, backstitch and in recent times I have been crocheting my seams together with a chain stitch. I have a tendency to knit my rectangles and once the piece is off my needles place it in a bag waiting to be seamed. I only remember to the seams when I’m due to send of some of the cloth linings off and scramble to see if any of the outer bags are complete. I thought there has to be a better way.

Over the last couple of months I have been doing a lot of knitting and searching out knitting patterns when I started thinking about the way the pouches are constructed and wondered if they can be done on circular needles. I did a quick google search and it turns out yes someone has now put instructions on how to do them on circular needles!

I had some cable needles in my stash but unfortunately they were too big (I didn’t know about the magic loop method) Once I cast on my stitches I couldn’t easily join them in the round as my cable was too long and my needles kept getting in the way. I went to Morris and Sons to see if they had smaller cables. They suggested I try a 40cm Knit Pro one with smaller length needles

The needles are so tiny only measuring just over 6cm from the cable connection point. The shop assistant warned some knitter’s don’t like using them as they are so very short. This is when she mentioned the magic loop method and demonstrated it for me. I decided to try the small needles and cable and turn to magic loop using my existing cables if it didn’t work.

Once you cast on your stitches it looks like it won’t fit around to make the loop easily but remembering knitting stretches and these are tiny needle it works. There looks like there is a small little gap when you join your loop but they that closes up once you get into your second round.

When I knitted my pouches previously I knitted over my tail end in the second row so it was one less end to weave in at the finish. You can do the same thing with this method. Even though your working on a small cable and shorter needles it isn’t fiddly. I like the feel of it in my hands. Every so often you need to slide the work around the cable when you feel like your starting to pull the stitches, that is easy to do and you get in the habit of regularly doing it even before it starts to pull.

The reason I decided to try circular needles was so I only had one seam to do at the end which was the bottom seam to close the pouch off. The amazing shop assistant suggested I could do a 3 needle bind off which avoid having to do a bottom seam. I couldn’t believe it I could actually make a pouch in one hit with no additional seams at the end!

Comparing the 2 methods of making the pouches the circular needles are defiantly the method I am using now. I must admit previously I was probably making my pouches a little large as I wasn’t sure how much they would come in once my seams were done. With straight needles I occasionally loose stitches or gain stitches the rectangles are not always straight therefore once seamed sometimes looks misshapen.

With no side seams or bottom seam they are much lighter and less bulkier. The top of my pouch has curled a little and just reading the instructions now it says to purl so many rows at the start I’m guess that would so stop the curl. To be honest I am probably not going to do that. One of the reasons why I love knitting pouches is that you can go on auto pilot and you only have to measure once you know it is coming to the length you need. The curl is only small and doesn’t really make that much of impact.

Pouches on circular needles is a life changer for me. I am actually doing more knitting of them now as I can pick up the needles and do a few stitches any time I have free. I don’t have to worry about finishing at row or turning my work. One thing I did find was it was easier to cast on my stitches using the cable as one needle and using the 3rd needle as a second needle to cast on. The way I see it is that I’m going to be casting off one pouch and casting on another immediately so that 3rd needle is out anyway. I still have a few rectangles that need to be seamed up but all future pouches will be made this way. I may even invest in a second set of these smaller needles so that I will always have a pouch at a stage where I can just knit and not have to worry how long until I need to cast off, this is particularly important if I am taking my knitting out to a café or events with me.






WIRES Pouches Aug 16

WIRES looks after native animals who become sick, injured or abandoned. The service works every day of the year to rescue and care for the animals. Volunteers care for the animals in their own homes until they are well enough to be released back into the wild. They do an amazing job. I would love to be a carer but unfortunately I can’t but that doesn’t mean you can’t still help WIRES. If you can knit or you can sew your skills can help WIRES. WIRES are always needing pouches. You can either knit them or sew them. They do require that yarn used be 100% wool 8ply and the fabric be 100% cotton or flannelette. The fabric and wool needs to be breathable as the animal in enclosed in the pouch. Carers go through around 6 – 8 fabric pouches per day per animal and may have 4 – 6 animals in their care at any one time.

WIRES Package Aug 16

In the last couple of weeks I made a batch of pouches and in my spare room found another batch I made earlier this year. I’ve washed them all again (they may get ironed) I will post them off next week. I’ve been doing WIRES pouches for a few years now. I love that my sewing can help others. Native animals are close to my heart and I’m glad to be able to help them.


Koala Mittens

Whether you believe that this was a genuine call out for help or just a hoax is up to you. I believe this to be genuine to help the very injured koalas. A call was put out on Facebook by the International Fund for Animal Welfare to make mittens to aid in the recovery of burnt koala paws. As I already make WIRES pouches and had already made a batch earlier this week and posted them off to Fauna Rescue SA as soon as I saw this mitten appeal I decided to help.

Koala Mittens

Like the WIRES pouches the fabric needed to 100% cotton so I just used some calico from a roll I had in my stash. I folded the fabric 4 layers thick pinning it down the length of the fabric then pinned the mitten templates I made from the dimensions shown in the Facebook instruction image and cut them all out. I constructed them on the overlocker by first overlocking the bottom of each mitten then putting them together in pairs and stitching them together. The 4 thread seam meant I was joining them and finishing off the seams at the same time. I then took pieces of wool, tied a knot in one end then hand stitched the wool string to each pouch through the knot as an anchor. I made 13 pairs of mittens which equated to 26 in total. I used leftover wool from my stash after making a blanket last year.

Rescue Pouches

A lot of people around the world were drawn to make these and it was lovely to see the response. All the organisations are always in need of pouches so I hope the support shown over the last week carries on and people do decide to support the wildlife organisations and make items for them. Pouches and other items are always needed by the various organisations to aid in the day to day care of injured and abandoned wildlife and not just needed when it gets mentioned on Facebook.

Smarter Sewing

Smarter Sewing

I’ve made another batch of WIRES pouches but this time I decided to re-look at the process I have of making them and do things a little smarter. So what did I do differently this time?

  • I started with cutting multiple layers at once when I was cutting them out. This cut the time down by half.
  • I used my overlocker (serger) to stitch the seams and finish the raw edges at the same time.
  • I left a long length of serger tail at the end of each seam to weave in to keep the seams secure. It took hardly any time at all in in front of the tv weaving the ends in
  • I used a triple stitch on the folded top hem that was more secure.

These little processes cut down the time it took to make the pouches and made it even easier to make up a bulk batch. I have learnt all these sewing skills so it was a matter of using the most appropriate sewing skill at the right time. It was worth stopping and taking a few minutes to work out smarter sewing processes.

Busy Weekend But Worth It

Towards the end of the last week I had plans to finish off some potholders as Christmas gifts but my plans changed.

Pouches Oct 13

Last week we had really bad bushfires in the state that I live in. Sadly a lot people lost their homes and unfortunately so did a lot of animals that lived in the bushland. As soon as I heard about it I knew WIRES would be busy rescuing injured animals and would be in need of supplies so I spent the weekend sewing pouches which I express posted to them on Monday. I made just under 50 pouches but I wish I’d made more. It was just something practical that I could do in such a sad situation. I’ll continue making pouches over the next few weeks and will post another batch to WIRES soon.

A Lovely Surprise

I got a lovely surprise in the letterbox yesterday.


Last week I posted the batch of WIRES pouches They have sent me a hand written thank you card and a photo of a current possum in their care. I wasn’t expecting anything so this is very sweet of them to do this. Seeing the photo of the little possum is really inspiring. It given me a real sence of what I’ve made is going to help these little creatures. I’ve already got fabric set aside for the next batch.

Card Inside

WIRES Pouches

This past weekend I’ve been sewing lining pouches for WIRES. WIRES rescues and rehabilitates injured wildlife. The volunteers do a great job and I’m happy to help them out in the small way that I can.

Finished Pouches

These pouches may be used in caring for joeys, wombats, possums or bandicoots. A carer may go through 6 linings a day for just one animal and often they are caring for multiple little creatures so you can imagine how many they will go through in a day. If you would like further information about making these they provide you with details on their website. If your a knitter you can also make the woollen outer pouches. Again details are on their website.

Sewing Pouches

On a crafty note making these pouches are a great way to use up sewing supplies I already have. The fabric is from my stash that isn’t to my taste or I know won’t be used for other projects. I used all my half wound bobbins to empty them. The little animals aren’t going to care what colour the thread is or if it matches. This is the 2nd time I’ve made pouches. I want to get into the habit of always having some cut and ready to be sewn so when I’m in a mood of straight stitching I can grab them and start sewing. Making these are also helping my sewing skills. I’m not really a quilter so I’ve never done much chain piecing before but I tried it when making these and it was fantastic. My zig zag stitch is improving too.

Sewing for charity is wonderful. I love it how craft and charity can intertwine. Many crafters are doing some fantastic work for others. Its great to be able to help a charity in a practical way. Your daily life may mean you don’t have time to commit to a charity but you can still assist them by making items they can sell to raise funds or by making items they can use every day. Some people think the only way they can contribute to charity is through a financial donation, they don’t realise the skills they have could help a charity just as much as a $1 could. Often the front line volunteers don’t have the time to make the items they need every day so they really appreciate the donated items they receive.

To anyone who is currently doing items for charity congratulations keep up the good work cause real people are appreciating the items your making. If you have never made items for charity I urge you to give it a go. Think outside the square. Google sewing for charity and see what comes up. You may find the perfect thing for you.