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Knitting to Relax

Classic Elite Yarns MountainTop Chalet

Knitting can be such a therapeutic hobby. I love sitting in a quiet place listening to the sound of my knitting needles click clacking as I work through the days thoughts that are swirling around in my head. It’s a great opportunity to decompress and refresh. If we’re being honest though, that’s not always the case. Sometimes knitting can be downright frustrating. A pattern may be asking us to keep track of complicated repeats, we’ve tinked or frogged a project several times, that darn lace chart is just a thorn in our side or the yarn keeps splitting every time we try to knit a new stitch and we just want to call it quits. What about when that stitch marker falls off our project and we don’t know which row we’re on? (Confession: I did that and the hat with a beautiful brim pattern has been sitting in storage for several months because I just can’t stand to look at it and mentally untangle my mess. So much for a new winter running hat!)

When I sit down to knit or crochet, I usually have an idea of what my goals are, but not in a weird nerdy way where I think to myself “Today’s knitting goal is…” When approaching a project we’re usually in a particular mindset though. Sometimes I choose a project for the beautiful detailing integrated in the project, sometimes I’d like to forget about my day and choose a project that requires extreme focus. Other times the project I choose is for passive knitting and something to keep my hands busy when chatting with friends or watching television.

We can set ourselves up for success if the intension is to knit to relax. When I’m seeking a time to just chill out and knit my heart out, then I look for a pattern that’s not going to be overly complicated or above my skill set. Patterns where most of the stitches are understood and repeats are simple are best suited for relaxing knitting. Some of the patterns I choose can also double as good TV knitting, patterns, but generally these are more detailed and have a medium difficulty rating. Of course choosing a project that incorporates mostly known stitches and medium difficulty rating is dependent on your particular skill set and how you usually approach knitting.

We know there are health benefits to knitting and crafting in general. Doing something pleasurable also helps to relax the body and knitting can be soothing. So we love to knit and feel the calmness that comes with creating something beautiful (usually) with a couple of sticks and string, but how do we ensure we choose the right project when knitting to relax?

What I’ve found over the years is to focus on elements within a pattern as opposed to the pattern in it’s entirety when there’s a specific knitting goal in mind. When looking to knit to relax, understand that many patterns vary in complexity within the project itself.

The first sweater I ever knitted included yarn overs integrated into the raglan shaping. I was brand new to knitting, only having knit a dish cloth before starting on that sweater. Was that ambitious? Yes, did it quench my knitting thirst? Yes. I taught myself how to knit with the use of a helpful app and the My First Sweater class on Craftsy. I chose to knit a sweater for myself as my second project because I knew the project would incorporate many skills that would be needed for other knitting projects. I also knew that once I got into the rhythm, it would be relaxing. My first several rows of yarn overs were frustrating, but the ribbing and body of the sweater was a breeze.

Later, once I had a better handle on knitting and how to read and interpret a pattern, I was able to seek patterns based on what I was trying to accomplish. This sweater tank was a simple pattern knit in the round. It was easy and also made for great TV knitting, but it also included a couple little fun details. The front accent was simply made by ribbing. When knitting in the round, I simply had to pause at the stitch markers, knit in the rib pattern and then carry on in stockinette stitch until I reached to sides where the increases and decreases were incorporated.

The simple lovey pattern (pattern review here) was a fun knit and it was perfect to knit for relaxation purposes. The diamond motif pattern that I used for the blanket portion of the lovey was just enough to keep me on my knitting toes and easy enough to provide a mental break from the day.

If you’re looking for great resources to find knitting patterns that lend themselves well to relaxing knitting, we’ve rounded up some of our favorites:

Jo Sharp has some beautiful patterns that are simple to knit and provide beautiful results. I have several of her pattern books and am amazed at the simplicity of her patterns, but have learned the hard way not to over estimate the simplicity. I was knitting a sweater that incorporated an 8 stitch rib-type pattern repeat and realized that somewhere along the line I started working up 10 stitch repeats instead. Whoops!

If you like to make progress quickly on your projects, then one of my favorite pattern sources lately has been a knitting calendar that was given to me as a gift. This calendar includes over 100 different patterns and many of them vary in both complexity and type. Many of the projects are on the smaller side and easy to whip up in a fairly short period of time, so not only are you getting some relaxing knitting time in, but also high satisfaction from completing a project!

The last resource is near and dear to my heart, it’s the first sweater I ever knitted and one of the first knitting projects I ever created. It’s Lion Brand’s My First Sweater pattern. There are several variations on this sweater, you can create a cardigan like I did, or a pullover. You can also choose which sleeve length to knit and choose your favorite collar style. If knitting a sweater would stretch your skill set, then sign up for the Craftsy class that guides you through each step of the way. If you’re a pro at knitting up sweaters in no time at all, then this pattern still deserves a place in your knitting library.

I’d love to hear if you have any favorite patterns or knitting resources. Leave them in the comments below!

Yarn Spotlight | Scarfie

Scarfi Gradient
Scarfi scarf completed

The ombre effect of Lion Brand’s Scarfi yarn adds sophistication to the finished scarf!

Sometimes scarves are one of the simplest gifts to make someone special. There is lots of flexibility in the length, width, color and style. Often times, a pattern isn’t even necessary to create a scarf! Just cast on (or chain) and go! Up until recently, I’d just grab a couple skeins of my favorite yarn from my stash and get started.

I say until recently because not too long ago Lion Brand introduced a game changer to the yarn industry: Scarfie. Scarfie is available in beautiful color combinations and creates a gorgeous ombre effect once it’s worked up. The packaging boasts that you can make one scarf with just one ball of yarn! So is Scarfie everything it’s cracked up to be? Let’s find out!

While creating a scarf with one skein of Scarfie is totally possible, I was seeking to make a thicker scarf and picked up two skeins of the same color way for a gift I wanted to make. The yarn has a beautiful texture and feel to it. The band around the yarn showed a beautiful ombre scarf that I was excited to create!

Scarfie is a bulky weight yarn and is made of an acrylic and wool blend. I found that the fiber combination was a perfect match. The acrylic adds durability to the yarn, keeps the cost down and the wool fibers contribute to the warmth of the fabric once created. The yarn can be machine or hand washed, but it should be laid flat to dry. (Wouldn’t want that wool to shrink up on you!)

Ombre gradient swatch

This swatch shows how perfectly the ombre effect takes shape when working with Scarfi yarn!

For my project, I chose to crochet my scarf. The yarn band recommended a K crochet hook, so I grabbed my sparkly pink hook, created a slip knot and chained 19. I tend to crochet a bit more loosely than knit and I wanted this scarf to have a nice drape, so I keep my stitches airy and light. Once I got to the end of my chain, I turned and inserted the hook into the second chain from my hook. I worked 17 single crochet stitches across to the end, chained two and started working in double crochet rows. Every so often I’d switch back to a single crochet row or even toss in a triple crochet row. That’s the beauty of working without a pattern. Complete flexibility and improvisation.

The longer my scarf became, the more more beautiful it looked. The simple stitches looked very elegant as they slowly transformed into a sophisticated gradient of color changes.

When working with a color changes within a project, you need to determine if a dramatic color change (were skeins change) is something you’re ok with or something you’d like to avoid. Symmetry is another consideration when color changes come into play.

I wanted my scarf to look as professionally as possible and chose to create a seamless color change when I needed to add a second skein of yarn. To do this, I simply unraveled the new skein of yarn until I arrived at the same color repeat as the working skein and joined the yarn in the appropriate place. After continuing to work, it appeared that I had used the same skein for the entire project!

Symmetrical scarf using Scarfi yarn.

By working intelligently, you can create a symmetrical color pattern with Scarfi yarn!

Knowing I wanted the scarf to fall at each hip and be symmetrical, I continued to work rows until I was close to the length I needed. Then I examined the color pattern closely. I continued to work the scarf until the color pattern matched! This meant that the scarf was a little longer than originally anticipated, but it worked out great! If you’re looking to get started, grab a skein of Scarfi and crochet hook today!

Crochet Heart Pattern

Happy Valentines Week! Love, flowers and hearts abound as people express their love to each other on February 14th. Truth be told, Valentines Day isn’t a big deal in my home today. However, as a kid, I used to relish everything about Valentines Day. When we woke in the morning, there was always some yummy heart shaped candy waiting for us with a card, reminding us how much our parents loved us. Exchanging valentines day cards with classmates was tons of fun after spending several nights customizing the perfect mailbox to sit on my desk, clearly decorated in hearts too. Hearts, a universal symbol of love and Valentines Day.

I wanted to whip up something special for Valentines Day this year. These simple and quick crochet hearts can be made into magnets or bookmarks! Both these gifts can be crocheted up in a jiffy and used year round! This pattern is super easy and can not only remind you of your place in a book or magazine or hold papers on the fridge, but also act as a reminder of those you love.

Materials for a crochet heart

This project is a great stash buster!


Crochet Heart In Progress

Crochet heart in progress!


To begin, chain 7

Row 1: Starting with the second chain from hook, 5 sc across, 2 sc in last chain, chain 1, turn

Row 2: 2 sc in first stitch, 6 sc, chain 1, turn

Row 3: sc 6, sc2tog, chain 1, turn

Row 4: Sl st 3, sc 4, chain 1, turn

Row 5: sc 4, chain 1, turn

Row 6: sc2tog, sc 2, chain 1, turn

Row 7: sc 3, chain 1, turn

Row 8: sc2tog, sl st, chain 1, turn

Row 9: sc2tog, fasten off, weave in ends.

The images below show the various steps in order!

Chain 7
Row 3

Construct a Bookmark

Now is the most complicated part of the whole pattern (not really, I’m just joking 🙂 ). Cut three strands of yarn to approximately 18”-24” in length. Using your crochet hook, pull all three strands of yarn through the end of the heart. Pull the strands so they are equal. Holding two strands of yarn together at the same time, braid the yarn. Tie a knot at one end (We’re such rebels tying knots in our crochet projects!), leaving about half an inch of fringe. Your bookmark is ready!

Create a Magnet

To create a magnet, simply glue the crochet hearts to a simple magnet!


sc- Single Crochet

sc2tog- Single Crochet Two Together

sl st- Slip Stitch

Top 5 Must Have Knitting Books

Our top knitting book picks.

As a child I loved to read. When I’d wake up in the morning and immediately grab the latest Baby Sitters Club book that was sitting on my bookshelf and read in bed for hours. I’d often read the mornings away, deep in the fictional context of whatever drama was plaguing Claudia, Stacy, Kristy, Mallory and Dawn. As time went on, my literary tastes evolved into non-fictional business and strategy books with a random fiction title tossed into the mix based on a rave review from my husband. When I took up knitting, I realized there are multiple ways to read a pattern and I started to read patterns online while trying to visualize how the stitches formed the shaping of the piece. Eventually this lead to knitting books and my collection started to grow… and grow.. and grow…

Reading patterns has really helped my knitting skills to soar and helped me to be able to visualize the construction of a project or understand how to alter a pattern to achieve a desired effect. There are some really great books out there that I’ve learned tons from, and there are other books that require more advanced understanding of knitting construction to understand. While the competition was tough, we pulled together a list of the top 5 knitting books on our shelves that every knitter must have on their bookshelves. Hopefully you enjoy them as much as I do! Happy knitting!

Weekend Knitting whisks you away to an enchanting world of knitting. Falick not only shares a diverse pattern collection from various artists, but also includes whimsical ideas, baked goods recipes and a list of movies and books where knitting takes place! Each pattern is well written and some even help walk you through customization so you learn as you go. Savor every moment of reading this knitting book and trying out each pattern.

Ok, on this one the striking color combinations and rich texture on the front cover drew me in, but the contents led me to purchase. No-Sew Knits includes a rich array of patterns for diverse skill levels that are (as the name suggests) finish free! I love that once you’re done knitting one of these patterns, you don’t need to dedicate oodles of time to add finishing details. Just block and wear!

Both sweaters and accessories grace the pages of Metropolitan Knits which features intriguing patterns for the chic knitter. Projects include beautiful lace designs and chunky cables while most projects are made using a traditional construction method. If you love using your DPN’s then check out the Opera House Mitts which include a three dimensional diamond motif.

Amazingly easy book to navigate, Vogue Knitting: Very Easy Sweaters takes you through various stitch patterns and garment shapes to quickly find the perfect sweater to knit. The book is logically divided so you can find what you need quickly and all the patterns actually are fairly easy to knit from a construction standpoint. Check out our full review for more info.

I’ve seen lots of books proclaim they hold the perfect patterns to complete knit wear wardrobe, but non of them deliver like this book. Dressed in Knits features beautiful, wearable patterns that will stand the test of time. I especially love the creativity combining various yarn weights within a project and even the drop dead gorgeous lace panel featured on the Montreal Cardigan pattern.

Mini Lovey Blankie Menagerie Pattern Review

This lovey is ready for baby!

Ever look around and feel like there’s a mini baby boom going on? Sometimes I look around and see my friends, coworkers and family scrambling to get ready for their new little bundle of joy. Many knitters and crocheters have one go to gift for new babies. Personally, I need more variety in my projects and also love to have several projects on my needles and hook at the same time. It makes life much more interesting.

Baby blankets are super popular, but even within the blanket realm, there are tons of options. One that I’ve recently fallen in love with the the Mini Lovey Blankie Menagerie by Lorraine Pistorio. These little security blankets feature a 12x12” blanket with a little animal head (and arms) on the top for baby to cuddle up with. Before choosing to purchase the Mini Lovey Blankie Menagerie, I did lots of research first to find a lovey that would fit my knitting needs. I prefer to read a pattern through before choosing to make it, but with paid patterns I pretty much feel like I need to commit before adding the pattern to my cart. So how did Lorriane Pistorio’s pattern make the cut?

I chose to knit a lovey for my coworker’s baby, Andrew, for several reasons. First, I wanted something a little more unique. In all seriousness, not sure how unique this whole idea is, but I loved that it wasn’t the same old conventional baby blanket that I’ve made for friends in the past. Seeing there was a mini baby boom happening in my small world, I knew I had several baby projects on a deadline and I couldn’t take something on that was going to consume all my time. Knitting is a love of mine, but also need to keep my other commitments in check. A lovey seemed like it would be small enough to be portable and I could make progress in between appointments or while on the road (and in between my other projects!).


I used Red Heart Super Saver for the teddy bear head and arms and Big Twist for the main blanket and collar.

Once the project idea was sorted out, next it was time to find the perfect pattern. Lovies come in lots of different varieties. I checked my favorite pattern sources before making a commitment. Craftsy, Ravelry and Etsy were my first go-to sites to check out pattern options. I was open to either crochet or knit patterns, as I’m fluent in both techniques. Most of the crocheted patterns I found didn’t seem to be a good fit. Seeing that I was hoping to use a worsted weight yarn (more so for sake of time), the crochet versions seemed too clunky and the stitch definition seemed to overwhelm the small animal part of the lovey because the stitches were rather large in comparison to the animal head. So knit it is!

I read lots of comments and reviewed projects that other people made with the patterns that made it to my short list. Ultimately I chose the Mini Lovey Blankie Menagerie because I was looking for a pattern that I could knit up on straight needles. I don’t enjoy working small projects in the round and this pattern is worked flat and seamed after each piece is bound off. Another added bonus? The Ravelry rating was high and the pattern was popular. The other big thing that tipped me over the edge was that this pattern comes in 6 different animal head patterns: bear, sheep, monkey, elephant, bunny and pig. The pattern also includes two blanket styles! No more boredom here! I could potentially make this project several times for different people without feeling bored. There seemed to be lots of versatility for the $6 price tag on the pattern.

Instant downloads are amazing by the way. I was off knitting that night. I chose to knit the bear lovey for Andrew and thought that I’d start at the fun part, the bear’s head. Andrew’s mom had a delicious nursery planned featuring Tiffany’s blue. I chose a baby yarn in a similar shade, Big Twist Yarns, Baby Solids as the main blanket and decided to go with Red Heart Super Saver for the bear for washability. Both yarns are acrylic and had the same washing instructions.

Diamond stitch

This is the diamond stitch in progress. We have a winner!

The bear head worked up in under and hour. The 27 rows went quickly and the instructions were super easy to follow. This gave me lots of confidence in the project despite how daunting it seemed when I started to read the 15 page pattern. Yes, really- 15 pages! I almost instantly regretted my purchase when I downloaded the the pattern and opened it up for the first time. The PDF is super long for such a small project and there is a ton of text jammed on each page. There are images, but at first glance it’s really confusing. So I took a deep breath and started to read at the beginning and make sense of everything.

The first page includes the materials you’ll need depending on which pattern you choose to knit. It’s organized by heading where then you can find information about the requirements for the blanket and each animal head. Thankfully these were broken out separately for simplicity. The skill level recommended for this particular pattern is intermediate. I thought this seemed a little over cautious during my knitting, but then I had to assemble the darn thing and decided that intermediate is just right. 🙂

Blanket diamond pattern.

I chose to use a different stitch pattern for the main blanket than recommended in the pattern. Love the result!

The second page covers pattern notes and the blanket pattern options included in the pattern. The yardage for each piece of the pattern is broken out separately. This is incredibly helpful so if you’d like to make the collar and blanket different colors, you know how much yarn is needed.  After starting to knit the blanket- I chose Blanket B in the Diagonal stitch, I was having a miserable time. At the rate I was knitting, Andrew was going to get his blanket on his 5th birthday. I found the stitch pattern boring to knit and not very fun at all. The suggested blanket patterns are rich with texture, but I just couldn’t keep going with it. I frogged that blanket, which was only as big as a large bookmark, and looked for another stitch pattern that would prove to keep my interest for the 12x12” blanket. I chose a one sided diamond pattern because it had an interesting 8 stitch, 8 row repeat that would keep my attention for the duration of the project. (Pattern provided below.) Being that the background of this pattern was stockinette stitch, I added a garter edge on the blanket to keep it from rolling. Usually I stay away from non-reversible stitch patterns on blankets, but this was an exception because the blanket would be folded into itself and there was a definite right and wrong side when the blanket is being used.

The pattern for the collar is on page three and then the animal heads begin! The instructions are clear and easy to follow. Photographs are included for additional clarity and include notes to eliminate confusion. Page 5 goes into more detail about how to finish the arms and collar. This is a little weird because if you didn’t make the lamb, you actually have to flip backwards in the pattern for your finishing steps. If you made the lamb, you only use the first five pages of the pattern.

blocking in progress

I use a sophisticated blocking system: bathroom sink.

Once all the knitting is complete, you are ready to add safety eyes (I used 9mm instead of the 7.5mm called for in the pattern) to the head. The instructions aren’t super clear about blocking. I actually added the safety eyes then stuffed and seamed the head before blocking. Don’t do this. Next time I would block the knitted pieces before stuffing and seaming. I chose a polyfil for the stuffing because it would dry somewhat quickly when mom goes to wash the item, and the stuffing did dry fairly fast after blocking, but I had a more difficult than necessary time shaping the head once it has been soaked in a tub of water.

This project actually sat in my WIP (work in progress) pile for several months after it had been knitted up and blocked. The idea of attaching all those pieces was not my idea of a good time. So what if I’m the type to knit a finish free garment from the top down…? I digress. Anyways, I finally brought all the pieces back out to start seaming the arms and assembling the whole thing. When you go to do this, make sure you can set aside some distraction free time. This is not the time to watch TV while trying to get all these pieces lined up just right.

Removable Stitch Markers

I used these stitch markers to secure the ears to the head during finishing.

My least favorite part was attaching the ears to the head. The ears are on the larger side, and trying to make them symmetrical was challenging. I used removable stitch markers to temporarily hold the ears in place on the head as well as a couple extra yarn needles which acted like straight pins. Somehow the head and arms got turned when securing them to the blanket. I decided to roll with it, and it still turned out great. Tip- use yarn the same color as the blanket for this part because the yarn will be visible on the underside of the blanket.

Overall the lovey turned out amazing and I was super happy with the result. There’s always a small amount of uncertainty when giving a handmade gift to someone, but in this case it was a home run. Baby Andrew loved his new toy and immediately started to chew on the ears (thank goodness I went over those seams twice!) and the bear’s arms. This was most certainly a successful project. The pattern was awesome and I’d highly recommend picking up a copy for yourself!

If you’re looking to use the diamond pattern as a background for the blanket, or even would like to use it for another project you’re working on, here are the instructions:

Cast on 57 stitches. This pattern requires you to cast on a multiple of 8 stitches plus 1. I knew I wanted a garter stitch edge. The garter stitch edge I did was 4 stitches on each side of the pattern repeat.

For the blanket shown:

Work 4 rows in garter stitch (knit each row.) For a clean finished edge, I slipped the last stitch on each row as if to knit.

Begin pattern repeat with garter edge:

Row 1 (RS): k8, *p1, k7; rep from * to last 9 sts, p1, k8.

Rows 2 and 8 (WS): p4, p3, *k1, p1, k1, p5; rep from * to last 10 sts, k1, p1, k1, p3, k4.

Rows 3 and 7: k6, *p1, k3; rep from * to last 7 sts, p1, k6.

Rows 4 and 6: k4, p1, *k1, p5, k1, p1; rep from * to last 4 sts, k4.

Row 5: k4, *p1, k7; rep from * to last 5 sts, p1, k4.

Row 8: k4, p3, *k1, p1, k1, p5; rep from * to last 10 sts, k1, p1, k1, p3, k4.

Rep rows 1–8 for diamond pattern

If you’d like to use the diamond pattern on other projects, use the core of the pattern repeat:

Row 1 (RS): K4, *p1, k7; rep from * to last 5 sts, p1, k4.

Rows 2 and 8 (WS): p3, *k1, p1, k1, p5; rep from * to last 6 sts, k1, p1, k1, p3.

Rows 3 and 7: k2, *p1, k3; rep from * to last 3 sts, p1, k2.

Rows 4 and 6: p1, *k1, p5, k1, p1; rep from * to end.

Row 5: *p1, k7; rep from * to last st, p1.

Row 8: p3, *k1, p1, k1, p5; rep from * to last 6 sts, k1, p1, k1, p3.

Rep rows 1–8 for diamond pattern


RS- Right Side

WS- Wrong Side

k1- Knit One

p1- Purl One

sts- Stitches