Knitting on Vacation: What to Pack?

Finally! I’m getting out of the house and going to the beach. I’ve knitted my way through quarantine, making 3 cardigans, an intricately patterned lace scarf, and a fun mosaic shawl. I’ve made a good-sized dent in my yarn stash and filled it up again with summery yellows, oranges, and taupe colored cotton and linen skeins. 

So why am suddenly perplexed as to which yarns to pack for a trip to the beach? Travel poses certain challenges to one’s knitting life. You certainly don’t want to find yourself hundreds of miles from your yarn stash, needing that one more skein to finish a project. Worse yet, you don’t want to find yourself with several days of vacation left and nothing left to knit. On the other hand, you really don’t want to drag everything skein you own to the beach, taking up precious room in your suitcase, only to find you didn’t even touch most of the yarn you took.

What to pack to knit at the beach?  After switching off umpteen items in and out of my suitcase, here’s what I’ve finally settled on:

  • A small cosmetic bag of tools (scissors, tape measure, tapestry needle, stitch markers)
  • Inexpensive cotton yarn. With so much illness everywhere, I want to be able to wash my project when finished. If it gets stained en route, no big deal.
  • Easy projects. I have in mind to sit under an umbrella and mindlessly knit, possibly while listening to an audio book. I don’t want to think.
  • Projects I Can Wear or Use While on Vacation. There’s nothing more fulfilling than immediately wearing or using something you’ve just knitted. I’ve packed yarn to make a loose beach cover-up and coasters to use under cold drinks while lounging in the sun. 

What did I leave at home? The expensive wool yarn imported from South America is staying home, safe and sound from getting lost or destroyed. I also talked myself out of taking projects using advanced techniques that would take my attention away from family and friends. And the sheer number of projects has dropped as I pack. Though I like to be prepared, I know I realistically won’t go through more than two – possibly three – knitting projects during the entire vacation.

What’s your go-to knitting supplies for beach vacations???

Safe Travels this Summer, Cindy

Cynthia Coe is the author of The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, a collection of interrelated short stories about knitters and those they meet through knitting and sharing prayer shawls. Available in e-book for US $4.99 and in paperback for $14.99. Read it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited! 

Show Your Knitting Love With A Prayer Patch

Want to show someone some love through your knitting, but you don’t have time to knit an entire blanket or sweater? Try giving your loved one a “prayer patch.” 

A Prayer Patch is a small piece of knitting you give someone to simply show you care about them. Much like a full-blown Prayer Shawl, a Prayer Patch might be given to someone facing surgery, someone grieving a family member, or someone just going through a tough time. You could even give a Prayer Patch to someone simply to let them know you’re thinking about them. 

To make a Prayer Patch, you can use yarn leftover from a favorite project. You might even use a favorite stitch or pattern that’s so stuck in your head you can make it without thinking. You might even attach a small charm to your Prayer Patch, such as an angel, cross, or other symbol meaningful to your spiritual life. (I’ve found it’s easiest to leave a long tail when you cast off, then you have something ready-made for attaching the charm.)

Some churches, I hear, offer Prayer Patches to newcomers or those attending services who need a small token of their faith community’s love and care for them. (Psssst…in my new book, The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, a newcomer receives a Prayer Patch. Her life is changed forever, and she learns to knit – not necessarily in that order.)

What do you do with a Prayer Patch? You could tuck it into a purse or backpack. You could use it on your desk as a coaster or under your phone while it charges. It’s so small, you could keep it almost anywhere to remind you that someone loves you. Churches or other faith communities might send it along with a flower delivery or include it with a get-well card. It could even be a miniature version of a Prayer Shawl for the recipient to keep with them on-the-go. 

And for the knitter herself, making a Prayer Patch gives you space and time to be quiet, collect your thoughts, and perhaps remember a loved one in prayer. It’s an easy project, perfect for taking a half hour or so to simply and silently send your hopes and prayers to someone who needs them. 

Here’s a favorite Prayer Patch pattern I’d like to share with you:

The “Diamond of Hope” Prayer Patch

(I used the Caron x Pantone mini-skeins and size 10 needles. You can get two prayer patches out of each of these small skeins. You could use whatever yarn you have handy with appropriate sized needles.)

Cast on 17 Stitches.

Knit one row for a nice border.

Row 1 (Right Side): (P1, K7) x 2, P1

Row 2 (Wrong Side): K2, P5, K3, P5, K2

Row 3: K1, P2, K3, P2, K1, P2, K3, P2, K1

Row 4: P2, K2, P1, K2, P3, K2, P1, K2, P2

Row 5: K3, P3, K5, P3, K3

Row 6: P4, K1, P7, K1, P4

Row 7: Repeat Row 5

Row 8: Repeat Row 4

Row 9: Repeat Row 3

Row 10: Repeat Row 2

Repeat Rows 1-10, then Repeat Row 1 once more

Knit one row for a border.

Bind off. 

Leave a long tail for tying on a symbolic charm, such as an angel, cross or other sign of hope. 

This is easier than it looks! Once you get the pattern in your head, you can do it in your sleep. You’re always moving out from a point or in towards a point. 

The pattern makes one large diamond with 4 smaller diamonds inside it and 8 triangles around it, for a total of 12 spaces on the piece. (Twelve apostles total, with 4 writers of the Gospels, if you’re into symbolism.)

Blessings on your Prayer Patches, Cindy

Cynthia Coe is the author of The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, a book of related short stories in which prayer shawls end up in unlikely places, friendships are made through knitting, and people in need receive unexpected gifts. Available in e-book and paperback and included in Kindle Unlimited

Designing the Perfect Beach Cover-Up

Before I went to the beach this summer, I dreamed of the perfect beach cover-up. It would be all cotton and a light color for high temperatures on the coast of South Carolina in June. It would be mini-skirt length and have kicky vents on the sides to show off my legs and for freedom of movement when I went on one of my long and meditative walks on the beach. It would cover my shoulders and prevent sunburn. It would have a rounded but modest neckline. It would feel loose and free and fit me perfectly.

Alas, I looked and looked through umpteen pattern books and magazines but found nothing even close to what I wanted. So, I designed my own. I’ve been knitting since I was a teenager, usually easy patterns that allow me to watch TV or just sit and think while I knit. I don’t go for anything complicated or patterns that have me glued to an incomprehensible piece of paper or that gives me eye strain.

Much to my surprise, for my first beach cover-up design, I came up with an incredibly simple pattern that fits me perfectly, covers my shoulders, and is flowy and comfortable to wear. Here’s the pattern (such as it is – it’s in plain English, no abbreviations, challenging techniques, or anything a moderately experienced knitter couldn’t pull off):

The “Cindy” Beach Cover-Up

General Concept:Knit two large rectangles and a drawstring. Knit holes below the bustline to insert the drawstring.  Adjust measurements to fit yourself. (I’m 5’4” and wear US dress sizes 10-12.)

Materials:

Bernat Handicrafter Cotton Yarn(Two 12 ounce skeins, you’ll have lots left over)

-Size 9 circular needles

-stitch holder for neckline

Front: 

-Cast on 84 stitches (more or less if you’re bigger or smaller)

-Knit until you’ve got 21 inches (again, adjust if your waistline if longer or shorter)

-Put in holes in the next row. (I used a pattern of knit two + yarnovers to accomplish this)

-Knit until you’ve got a total of 30” (more or less, adjusting for your size)

-To make a simple rounded neckline, bind off about 20 stitches in the middle of the garment, decrease on each side of the neckline until you have about 22 stitches on each side

-Bind off each side

Back:

-Cast on 84 stitches (or same number you cast on for the front)

-Knit until you’ve got 21 inches (or same length to drawstring row as the front)

-Put in a row of holes for the drawstring (Knit Two + yarnovers)

-Knit until you’ve got a total of 31” (more or less depending on depth of back neckline)

-Cast off about 20 stitches, decrease each side until you’ve got 22 stitches on each side

-Bind off each side

Drawstring:

-Cast on 3 stitches, make an I-cord (look online for how to do this; use double pointed needles or circular needles – it’s easy)

-Make the drawstring as long as you want it (I’d make it 70” to 80”, depending on your waistline)

-Cast off

Construction:

-attach the front to the back by putting seams on each side between the drawstring row and about 8-10” from the bottom (leaving vents for ease of movement)

-if neckline is floppy, crochet one row around it to cinch it up a bit

-sting the drawstring through the holes and cinch for comfort

Extras: (These are what I did to personalize my own beach cover-up)

-for a cooler garment, make rows of holes (simple knit two + yarnover pattern) along the bottom few rows

-to add texture to the bottom of the garment, I used this pattern: Knit rows 1, 3, & 4; purl row 2

-to add texture to the top of the garment, I used this pattern: on reverse side, purl two, yarnover, purl 2 more, pull yarnover stitch over the last two purls (I added this pattern about every 4 rows)

For more info on basic stitches and construction of garments, I highly recommend the new Vogue Knitting book. It’s a huge book that covers it all.  If you had to buy one book on knitting, this would be the one. Available at: https://amzn.to/2sImZ7W

If you like to design your own projects, a good comprehensive stitch dictionary is invaluable. You might try Debbie Tomkies’ Knit Stitch Dictionary: 250 Essential Knit Stitches, available affordably in both paperback and Kindle editions at: https://amzn.to/2JzCJjS

Blessings, Cindy

Copyright 2018 Cynthia Coe. All rights reserved!

An Ode to Garter Stitch

The humble garter stitch: knit-stitch-only for row after row, with not a single purl or other embellishment to break the so-called monotony. It’s likely the first “pattern” we learn to knit, often left behind as we learn to yarn-over, knit-two-tog, and slip stitches for jazzier and more impressive knitting.

But lately, I’ve embraced the garter stitch as the ultimate in meditative, no-brainer knitting. Once you’ve mastered it (which can be done in an afternoon), you can mindlessly let your fingers work while you carry on a conversation, watch a TV drama, or just zone out. If you do make a mistake, rip it out and start over. It’s not like you’ve messed up some intricate lace work. You just get more knitting in.

Better yet, beginners and experts alike can make practically anything out of garter stitch – a simple bulky weekend sweater, a scarf, a placemat, a coaster. I once stayed at a beach house that didn’t have coasters for cold, icy drinks. Our family didn’t want to ruin the furniture, so I whipped out a set of coasters lickety split, leaving them in the house for the next vacationers. Garter stitch gets it done. 

Here’s my no brainer coaster pattern:

  • With cotton yarn and size 8 or 9 needles, cast on about 20 stitches (as you choose; I don’t micromanage these things).
  • Knit in garter stitch for about 20 rows (or about 4 inches), cast off
  • Add glass of cold iced tea. 

Happy Knitting! Cindy

Cynthia Coe is a blogger, avid knitter, and author of several books. Visit her Author Page on Amazon for more information and a complete list of her books.

Quick and Easy Knitting Projects for On-the-Go Knitting

Every yarn crafter needs a quick, easy, and portable knitting project to keep on hand. School pick-up lines, doctor’s offices, airports, and any kind of waiting room necessitates something to do to pass the time. I always have an easy, small project stashed away in my purse or tote bag to keep myself from getting antsy in such situations. 

I usually work on a place mat or dish cloth, but at this point in my life, everyone in my family has more placemats than they need. New ideas for quick and easy knit or crochet projects are always appreciated. 

Here’s my go-to knitting pattern for placemats, my favorite on-the-go project:

With size 4 yarn and size 9 needles (or smaller, as you choose):

  • Cast on 60 stitches
  • k2p2 for two rows
  • knit the following two rows
  • repeat until placemat is as long as you want, cast-off

You can also make coasters, small knitted pads to go under houseplants, table runners, or other rectangular knitted pieces to protect furniture or add a kick of color or pattern to your home.

Recommended Resource:

60 Quick Knits for Beginners: Easy Projects for New Knitters from Cascade. Lots of cold weather projects – hats, wristlets, cowls, pullovers, and scarves. Geared for beginning knitters, but we veteran knitters also like a quick and easy knitting project, too.

Knitting on the Go

Happy Knitting! Cindy

Cynthia Coe is an author, blogger, and avid knitter. Her books are available in paperback and e-reader edition on Amazon.com. Visit her Author page and follow this blog for more info and news.