We are slowly approaching 3 months of isolation here in China. Life in the city is beginning to move back to pre- Coronavirus times, but you can sense the trepidation. There is still anxiety out there of contracting the virus. One positive sign is out school just made some of the final decisions to reopen in a few weeks. We will finish out the last six weeks of school on campus. The plans are a little sad for the kids (e.g., They can only play in designated areas with no equipment and at a distance from each other) but I am sure they will adapt.
For the last month, I have really been on a crochet kick. Especially with making toys. One of the fun projects I embarked on is making crochet vegetables for my daughter. Who knew produce could be so fun?
I am attempting to use up my scrap yarn, which has driven a lot of the color/ veggie choices. So far we have a cucumber, mushroom, bell pepper, tomato, and eggplant. Currently in the works is some broccoli and a carrot.
I am not using patterns, nor do I have extensive crochet construction knowledge, so I am just going with the good old intuition method. The hardest one to capture has been the red bell pepper- or capsicum as my Australian friends call it- due to the bumpy contours. With this one I used triple crochet stitches mixed with single crochet stitches to try to get the bumps near the stem just right. Not bad huh?
My mushroom needs a little something I think. Depending on what angle you are looking from, people have confused it with garlic. Maybe it is the color?
I will continue plodding along with this little project as the scraps make themselves available. It is a good filler for those times I am between knitting projects.
I live in Southern China, which means we have been in isolation since February. We are now in Week 8 and I am getting a severe case of restlessness. Like everyone I just want life to go back to normal. On the other hand, I am very thankful that the Chinese government enforced isolation and tried to make life here as safe as possible. Did the country take a hit financially? Absolutely! But in my mind if you have a drop in people available for the workforce and are dealing with something that is going to suck all of the healthcare resources isn’t that more damaging to the economy in the long run? I just hope that the rest of the world gets onboard and tries to do everything possible to make sure that COVID-19 is contained.
The days when we could go where we please.
A big complaint that I have heard from friends and people on the news is the fear of boredom. I feel like I sound so old when I say, “Well back in the day we were always bored, but we just dealt with it.” When I was in primary school there were tons of time we were bored. We couldn’t rely on the internet or smart phones. We had to get creative and think of something to entertain ourselves with for long periods of time.
Over these last 8 weeks I have been trying to reset my mind. I have been making myself a to do list every day to stay productive. I have found that doing things that make me feel productive give me a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day and combat some of the feelings of idleness.
Here is what I have been up to.
Organizing my house! I hate hate hate hate clutter. So I have started to organizing my house. It has started with the clothes. I took a note from Marie Kondo and I have to say that lady is a genius.
Caught up on my knitting. I don’t have a huge stash issue per se, but I do have a queue issue. I love purchasing and downloading patterns so I can be ready to start something new when I finish a project. Right now I have about 15 projects waiting in the wings. One of the top ones is the Clementine.
Tried some new recipes. We live in a pretty rural area so I need to do most of the cooking as there are not many restaurants open. This Mango, Cucumber, and Tomato Salad was great with some chicken wings.
Online learning. There are tons of resources out there to broaden your knowledge. Find a blog, webinar, and/or Youtube video and learn something new. I am currently learning about how to be better reading instructor.
Learn a language. My husband and I are trying to learn Mandarin. After living in China for 2.5 years (and hiring a Mandarin speaking nanny for our baby) we decided to get serious about mastering the language. We enrolled in online classes. Prior to this we were using APPs and Rosetta Stone. Check out free APPs like Duolingo and Babbel for many popular languages to get started.
Get exercise! Our living compound has a lot of open space . We try to take walks at times when there isn’t a lot of people outside. If you can’t venture outside there are always Youtube videos for all types of exercise. I personally love Zumba and Pilates.
Catch up with friends. Remember when you use to call people all the time? Like actually picked up the phone, dialed, and communicated with oral language? If you are anything like me you text all the time. Due to the time difference between China and the US, it is often easier for me to text people. Recently, I have been using FaceTime to have some long chats and catch up with friends.
Social isolation doesn’t have to seem like you are in jail. I am not going to lie it sucks, but I feel it is my duty as a human on earth to do my part to protect my fellow humans. We can all do our part! Wash your hands, stay away from crowds, and take some time to do things that you have been meaning to do!
What have you been up to during your isolation time?
In 2016, my husband treated me to two skeins of Madeline Tosh DK in Spectrum for my birthday. This yarn was pricey and I felt it deserved a very special pattern. Well 4 years later, the Sintra Shawl came into my life. I am not the hugest fan of shawls but this one called to me. The present shape made it more of a scarf shape and I couldn’t resist the lace detailing.
This was my first time working with Madeline Tosh and it was delightful. The yarn has great stitch definition which was essential to this project. Aside from the price point (two skeins for $50 😫), I was a little disappointed that my hands and sleeves kept getting dye on them from the yarn.
I really loved that this pattern had an option of following charts as well as written directions. For some reason, I kept messing up the transition from Chart A to Chart B. I ended up frogging back twice. Of course I blamed the pattern. It couldn’t be my fault! It most certainly was my fault. I did not properly read how many times I needed to repeat Chart A. This kept leading to stitch count issues. Once this was figured out it was smooth sailing.
Another finished object completed! With all these cool weather items completed I better start looking into moving out of a tropical climate (hahah).
Designing isn’t something I do on the regular, but sometimes and idea hits and I run with it. Meet the 4 Square Cowl now available on Ravelry!
This cowl was created so that all knitters have the chance to incorporate multiple colors into their work without using complicated techniques. If you know how to knit and slip a stitch you are definitely able to make this cowl!
What I love about this design is the endless color combinations to choose from. Love sports? Use your team colors! Holiday coming up? Get festive with your knitwear! Have a skein if gorgeous variegated yarn? No problem! The 4 Square Cowl has endless possibilities.
This pattern is intended for worsted weight yarn and knits up pretty quick. The pattern repeats in a series of five stitches so it is very easy to adjust the circumference of the cowl.
Supporting independent designer is something I try to do often. How can you? Head to Ravelry to purchase the pattern and/or favorite it. Also you can follow me on social media (@knitsbywhitsf) and hit the like button. 😁
I was working on a shawl as we were traveling through Austria only to discover I forgot to pack the second ball of yarn. 😑 Lucky for me the internet saved the day. I found a yarn shop in Innsbruck and a pattern on Ravelry and was good to go.
My little one is acquiring quite the knitted collection. It is so nice to have someone else to knit garments for. I chose the Love Leaf Dress mostly due to the yardage and yarn specifications listed. I didn’t want to get into another yarn chicken situation. This pattern is a top down raglan construction with a lace panel down the front. I made the dress more of a tunic length so the skirt is about 5 inches rather than 8.
Now let me tell you about this yarn. It is from Ferner Wolle (Austrian Brand). Wow is it soft and I really enjoyed working with it. It does not have a tight twist, however, I don’t think that affected the definition of the lace panel that much. Since I didn’t bring extra needles I popped into another craft shop along our journey and purchased a pair of Addi circulars. Wow oh wow! I love Addis! They are pointy, light weight, and the cable is super pliable. I may have to look into purchasing more needles from this brand.
It is starting to look like it will warm up around here so I think baby will not have many more woolly knits. Time to investigate garnments meant for spring.
I am not a big fan of bulky yarn. I have a hard time knitting for long periods with big yarn and the big needles needed to work it up. Plus it is always tricky to weave in ends so that they stay secure. However, I saw CardiZen by Denise Bayron and knew I had to make it. I loved the motojacket feel of the cardigan.
CardiZen is a super well written pattern! The cardigan is constructed sideways, but Denise walks you through every step. She includes ‘tips’ and relevant schematics for each section. This was super helpful as the construction was new to me.
The tip I did not follow was to use an all natural fiber. My funds did not allow for this. Instead I used Loops and Threads Cozy Wool. Due to the small acrylic content in the yarn I could not just fuse the yarn together with wet splicing. I managed to weave in all the ends pretty well, but we will see what happens as I wear it.
The only modification I made was knitting a full sleeve rather than a 3/4 sleeve. My wrists get cold really easily! Overall, I am really happy with this cardigan. It is so cozy. My husband even made comment that he thought it looked cool (this is saying a lot as he rarely comments on my fashion). My only dilemma now is how to style it!
Innsbruck is such a charming town I almost have to pinch myself to make sure it is real. Imagine pastel colored buildings seated in front of snowy mountains that follow the curves of a gorgeous river. This is Innsbruck in a nutshell.
Being that the town is set in a snowy place I suspected there was a yarn store. My suspicions were correct. I found this small shop on the outside of the Old Town.
Glattverkehrt is about what the sign advertises… wool. If you are not a wool lover this yarn shop is not for you. Aside from alpaca and a very tiny cotton section, the stock in this shop is all about wool. This disappointed me a little as I was looking for a bit more variety as I live in a super hot climate and wool can be worn maybe 1-2 months per year.
Another warning… this shop is very narrow. I was with my infant and her stroller barely fit in the shop with enough room to walk around. However, the shop keeper was super nice and helped me get the stroller in and out of the shop without destroying anything.
A plus side to Glattverkehrt was that it had decent price points as well as a great stock of sturdy sock yarn. This yarn is the stuff you use when you want socks to last and last. So did I buy anything? I did! I purchased a DK weight Austrian wool. I picture it will be a nice cowl or maybe tunic for the baby.
This shop wasn’t terrible, but it wouldn’t be my go to LYS as I like to knit with a little bit of everything. What kind of fiber do you like stocked in your LYS?
Why have I not investigated this earlier? This is the age of technology for heaven sake! All knitting related knowledge is often just a Google or YouTube search away. I like to try to figure out things on my own, but let’s be real that takes up valuable knitting time. Especially if someone has figured it out already.
I had just finished my third Flax Sweater in the family of Flax Sweaters I had been making for Christmas. I got to the armholes and was again frustrated by the gaps that appeared at the underarm. Ugh! Normally I duplicate stitch the holes, but I figured there has to be another way out there.
So I finally took the time (this was after I had finished all of the sweaters) to look up some tips for ‘minding the gap.’ Better late than never right? I plan to try this on my next sweater.
What is your favorite technique for avoiding underarm gaps?
Over winter holiday we headed back to the USA to visit family in Massachusetts. We stayed for two weeks so we had ample time to do some day trips. My parents recommended that we head to Marblehead, MA to take a stroll around the historic town and see the harbor. When people recommend places for me to go, the knitter in me immediately does a yarn store search. Lucky for me there was a yarn shop listed on the main shopping street. Yippee!
Marblehead Knits was a cute shop in a lovely location. It was small, but stocked from top to bottom. Like many of my favorite LYSs there was a selection of high end yarn down to budget options. I was happy to see that the higher end items ($20 USD+) were not just the standard Madeline Tosh yarn. I wasn’t quite able to detect the organization of the shop yet, I was browsing so it didn’t matter to me.
So what did I find? Two skeins of Three Irish Girls yarn, which I had heard about before and have not had the chance to see in person. I also picked up two skeins of yarn dyed by a local indie dyer. I found this really lovely shawl pin as well.
Marblehead Knits is a delightful yarn shop to stop by if you are ever visiting the Boston area. Take a half day trip to tour the town, grab some lunch and stock up on a few skeins. 😉
I have a fickle relationship with crochet. I enjoy the intricacy of the stitches and the ease of incorporating color into a piece. However, the creation process is just not as relaxing as knitting for me. Knitting has the advantage because I don’t have to look at my hands all the time. With this being said, I generally have a crochet project languishing in my yarn bins. Case in point this blanket. It has been sitting around for about a year. Every now and then I pick it up and add a few rows and then it gets cast aside once again.
Last week, I decided I had reached a point that this WIP should move to FO status. It is big enough to be a baby blanket or lap blanket if your thighs are cold. I used acrylic based yarns with a size 7.0mm hook. I just made up the stitch design as I went along. I kept the general idea of a granny square while adding some other elements.
I need to give this blanket a good wash and blocking and then it will be all set to find a new home. I don’t think I will search for a crochet project anytime soon, but I never know when my hands will get the itch to change it up.