Seasons Greetings, Makers! Melanie of Stitch & Stretch here. I’m an alliteration-adoring yogini and keen knitter who likes to dabble in sewing and crochet and who is constantly blown away by the amazing, thoughtful, and supportive maker community we’re all a part of. (It’s totally brill, isn’t it?!) Yoga has been a part of my life for 10 years, but since picking up knitting two years ago, and realizing how similar the two are (after all, #knittingisthenewyoga), I decided to start a lil’ blog of my own. As I stitched my way into the uncharted territory of knitting, I began noting how both stitching and stretching were practices of self-care, outlets for creativity, and avenues to meet truly amazing people. It seemed too good to keep all to myself, so I carved out a wee slice of the world wide web for a blog, set up an IG profile and started sharing my reflections and creations.
I still may be an "Instagramma," considering I’m not up to date with all the ins and out of social media, but since hopping the platform, I’ve been continually fueled and inspired by YOU. I’m so grateful to Jessica and the Hook Nook team for providing this place to meet, share and learn from and with each other. I am honored to get a chance to greet you and share the Knotty to Nice Neck Wrap and Yoga Sequence! I’d love to stay connected with all you movers and makers out there, so come find me on IG @stitchandstretch so I can officially thank you for your bountiful #inspo.
But first, let’s stitch and stretch together!
It’s safe to say that holiday season is in full swing (Christmas is what, three weeks away?!). As such, there’s a pretty good chance that your “free time" is filled with things like: making every person on your list a gift, restocking all of your market inventory, preparing meals, shopping for last minute stocking stuffers, planning get-togethers, wrangling kiddos (or in my case, kittos), attending holiday parties, and on and on. In the hustle and bustle of the holi-daze, self-care often gets put on the back burner. There’s so much to do for others, that we forget to do something for ourselves! Well, let’s change that.
I’m here to tell you, I’ve got your back. (Well, mostly your neck and shoulders, but your back will feel good too.) May I present to you (drumroll….) the Knotty to Nice Neck Wrap and Yoga Sequence!
The Knotty to Nice Neck Wrap (or KtNNW for.. um, short?) is a quick and easy sewing project that will keep you cozy and help you relax by melting away any tension that you may be experiencing as a result of the holi-craze. A flax seed filling (and dare I recommend soothing essential oil droplets?!) provides a comforting weight that can be gently warmed in the microwave then wrapped around your shoulders for luxurious, calming, self-care tranquility.
As for the Yoga Sequence (it looks way more official capitalized, wouldn’t you say?), I’ve put together a 5 minute video of easy stretches to loosen up those physical knots, focused on relaxing and releasing trouble spots in the neck and shoulders, with some back and hip stretches thrown in for good measure. You don’t even have to stand up. Well, just barely.. at the end.. to transition to lying down. I mean, does it get any simpler? I kept it super short so there’s basically no excuse not to try it the next time you’re sitting down (like now, perhaps?). This stretch sesh and neck wrap will have those naughty knots feeling nice in no time at all. (Both are Santa approved, folks.)
Well, what do you say? How about we dedicate some stitch and stretch time in the name of self-care?
Knotty to Nice Neck Wrap
I am a very basic sewer, so you can be sure that the KtNNW is an uncomplicated project. Some cotton fabric, a little flax seed, a couple drops of essential oil (totally optional, but totally worth it), and a few straight stitches on the ol’ sewing machine and you’ll have yourself a sweet little treat. I supply basic instructions for a knit and crochet tube cover, but honestly, feel free to get creative - embellish it anyway you want, or leave it, um, unwrapped.
For the Neck Wrap:
Cotton fabric, washed, ironed and cut to 25”x13” (I upcycled some cotton sheets)
3 cups flax seed
3-4 drops essential oil (optional, but may I suggest relaxing lavender or invigorating peppermint?)
Half cup measuring cup
Neck Wrap Instructions
1. Fold fabric in half lengthwise and sew each short side with 1/2" seam allowance. (If you’re leaving your neck wrap unwrapped, then you will want to fold the fabric with the wrong side facing out.)
2. Turn inside out (poke those corners out too!) and iron.
3. Create 1/2" seam along the open end by folding fabric inward on each side, lengthwise. Iron across new seam line. Leave this side open for now. Your new dimensions should be 24”x6”.
4. Measure 4” increments and place a pin at 4”, 8”, 12”, 16” and 20”. You can place extra pins to ensure straight lines when sewing, or do as I did and lightly pencil a line widthwise at each of these marks.
5. Sew along each 4” mark widthwise, leaving the top of each pocket open.
6. If using essential oil drops, mix the drops with the three cups of flax seeds. Allow time for them to dry before using the flax seeds to fill the neck wrap.
7. Measure 1/2 cup of the flax seeds and use the funnel to fill each pocket. (Six pockets, 1/2 cup filling in each = 3 cups total). This is a medium weight. You can put slightly more in each compartment, but be careful not to overstuff the pockets - they’ll be difficult to sew and less comfortable while wearing.
8. Very carefully transport your neck wrap to the sewing machine. (Yes, I dropped it at this juncture, and I’m still finding flax seeds in curious places!)
9. Top stitch along the open end.
10. If you’re leaving your neck wrap unwrapped, then you’re done with the crafting part! Skip ahead to the Yoga Sequence video!
To whip up a quick and easy cover, pick your craft of choice below.
1 skein (120 yds) bulky yarn - I used Patons Classic Roving in Aran for the knit version
US 11 (8mm) circular knitting needles (or DPNs)
(any other embellishment supplies you may want - I used some red yarn to embroider a heart on mine with the duplicate stitch!)
Cast on 34 stitches and join in the round. Place stitch marker to indicate beginning of round.
Knit in the round until you have a tube that measures 26.5”
Cast off and weave in the ends.
You can block if you like, but the heat from your neck wrap once warmed in the microwave can serve as a “steam block.” (wink wink)
1 skein (120 yds) bulky yarn (I used Echoview Fibermill Roving in for the red Crochet version)
Size M/13 (9mm) crochet hook
(any other embellishment supplies you may want!)
Tie a slip knot and loosely chain 30
Join in the round with a slip stitch (making sure not to twist the foundation chain)
Single crochet in the first chain stitch from the hook. Chain 1.
*Skip the next stitch and single crochet in the following chain stitch. Chain 1.* Repeat these instructions until you come back to the slip stitch that joined the work.
For the next round and each subsequent round, single crochet in the chain 1 stitch of the previous round. Then chain 1.
Continue on in this pattern, single crocheting in the chain of the previous round, then chaining one, until you have reached approximately 26.5”.
To finish, make a couple of slip stitches across the top of your project and weave in the ends.
Knotty to Nice Yoga Sequence
The best part about the 5 minute stretch break that I’ll talk you through in the following video* is that you don’t need any special supplies. You can wear PJs (as I am), and perform these stretches on your couch or your bed - in the morning, afternoon or evening! Basically, if you’re cozied up on the couch reading this, Nama-stay right where you are and press play on the video. After the simple stretches, feel free to warm up** your Knotty to Nice Neck Wrap and absorb all the self-care benefits that you’ve just practiced.
Have a cozy, peaceful holiday season, and don’t forget to factor in some time for self-care everyday, movers and makers!
*As with any physical activity, please be mindful of your body and how you’re feeling. Never practice any exercise that results in pain, and stop at any time if you feel uncomfortable. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, please check with your doctor before performing any exercise demonstrated in this video.
**Do not heat your neck wrap in the microwave with a yarn cover on it, or other embellishments. To warm in the microwave, slip the cover off and heat in 30 second increments, checking the temperature after each increment. It helps to reorient the wrap in the microwave every 30 seconds. For instance, if you folded it one way to put in the microwave for 30 seconds, open it up and refold the opposite way for the following 30 seconds, and so on. Check the temperature of the wrap before putting it on exposed skin. Place a cover on the wrap, if you’re using one, and drape the wrap over the neck and shoulders.**