I’ve had a pair of lovely ukuleles hanging on my wall for years. I purchased them so that my youngest daughter and I could take lessons to enrich our homeschooling experience, but we didn’t stick with the lessons for very long. Though she loves music, she didn’t love making music, and I am not gifted with stringed instruments at all.
My 40th birthday came around last summer and I woke up thinking, “how do I want to age?” At this point that’s what’s going on, some rapid aging. I’ve begun to feel sluggish, both physically and mentally. I decided to try some things to see if I couldn’t sharpen up my thinking. I had read that picking up a musical instrument at my age can improve focus, battle brain-fog, and provide stress relief. And I’m all about stress-relief!
Shortly after my kids went back to school for the year I changed my daily routine so that each morning I carved out the time to learn to play the ukulele. I dusted off my old books, found a great YouTube channel for video lessons, and got to work. Despite not at all having a talent for stringed instruments, every day I made progress. I also found myself picking up the uke more than just once a day, practicing fingerings in the car, humming the songs I was working to learn, and finding ways to enjoy the process of learning to play the uke more.
No doubt, I’ve also experienced some of the improvements I was hoping for with regards to brain-fog and stress. You can’t stress and play the ukulele. It’s just not possible. At first I felt rusty and confused a lot as I struggled to make sense of ukulele music, but I kept at it and it got easier. I still struggle with strumming, but I’m amazed at how much my hand-eye coordination has improved in just a few months.
One thing that bothers me about my uke is how slippery the sucker is. If I’m wearing a long-sleeved shirt I cannot hold the darn thing. I know I’m probably doing something wrong there, holding it is not yet natural to me, but I wondered if a strap might help? I turned to Pinterest for answers.
There is a whole world of amazing ukuleles and ukulele straps out there! Thanks to Grace Vanderwaal and America’s Got Talent, there seems to be a big resurgence in interest in the ukulele happening right now. I found that many people had made themselves great ukulele straps. I decided I would try to knit one.
The first one I made was too long, because knitted straps are pretty stretchy. So I made another, and I liked it so much that I made another. Now I have cute straps to match each of our ukuleles.
I find that using a strap helps a ton, especially if I am standing to play or have a long-sleeved shirt on. This makes it easier for me to concentrate on learning to play instead of always worrying about the instrument slipping.
I would like to share my pattern with you but I caution that your strap may need to be longer or shorter based upon your size. I am a tall woman at almost 5’10”, so it is possible you may need to shorten your strap. Luckily this is a super quick and easy project that requires little yarn, so if you don’t like your strap you can adjust the pattern and remake it without feeling too bad about wasting yarn. I adjusted my first pattern by attaching the strap to the uke, putting it on, and then guessing how many more/less rows I would need to be more comfortable.
I love how this strap can be made in any colorway to suit your tastes. The only limitation is that chunky yarns won’t fit under the strings where you need to attach it to the instrument. I used Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable yarn for one of the straps, and some hand-dyed stuff I had purchased on Etsy some years ago and had squirreled away for the other.
Ukulele Strap Pattern
For the main strap:
Yarn: the sky is the limit, nothing too chunky or that frays/felts easy.
Needles: sz 5 (you’ll want to knit fairly tight stitches, so choose needles and yarn that work together to create a nice dense pattern.)
R3 inc, inc
R4 K2, YO, K2 (this leaves a hole to thread your tie-on’s through.)
R5 inc, k3, inc
R7 inc, k5, inc
Rows 8-75 (or 23″) K
R76 k2tog, k5, k2tog
R78 k2tog, k3, k2tog
R80 k2tog, k1, k2tog
R81 k, inc, k
R82 k2tog, yo, k2tog
R84 bind off
For the tie-ons:
Knit two I-Cords approximately 30″ long and 16″ long.
This cool knitting blog has a good I-Cord tutorial if you need one: I-Cord | Purl Soho
Putting it together: Now you can take your I-Cords and thread them through the yarnover holes you left in either end of the main strap. For the longer I-Cord you will want to make sure that it is secured in such a way that leaves one side longer than the other. I secured it so one length was 18″ long, and the other length is 12″. For the shorter piece of I-Cord I just ran it through the hole so that each length is the same. I used coordinating yarn and an embroidery needle to secure the I-Cords to the main knitting strap.
And that’s it! Now you just have to attach your strap to your uke and get to banging on it!
Today’s Project: Research ways I can destash a whole bunch of fleece I have left over from the mermaid tails I made kids for Christmas last year.
Today’s Soundtrack: Roller Derby Roadtrip Playlist on Spotify
I’m Reading: In a Different Key: The Story of Autism