It’s vacation time! And knitting is an important part of your vacation plans. (Well, it is for me, so I assume it is for you too.)
A few things to keep in mind when you’re taking your knitting on the road…
- Wind your yarn before you go. All your yarn.
- Do an inventory of the materials needed for your project – don’t forget the cable needle!
- Always pack extra yarn in your travelling bag: traffic jams and flight delays happen, so have more yarn than you think you might possibly need for the trip.
- Pack extra yarn in your suitcase. I travel with two kinds of projects: something that requires very little attention, so I can enjoy the scenery and my companions’ conversation on whatever patio we’re enjoying; and something more complex project to help pass the time in the car, the airport lounge and the bus station.
- Pack your yarn in zip-lock bags so that everything is together and protected from sunscreen spills.
- Work fine-gauge projects: there’s a lot more knitting time and value in a single skein of laceweight or sock yarn than a single skein of worsted weight yarn. A single ball of sock yarn can easily entertain me for an entire weekend.
- If you’re a DPN knitter, consider learning magic loop or the two-circulars method to reduce the chance you’ll lose a needle.
- Photocopy your pattern – or print off a spare – and keep it in a sheet protector so if you spill your iced coffee the pattern is protected. And tuck a pen and some scrap paper in there to keep notes.
- And don’t forget to leave room in your suitcase for more yarn.
If you’re travelling by plane, there’s a few other things to keep in mind:
- Although metal needles are permitted by most airlines and airport security organizations, I prefer to play it safe: I switch off to wood, bamboo or plastic needles. I also pare down my kit: I don’t take scissors or a darning needle or anything metal or pointy in my carry-on bag. I pack the metal tools.
- If you need to cut yarn in-flight, consider packing some dental floss in your carry-on bag. The little floss cutter also cuts yarn.
- Dental floss can also be used as a lifeline. I highly recommend feeding a lifeline into your work before you leave for the airport… it’s useful if you make a mistake and need to undo, but it’s also useful in the unlikely situation of you being asked to surrender your needles. Just take the needles out and hand them over, but keep your work and your yarn.
I’m away on a quick weekend trip right now. My patio-sitting project is a plain sock, and my plane project is a lace shawl.
What are some of your favourite travel knitting tricks? What project do you like to take on the road?
On our last vacation, we thought for a night that our luggage was lost. I was nearly heart-BR sen. Not over how quickly the cost of all those clothes etc add up.
No. I couldn’t remember if I had packed some very prescious yarn.
I hadn’t brought it, and I was worried I would run out of projects. Turns out I had enough and had left the special yarn at home.
I’m not sure I would pack anything special in checked baggage again.
Keeping a self-addressed and stamped or flat rate envelope in your carry-on means that if you are asked to surrender your needles, you might be able to have them sent back to you. Solid lotion bars are also nice, since you don’t have to worry about what size bottle they come in.
Ravelry’s trip planner is worth a try. Map those travel LYS’s!
Also, long straight single-pointed needles are difficult for some uninformed TSA agents, or non-family seat mates. Circs can do the trick.
Row counters that click are cool and all, but apparently other air passengers don’t agree. And they wake up sleeping children. Silent smartphone counter apps, or my fave: paper and pencil tally marks.
lace shawl and a hat for me this long weekend. or also mittens, or another hat, or just getting started on a child sweater, or . . . oh dear. Happy trails, knitters!
“Pack your yarn in zip-lock bags”, yes! But you’ve overlooked the bonus tip: When packing your yarn in a bag, partially close the bag, then sit on it (with the opening to the side) to remove excess air and finish closing the bag. Less bulk to pack!
Fingernail clippers also work well for cutting yarn (or for trimming that jagged nail that keeps snagging your knitting).
I have had no difficulty with small gauge (#0-2) metal double-pointed needles in airport security; I have had to surrender scissors and darning needles.
My favorite travel project (especially for air travel) are socks.
I also rely on my iPad for patterns and notes. I make sure that before I leave the house, a copy is downloaded so that I do not need to use wireless to access it.
I’ll admit, I packed a hank of unwound laceweight yarn this weekend for a camping trip. Then I spent an hour and a half sitting in the sun at the campsite, peacefully winding that yarn by hand and watching the world go by.
Then that bad boy tangled on me, but only a little bit.
Point protectors! I’m on vacation, and every time I’ve lost stitches, it’s been because I put the knitting down w/o capping the needles w/ point protectors. I like the silicone ones, very grippy.
A simple rubber band around your needles works great as point protectors. When off the needles just slip it over your wrist. If it breaks or you do lose it – Very easy to replace!
En plane, I’ve never had trouble carrying on blunt scissors, the kind 6-year-olds use. I usually take socks as a travel project – again, never had trouble with DPNs, even metal ones. Only if I am checking a bag do I take long straights. Also, tuck your yarn into an old knee-high stocking to keep it tidy and untangled. And no matter where I go, I look for LYS’s to visit, so yes, make sure there is room for more yarn on the trip back!
If you’re flying somewhere other than the US, be sure to check their regulations – then you’ll know what is and isn’t allowed, which makes arguing with an overzealous/underinformed security agent much easier. Mexico, for instance, flat out doesn’t allow knitting needles in carry on bags last I checked.
Straight needles on planes are generally poor form unless you’re flying first class – too much chance of poking your neighbors.
Make sure you’ve got at least one project already cast on – makes it easier to demonstrate that those pointy metal things in your bag are, in fact, for knitting.
The TSA explicitly allows knitting and knitting needles on airplanes, and I haven’t actually had problems flying with knitting within the US. The occasional flight attendant will ask you not to knit during takeoff, but I haven’t even had that happen in a while.
Read through your whole pattern before you leave. That way, you’ll have a chance to look up any techniques you don’t know before you lose internet.
If you’re ambitious enough to do a beaded project while traveling, make sure you have a nice stable container so you don’t spill beads all over the plane/bus/train.
Socks are my go-to travel project, but if I have a book that I want to read also I’ll bring along a stockinet cowl to work on. The pattern that I use for it is really simple:
Using whatever yarn you want and using a provisional cast-on, cast-on as many stitches as you need to fit comfortably around a 16″ circular needle in a size appropriate for your yarn choice.
Then just keep knitting around in a circle until you have enough yarn for the bind-off.
Put your cast-on stitches onto a second needle and either work a 3-needle bind-off or graft the two ends together. (Or if you don’t mind the look, you could just use a long-tail cast-on and a basic bind-off and seam the ends.) It all depends on what kind of look you want your cowl to have.
If I know that I’m going to have time to just sit and knit, I might bring a lace shawl/scarf, but our vacations usually involve a lot of walking, so those don’t usually get much attention.
In addition to putting your patterns on photocopies so you don’t lose your originals, consider scanning them on PDF so you can also load them on your smart phone. It may not be the most convenient format, but it is always available, and my iPhone lets me enlarge bits of it for a good view when needed. I don’t find PDFs as easy to use on my e-ink reader because the page size stays small. A tablet may do better, but even that isn’t always in my purse like the iPhone.
If you want a PDF of a blog-written pattern that you can store for offline tablet reading or print to take with you, and have the Chrome web browser, you can use the “Print friendly & PDF” browser plugin. It’ll take any web page, let you take stuff out that you don’t need, then save as a PDF or print it out. You can also, therefore, use it to pare the page down to less printed pages, with less or no pictures, etc.
I think there’s a similar Firefox plugin, as well. (No idea about IE, I only grudgingly open it because my bank broke their bill pay functionality relatively recently for anything but.)
There’s also a free utility program called CutePDF that you can choose as your printer which will create a PDF from what would have printed using your browser’s regular print function.
I’ve never had trouble flying with needles (straight or circular) within the US, but had to relinquish my favorite blunt children’s scissors to Canadian security. As for patterns, PDFs of patterns that were “born digital” often let you copy and paste the text into a word processor. I usually move the pattern into Word, then strip out all of the directions for sizes other than the one I am making. Saves on confusion when knitting on the go, and can really cut down on the number of pages.