Five Tips for Taking Your Knitting on the Road
If you’re like me, I bet your current knitting project is within easy reach most of the time. When it’s not available, I’m disappointed. Frequently I can be heard muttering, “Should have brought my knitting …” when confronted with a line or a delay or some other generally boring situation with an indeterminate ending point.
So, of course I want to take my knitting with me when I travel. Years ago, while commuting between New Jersey and New York by train, I was known as “the knitter”. The seat next to me was generally the last one filled (unless I ran into a friend) because as soon as anyone saw the knitting needles, they just kept going.
But I digress on my mini-journey down Memory Lane. I’m interested to identify the key elements of “knitting on the go”, specifically when you’re traveling far away.
Here are a few tips that may help along the way.
Finding local yarn stores – It’s fun to seek out local yarn shops in distant locations and score exotic yarns and accessories as souvenirs. I love associating a project with the place where I knit it or bought the yarn. There are a couple of websites that can help in your search that appear to be fairly reliable: Knitmap.com and Ravelry.com, which has a yarn shop finder on their “Yarns” page. Both offer listings for domestic and international locations. Not sure a single source is comprehensive, though, since when I tested Paris I turned up fairly short - and different - lists for both. Alternatively, a Google search will provide lots of data to wade through.
Types of project – I’ve carried projects in a variety of sizes (and projects that grew from small to large) and prefer the smaller the better. Some options are: small scarves, socks, hats, mittens, children’s items and – my personal favorite – dishcloths. It fits my sweet spot for a project that's small, portable and generally not too complex. So many of the patterns are just interesting enough to keep me engaged, but not so specific that I need to pay too much attention.
Patterns and instructions – So many gorgeous – and large – knitting books can hold their own in an elegant designer tablescape. Love to own those books, but don’t love the thought of hauling them around to work on my knitting. Back in the day, I would photocopy the pattern pages to capture the parts I needed. Then, assemble the pieces to give me something portable that was also OK to scribble on. Today, all that pain is gone thanks to KnitCompanion! You’re probably carrying your favorite tablet with you anyway, so it’s there waiting for you to sit down to knit a few rows.
Accessories and needles – I wanted to put the question to rest about whether needles and pointy accessories are permitted on flights, so I checked @AskTSA, on TSA.gov. Here’s their definitive answer (which also proves that they do have a sense of humor): “Let me get directly to the point here. I’m not spinning a yarn when I tell you that knitting needles and needlepoint items, including scissors under four-inches, are allowed in your carry-on bags. This includes and is not limited to circular knitting needles, bamboo, wooden, aluminum, metal, and plastic knitting needles, double pointed knitting needles, knitting hooks, knitting stitch holders, sewing kits, sewing needles, sewing pins, and sewing scissors (blades shorter than 4 in).However, circular thread cutters, or any thread cutter with a blade must be packed in your checked baggage.” Experience has shown that circular needles are easiest to use on the road, and interchangeable tips provide lots of flexibility to switch into a new project with a different gauge. Here’s the set I use – Knit Picks Interchangeables. I also love these little foldable scissors.
Knitting bags – Unless you want to get inspired to write a series of children’s books about a lost ball of yarn, like I did, I heartily recommend finding a knitting bag with a top that secures - preferably with a zipper. So many of the bags I saw are boxy or cylindrical and I thought they may be too big for travel. Here are some different options. I thought this one could be used as a carryon, since it's fairly large but looks more streamlined. This one has a nautical look and, while the drawstring top is useful, it also has a separate section in the bottom that attaches with a zipper. And the price is definitely right! Last up is this smaller bag, with a zipper. All appear to be useable for travel, depending on your personal preference. And, when carrying a separate knitting bag is not in the cards, don't forget that a nice gallon-size ziplock bag (or two!) can work in a pinch. Sometimes it's the perfect solution!
Happy travels wth your knitting!