I'm getting ready to take a cross-country trip to visit old
friends. From door to door I will travel on planes, trains, and automobiles,
accompanied by a trusty WIP: a new pair of socks. Since it's the eve of the busiest travel day of the year here in the United States, I thought I'd offer a few words of advice for the savvy knitting traveler.
I've succumbed to travel-knitting disasters in the past:
broken needles, dropped balls of yarn (on a train and a bus!), lost patterns,
run out of yarn, and all kinds of other mishaps. So to ensure that my socks will travel as
happily as I do, I take a few precautions.
Choose needles wisely.
There are a few factors at work here: durability, safety,
and loss prevention. (You can almost always take knitting on a plane within the United States; if you're traveling internationally, the rules may be
different.) Between squeezing bags shut and dropping things, I'm not a graceful
traveler, and I've broken plenty of wooden dpns in bags. I've even managed to
lose straight needles en route. For that reason, I always reach for metal
circular needles for a trip.
Pack a bag.
A dedicated knitting bag, that is. Resist the temptation to
put everything in one knitting bag; while you're reaching for your boarding
pass, your yarn may escape and roll away. Instead, tuck a small bag just big
enough for your project inside the rest of your luggage. Tom Bihn even makes small
water-resistant travel bags that double as bowls, which sit securely on a tray
table or in your lap; they also have a drawstring to keep your notions and yarn
inside. (Check out the roundup of knitting bags in the Summer 2013 issue of Sockupied.)
| A compact, waterproof knitting bag makes a great traveling companion. Here's the Hadaki Travel Essentials Kit from Sockupied Spring 2013.
Don't leave home without it (your WIP, that is).
It's tempting to grab a pattern, needles, and yarn on your
way out the door, but you'll probably wind up ripping more than you knit. You
want to be seeing the sights and drinking in new experiences, not restarting
four times because you got distracted and twisted the cast-on. Work a couple of
rows at least before tucking your work in your bag.
The right pattern is your best traveling
You probably know that travel isn't the best time for a
highly complex pattern, but there are some other factors to consider. If you
choose a cable pattern, practice cabling without a needle before you go on the
road. A simple lace pattern can be a good choice if you're comfortable picking
up a dropped stitch.
See the sights.
Don't choose a black yarn for travel knitting. In dimly lit
areas you won't be able to see your stitches well enough to knit (or knit
accurately, anyway!). A light colored yarn with good stitch definition will
make for happier travel knitting. Similarly, make sure your pattern is large
enough to read easily. If you're traveling with a tablet, it can be perfect for
easy pattern reading; as someone who loses things, I stick to paper when I'm away from home
Take a notion to pack wisely.
You want to travel light, but a few well-chosen notions can
save your knitting trip: A locking-ring stitch marker (doubles as a little
stitch holder), a tapestry needle, and a tape measure are my must-haves. If you
need one to pick up stitches, a short crochet hook is handy, too. You don't
need to bring the full tool kit with you, but these little doodads can really
save the day.
Drop the deadlines.
As we enter the holiday season, that list of gifts may be
looming. Do yourself a favor and set reasonable expectations . . . which means
not planning to crank out a pair of socks on a three-hour flight. Instead,
envision yourself knitting socks while enjoying a trip. Think of your knitting
as an opportunity to relieve the stress of travel, not add to it. Imagine getting to your destination with your
socks well begun.
Have a good beginning to the holiday season! May your travels (and your knitting) be joyful.