Traveling affords knitters large stretches of uninterrupted time to enjoy and indulge in their craft. Travel knitting is one of my favorite varieties of knitting recreation, since it provides opportunity to make large amounts of progress on projects. Knitting is the perfect craft to pair with travel, since it’s so easily portable and doesn’t require special equipment or a lot of space. Here are some travel knitting tips that I find useful during my frequent cross country travel excursions.
Knowing whether you can take knitting needles onto a plane or train or bus is pertinent. According to the current TSA guidelines on their website, knitting needles are allowed on flights, but these guidelines are subject to change. You should check www.tsa.gov before packing your knitting bag to be sure you’re not bringing anything that will be confiscated. I like to use a circular pendent cutter for cutting yarns, but some people find that fingernail clippers do a fine job as well. Baggage regulations for train and bus travel need to be checked with the specific company you’ll be using.
Don’t Pack Too Many Projects
This is sometimes difficult advice for me to follow myself, when there are always so many tempting works in progress and projects to be clamoring for attention. Although it is tempting to believe that the uninterrupted crafting time travel provides will somehow increase your productivity tenfold, travel knitting is not magical. Space is at a premium when traveling, and too many knitting projects and too much yarn will just frustrate you, and impede creativity.
Provide Some Variety
This may seem like contradictory advice, but packing some variety of projects is just as important as making sure not to over pack your travel knitting bag. I recommend two projects, one that is very simple to knit, with an easily memorized pattern, and a more challenging project that requires thought and concentration.
My favorite mindless knitting is a project that consists of long stretches of plain stockinette stitch, such as plain socks, a Pi Shawl, plain garter stitch scarves, shawls, blankets etc. I can knit them while reading, watching scenery and holding a conversation. They are easy to pick up again if interrupted, so they’re great for standing in lines.
I recommend packing a challenging project that requires some thought for those other times, such as during the flight, that there aren’t often interruptions to your travel knitting. I find that choosing something that needs some concentration to accomplish for my travel knitting project helps to pass the long hours of a flight more easily.
Keep It Simple
A challenging travel knitting project that requires a lot of concentration does not also need to require a lot of yarn, or a large pattern. I have found that a lace knitting project makes ideal travel knitting. Lace weight yarn is less bulky “per knitting hour”, if you will. Because it is so thin, lots of yardage fits into a smaller space than heavier weight yarns, so it is easier to travel with lace knitting, knowing that you’ll have plenty of yarn to keep you busy the entire trip.
I would avoid color knitting projects, because by their very nature, they tend to require packing and keeping track of a large number of balls of yarn. Even a simple four color pattern on a small object would automatically require packing and carrying around four times as much yarn as it would take to knit the same project in a single color, textured or lace technique.
Another way to simplify travel knitting is to make a shorthand version of the pattern, and leave the bigger magazine version at home or in your checked luggage. I have found that copying each line of a repeated pattern, like those for a lace scarf, onto index cards and threading them onto a ring makes a wonderfully portable pattern. It also is so much easier to follow than the standard printed version in a magazine or pattern book.
These travel knitting tips are based on my frequent experience with knitting on long trips, either by plane or car. In my personal experience, travel knitting is a great way to pass the time on a trip, make lots of progress on a project, and very often serves as a special reminder of a particular trip, every time I see the finished project.