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Every year we go to the beach, which involves 12 hours of driving one way. Through the years I’ve learned how to build the best travel knitting kit to keep me entertained.
If you’re a crafter, you know how important travel time can be to getting time to create. As a knitter, I love that we drive to the beach every year, because that gives me 12 hours — each way — to knit.
I give a lot of thought to my travel knitting kit each year and have a pretty good system for picking projects and knowing what to pack.
How Many Projects?
Probably the most important question to consider when building a travel knitting kit — or crochet kit, for that matter — is how many projects you need to pack.
The answer will depend on how much travel time you have (and whether you are driving or being a passenger, of course!), how long you will be on vacation and how much downtime you expect to have to devote to knitting.
It’s easy to think you’ll need a lot of projects, but try to be honest with yourself about how much time you will actually spend crafting. I know that I will knit most of the drive, for instance, but not as much when we’re actually at the beach (I prefer to read oceanside).
Still, I do tend to overdo it just in case and usually bring three projects.
What Kinds of Projects?
Choosing projects for travel knitting is rather personal because you know what you like. But in general I would say the best projects are somewhat easy but not so easy you’ll be bored by them.
You’ll probably want to choose projects that don’t involve new-to-you techniques but are engaging enough to keep you interested over long hours of sitting and knitting.
You may want to include a project you’ve already started, as well as some new or just-started projects (casting on in a moving car can be a little tricky).
It’s a good idea to choose projects that don’t need a lot in terms of yarn or other supplies. Socks and lightweight shawls are great because they often use one skein of yarn and give you lots of knitting time.
Travel Knitting Project Examples
A couple of years ago I took a bamboo sweater on vacation. It was boxy and mostly in Stockinette Stitch, so it was easy to knit and a large project but the yarn balls were small so it was easy to pack. [Related: these easy fingerless gloves would be a great travel knitting project for a short trip.]
This year I knit a Wingspan shawl completely while on vacation (I cast on the project in the car before we left home) and I think it may be the perfect project for traveling. It uses a single skein of lightweight yarn so it doesn’t take up much space. It’s all Garter Stitch so the knitting is easy and you don’t really have to pay much attention. The stitch markers tell you when you need to do something different. The short rows make it more interesting than straight Garter Stitch. It’s not a huge project but it does take a long time to knit.
A project I have taken with me for a couple of years that isn’t as successful for car knitting is the Belinda Wrap from Mason-Dixon Knitting. It’s relatively easy but because every other row is all decreases and double yarn overs (worked in mohair yarn) you really have to look at the project a lot while you’re working it, which isn’t the best when you want to take in the scenery. And while it’s not hard it takes more attention than I would like my car knitting to need.
Of course this is all personal and over time you will find your ideal travel projects, too.
What to Pack in Your Travel Knitting Kit
- knitting needles — multiple sizes as needed, perhaps an extra DPN if you are using them in case you drop one under your seat (ask me how I know) [Related: how to make your own knitting needles from skewers.]
- a printout of the pattern in case you don’t have internet access
- stitch markers if needed for the pattern
- any other notions required
- yarn needle
- crochet hook (for fixing dropped stitches)
- tape measure
I am mostly writing here about traveling by car, but the same thought process happens when traveling by air. I know that in the United States its fine to bring knitting needles on a plane (there are some restrictions on scissors), though I usually stick to projects on circular needles so I don’t drop a needle in flight. If you’re traveling in a country other than the United States, please check with airline or airport security to determine what’s allowed and plan accordingly.
What to Use for a Knitting Bag
Maybe you already have a favored knitting bag or a tote bag you use for that purpose. I tend to just stick my current project in my purse or computer bag, but when I’m traveling I like to have some kind of a project bag to hold all the needed supplies.
This year I used a nylon backpack that was swag from a conference my husband went to. It wasn’t the best idea because the size 1 DPNs stashed inside kept poking through the bag.
I like using plastic zip-top storage bags for this purpose in a pinch, but probably my favorite option is one of those heavy-duty plastic bags that sheets or pillowcases come in. They’re a decent size for holding materials, sturdy and already in your house. And you can see through them. What could be better?
What are your tips for travel knitting? Do you have things you always pack or favorite types of projects to knit? I’d love to hear about it!