Guest Post Jen Discusses packing a travel bag for your Knitting

Hi there!  I’m Jen, and I knit, crochet, and try out any other crafts I like and write about them on the blog ‘Everyday Life at Leisure,’ a blog for the company Leisure Arts.  But since Debbie’s writingover there today, I have the chance to talk to you over here in her space. It’s nice to meet you!

I thought today I’d talk about packing a project bag for travel.  Traveling to different places is educational, beautiful, and sometimes life-changing–to say nothing about the part where it’s fun and amazing. But it can also take a while.  And this is why you hear knitters describe some patterns or projects as “car knitting” or “plane knitting.”  A well-packed project bag will get you through the slower legs of a trip and you’ll have (you hope!) a beautiful project that reminds you of your adventure when you finish it.
First off, the project bag itself.  I prefer a medium-sized drawstring tote made of cotton.

  It can be rolled up and squished into a corner of my purse.  It’s also washable. I’ve been seeing more project bags at my local yarn store that are made with thicker fabric, like they’re almost made out of oilcloth.  I dream of them, and may move up to something like that as my family’s car trips have even more sticky drinks and crumbs (I have a two-year old) to protect my yarn.  Either way, something soft and ‘smooshable’ works best and any bag without Velcro can be a suitable project bag.

Secondly, your tools.  There’s your knitting needles, of course.  And then, if you have space for it or you’re following an unfamiliar pattern, needles in the next size up or down.  I could almost swear that traveling gauge is different from regular gauge.  Then there are scissors, preferably ones that have a cover or that can lock closed.  You don’t want anything that could open up and cut your knitting if your bag gets jostled around a bit!  The TSA websitestates that scissors that have pointed tips and are under 4″ are allowed on planes.  I have heard friends say it’s under 3″, though.  A small measuring tape will come in handy, and stitch markers can be helpful for projects that don’t even call for stitch markers.  Sometimes it’s nice to, well, mark something that you wouldn’t normally have trouble following at home.

You’ll need yarn. You probably knew that.  You might even need enough to finish your project–or at least more than what you think you’ll need to get to the point in your project you hope to reach while on your trip.  Most of us don’t get as far as we think we will on our traveling projects, but I can’t imagine how frustrating it would be to have several more hours or days of traveling left and nothing to work on.  Mostly because it’s never happened to me (let’s talk about that two-year-old again…) and I hope it never will.  And that’s why I probably pack two much yarn. 
I prefer circular knitting needles for tight spaces.  They fold up more easily into bags, and I can keep my projects in my lap more easily.  But I’d never tell you to use them.  That’s far too personal of a knitting choice for me to butt in.  I would recommend point protectors, which keep your stitches from sliding off the needles and keep the needles from poking holes in your bag.  I tend to just wind up small rubber bands at the ends of my needles, though.  That way I’m not too upset if I lose them.
Also, I like to keep a little bit of scrap yarn in my project bag.  Just a few yards long, and make sure it’s a really stark contrast to your project.  Sometimes on big projects, I like to tie a little scrap of yarn on a stitch so I can see how much progress I’m making.  Checking that little bit of yarn a few rows back helps me think “Look at how much I’ve done!” instead of “How much more do I have to go?”  “How much longer?” is not a question I want to ask or hear when it comes to a trip or a knitting project, and keeping track of my progress  helps me be a little more cheerful and focused.
And a good travel project?  I like baby sweaters.  They’re small, they have changes to keep me interested, and I know a lot of babies.  Cowls and hats are also fun.  Some people swear by socks.  Or scarves.  I had originally planned to tell you to keep your project small, but you know what?   It’s your trip!  And your knitting!  If you want to get crazy with an adult-sized cardigan or even an afghan, I applaud you.  I do at least recommend a pattern you’ve worked before, or at least one similar.  It’s nice to have a distraction, but I don’t want to miss the sights because I’m concentrating.  And if your pattern is in a large book, make copies of the page with just your pattern to keep your bag light and your space a little freer.

Lastly, if you can manage it, make sure your project bag has a little bit of space left in it.  Knitted-up projects usually take up more space than the yarn you’ll use to make them, and there’s always the chance you’re going to a place where you can buy souvenir yarn.  So leave a little room for some extra skeins in your project bags.  Or your checked luggage.  I’m not judging.  It’s your trip and I hope you enjoy it!  Happy knitting!”

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