Friday, May 18, 2012

Knitting On the Go

Maude's mini sock in action.
I travel a lot. My family lives 4 hours away and I visit them frequently. I used to have a job where I traveled quite a bit for work on planes. My boyfriend and I try to take a vacation once a year. It's great to have time off from work and I actually really enjoy business trips due to the amount of knitting I tend to get done.

I've got packing clothes down to a science, but what about keeping myself occupied? I've got some practice planning travelling knitting projects too.

I have a few posts drafted to include tips on how to plan, pick and pack your knitting for maximum travel fun and minimum knitting tragedy. I'll focus on what to think about before you start travelling, how your destination and type of trip could impact your knitting, and some handy knitting gadgets that come in handy on the go and everyday items that can be used in a pinch in case you're in a spot where you can't find something to help you. These posts will be bolstered by some helpful resources to help you in your planning as well.

Personally, for trips where I know I'm going to have a lot of time to knit (and relaxing ones that I'm super excited to go on!) I start thinking about what project I'm going to take with me about a week before I go. I'm the kind of person who literally packs clothing the day before I need to leave (sometimes only HOURS before she needs to leave!), so the fact that I think about knitting this far in advance, and make it part of my excitement for a trip is telling, I think. Here are some ideas for preparing that go from extreme, to throw-all-the-yarn-i-own-that-can-fit-in-the-bag-in-the-bag. Just some thoughts I came up with, I'll let you in on my own process later...
  • Figure out your rate of knitting. Start about a month before you depart. Knit something small and simple like the leg of a sock or a handwarmer, maybe even a sleeve. Time yourself to see how long it takes you to knit and figure out your time per stitch ratio (Take the # of stitches in a round or a row and multiply that by the number of rows you knit for the total number of stitches you knit and then take the time in minutes it took you to knit all those stitches and divide it by the total number of stitches). Now you can take the amount of time you'll spend travelling and multiply it by your rate of knitting to find out how many stitches you'll be able to knit in transit. Ideally, if you're not intending to knit at your destination, this should be higher than the number of stitches you need to complete a WIP if you choose to bring one. This calculation gives you a realistic picture of how much you can accomplish, which can be rather helpful. Who wants to over-pack knitting that they won't get to? If I actually ever did this calculation, it would probably decrease the anxiety I have over whether I need to bring that 5th project with me or not...
  • Map out the nearest yarn stores. Every time I travel somewhere new, and sometimes even when I travel to visit my parents, I hop onto and search for yarn stores near my destination. Write them down! Yes! Even the Holly Hobby or the Michaels! You'll never know when you might have an emergency! I've definitely stopped at a Holly Hobby in Bentonville, AR because I needed a darning needle to finish a sock. What if a dastardly TSA employee hates knitters and takes your needles? What if you didn't calculate your rate of knitting and ran out of projects before it's time to go home!? Know before you go! This can also be helpful to recalculate yourself after a whole day with either your family,or an in-law's family or a business meeting that just didn't go the way you wanted it to.
  • Jot down some yardages/weights of yarn for projects you are interested in. In today's smartphone world, sometimes we think that cell service is omnipresent. Sometimes we think our own service provider is everywhere. I was recently up in New Hampshire and it seems as though my carrier did not get along with the mountains as well as I did. Sure, I could have asked the shopkeep to check out my Ravelry page and let me know how much yardage I'd need of something, but when you're just browsing and aren't sure, you might not want to talk to the salesperson right away. This is also a helpful strategy in the event that your significant non-knitting other is only allowing you so much time in the Sheep Shrine or when you'd feel awkward making them wait (which is more my case). Jotting down yardages can be an efficient and quick way to get the souvenir yarn you want while saving the relationship with the one you love. :)
  • At the very least, take a sock or shawl. Those kinds of projects are easily transportable, compact, and take a sufficient amount of time to knit so that if you start them on the plane, depending on where you're going, you should at least be able to tide you over until you can get to a yarn store at your destination.

Until the next post on Tailoring Your Knitting to Your Destination, check out these projects that I've knit while traveling with varying degrees of success.

FOs Knit while Traveling

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