Sunday, June 17, 2012

Knitting On the Go: MacGyvering It

No matter what kind of trip, or what your destination, if you're knitting, you'll need more than just yarn and knitting needles. It's really easy to forget scissors, tape measurers and cable needles at home. It's even easier, sometimes, to drop a stitch marker. But don't stress! Dig in deep, pull out that mullet wig from your carry on bag and embrace your inner MacGyver.

Problem: You dropped that stitch marker under your seat and can't squirm enough to pick it up.
Solution: There are a number of items that can be used to mark where you are in a pattern or the beginning of a row. Twistie ties from some airplane snacks can be twisted at the ends to form a ring that can be used as a marker. A rubber band and another piece of yarn can also work. If you get into a really tight spot, try the tab rom a soda can. It's not ideal, since parts of the tab can be sharp and cut the yarn, but it'll work in a pinch.

Problem: I totally left that tape measurer at home and my pattern says to knit until piece measures 16" from cast on edge!
Solution: Pull out my card! No, really, standard business cards are 2 inches wide and 3.5 inches long. Crease the business card in half to find the center and then just keep flipping the card over itself to measure your piece. If you're knitting the instep of a sock and aren't sure if it's time to start the heel or toe, you should know that the length of your foot is the same as the distance between your elbow and your wrist.

Problem: I forgot a pair of scissors!
Solution: Try a pair of nail clippers, or ask for a can of soda and carefully try to use the mouth of the can to cut the yarn.

Problem: My cable needle is stuck in my checked luggage!
Solution: Unless you're doing a super complicated cable, I can cable without a cable needle! For a cable that crosses to the left (a front cable), insert your right needle through the back loops of the stitches you need to knit first. Then, slide all the stitches off the needle carefully, and place the stitches that will cross to the left or front onto the left needle. Slide the stitches from your right needle back to the left needle and knit according to the pattern. For a right crossing cable (a back cable), instead of sliding the right needle through the back loops of the stitches you need to knit first, slide the right needle through the front loop of the stitches you need to knit first and follow the same directions. A video for this technique can be found here.

Problem: I knit too far and my stitch holders are in my carry on in the overhead bin.
Solution: This is the perfect time to ask the hot dude next to you for some floss. If you find that too embarrassing, however, you can always use a bit of yarn. Ideally, you'd use a contrasting yarn, but if you're stuck in a window seat without any other yarn, sometimes you've just got to make do.

Problem: I forgot this was an intarsia pattern and now I need bobbins!
Solution: Well, you don't really need bobbins. Sometimes bobbins make things easier, but you can use the whole ball of yarn and just move them around each other. You could also use a twistie tie to wrap small hits of yarn around, or you could make mini 15 yard balls.

Problem: My traveling companion freaked out and threw out my darning needles when she saw them thinking they aren't allowed on our mode of transportation but I have to seam this sweater and weave in the end!
Solution: It took me a while to figure this one out. I think the only solution I could come up with was to use a twistie tie Fold it in half and twist the bottom part around itself leaving a hole at the halved side for an eye.

Problem: I need to use the rest room but I'm afraid my stitches will fall off the tips of the needles.
Solution: You can either use a rubber band or hair elastic to keep the stitches off the tips or, you can stick your needle through a piece of in-eaten gum (you should really only do this with an un-sticky kind of gum - Orbit would work ok, but Trident Layers might not be preffered)

Problem: My dog got anxious in the back seat and ate my row counter.
Solution: Count the "v" shapes on top of each orther to figure out what row you're on. There at some pretty great smartphone and iPad apps out there that hopefully will be less likely to munched by your pooch. You can use Any note taking app, even an email or text message to keep track of your rows once you've figured out where you are in the pattern. Also, while I've almost completely scorned pen and paper, that dynamic duo can also help you in this instance

When possible, it's probably less stressful to prepare for these kinds of situations in advance. I have a Knit Kit a friend gave me as a gift. I found a spot in my purse to keep it and always carry it with me. It's got a yarn cutter, a crochet hook, a counter, stitch markers, a tape measures and a set of scissors that are TSA compliant. I call it a Swiss army knit for knitters.

I've got a few trips coming up in the next couple of months, and writing thesse posts has actually been rather helpful for my own planning. I hope they've been helpful to you as well.

Safe travels wherever the summer might take you and knit well!


CityMinx said...

dog ate the row counter?

Passionknitly said...

Yeah, well, it took a lot to come up with different strange scenarios.