It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the States, and I’m sure a lot of us are heading out of town. As you’re reading this, I’m high-tailing it across the country to Las Vegas for the Punk Rock Bowling festival, so travel has been on my mind a lot this week.
Even if you stay home this weekend, Memorial Day the unofficial start of summer, so beach trips and weekends at the lake are probably looming on the horizon. If you’re like me, you’ll want to take at least one knitting project (OK, if you’re really like me, you’ll be tempted to take three of them) to keep you busy and give you an excuse to ignore annoying relatives while you’re out of town. But what to take?
Vacation is a good time to think small, especially if you’re flying or traveling by train. It might be tempting to work on a sweater or blanket or other long-term project, but they’re pretty unwieldy to pack. Your best bet is to take along something like a hat or scarf, which can stop and start at any point, fit easily into bags, and generally don’t require you to elbow your seatmate as you work.
Circular needles are your friend here, too, even if you’re working something flat. Straight needles and DPNs are all too fond of escaping from you if you drop them, so they aren’t great for transportation. If you drop one side of a circular it will just dangle there instead of rolling away, never to be seen again.
Air travel with knitting can be a little nerveracking. Knitting needles are permitted in your carry-on by the TSA, but I know I always get a little nervous when I take them through security. There are a few tricks to feeling more secure about it, though.
First of all, if you’re taking a more complicated project, thread a lifeline through the live stitches. If for some reason you get a power-hungry, unreasonable TSA agent who takes away your needles (note: I have never once had this happen, but I get paranoid about it every time I fly), you won’t ruin the project. Sure, you’ll have to go through the flight without knitting, but you can get a new needle at your destination and continue. Next, don’t take scissors. Not even the little fold-up ones. Pack those in your baggage or buy some when you get there if you think you’re going to need them. Same goes for a yarn-sized sewing needle. The TSA website also says they allow needlepoint supplies, but it’s better not to risk it. I would also avoid cable projects, both because you don’t want the needle taken away and because it’s too easy to drop while you’re working and lose it.
I generally use wood needles, but if you’re normally a metal fan, consider switching to wood or plastic for the flight. There aren’t any material restrictions listed by the TSA, but to me it seems like metal is more likely to be mistaken for a weapon. I would also recommend not using circulars that are excessively long. If I remember correctly, 36 inches is the cut-off, and any longer than that would be horrible to use in those tiny little airplane seats, anyway. Of course, all the TSA website says officially is that knitting supplies are permitted, so these precautions are just extras to help make the trip smoother.
You may want to stick to simpler patterns, as well. It can be easy to get distracted and lose count on a trip, plus it’s annoying to try and keep track of a paper pattern if you need one. If you have a tablet or e-reader that handles PDFs, those are a great way to store patterns and don’t fly away like paper does. You can also have extras on hand in case you finish your project before the trip is over.
The most important thing to remember when you’re vacation knitting is to make sure you enjoy yourself. And maybe try not to get sand in the wool.