What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘knitting’, followed by ‘travel’?
Maybe you think of your expensive knitting needles getting confiscated by the security guard at customs.
Or you think of long road trips with you in the passenger’s seat, happily knitting away on a pair of socks.
Or overflowing suitcases stuffed with purchases from all those new yarn shops you just visited.
Or … maybe you don’t think of anything at all. After all, you wouldn’t normally hear those words together in a sentence.
Let’s change that, shall we? Knitting is one of the greatest activities you can do to pass the time while traveling. It’s highly portable, doesn’t require any batteries, can be done on a plane (even during takeoff), and is a great conversation starter for meeting fellow travelers.
Last year, I spent 11 months travelling with a very large yarn stash stuffed into my backpack. Here are the “knitting” contents of my backpack at the end of my trip.
Along the way, I learned a thing or two about what can go wrong with your knitting while travelling. And because I don’t want any of you to make the same mistakes I did, I’ve put together a list of my top “Do’s and Don’ts” for knitting while on the road.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Knitting While Traveling
- DO: Bring a good variety of needles.
Needles can be harder to find than yarn in most countries, and nothing is more frustrating than not being able to complete a project because you are missing the correct needle size. Don’t let this happen to you. Make sure you bring a good assortment of your most commonly used needle sizes before you set off on your trip.
- DON’T: Bring too much yarn.
I would suggest to only pack enough yarn for 1-2 projects – that way you can plan on scheduling in special visits to yarn shops as part of your travels. Start in a country where you are sure you can find good quality yarn (i.e. New Zealand, Canada, USA) and buy as much as you can fit in your backpack! But be reasonable. Only buy what you know you will use and plan out your projects. No sense in wasting precious backpack space. It won’t be an option, it’ll be a necessity.
- DON’T: Forget to take your scissors and needles out of your carry-on before you pass through security!
Sadly enough, I’ve lost more than one good set of scissors by forgetting to take these out of my project bag before going through security. Sometimes, you just might get lucky security won’t see them. But sooner or later, they’ll find those sharp tiny objects and your beautiful scissors will be lost forever.
- DO: Visit fancy cafes to spoil yourself and take cute Instagram shots of your coffee and knitting projects.
‘Nuff said. 😉
- DO: Learn to knit socks (if you don’t know how to already).
Socks are the ideal travel knitting project. They don’t take up a lot of space, and are very portable. Scarves can also be great for a long and mindless knit, perfect for long and bumpy bus rides. Although they tend to get hot the further on you knit, which brings me to my next point …
- DON’T: Knit large woolly items on a beach.
Your hands will get sweaty, your knitting will get sweaty, and your project will end up a big sweaty, sandy mess. Stick to smaller, lightweight projects. Again, socks or mittens are a great option. Or try finding cotton and linen lightweight fibres to use to knit with.
- DO: Sign up for any arts and crafts classes you can.
Traveling is a great place to learn about traditional arts and crafts. In Laos I was able to take a full day of weaving and natural dyeing, and it cost me a fraction of what it would cost back home (although when you’re on a backpacker’s budget, $95 still sounded ridiculously expensive to me).
- DON’T: Forget to stop and enjoy the scenery.
For some of us knitting addicts, we tend to get a bit ‘engrossed’ with our projects. Make sure you stop to take it all in when you’re traveling. You wouldn’t want to miss a view like this one!
- DO: End your trip in a colder country where you will be able to proudly don your newly knitted items.
It feels so good to finally put them to use!