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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

My Top Tips For Travel Knitting

As its the school holidays here in the UK I thought I'd share my tips for successful travel knitting. As it's summer, I'm thinking mainly about hotter holiday destinations but I thought I'd start with a picture from our holiday to Norway last Christmas. Isn't it beautiful? It's a picture looking out over the Oslo Fjord near where I lived when I went to primary school. The tips in this blog is suitable for all holidays, particularly if you're flying.

If you've read my blog for a while or follow me on social media you're probably already aware that I knit almost everywhere. I knit on public transport, in the car (when I'm not driving), in the cinema, on the beach in Spain in 35+ degrees Celsius and even in church. I couldn't even think about not taking my knitting on holiday with me. 

My favourite beach knitting is socks. Most sock yarns are machine washable so if you get sand in your socks you can wash them or at least rinse them before you wear them, and they're small. No heavy knitting in your lap. I have gotten a few funny looks when knitting on the beach and on several occasions I've had Spanish ladies stop and talk to me in Spanish (which I don't speak). I usually just hand them my knitting. They look at it, talk among themselves, laugh and smile at me and walk on. They probably think I'm crazy knitting woolly socks in the heat of the Spanish summer.

If you're driving on holiday and luggage space isn't an issue, then taking a big sweater to knit on may not be a problem but if you're flying you will be restricted by the amount of luggage you're taking. Many people fly with just their hand-luggage these days and they're worried about whether or not they'll be allowed to  take their knitting on board the plane.

First let's talk about what type of projects are best for holidays and then we'll talk about knitting and planes.
My Creme Brulee socks are perfect for easy knitting.

My favourite projects to take, apart from socks, are small shawls knitted in sock yarn or shawls knitted in lace weight yarn. If you take a shawl knitted out of 100g/800m+ of lace weight yarn, that'll be enough knitting for most people for two weeks (or more). It's also very light and small. You can pop it into a small project bag and it won't add much bulk to your luggage.

If you don't want a big lace shawl why not choose a small one like Iris? Iris is knitted out of 50g/400m lace weight yarn. There's a lot of easy stocking stitch which is perfect for plane/car/train knitting and then some easy lace at the end.

Or if you want something a bit more mindless, choose a garter stitch shawl like Caprice. I've knitted two versions of Caprice, one in two skeins of sock yarn and one in two skeins of heavy lace weight (Schoppel 6 Karat which has 600m per 100g skein).

But what about taking your knitting on the plane? I've flown with my knitting for the last 10 years and have never had a problem. I've been stopped in security and had my bag checked twice when I had two and three sock projects on metal double pointed needles in my hand-luggage and the security officer was hardly interested in them at all. One officer started talking to me about his mother in law teaching the staff in her nursing home to knit.

According to the UK Government website you are now allowed to take knitting needles on board flights flying out of the UK but I have heard of people having them confiscated and a friend recently called one airline, Flybe, and was told she wasn't allowed to take any knitting needles on board. Small scissors are allowed too.

Regardless of what that website says, I think it'll be up to the security officer you encounter on the day. So here's a few tips to reduce the risk of them even spotting your needles. 

1. Don't tell them you're bringing your knitting or ask if it's allowed. Just leave your      knitting in your bag with the rest of your stuff. Take out anything they ask you to, like electronic equipment, toiletries, make up etc.

2. Use wooden or bamboo needles. They are less likely to be viewed as a potential dangerous item. However, I've been travelling with metal circular and double pointed needles for years without any problems.

3. Use interchangeable circular needles. If you're challenged about your needles and you use interchangeable circular needles, you can screw the needle tips off and hand them over, if necessary. Or you can carry a stamped address envelope (with your home address on it) and ask if you can walk back outside to post the needle tips back to yourself. 

4. Put spare needles in the size you need in your hold luggage if you are putting a case in the hold. Or put a spare set of needle tips, if you're using interchangeables, in another part of your bag like a pencil case or a small zipped pocket where you keep your pens. If your spare needle tips (or even double pointed needles) are hidden among pens they're less likely to look like knitting needles on the x-ray machine. So if they confiscate the needle tips attached to your knitting, just keep quiet and when you get through to the departure lounge, find your spare set (if you carry it in your hand-luggage) and screw them on.

5. Be polite and don't argue with security. If they decide your knitting needles aren't allowed to join you on holiday, then there's nothing you can do. Arguing with security will get you nowhere. It will most likely end up with you spending your holiday at home.

I've never had a problem knitting in the departure lounge or while waiting by the gate. I have been asked not to knit during take off and lading but I've never had a problem knitting mid-flight. However, obey the cabin crew, they're in charge once you board the plane.

If you're worried about losing your pattern, consider uploading a pdf to your tablet if you're taking a tablet. Or possibly even your smart phone. I keep all my patterns in Dropbox and have an app on both my tablet and my phone. Unless you're going somewhere off the beaten track, most places have Wi-Fi now.

Take a notebook along. Having a notebook handy is always useful as you may wish to take notes about local things to see and do but it's also useful to keep a notebook with your knitting. Just in case you make any modifications or to make a note of where in the pattern you were when you stopped etc.

Think about how much knitting you really need to take. Do you really need two big lace weight shawls, three small shawls and four pairs of socks to knit on for a long weekend? Okay, that's a bit exaggerated but I frequently take way too much knitting with me on holiday.

In a few weeks we're off to Spain for two weeks. We're travelling with hand-luggage only for the first time. So I can take 10kg in a small case plus my handbag. I'm planning to take one, or maybe two, sock projects, one easy lace/garter stitch shawl and one big lace weight shawl. I haven't found any fantastic yarn shops in Spain yet but I'm sure they're around. I do know of one department store where we're going that does have a small knitting department. So if I get desperate I'm sure I can get something there to knit on. If you know of any good yarn shops in the Allicante/Torrevieja/Murcia area, do let me know.

Also think about how many of your knitting notions you really need to take. Do you need all your stitch markers, several scissors, tapestry needles, row counters etc? I usually take my Tool Tin from The Sexy Knitter. It has all the essentials I need including air plane proof scissors.

Have you got any travel tips to share? Share them in the comments! 

Above is Trebarwith Strand on the Cornish north coast.

Enjoy your holiday x

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Winwick Mum said...

Good advice - particularly the "don't mention your knitting" part! I'm far too good at being too helpful and offering information that I then wish I'd not mentioned at all. It's socks all the way for me - aside from being portable, they're easier to stop mid-round unless you have a super-complicated pattern, which isn't really holiday knitting for me anyway! xx

Louise Tilbrook said...

Great advice. I don't fly very often but am yet to have a problem with taking my needles.

Unknown said...

Socks only for travelling, I've knit so many that I don't really need the pattern any more. However, I do also take a small notepad and pen for working out the numbers when it comes to turning the heel and I've been busy gazing out of the window. I use bamboo circulars and dons for flying as they don't show up on the XRay. I have also been known to shove the metal ones down my underwriting in my bra and trusting to my titanium knee to deflect the magic wand!

Anonymous said...

Lol I love the metal needles in the underwire bra.