Oftentimes I travel by car, which offers the flexibility of space that simply isn’t found when traveling by plane. For my recent trip to Japan, limited to a suitcase and carry-on for two weeks, I needed to be more focused with my packing methods when bringing my knitting along. Based on my experience from this trip, I compiled a list of seven Do’s and Don’ts of packing a knitting or crochet project(s) for travel.
Do Pack Lightweight Projects
When travelling internationally it’s always a good idea to pack light, especially since you’ll likely need to carry your luggage at some point. Extend this principle to your knitting or crochet and pack a lightweight project, ideally smaller needles or hooks and lighter yarns, that don’t take up too much space in your carry-on.
For my trip, I chose to knit with DK weight (size 3) yarn, bringing along two skeins of Berroco Folio (exactly how much I needed for the project). The pattern I chose also called for only one set of needles.
Be realistic when packing, now’s not the time to include five patterns that you might work on. Pack only enough yarn for the current project(s) that you can reasonably complete during your travels. Think through the project(s) you want to bring and what materials are required.
For my recent trip, I packed only one knitting project to work on start to finish. Even though I was certain I would finish the project on the flight there; I reasoned that if I finished the project I could buy yarn at my destination and work on something new. I am very glad I set that limit, because I overestimated how much time I would knit during transit: I only completed half the project during the entire trip.
Do Pack TSA Approved Tools
Always check TSA guidelines before traveling. They have a handy search function here, which informs whether an item is safe to carry in your carry-on, checked luggage, or if it’s prohibited. Other countries may have additional restrictions, so be sure to check those too.
For my trip, I couldn’t pack scissors in my carry-on luggage. Instead I packed a TSA Approved nail clipper. The clippers had no issues cutting the DK weight yarn.
Don’t Pack Favorites
While no one likes to consider this scenario, it’s possible that tools or projects can be lost during the confusion of transit. When travelling internationally it’s not a great idea to pack tools that have sentimental value or are not easily replaceable.
For my trip, I packed an inexpensive pair of circular needles, dollar-store nail clippers, and a drawstring pouch reused from a craft fair purchase. If any of these items were to be lost, I would not have been upset (other than losing a knitting project) because each could easily be replaced for less than $10 and didn’t hold any sentimental value.
Do Pack a Hard-copy of the Pattern
A few sheets of paper do not take up a lot of room or add significant weight to luggage, so it’s better to pack a hard-copy of the pattern so you have access to it at all times. WiFi might not always be readily available and electronic devices can sometimes be required to be turned off or lose their charge. Avoid a situation where you can’t work on a project because you can’t access the pattern.
Don’t Pack a Complicated Project
Now is not the time to try learning a new technique. Oftentimes when I’m learning new stitches or techniques, I need to refer to reference books or YouTube videos for guidance beyond the explanation in the back of a pattern book or in the pattern’s stitch list. Unfortunately these reference books aren’t light and WiFi isn’t always available, so rather than risking being stuck and becoming frustrated, pack a project within your current skill set that will be relaxing and enjoyable.
For my trip, I chose a pattern I’ve already completed once (River by Sylvia McFadden). There were no surprises, I knew how all the stitches should be worked, and I knew exactly how much yarn the pattern required for my gauge.
Do Stay Organized
Keep all the contents of your project contained in a pouch or a bag. This makes it easy to grab out of your carry-on because all the items are in one location. It also makes it easier to keep track while packing, because you know this one pouch has all your tools, yarn, and pattern. A drawstring pouch works well, because it allows the working yarn to pass through the opening without snagging on a zipper.
Bonus Knitting Tip: Use Circular Needles
Over the past few years of knitting during my commute on public transit, circular knitting needles became my preferred needle type for any mobile project. Circular needles can be used for both knitting flat or in-the-round. It’s very easy to stop mid-pattern without risking dropping stitches, because the entirety of the project can be slid to the middle of the connector cable thus preventing the work from sliding off the needles. Additionally, the cable that connects the needles prevents dropping or losing a needle, which can sometimes happen with straight needles.
These Do’s and Don’ts worked really well for me on my recent trip. While it’s certainly not an all-encompassing list, I hope these help as you prepare for your upcoming travels.
Happy Knitting and Safe Travels!