Spotlight on Process: Packing Your Knitting for Travel

Like many knitters, I organize my projects before I think about what clothes I am going to take on a trip. We featured this list in the "While We Knit" section a few weeks ago but I thought it was worthy of an expanded blog post. What do I do when I pack my knitting? Read on!

When selecting a project with which to travel I always select something that is easy for you to knit. I might be chatting with friends, or on some form of transportation so you want a project that you can pick up and put down without losing your place. This is not the time for intricate charts or involved stitch patterns.

I also take a project that is light in color. The lighting on planes and in hotel rooms tends to be quite dim, and you want to be able to see what you are doing. 

On this trip, I am taking two projects, my Beaufort 5 sweater in Felted Tweed French Mustard and The Til in Cashmere Treats Merino Luxe Taupe. I always over pack but, on a longer vacation, I like to have two projects, so I have a bit of variety.  I have just started the sweater and am knitting the second half of The Til.  They will complement each other nicely. There is a bit of a stitch pattern in Beaufort 5 but it is very repetitive so it does not take much thought.

Next, I download and print the patterns and, if necessary, highlight or circle the correct size and any instructions that correspond with the size you are making. I keep a printed copy with me, but I download a pdf of the pattern to Apple Books or a program like Notability. You can also just email a copy of the pdf to yourself. You never know when a pattern can go missing so make sure you have a backup plan.

I carefully read over the pattern and make sure that I know how to do all the techniques involved. There is nothing worse than getting stuck on a flight without WiFi and not knowing what sk2p means! If it is something I will not remember, I look for written instructions and make a note of the process in the margin of the pattern. 

If I am taking a new project, I always cast it on before I leave. I want to make sure that I enjoy working on it and that the gauge and fabric make me happy.  Don't get stuck working on something you do not love.

I gather all of the supplies that I need for my project(s) and keep them in a small notions bag. Don’t forget:

  • A stitch fixer or crochet hook to pick up any dropped stitches.
  • Extra stitch markers – those little buggers can pop off on a plane or in a car and they are gone!
  • Tape measure, row counter, stitch holders and any other items the project calls for.
  • Take a set of extra needles in the same size needed for your project. If a needle is bent or broken, you can keep on knitting! I am a little obsessive about this. On a long trip I will take 2 backup needles. I have broken a needle 2 hours into and 11-hour flight. It was NOT fun, so have a set in your project bag. The other set of back-up needles goes in my checked luggage, especially when traveling internationally.  Just in case I get an overzealous security agent.
  • In that same vein, when flying internationally, I take some way to hold stitches in case your needles are taken.  This has NEVER happened to me but I am prepared. TKB Cords are a my favorite stitch holders.
  • A nail file – don’t let a broken nail snag your project!
  • I carry Knitter’s Hand Balm in my notions bag, as my hands tend to get dry on a plane. With the hand balm, I do not have to worry about lotion spilling in my knitting bag.
  • If needed, I wind all of my skeins into center-pull balls.
  • A way to cut yarn – don't use your teeth! I clip our little yarn cutter onto my bag. Airport security will not take these away.
  • Walker Yarn Case or a plastic bag - Protect your yarn from getting dirty or falling on the plane floor (ew!).
  • Don't forget a little notebook and pencil. You never know when you will need to make a note or jot something down on your pattern.

For my flight, I put both projects and a bit of extra yarn in my Ribbon Street project bag.  I put a second project bag with extra skeins and those back-up needles in my suitcase. Once I arrive I split the projects into their own bag so I can grab either project for the day. 

Bon Voyage! 

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  • Maria on

    I recently went to Hawaii on September 2nd and I was told by tsa that I can take my knitting project. So it made the five hours flight constructive.

  • Lisa Stewart on

    That was really helpful! I too, pack my knitting before packing clothes! Your most valuable tip for me is something I never thought of…pack a project and take a project! I usually take several in one large carry-on, hide my (extra working set) Chiao Goo or Addi or ? needle points as though they were pencils, ((I have had needles confiscated and now travel with a SASE to return them home…))
    I also pack a FULL set of interchangeable needles in my luggage for the inevitable purchase of a new project. I OVERPACK projects and will endeavor to just take TWO! Thank you! Also, agreed, breaking a needle mid-flight is anxiety producing and plan ahead! THANK YOU! Great blog!

  • Carol on

    I am heading to Montana next week and googled taking knitting needles on the plane. It said needles are okay but it is up to the individual TSA agent! Have you had any problem with knitting needles in your carry on baggage? Thanks, Carol

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