Travelling Knitting

I’m packing again, this time for a week-long business trip back East. I’ve gone back a gazillion times since I moved out West, sometimes for just one or two nights, sometimes for a week or even more. So, you’d think I’d be able to estimate how much knitting is reasonable to take.

Well, you’d think so, anyway. Last time I went back East for just a few days, I took four knitting projects, and just to be sure I didn’t get bored, I downloaded three full-length books and a whole bunch of magazines. I think I knitted on two projects and maybe read just a wee bit from one book.

This time, I decided I’d try to be better about packing only the knitting I truly thought I’d get to. I’d try to ignore that inner voice that always nags at me to bring ever more knitting projects.

I considered my week. The flight is roughly four hours. Add about an hour of wait time beforehand each way, and that’s 10 hours of flight-related knitting.

But what if there’s a major delay?

I tried to ignore The Voice. I continued my calculations. My trip is [sadly] not knitting-related, so I won’t be knitting at work. Really, I’ll be busy morning to night with meetings, lunches, and dinners. If I’m really lucky, I’ll have an hour, total, each night to decompress, do sink laundry (alas, there’s a downside to packing light), catch up and down with the family, and knit. So, I’ll allot 30 minutes per night of knitting for a total of 2 hours.

But what if you have more time on your hands in the evening?

“I won’t,” I told The Voice. “This isn’t one of those trips where I’m alone and wind up in my hotel room after a too-early dinner. No, this is one of those trips where I may not toddle back until nearly bedtime. Won’t. Happen.”

I figured about 12 hours of knitting time over the course of the week. I looked over my WIPs. For the first time in I-don’t-know-how-long, I decided I didn’t need to cast on a new project just for this trip. I had things to take that would work.

First up is this mohair lace cowl. The yarn is handspun from Tajikistan that I bought from a Cloth Roads trunk show.



I’ve been saving this project specifically for airplane knitting. It’s small, portable, easy, and it’s on circulars. Ever since I about lost a critical DPN on an airplane some years ago, I tend to stick to circulars in flight. I figure I have probably at least 12 more knitter-hours to go on this cowl, so the trip could be a one-project trip if I wanted it so.

But I don’t want it so. I’m checking a bag, due to the length of the trip. Really, my office wouldn’t begrudge me two checked bags, but the more stuff I take, the more I have to wrangle, so I’d rather take a checked bag and a daypack on the plane and be done with it. So, I have room for multiple projects.

I chose to bring my sock project, as well.



The self-striping yarn is engaging and the pattern is easy. I busted a move this weekend to finish the first sock so that I could cast on its mate and bring just the sock-in-progress. It’ll make fine hotel knitting, or knitting in the airport, or even knitting on the plane if I finish the cowl. I estimate I’ve got at least 8 hours to go to knit the remaining sock. Maybe longer. I’ve never been accused of being a speedy knitter.

You’re going away all week, and you’re taking just two small projects? At least take a spare skein of yarn or something.

At this, I paused. Sock-weight yarn is soft and will squish around my other things in my luggage. I could certainly take an extra skein in case there was a breach in the space-time continuum and I suddenly had way more time to knit than I expected. And really, I don’t think I’ve ever packed so few knitting projects for a trip of this length. It’s a little unnerving.

I started packing. I told myself that if I had the room in my luggage and I really, really wanted to, that I’d give myself permission for a spare skein of sock yarn. Well, I’ve got the room, but I’m holding steady with those two projects. I have about 20 hours of knitting packed, and only about 12 hours to actually knit. Seems like a good cushion.

I’ll give it some thought, though. I leave in the morning, and by then, The Voice may win out.



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The Season of Not Knitting As Much

I divide the year into two seasons: Knitting Season, which runs from about the time the leaves begin to turn in September until the heat of the summer sets in around Memorial Day, and The Season of Not Knitting As Much, which comprises the hot months of June, July, August, and a goodly portion of September. Every year, as the days lengthen and the snow recedes, I tell myself that this will be the year that I maintain my Knitting Season pace. And every year, I do not manage that feat.

In summer, there are just too many priorities that compete with knitting for me to keep up the wintertime pace. The garden has to be planted out, the porches cleaned and kept that way, and there is always weeding, weeding, weeding. Then, the produce begins to flow. Soon, I’ll be putting up greens and probably strawberries, too. Later, it’ll be apricots, cherries, peaches, apples, and peppers. Weekend afternoons spent knitting will have to wait until the harvest is over, or mostly so.

Of course, I do manage to keep some knitting going all year ’round. I always have a purse project, for instance. In the midst of getting the garden and yard ready for summer, I was still able to finish these socks for Chris:

Irvington Socks table Irvington Socks standing Irvington Socks sofa

The yarn is Knit Picks Hawthorne in Irvington, and the pattern is Ann Budd’s basic sock pattern from Getting Started Knitting Socks. I knit these on size 0 needles, owing to my loose knitting gauge, and cast on 72 stitches, which yielded socks to fit Chris’s size 10 1/2 (U.S.) feet.

What Chris really wanted were knee-length, heavy, hiking socks. I have a feeling the ones I knit himĀ are going to be just fine, but gave him the option of letting me know if he really does want heavy socks, in which case I’ll throw some in the queue for fall.

As soon as these were off the needles, I cast on another pair as a purse project:

Blackberry Jam started Blackberry Jam w yarn

This is Knit Picks Felici in Blackberry Jam. These will be for my niece’s birthday in September. I’m using GlennaC’s A Nice Ribbed Sock pattern.

And so it will go this summer. I’ll get a few odds and ends off the needles and put up food for winter, when I’ll have more time for knitting. But now, I’ve got to get back out and plant seeds for dill and chamomile.

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The Orphaned Project

My in-laws settled in with us on the sectional sofa in our beach house rental overlooking a grey, rainy oceanscape on a late summer afternoon. I pulled out a “safe” knitting project — one that I was making for myself, and not as a gift for anyone else. With pretty much my entire extended family staying in the beach house or nearby, I had to be careful about what projects I worked on outside my bedroom.

“That’s a lovely sweater you’re knitting,” remarked my mother-in-law, Vera. Vera knows how to knit, but is more of a crocheter than anything else. She has a great deal of respect for both crafts. “What’s the fiber?” she asked, reaching to touch the sweater sleeve.

“It’s a blend of wool, cashmere, and silk,” I replied. “I think it’ll make a fine sweater.”

“Oh,” said Vera, looking just a little sad. “I’m allergic to wool. And did I ever tell you the story about the angora sweater I had in high school?”

I knew that back when Vera was in school, wool sweaters with yokes worked in a fluffy, contrasting, angora color were all the rage. “Um, no, I don’t think so,” I mused, pulling out another length of yarn from the ball from which I was knitting.

“Well,” she answered, “Back then, every girl wanted an angora sweater. I finally got one and wore it to school, all excited. But by the end of the day, I had to take it off because it itched so badly. I’ve always had a hard time with wool and angora.”

Right then, one of my knitting projects was orphaned. Briefly, the only sound in the room was of the ceiling fan above us in the great room, whirring and softly clicking. Steve knew about the scarf I was knitting his mom, and jumped in to change the subject.

While we chatted, my mind kept going back to the scarf that was stowed away, out of sight in our bedroom nightstand drawer. I thought about how I’d found the yarn some months earlier, in winter, at my LYS. How I decided that its fuzziness and slight glint of silver would appeal to my mother-in-law. How well the yarn would marry up with the Orenburg lace pattern I had in mind. The yarn is a blend of mohair, silk, nylon, and sparkly stuff. It doesn’t appeal to me or to anyone else I can think of that I’d typically knit for, but based on what I’d seen my mother-in-law wear, I thought it would be perfect for her.

I know that mohair isn’t angora. They are two completely different animals yielding different fibers with different allergenic characteristics. Just because you’re allergic to one doesn’t mean you’ll be allergic to the other. I know that my mother-in-law finds wool itchy, and that itchiness may or may not be an actual allergy. I know that she therefore does not wear or crochet with wool, preferring synthetics instead. I also know that regardless whether a person has a bona fide wool allergy or simply an aversion, say, based on some misbegotten thing knitted for them when they were six years old by their great-aunt Martha, I won’t be successful in getting them to wear wool (or any other fiber) that they’ve decided not to wear. Knitter, know thy recipient. Knowing that she had a wool aversion, I’d chosen a wool-free yarn. I had no idea about her issues with angora, though. If I had any idea, I’d have made something out of silk or linen or cotton, perhaps. But not mohair, simply because it looks too much like angora: I figured that Vera would take one look at this fluffy scarf, remember her angora experience, and deem it unwearable, even if it contained zero wool and that mohair is different from angora.

I am more of a product knitter than a process knitter. I knit mostly because I want that finished product. While I’m knitting, I often imagine the products being used, either by me or by the intended recipients. I think about how much they will enjoy the things, how they may brag to others about how I made the items for them. It was those thoughts that had sustained me thus far into the project. I wasn’t that far along into it, having done the initial point and a bit of the scarf body.

Meteliza small progress

I thought about how Vera might wear it with one of her jackets to church, or on their many social outings. I thought about the sparkle of the silver and the fuzzy fiber and how great it would look with her white-grey hair.

But now? Now I had an orphan project — one with no recipient in mind. True, I could still give it to her, in hopes that she might wear it other than against her skin. Doing so risks that she’ll keep it stashed in a drawer, though, never worn. I’ll find it when I settle their estate someday, I thought. The yarn and resulting fabric are not my style, nor are they my mom’s or anyone else’s I can think of. I’d have to plod on or rip it out and stash the yarn until I could figure something else to do with it. Because this was my first foray into Orenburg lace knitting, I decided to plod on.

And what a plod it’s been! I’ve picked this project up and put it down many times, all the while thinking about what to do with it when it’s done. So, it’s been hard to gin up the enthusiasm to work on it, even though I’m liking the Orenburg style of knitting. As with most of my projects, I tend to plod on until I reach the halfway point, after which I can usually count on finish-it-up-itis to carry me through to the end.

This week, I finally reached that halfway point:

Meteliza halfway

Well, it was the halfway point according to the pattern, anyway. I decided it needs to be longer than what the pattern is calling for (or what my row gauge is coming out to), so I’ll add in a few more repeats. But I’m getting there.

And when it’s done? I’m still not sure. I’m toying around with the idea of giving it to her, anyway, and telling her that it’s mohair and wool-free, and hoping for the best.





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