Taking a vacation is a wonderful thing, especially when it involves oodles of yoga and knitting. With the upcoming Yoga + Yarn Retreat I thought I'd share some of my favorite tricks for traveling with lots of yarn related items.
Recently I had the pleasure of traveling in Italy with my family and, try as I might, I couldn't pack for a two week trip in just a carry-on. No surprise really since I'm a notorious over packer. One of the main reasons is I always have to travel with my yoga mat (it is a travel size, but still takes up space), journal, and at least one knitting project. Oh plus now I have a one and half year old who has lots of diapers and back up outfits. One of my cousins is an amazingly light packer. For a multi-week trip she had just a carry-on and still looked fabulous each day. That said, she didn't bring all her hobbies like I do! So this post is not for those of you who like to pack the bare minimum. Nope. This is a post encouraging you to over pack your yarn and enjoy it!
So let's get to it. Here are the top 6 things to consider when traveling with yarn (on a plane):
1. Underwear is overrated.
There have been too many trips for me to count where I have packed not one, but three knitting projects, and no underwear. What I have learned from this mishap is that underwear is overrated. There really is no need to pack it. You can easily run to a shop and buy cheap replacement undies. Yarn, however, may not be so easily replaced. Especially the all that special yarn you have curated in your stash. If you happen to be traveling to a remote location without a yarn store you will be out of luck and unable to knit on your travels. Which we all know will end up being the worst trip EVER. However, if you forget your underwear, that is an easy fix. So when packing begin first with what knitting (or crochet or felting) projects you will want to bring with you. All other items, like undergarments, can wait till last. (disclaimer: I don't go out of my way to not pack underwear, but it has definitely happened more than once)
2. Pack at least one small project.
If you are taking a journey on a plane, always pack a small one skein project in your carry on. You don't want to be juggling a multi-skein tangle on the plane in your tiny seat. I've flown knitting two color brioche, and although it wasn't terrible, it would have been much easier to work with one color. A simple hat project or scarf that is relaxing to knit can make flying a breeze.
Years ago my mom and I were flying to Costa Rica together. In my carry on I had my knitting and notions bag but I had completely forgotten to put my scissors in my checked luggage. This was a special pair of scissors I didn't want to part with. So when the security officer was threatening to throw out my scissors I became a little upset since they were a gift from my mom. An extremely nice man who was passing by offered to take the scissors and mail them back to me. I wouldn't have to get out of line to do it and I wouldn't loose the scissors. To this day I can't believe how nice that guy was that he did that for me. To make sure I don't have a problem again with TSA taking notions or needles that I don't want to part with, I always travel with a pre-addressed envelope with stamps on it so if I need to I can mail myself the items. Luckily, I have yet to have to use it, but it comforts me to know that I won't have my brand new Lykee needles needlessly thrown out at the airport. I can fly with ease. I realize as I write this I may sound a tad crazy, but who would want their interchangeable needle set missing some needles because they didn't plan ahead?
4. Gotta have options.
So you're flying off on a vacation and you want to make sure you have options. Plan your knitting project accordingly. First you will have your one small project for your carry on, but then what goes in your suitcase? That is where your back up projects go. Usually this is where I pack my brioche projects, a set of interchangeable needles, and maybe a sleeve of a sweater. I don't pack the whole sweater because I know I won't finish the whole project on the trip. Depending on the length of the trip I try to pack 1 project for a two to four day trip, for one week I pack two projects, and for two weeks I pack two to three projects. If I know there will be a local yarn shop then I always pack fewer projects and leave room for new yarn!
5. TSA approved.
This number hearkens back to what you will pack in your carry on. Without a doubt I have packed just my yarn and needles in my carry on only to really need my scissors or a tapestry needle and find my self fumbling to get creative with keys and paper clips. To prevent this mishap I try to travel with TSA approved scissors that are cheap so I don't mind if they try to take them away. Most of the time they are accepted and I think I've only had them confiscated once. It is also good to know that knitting needles are TSA approved, but each agent has a different opinion so I always try to fly with plastic or wooden needles rather than metal. They seem less likely to send up red flags.
6. If all else fails, vacuum seal.
So you're at your destination and you're perusing the local yarn shop only to find some skeins of yarn you must have. Your suitcase is full because you listened to this crazy blog post and packed all your knitting, yoga mat, and journal, and hardly any clothes. So what is a knitter to do? Vacuum seal of course. I took a week long trip to the Catskills this summer and had brought with me two projects, but when I went to Rosehaven Alpacas I fell in love with their popcorn yarn. I could have gone home and ordered it online, but there was something special about buying the yarn on the trip and bringing it home with me. Since I already had a pretty full suitcase and the popcorn yarn is crazy bulky, I knew I had to somehow shrink the yarn to get it home. That is when vacuum sealing came in. Now I didn't happen to have a vacuum seal bag with me, but it was a simple fix. I took a large garbage bag, filled it with the yarn, and sat on it. I managed to get all the air out and tie off the top and voila it fit into the suitcase!
This list of six tricks for traveling with your knitting is to be taken with a grain of salt. Ultimately have fun on your travels and if you bring yarn don't let it stress you out. For me it is such a joy to knit no matter where I am, but I don't let it take away from the experiences I am having. On my recent trip to Italy, I ended up only knitting for maybe twenty minutes the entire trip. In the end, there was just no time to knit! But I'm glad I brought my projects anyway, Having my knitting on hand always has me prepared for any situation when I may want to knit.
Happy knitting and traveling!