Episode 13: Pop Goes the Spinner's Weasel

In this episode, Meadow explains all the recent changes to the Woven Road recently, shares some brand new projects, and a new birthday addition to the stash.  Learn about the fibery origins of the nursery rhyme Pop Goes the Weasel!

(Note: I couldn't have the Lush Skein Special Guest on the show this time, but he will join me sometime in the near future! Stay tuned!)

Show Notes:
Hogwarts Crest Cross Stitch Pattern
Miss Babs Northumbria DK, Biker Chick
Pop Goes the Weasel

Why Textile History Matters

Unless you are among a distinct minority of nudists, you probably wear clothes every day. Clothing protect us from the sun, wind, rain, cold, and sometimes, judgmental glances at highbrow social gatherings.

While today's clothing serves as much more than utilitarian purposes, you may not often think about the rich insights that can be found in studying textile history. A great deal of symbology appears in motif and use of color, as well as choice of the fiber itself. It allows us to see the blending of utility and art. 

Clothing and textiles are one of the most outwardly expressive ways in which we share our societal values, on our sleeve so to speak, on a daily basis. Therefore, textiles have the ability to give researchers a window into the mind of people and cultures, past or present. It is also a type of work frequently associated with the the gendered role expectations of women. “The necessary compatibility of female labor with child care and breastfeeding led to women primarily engaging in repetitive, safe, and easily interrupted tasks.” (Barber, Women’s Work, 29-30.) Since women were primarily the workers of textiles throughout history, insights into this trade give us a glimpse into the lives of a huge portion of the population; a portion often invisible amongst the male-dominated stories of stone artifacts or history books. Men most often became a part of the textile fabrication process only after the industry became a part of a larger trade exchange network.

Textile production is and was an incredibly time consuming process. First, one had to grow and harvest fiber plants, or cultivate and collect fiber from silk worms, or wooly animals like sheep and alpacas. Then, this fiber had to be washed, beaten or carded, combed and spun. If the threads were meant to be colored, dyes had to be acquired, either through cultivation, wild gathering, or trading. Then, hundreds to thousands of meters of thread needed to be woven, cut, and sewn into just a single garment. Sometimes, lavish designs were embroidered , or card woven bands were used to trim sleeves.

From this very simplistic look at the process, we can already infer some of the kinds of information we can glean about how communities lived. In order to grow plants or keep livestock, people had to live in sedentary communities of relatively large size. In order to have production exceed the amount that just one family would need, there would have had to be specialized workers; meaning “I weave all the time, you make pots and pans all the time, lets swap”. If one needed to acquire a particular dye that was not indigenous to their region, we could assume they obtained it by trade, and were involved in an interaction sphere with members of other communities. Use of color and design can tell us much about self expression, social identity, religious belief or status, customs, trade, or the natural resources that were available in the area at the time.

The whole process was passed down to succeeding generations. Depending on the scale of production, we can assume that the knowledge was passed down through a family, or learned as an apprentice or at a trade school.

Exchange of these garments, especially the ones it was even more costly to produce, could be imagined as economic resources. Expensive, elegant garments or furnishings became so valued in some places, they were seen as a kind of currency. Some fabrics, such as Icelandic vaðmál, were so regulated in quality, that medieval manuscripts and law texts have their production standards and value preserved to this day.

Artistic expression was not limited to fashion and garments. We have a multitude of examples of expertly woven rugs and tapestries. Even the tools used to process fiber can be a craft themselves. Some of these examples include carved distaffs (a long spindle or paddle used to hold a cloud of fiber while the spinner draws from it), engraved spindle whorls (a small stone or clay weight fixed to the end of a rod used for spinning), polished whale bone weft beaters, intricately carved knitting needle boxes (that were also presented with marriage proposals), and hand painted lace bobbins, among others.

From a personal perspective, when I craft with fiber, I feel connected to a vast history that can be celebrated as a commonality of almost all humans across space, and one that reaches back far in time.

It brings us closer as a global community to learn about, not only the lives and minds of our ancestors, but also the universality of innovation that we all share.

Like any scientific field, our studies help us to learn the expanse of what we don't know. We are fueled by curiosity, and a deep desire to understand the reasonings and perspectives that lived in the minds of ancestral humans. It brings us closer as a global community to learn about, not only the lives and minds of our ancestors, but also the universality of innovation that we all share. The contributions of all the communities we identify with have brought us to where we are today. Our ideas shape the future and it may work to our benefit to cultivate appreciation for old things long forgotten.

 Minoan woman picking saffron, from a fresco on the island of Thera

Minoan woman picking saffron, from a fresco on the island of Thera

Clothing as Public Relations- Empress Cixi

 Image courtesy of Smithsonian Magazine.

Image courtesy of Smithsonian Magazine.

The woman who would eventually become the Empress Dowager Tz'u-hsi (romanized as Cixi) was born November 29, 1835 in Beijing China. She began her career in the palace as the consort to the Xianfeng Emperor. She was a low ranking concubine, but she bore the emperor his only son. After the Xianfeng Emperor's death (and after a brief interlude of rule going to a regency council) the regency was transferred to the Xianfeng Emperor's brother, Cixi and Xianfeng' oldest consort. Cixi was able to rule indirectly through different means, for a little less than 50 years. As the Empress Dowager she was able to maintain control of her son and then her nephew after her son's death and rule through them. She died November 15, 1908. (1)

Since Empress Dowager Cixi's life was so recent there are a few portraits depicting her in all her imperial finery. She is dressed in silk robes embroidered with many different natural motifs. Both geometric and more organic motifs are incorporated in the same garment. Since these are official portraits she chose her robes with care. (2) There are also surviving robes that belonged to her as well. Many of the symbols that were incorporated into her clothing such as the wanshou medallions and shou characters represent longevity. The phoenix was another motif that would appear often on Empress Cixi's robes. The phoenix would be a symbol only the empress would wear and would demonstrate her station and her power. (3)

There is a somewhat apocryphal story that demonstrates Empress Cixi's opinion on western clothing. A wife of a Chinese diplomat came to visit Empress Cixi after she had been abroad in the west. The diplomats wife and her daughters were wearing stylish western dress. They complained to Cixi that their bound feet had made them a laughingstock in the west. Cixi replied that she heard that the western women wore something equally as horrible: the corset.(4) Cixi herself did not have bound feet, and she banned bound feet as well. She was not interested in binding her waist or her feet for any reason, but was happy to use her clothing to convey power and strength.

-Aja Ewing

__________________________________

1 Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. "Cixi", accessed June 03, 2016,http://www.britannica.com/biography/Cixi.

2 Stamberg, Susan. "Powerful Portraits Capture China's Empress Dowager." NPR. December 19, 2011. Accessed June 3, 2016.http://www.npr.org/2011/12/19/143796431/powerful-portraits-capture-chinas-empress-dowager.

3 "Rare Imperial Lady's Informal Gauze Robe Qing Dynasty Guangxu Period." Sotheby's. Accessed June 3, 2016. http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/lot.384.html/2014/fine-chinese-ceramics-works-of-art-n09116.

4 "Dowager Empress Cixi." Reshaping the Body, Clothing and Cultural Practice. Accessed June 3, 2016. http://exhibits.hsl.virginia.edu/clothes/dowager_empress/.

Episode 11: Homeward Nålbound

 Photo courtesy of the  Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Photo courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

In this episode, Aja and Meadow discuss the new and different things they have been making, WTF "woolgathering" is (hint: it is not a group of textile crafters drinking beer together!), and learn about the history of nålbinding, one of the oldest textile arts.

Show Notes:
Tova Dress
Fen Dress
Stitch Sew Shop
Merchant & Mills
Neckdown Boat Neck Sweater
Good Karma Yarn
Little Barn Yarn, Red Eri Silk
Wooly Sheep Quilt Kit
Knitting Ephemera
Tarim Basin
Nålbinding Video
Origins and Development of Nålbinding, Journal of Undergraduate Anthropology
Shy Red Fox

Episode 10: Sheep and Wool and Indigo, Oh My!

 The Woven Road

The Woven Road

In this episode, Aja and Meadow rap about the fabulous and famous Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival! We announce our silly "Honest Superlatives" for artists and livestock alike, talk about some of our favorite vendors and what we've added to our stash. Also tune in for this episodes new drawing giveaway! Comment and Share our Facebook post containing this episode in order to enter!

Show Notes:
Clun Forest Sheep
Scottish Blackface Sheep
Good Karma Farm
Madder Root
Indian Lake Artisans
Battenkill Fibers
Green Mountain Spinnery
Giveaway Item; Miss Babs

Episode 9: Quilting, Community, and Textiles as Communication

 Lone Star Quilt

Lone Star Quilt

In this episode, Meadow and Aja discuss works in progress and finished objects, review a book that we have in our stash, reveal some new wine and yarn pairings and talk about the history and process of Amish quilting.


Show Notes:
Two Lace Baby Hat
Thingvellir Sweater
Knitlandia
Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival
The Lush Skein
African Images in African American Quilts
Amish Quilts
 

Book Review: Knitlandia, A Knitter Sees the World, by Clara Parkes

“Brilliant mohair locks shimmered against matte wool fibers that seemed to be still in the process of twisting themselves together.”

I’ve been waiting a long time for this book to be released.  It has felt like my entire life, but in actuality, I’ve probably been excitedly awaiting it for half a year.  The story of a knitter traveling the world, attending wool workshops and festivals, spinnery, shops and studios; this sounded like my actual dream life.

When the book was released in February of this year, I began scouring the internet for reviews. Most folks found it a great armchair read, but some chastised the author for not being more adventurous and for opting to stay in convention centers.  But this book does not claim to be an edgy walkabout journey in any way, and those reviewers can go stuff it and get back to their Kerouac.

This book is rife with interesting characters both warm and quirky.  Her place descriptions are brief but poignant. Each chapter illustrates a different place, a different adventure, and a different time. Because Parkes is so familiar with the wool world, her descriptions of yarn are captivating.  They leave me with the realization that, while I may have never thought to look at yarn in that way, now that she has brought it up, I will never see it the same again.

Her clever writing style beautifully conjures images of “yarn cathedrals” and the end-of-festival hustles where the “Cinderella spell” is broken and crafters pack up shop like they are about to turn into pumpkins. I found myself chuckling aloud at her odd descriptions because I could imagine exactly what she was talking about.

Overall, the flow of the text and stories are entertaining and delightful. The chapters are short, and I highly recommend treating yourself to one every night before bed.

Clara Parkes is the author of other titles such as The Yarn Whisperer, The Knitters Book of Wool, and others, and is the publisher of Knitter’s Review.

-Meadow

Episode 8: Woven Sunbeams From Your Grandmother

 Image courtesy of Genkina Nella, oil on canvas.

Image courtesy of Genkina Nella, oil on canvas.

In this episode, Aja and Meadow have some words on difficult life events recently and share how knitting can ease pain and honor a special person. We talk about WTF twine knitting is, present a slight twist on the wine and yarn pairings this week, and share textile related mythology from around the world. We also announce our giveaway winners!

This weeks episode is definitely for your grandmother.

Show Notes:

Green Forest Cabled Headband

Thingvellir Sweater

Natural Dyes; Onions

Twined Knitting

The Lush Skein

Mokosh

Freya/Frigg

Maryland Sheep and Wool

Episode 7: Potato Salesman... Just Kidding, Latvian Textiles!

 Photo courtesy of the National Museum in Riga, Latvia.

Photo courtesy of the National Museum in Riga, Latvia.

In this episode, Meadow and Aja discuss dying wool with acid and foraged dyes (that colorway is called WHAT?!), plans for upcoming textile destination trips, consider some new wine and yarn pairings, reveal brand new giveaway items, and share fascinating history of Latvian textiles!

Subscribe to us on iTunes, or any other podcast platform.  Or, access all our episodes by clicking HERE.

Show Notes:
Knitting Gadgets et. al.
Outer Pines Co.
The Lush Skein
Pinterest

 

Fiber Twist Direction as Evidence of Cultural Identity

 The Woven Road

The Woven Road

Twist is defined as a means of winding strands of fiber so they hold together in a secure way. In podcast Episode 6, we touched on the topic of how the directionality of twist in fiber threads can convey meaning, superstition, and even a sense of identity. 

In the North and Southeastern regions of the US, the fibers themselves are generally poorly preserved, but there is another way of observing the preferred methods of twisting thread and cordage.  We find evidence of this baked into shards of clay pottery recovered from archaeological sites where hunter-gatherer communities once lived.

These clay artifacts have other attributes that also tell us about past human life ways. The nature of the material used to make the clay mixture could consist of mostly coarse sand or shell fragments, and can suggest where it was made and what the vessel might have been used for.  There are many different stylistic variations in vessel shape and size. Some vessels had an egg-like bottom shape, and easily rested in a small hole dug into the earth.  There were many ways in which these vessels were decorated. Some were adorned with incised lines or round impressions from a sharpened stick.  Earlier clay vessels were sometimes impressed with woven netting, leaving behind a cross-hatched like design.

These preferences for fiber twist directionality are linked to social histories, and it is possible to map them regionally. In this way, when archaeologists find pottery remains with various types of imprinted twist designs, we can observe interactions between neighboring communities.

One type of decoration is produced by wrapping a string of twisted cord around a stick and pressing it onto a still-wet vessel. The cordage was produced using various types of processed plant fibers and twisting them in alternate directions so they bound around themselves and created a strong piece of cord.

While these design elements were once thought to be a simple aesthetic decoration, it is now believed that they represent much more. These preferences for fiber twist directionality are linked to social histories, and it is possible to map them regionally. In this way, when archaeologists find pottery remains with various types of imprinted twist designs, we can observe interactions between neighboring communities. Over time, it is possible to see a potential migration of a group of people, or a migration of an idea, as other people began to learn and adapt to new ways of doing things.  During times of conflict, women were sometimes captured and became a part of a new community.  They brought with them different traditions, and this facilitated another means of exchanging new ideas.

This element of cultural tradition is not limited to the Eastern United States. Historically, people around the world from Europe, to South America and beyond have created textile traditions utilizing this basic concept of spinning fibers in different directions.

-Meadow

Episode 6: Fiber Plants do the Twist

In this episode, Aja and Meadow discuss spinning and plying, share some new wine and yarn pairings, the history of plant domestication for fiber, and just generally get a right bit silly.  We also announce the winner of this month's giveaway! Please refer back to Episode 3 to hear about fiber animal domestication.

Subscribe to us on iTunes, or any other podcast platform.  Or, access all our episodes by clicking HERE.


Show Notes:
Lett Lopi
Þingvellir Sweater Pattern
Lambing Mitts
Archaeological Textiles Review
Fiber Dice
The Lush Skein
Z and S Twist
 

Episode 5: Putting Your Foot in a Fish, and other things.

 Photo courtesy of the Textile Museum ( Heimilisiðnaðarsafnið) in Blönduós, Iceland.

Photo courtesy of the Textile Museum (Heimilisiðnaðarsafnið) in Blönduós, Iceland.

 This episode, Aja and Meadow talk about their delicious new stash items (I mean REALLY delicious!), and share some historical information and folklore related to knitting traditions in Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Gotland.  And there is also something to do with the true meaning of incredibly flippy flops. Plus, a very special new giveaway is announced, so you really don't want to miss this one! (HINT: Check out our Instagram!)

Subscribe to us on iTunes, or any other podcast platform.  Or, access all our episodes by clicking HERE.


Show Notes:
Cabled Unisex Fingerless Mittens
Heaven Spun Creations
Spinning Wheel Bike
Wool Soap and Conditioner
Þingborg Wool Center
SSSK
The Lush Skein
Prince Madoc
Faroese Knitting
Gotland Wool Company
Reykholt Archaeological Site
 

Episode 4: The Lush Skein Package Exchange

 The Woven Road

The Woven Road

In this episode, Aja and Meadow reveal their package exchange items, and open their Lush Skein gifts on air!  (Due to technical difficulties, this episode has been broken down into 2 parts. For Part Two, see episode 6!)

Subscribe to us on iTunes, or any other podcast platform.  Or, access all our episodes by clicking HERE.


Show Notes:
Simple Baby Pull-Over
The Lush Skein

Life Lessons Learned From Knitting #1: Making it Work

 The Woven Road

The Woven Road

In reality, we ended up with “a thing” but what we made were countless decisions, a small temper tantrum, and millions of minute motions with our fingers, arms, hands and…. occasionally teeth… right guys?

How many times have you begun a pattern only to find that it is unclear or incorrect?  How many times have you misjudged your gauge?  How many times have you said resolutely “I can make that!” and found that it became mostly a game of frogging, ripping out your work and casting on again.  It is these experiences of on-the-fly problem solving that allow us to build creative skills for dealing with everyday life.  I like to call it “Making it Work”.  I thought I had coined this phrase, but apparently, I did not. Perhaps we can call it a parallel evolution! (A wake-up to pop culture is now on my to-do list.)

When a non-fiber artist encounters our work, it is easy for them to see it and think, “you made a thing!”  In reality, we ended up with “a thing” but what we made were countless decisions, a small temper tantrum, and millions of minute motions with our fingers, arms, hands and…. occasionally teeth… right guys? A project never goes as planned, and we are constantly creating work-arounds. These are the things we see when we look at a finished project.  We don’t only see that this object is something we’ve made, we see all of the instances where we had to make it work.

After years of making it work, we instinctively shift into that mode. We no longer see ‘the problem’; instead, our brain begins churning with all of the possible remedies. Continued practice of this mentality can help shift our everyday life stresses too.

After some time, you no longer look at you work and say “hmm, that is a problem.”  After years of making it work, we instinctively shift into that mode. We no longer see ‘the problem’; instead, our brain begins churning with all of the possible remedies. Continued practice of this mentality can help shift our everyday life stresses too. For me, this is not a solution to stress, nor is it a solution to my problems themselves, but this practice does not allow me to linger for very long in the 'problem mentality', but to rather become aware of it, and shift gears into the problem-solving mindset much quicker.

The more we recognize the value in this and share it with others, the more we can spread the many happy side-effects of fiber arts and yarn-crafting!

-Meadow

“Do you knit for your mamma with those needles?” A Book Review

The Museum of Kitschy Stitches By Stitchy McYarnpants

Here on The Woven Road we tend to focus on interesting and beautiful textiles from bygone centuries. However we can not ignore the more egregious crafting missteps that our forbearers made. More specifically we can not shy away from the horror that was many midcentury knits.

In this book, complete with snarky comments, are great pictures of crocheted mini shorts, shaggy technicolor vests and loopy hats that I suppose seemed like a good idea at the time. My personal favourite chapter is the one called “Do you knit for your mamma with those needles?” also titled “Bad girls, Worse Outfits”. Some of the treasures from this chapter include a entirely crocheted pant suit, clearly done with a very large gauge hook and a knitted short sleeved romper intended for biking.

Another favorite from another chapter is a sweater with one low slung bright yellow chevron pointing straight at the models d**k. If you need a good laugh and also some inspiration of what not to do with that avocado green yarn, I would highly recommend this book!

-Aja Ewing

Episode 3: Domestication Part 1, Fiber Animals

This episode, Aja and Meadow chat about some wine and yarn pairings, announce their first listener giveaway, and discuss the domestication of animals for fiber.  Plus, the Textile Tales segment includes a reading of a yarn-related original poem.

Subscribe to us on iTunes, or any other podcast platform.  Or, access all our episodes by clicking HERE.


Show Notes:
Buckwheat Bridge Angoras
Purl SOHO
Plymouth Yarn
Sarabee Designs
Enter the giveaway
The Lush Skein
Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook

Sources:
http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/goats/
http://archaeology.about.com/od/domestications/qt/goats.htm
http://www.livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage/internal/heritage-goats
https://scholarworks.alaska.edu/bitstream/handle/11122/1631/Agro%2039-1.pdf?sequence=1
http://archaeology.about.com/od/shthroughsiterms/qt/Sheep-History.htm
http://archaeology.about.com/od/dterms/a/domestication.htm
http://stravaganzastravaganza.blogspot.com/2012/10/meat-animals-origin-and-domestication.html
 

Episode 2: Peruvian Textiles and Angora Rabbits

 Photo courtesy of Threads of Peru.

Photo courtesy of Threads of Peru.

In this episode, Aja and Meadow catch up about their recent textile adventures and projects.  We share some delightful yarns, report on interesting aspects about traditional Quechua weaving in Peru, and interview a former angora rabbit owner on the pros and cons of owning a bunny for a small scale fiber operation.  

Subscribe on iTunes, or any other podcasting platform! Or head over to our PODCAST page to check out all of the episodes.

Show Notes:
Vikings and Balts: The Norse Saga at National Historic Museum of The Republic of Belarus
Knitted Lace of Estonia
Eat.Sleep.Knit
Malabrigo - Lace
Kfb/K1fb
Madelinetosh - Tosh Vintage, Graphite
The Fibre Company - Acadia DK
Threads of Peru
Inca Traditions Pay Off for Weavers
French Angora Rabbit
Fiber CSA
Chris Ryan Weist Music
 


Sources:
Turkey Red Journal
Threads of Peru
Further Information:
Woven Stories: Andean Textiles and Rituals by Andrea Heckman
Weaving int the Peruvian Highlands: Dreaming Patterns, Weaving Memories by Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez
 

 

Counterfeit Fabric Hurts Textile Industry in Ghana

 Photo courtesy of www.independent.co.uk and Chris Matthews.

Photo courtesy of www.independent.co.uk and Chris Matthews.

Nothing is more frustrating as when your work is copied. Even when you are just sitting down and banging out a paper for that 101 that you have to take as a senior because someone did not get their distribution credits out of the way freshman year, it is still frustrating if someone copies your paper. Now imagine you are a traditional textile worker, in a country with a long tradition of beautiful textiles and then all of a sudden the market starts to be flooded by brighter but poor quality cloth from a different country, with your traditional designs on it. You would be frustrated, since what was once a traditional way of making an income is being outsourced. It is not just your livelihood that is being outsourced, it is your heritage.

This is the situation in Ghana. Chinese manufacturers have flooded the market with lower quality counterfeit fabric. This fabric uses lower quality cotton from overseas and traditional designs that were stolen from local manufacturers. It often claims that it is Ghanaian and made in Ghana. Ghanaian wax printed cloth, which is representative in the western mind as 'traditional African dress fabric', is incredibly vibrant and beautiful. In the 1980s and 1990s the Chinese knock offs were easy to spot, however in the last decade the colors and the printing technology has advanced so now the Chinese knock offs are even brighter and more vibrant that cloth that is printed in Ghana. Even the logos and tags assuring authenticity are copied (Yeebo, 2015).

This is a huge problem for the local economy. While the Ghanaian textile industry in the 1990s employed 30,000 people, the industry now only employs 3,000 people (Mathews, 2015). The saving grace for the textile industry is the market for cloth intended for special occasions. Many people will commission special cloth for everything from funerals to casual wear. The ready-to-wear fabric, the 'prêt-à-porter' if you will, of Ghanaian cloth tends to be the more commonly counterfeited fabric. While the textile industry makes up a small portion of the GDP it is still a 150 million dollar industry (Yeebo, 2015).

Things are being done to counteract the counterfeiting. Last year a task force burned tens of thousands dollars worth of counterfeit cloth (Yeebo, 2015) . A locally owned company, GTP, has partnered with mPedigree. mPedigree is a Ghanaian tech company that hopes to help consumers distinguish between the local product and foreign imports. While locally owned companies can not hope to compete with the counterfeit fabrics in term of price, they hope to keep their textile traditions alive through speciality cloths, limited edition runs and educating the consumer on the difference between local products and the imports (Mathews, 2015).

-Aja Ewing

References:

Matthews, C. (2015, September 27). Ghana’s Textile Trade Unravels Due to Cheap Chinese Imports. Retrieved January 3, 2016, from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/ghana-s-textile-trade-unravels-due-to-cheap-chinese-imports-a6787761.html

Yeebo, Y. (2015, May 31). Chinese Counterfeits Leave Ghanaian Textiles Hanging by a Thread. Retrieved January 3, 2016, from http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/2015/0531/Chinese-counterfeits-leave-Ghanaian-textiles-hanging-by-a-thread

10 Travel Tips for Fiber Artists

 The Woven Road

The Woven Road

It is no secret that fiber artists, no matter where we are or what we are doing, will find ourselves fantasizing about our craft.  Inevitably, we're going to find ourselves wishing we had brought a project along with us.  Some projects lend themselves better than others to an "on-the-go" lifestyle.  (Good luck with THIS.)  Here is a list of 10 tips to make your take-along crafting run as smoothly as possible.

1) Plan ahead: Choose a project with a pattern that can be easily memorized.  This way, if you have to put it down at a moment's notice, you won't have too much of a hassle figuring out where you left off.  (I'd also like to note that I almost never follow this advice, and love to bring colorwork with me wherever I go! It is slightly more difficult but I love it too much to leave home without it.)

2) Go Digital: Download your pattern onto your mobile device, just remember to keep your device charged!  Aja recommends keeping a hard copy of your pattern, just in case your device is stolen, or runs out of battery.

3) Designate a bag just for your take-along project:  I don't know about you, but I used to constantly be untangling my yarn from various pens, keychains, gum wrappers, spiral notebooks (now that I write that, I realize I may have a larger problem on my hands...).  Invest in a nice project bag, one that provides all of the organizational pockets you could dream of.  This way, you'll never have to go digging and untangling before you can even start working on your project. (Spoiler alert: The Woven Road will be releasing our own line of project bags next year!)

4) Needle stoppers/point protectors are your friend: Keep your knitting on the needles and your peace of mind.  Check them out here, or some groovy handmade ones here.

5) Knitting needles are indeed TSA approved!: There is always some skepticism and I know many knitters that do not bring their needles in their carry-on just in case.  But they are indeed allowed (even large needles).  I have indeed heard the occasional anecdotal story about some folks getting their needles confiscated, so if you are concerned, choose wooden needles if you can.  I have also seen videos of folks using a drop spindle on an airplane (a bit to the dismay of the person next to them...)!  As long as your needles or roving do not contain more than 3oz of liquid, you'll be alright. ;)

6) Scissors with a blade length of more than 1 inch are not allowed in your carry-on luggage. I do recommend a Clover Yarn Cutter Pendant if you foresee a need to cut your yarn id-flight.

7) If weaving is your, thing: A simple frame loom, or the Woolery's Cricket Loom might be the best options for taking your crafting with you while you are traveling.

8) Ball your yarn ahead of time:  Let's be honest, crafting in public always acquires a few stares.  But you know what acquires stares AND awkwardness? Spreading your legs on public transportation so that you can place your yarn around your knees and wind it into a huge ball.

9) Locate yarn shops and textile museums:  So many places around the world have interesting traditions rooted in textile culture.  Know where you are going? Locate and plan to visit nearby museums.  While traveling in Nepal, my group paid an unexpected visit to a Tibetan refugee community and we were able to watch the women in their weaving, creating carpets to sell to tourists.  Finding things like this is a great way to see how traditional knowledge is being employed to support contemporary communities.  This was also a GREAT place to spend your money, because you are able to directly interact with the community you are supporting.  Here is a beautiful photo gallery of textiles from around the world.

10) Try a new craft in the style or tradition where you are traveling to: how delightful does it sound to plan your next travel adventure will be hopping around the British Isles and Scandinavia, knitting Welsh dragons, fair isle, Norwegian mitten patterns on tiny size zero needles, gazing out over the sheep and the fjords.

11) Sign up for a textile trip: They do exist, and pretty much all over the world. Most popular in Europe, you can sign up for a week of tours, classes, lectures, group craft-ins and more.  One popular fiber festival with a bit of a focus on local tradition is Shetland Wool Week.  What great fun it would be to learn a cool new style of crafting tradition while learning about its history from some of the most famous names in the business!  Iceland and Ireland are popular places for this type of fiber tourism.

On a final note, crafting in public is almost always a great icebreaker.  If you are undecided about whether or not to take your projects with you (whether to a sports match, or to the other side of the globe), we whole-heartedly recommend that you do!

Have any more recommendations? Send us your thoughts and experiences, and we'll be happy to share them!

-Meadow