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!)
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!