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March 07, 2008

traveling and knitting do mix

I knit when I travel, but only if I'm not the person driving. Knitting needles, yarn and the steering wheel just don't work together for some reason... Riding the D.C. Metro, planes, shuttles, other people's cars, yes, I'm knitting on something.

It just irks me when an airplane attendent tells me to put it away during takeoff. Aw, c'mon! There are people using pens and pencils, and I have to put my knitting down? I use 2 circular needles when I knit whilst traveling, not double-points, and it all stays in my lap, and calms me down.

I even knit in conferences; it keeps my hands busy and keeps my fidget-factor down so that I don't distract (too much) the other captive victims sitting around me.

It's amazing the number of times that my knitting has broken the ice and started conversations. I guess the fact that I'm doing something different with my hands and actually knitting in public amazes strangers to the point of actually talking to me without being introduced by someone else.

My usual travelling knit projects? Socks. Of course.

Socks are rather easily identifiable, are small, pack easily into whatever bag I'm carrying, and easy to fit to either myself or whomever will be the lucky recipient of a sock gift. And I don't have to carry printed directions with me. That is, unless I'm playing with the patterned bits or "designing" a pattern for a sock, and then I jot it down in a little notebook that's my latest knitting and travel journal.

If I carry a sweater project, it ends up staying in the car or hotel room, for when I can spread it out and take up more space than just my lap or "personal" space. Ditto with shawls and scarves, they tend to take up a little more space too, especially when I pause to admire the pretty pattern, how wide the shawl is getting from just one skein of yarn, how the lacey patterns flow...

Ah, the joy of traveling with socks! I can sit in a conference, in the midst of the crowd, and quietly add length to a foot or leg, turn a heel, cast on, bind off, in joyful knitting pleasure. I can sit and talk in a lobby, with friends, with co-workers, waiting for a shuttle, for a conference session or meeting to start, for the hotel to start seating and serving, or just to keep my hands occupied and freak them out that I really can multi-task...

At last year's conference, I created and knit up a lacey pattern for a pair of socks for my mother. Her birthday is conveniently around mid-March, usually just a few days after the annual conference. She loved the socks, and keeps them "special" by wearing them for "special" days. Sometimes on days that end in "y" or just because she feels like wearing them. I also carried socks for myself that I knit on.

For this year's conference, I'm not sure what sock yarn I will take with me, or knit up. So much yarn, so little time... I have boot socks I just started for myself, as well as at least 3 pairs of "me" socks sitting half done in my project pile that I could take, with extra yarn for when those needles get bare (there's nothing worse than knowing you have a set of naked needles in the project bag or pile), and I know I'll definitely take my journal with me. Just in case I design another sock top, or puzzled out how to improve a heel turning, or who knows what will happen.


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