Sunday, 26 June 2016

Tips for problem free travel knitting

This little notions kit of mine takes care of all my knitting needs while on the go.
Recently when we were preparing for an overseas family holiday a few well meaning friends who were aware of my knitting addiction expressed concern for the likelihood of being able to get my knitting needles through airport security. Having travelled before, both internationally and domestically with my knitting I did not share their doubts. There was not a single bat of the eye when my bags went through the x-ray for scanning and I didn't even feel the need to preempt the security officers to the fact that there was knitting in my bag this time round.  By all means I'm not trying to set myself up as an expert on this topic but I thought it might be useful to share my tips so that other knitters can enjoy their knitting abroad too.

Beyond the purpose of getting through airport security I also have some general tips for keeping your knitting portable for crafting on the go.

1. Use circular knitting needles.
I use circular knitting needles all the time even when working flat because I find them more comfortable because the weight of the work sits more centrally in front of me and doesn't give me as much shoulder strain. I also like using them because I am a chronic public knitter and circulars are easier to tuck into a project bag and not stick out like straight needles do. 

2. Use wooden or bamboo tips.
The debate is still on with whether you can get through the security screen with metal tips so to avoid any issues I just stick to using wooden or bamboo needles.

3. Have yarn on the needles already cast on.
I do this so that it is more convincing to the security officers that I am a legitimate knitter and that I'm not planning on using my needles as weapons.

4. Bring a Clover yarn cutter pendant.
If you think you must cut your yarn then this nifty little yarn cutter works a treat and is not a problem through security. I just had it in my notions pouch with all my other little nick nacks and there were no issues.

5. Knit smaller projects.
Hauling around a large sweater project is just not practical when travelling so knit something small like an accessory or socks. If you must knit a sweater then try just doing the sleeves while you are on the go.

6. Bring enough yarn to last the whole trip and factor in the possibility for delays.
It happened to me once, on the way to Sydney our flight got cancelled and we were stuck a the airport. Initially I didn't mind because i had my knitting and then I ran out of yarn. The delay quickly became unbearable and it also meant that I didn't have anything to knit on the way home too. Now, I make sure I wind up all I need for the whole project and also bring more than one thing to work on.

7. Knit with yarn appropriate to the destination climate.
We were holidaying in Singapore and I knew that working a thick woolly project was a ridiculous thing to do. Hence I brought along nice little lace weight project and knit away happily by the pool as my children played.

8. Keep digital copies of the patterns.
I load a copy of the pattern onto all of our devices so that I still have access to the pattern even when my kids are monopolising the iPad.

9. Choose an easy pattern.
My preference is for a fairly plain knit that won't require too much brain work, I am on holidays after all. Travelling with children often involves sitting in the dark hotel room waiting for a child to fall asleep and knitting st st is what I can manage in those circumstances. I'm sure more experienced knitters will be more advanced than me when it comes to knitting in the dark but I like to keep it simple.

10. Bring a self addressed prepaid postage satchel.
If you are nervous about getting your knitting needles through security then bring a prepaid satchel so that you can post the project to yourself. Aim to head through security early so that if there was an issue you will have enough time to put your knitting in the post satchel and find a post box before trying again with security. If you still hope to work on the project while away then I recommend using interchangeable tips on your circular needles so that if you did encounter a problem you only need to post the tips back to yourself. Then when you get to your destination you have the fun of finding a LYS to pick up some new tips and some new yarn too. However, with this tip, please keep in mind that when leaving a foreign country for the homeward journey you will need to investigate what their local postage options are before heading to the airport.

There you go, nicely rounded out to 10 tips. I'm sure all you seasoned travel knitters out there have many other tips that I haven' even considered. Please leave a comment and share your wisdom.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Finished object file: Puntilla Sweater | Skein Merino Cashmere Fingering

This is the kind of pose you end up with when your 6YO gives the directions. He thought that I could best show off the lace by holding my hands this way.
Here's another finished object for a couple of months ago but I have been wearing it so much since I finished it and it is certainly one of my current wardrobe favs. I'm talking about the Puntilla sweater designed by Joji Locatelli that I knit for the recent Skein Sweater KAL that Kristen hosted through her Ravelry group.

When Kristen first announced that she was going to offer a preorder sale for sweater lots of her yarn I was immediately hooked. I started obsessing over her colour ways and bases and dreaming of the different sweaters I could make. Then Kristen announced that she was also going to host a sweater KAL starting in May just around the time the preorders were due to be sent out. This totally sent me down the Ravelry rabbit hole. I ummed and ahhed over two patterns initially but every time I logged onto Ravelry I started adding more patterns to my short (long) list.

'Milk Glass' is a beautiful colour way but it was not quite what I expected.

Finally, I decided to make Joji Locatelli's Puntilla sweater from her recently released Authentic Collection. From the Skein update I ordered 4 skeins of MCN Sock in the 'Milk Glass' colour way on a whim because the photo of the colour looked like a soft neutral with subtle splashes of pastel purple and bluey grey. When the skeins actually arrived and I started swatching with the yarn I realised that the colour way was much deeper and variegated then I had expected. I kept looking at my swatch and I kept thinking, "I love these colours, it looks amazing." However, something still nagged at me in the back of my mind about the colour and only after I had cast on and started knitting the shoulders did I finally admit to myself that I just didn't love the colour way when I was knitting it in st st. I was troubled by just how variegated it was and I didn't feel comfortable wearing that blend of colours in a sweater that was predominately knit in st st. Luckily, I had some Skein Merino Cashmere (MC) Fingering in 'Graphite' in my stash and so I frogged what I had knit with the 'Milk Glass' and started all over again. 

The knit went fairly quickly after I got past the shoulders and the short row shaping for the neckline. I had never knit a Joji pattern before and her shoulder construction method was a style that I had never tried before either. But all credit to Joji for writing such clear instructions, because it was not tricky at all and I was surprised that in a relatively short amount of time I had a neck hole and a pair of shoulders.

It's hard taking photos in the yard without the dogs getting in the way.
Those dogs are still there in the background.
Once I had the arms holes done and had joined the work in the round I buzzed through the st st body. I knit the sleeves on short circulars, which has become my favourite method of small circumference knitting (BTW, I use 20cm Addi turbos for that) and then I finished the neck ribbing with an invisible ribbed bind off to give it a bit more stretch. Bang, the main body of the sweater was done and I was onto the lace trims. 

Here is where the 'Milk Glass' came back into play. I decided that though I didn't like the colour way in st st I was going to love it knit in lace. So I picked up the the stitches around the ribbed ends of the sweater and knit the easy to memorise lace in the beautiful 'Milk Glass' colour. I adore the little touches of mauve and bluey grey that peak through in the lace trim. I love how the lace sits at the end of my sleeves and at the bottom of the sweater giving it a touch of femininity to an otherwise boxy and androgynous garment.

I like this pattern over Joji's very popular Boxy sweaters because it is not as wide in the body and the added lace trims just gives it something a little special for the everyday. Hence this top has been my favourite one to wear as our weather has turned colder and colder in Melbourne. The MC Fingering is just so soft and cuddly, so when the weather wasn't so cold I would wear a singlet underneath and the yarn was so divine against the skin. Now that it is colder the generous boxy style of the jumper means that I can still wear it comfortably over my layers.

Thanks to Kristen from Skein for hosting such a fantastic KAL and for the awesome prize.

And, as an added bonus I won a prize from the KAL. Kristen announced me as one of the winners at the end of the KAL and she awarded me a Kimi Silks project bag. I am extra chuffed that on top of having a gorgeous new sweater to wear I won something in the KAL. Who would have thought I'd be so lucky?