The fun of yarn shopping on holiday

It is that time of year when many of us stare at suitcases agonising over how many knitting or crochet projects we will need for our holiday.

Will one or two projects be enough for a week? Should I take an extra emergency ball of sock wool and some dpns? What if there are five days straight of thunderstorms and you are stuck inside – what would you do if you ran out of yarn? Should I take out some yarn to make room for a change of shoes?

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Try to make a plan for your knitting packing in advance – that way you may have both the right needles and a change of shoes

When we’ve talked about holiday knitting in the past, we’ve recommended planning your holiday projects in advanced and having an organised bundle to take away. But for some of us there is another issue that has an impact on our holiday packing – will we come across a local yarn shop on the trip?

If you aren’t into buying traditional souvenirs, a little holiday stash enhancement is can be a fun option as well as inspiring new knitting projects.

You might see new yarns that you haven’t come across before or different colourways and uses for yarns you do know – I once had a great chat about UK yarns I recognised in a Canadian yarn shop with the owner.

Plus this is an activity that works whether holidaying at home or abroad. There are lots of interesting yarn shops around the UK, many listed on our Find a Yarn Shop map. Where you might find something new to squish. For those of us who don’t live particularly close to a local yarn shop a trip to a big city or a seaside town with an LYS can be a great treat.

Some people may think this is an unusual holiday habit, but it is increasingly common among knitters if the growing number of Tripadvisor reviews of yarn shops is anything to judge by.

So this holiday leave a little corner in your suitcase and treat yourself to a squishable souvenir.

 

Summer knitting projects for kids

As the schools break up for the summer, many people’s thoughts are turning to how to keep their kids occupied for the summer.

One way is to teach them to knit or crochet – see our tips here – but what if they have already mastered the basics? How do you keep them interested when the everlasting scarf for teddy no longer cuts any ice?

Projects that are relevant to them and aren’t too overwhelming are a good idea. With this in mind we’ve put together a few project suggestions.

Toys

A simple garter stitch teddy, or even a dinosaur (like the ones pictured below), can be a good project introducing a little shaping and new techniques without being a mammoth project.

Some children may think they are too old for a toy but they can be encouraged to make a present for a new baby you may know or a younger sibling. Not only do they get the satisfaction of completing a project but also some appreciation for their work.

Gadget cases

Basic rectangular knitting or crochet is great for making gadget and pencil cases. They are a way for encouraging children to practice but they also offer opportunities for them to add their own style through stripes and embellishments.

Homewares

Older children might want to put their own stamp on their bedroom. One way would be to encourage them to make their own cushion covers (chunky yarn is a good option here) or starting a granny square blanket (if they run out of steam, the square might become a cushion cover instead).

Yarn choice

Involving kids in the choice of the yarn for their projects will also help engage them. Think about interesting yarns such as self-striping, tape and chainette yarns and different materials such as raffia or making their own T-shirt yarn or “plarn”. Unusual colour combinations and vivid neons might also prove popular and keep interest in a simple scarf.

Garter stitch dinosaurs from Sirdar would be a good first toy project http://www.sirdar.co.uk/designs/funknits/4632 : If the kids don’t want to knit for themselves how about for a pet as with this dog coast from Stylecraft http://www.stylecraft-yarns.co.uk/Life+Chunky+Pattern+9179+Striped+Dog+Coat/0_CAFA110/PRNC360.htm : These cookie and cupcake cushions from James C Brett might be popular with developing knitters: These Wendy cushions could be adapted to many colour schemes http://www.tbramsden.co.uk/catalog/patterns/Accessories-1/5974:Yarns like this Lolli chainette from Conway+Bliss might keep kids interested in their projects: Crochet gadget cases from King Cole will lend themselves easily to embellishments such as buttons and badges

Garter stitch dinosaurs from Sirdar would be a good first toy project: If the kids don’t want to knit for themselves how about for a pet as with this dog coat from Stylecraft: Cookie and cupcake cushions from James C Brett might be popular with developing knitters: These Wendy cushions could be adapted to many colour schemes: Yarns like this Lolli chainette from Conway+Bliss might keep kids interested in their projects: Crochet gadget cases from King Cole will lend themselves easily to embellishments such as buttons and badges

Planning Your Holiday Knitting

The summer holidays are upon us which means some annual knitting conundrums are arising.

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For some us knitting counts as a holiday essential (image from the Erika Knight blog)

First off, is how many projects to pack for a holiday. When we asked our Twitter followers how many projects they take away, answers included “too many”, “a range” and varied from two to six.

The big issues seem to be a fear of running out without access to a local yarn shop and not having the right project for the circumstances, such as travelling or sitting on the balcony with a glass of wine.

So it is a good idea to write a knitting packing list in advance. This will avoid the twin evils of searching for the right needles three hours before an early morning start and cramming extra random balls of yarn into your case at the very last minute.

Among the top tips for holiday knitting we’ve collected are:

  • Take works-in-progress. This will avoid any indecision about what to cast on or the need to cling to wifi hotspots in the hope of downloading a new pattern. It also means you will have the yarn and needles already sorted out.
  • Choose small projects like socks (your first sock could be a holiday challenge, if you like those) or lightweight projects such as shawls or lacy scarves.
  • Take three projects – easy, medium and hard so you have plenty to keep you going and something for all circumstances
  • Also check out our tips for hot weather knitting.

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Airport security and planes

The other issue with holiday knitting and crochet is about whether your needles and hooks will be allowed through airport security.

There is no ban on knitting needles or crochet hooks in hand luggage for UK airports. However, some airports may have their own rules so it is worth checking the individual website plus some security staff don’t know the rules so it can be worth printing out the official information.

As for knitting on the plane, this depends on the individual airlines and their cabin staff. Some welcome knitters and the crew will chat about what you are making – often the case on BA and Aer Lingus – but others such as Etihad seem to have a blanket ban. Again check the websites. And remember airports and airlines aren’t anti-knitter they just want to make travel as a safe as possible.

Tips for carrying knitting and crochet in your hand baggage:

  • Choose plastic or bamboo needles and circular needles over DPNs or straights.
  • Don’t take your favourite needles in case you do have to give them up.
  • Also don’t choose a project that will be irreparably damaged by having the needles removed.
  • If you use interchangeable needles, remove the tips before you go and stow them with your pens. This protects the ends and your project is safe on its cable. When you get an opportunity to knit all you have to do is reattach.

We hope that with this in mind you have a lovely holiday whenever you get away and if you are travelling that you get the opportunity to check out some local yarn shops – one of our team has already identified four in her summer destination.

And if you have any more holiday tips please add them in the comments below.