Five Tips for Crochet-on-the-Go

I know some of you are gearing up for travel to fiber shows and crochet events, including the CGOA Chain Link Conferences in Minneapolis and Greensboro. Maybe you're heading to graduations and weddings. Well, it's never too early to plan your packing.

Clothes? Whatever. Crochet? Plan, plan, plan

Prep your patterns: For both in-town and out-of-town travel, I prepare my patterns. I photocopy the crochet pattern (Note: This is perfectly OK to do for individual use only.) I cut up the pattern and glue the parts to index cards. For a garment, I leave out all but my size. If it has a stitch diagram, I put it on a card along with the key. I use both sides of the card, but I paste the written-out version of the diagram on a different card, so I can see both at once. Then the cards travel with the pattern, as shown here with the Dahlia Shawl from Spring 2011.
Decide what goes into checked bags: Generally, laceweight or more involved patterns go into checked luggage. Projects are packed in plastic zip-top bags with the pattern cards and crochet hook (yes, go ahead and put the hook in with the project. Even if you think you'll remember which hook you're using, you won't). Yarn that is liable to unwind if TSA does a search of the checked luggage (this happens more often than you'd think) goes into a plastic zip-top bag, like the laceweight muffins at the top left. Yarn that is reined in by a ballband (like the brown fluffy yarn there) gets tucked into nooks and crannies around clothes and projects. (Note that TSA does not love this, because the free-range balls can be pesky during a search. Let your conscience be your guide.)
Carry on the right tools and project, Part I: I carry my 24K Hook Catcher (Interweave Crochet Winter 2009 issue) on planes. You can see it in action on this cross-country trip. The crochet hook-holder keeps the hook from rolling down the plane, and the stitch markers are handy when you need them. For your project, aim for one that is fairly new that has a manageable (e.g., small) ball of yarn. This way, it doesn't take up so much space in either your carry-on bag or in your lap.
Carry on the right tools, Part 2: Tunisian crochet might not be the best choice for carry-on, what with the long hooks and all. But it is generally pretty straightforward crochet, requiring little pattern-checking. A straight Tunisian hook is unwieldy for both checked bags and carry-on. Unless you're keen on making, er, friends with your seatmate by poking him or her every few seconds, use a Tunisian hook with a cable. Denise makes a great set, especially good for crocheters with small hands. And Addi has added hooks to its Addi Click line, with full-size crochet hooks. The cunning HeartStopper end-cap keeps your stitches from falling off the cord with a long project.
Follow your heart: So this project breaks most of my carry-on crochet project rules: It's laceweight; it's Tunisian; it has a big huge ball of yarn that takes up a lot of space in my carry-on bag; it's a tad cumbersome as it has grown quite a bit (thank goodness!). And yet, I worked on this project all during a five-hour flight, because I really wanted to. If you carry on a thing you want to work on, you're less likely to resort to the in-flight magazine for entertainment.

So, there you have a few tips to pack up for your next adventure. Check out more travel tips by our friend and co-worker Amy Palmer, over in Knitting Daily (my favorite tip: you can board a plane out of the UK with a crochet hook, but not knitting needles.)

Have some tips of your own? Do tell! Just leave a comment below.

Happy trails!

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