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I knit and crochet (and sometimes spin yarn) in public. Its a natural result of knitting and crocheting (and sometimes spinning) every spare moment of my day. Many of those spare moments are in my own home, but some of them are out in public. So I’m often doing my yarn thing while out and about.
To knit and crochet while out and about takes some planning and some preparation. You’ll need several things to do it successfully and for me these things fall into three categories:
1) the right project
2) the right stuff
3) the right attitude
The Right Project for Knitting/Crocheting in Public
Simple. Portable. One yarn, one needle, and not too delicate.
When you are out and about with your yarn, you need a project that doesn’t require much concentration. That big ol’ world out there is full of distractions and only the very special, talented and super-focused can work a complicated project under those conditions. I’m not one of those people. For me a public project is a project with a simple pattern; simple enough that I don’t have to check it often. It means a project that’s on one needle (when I’m knitting). The chances of me loosing a long circular are not nil, but they are much less than me loosing one of two straights.
At the moment my knitting-on-the-go project is a Pie Are Square Shawl. Its a simple design by Elizabeth Zimmerman. It has big stretches of “do more of the same”. Its all knits and yarn-overs. And it fits nicely scrunched up on one needle. Its perfect for knitting on the go.
No-go’s (for me) in a public project:
- anything with a chart
- any pattern that I have to read every row/round
- anything that requires a cable needle (cuz I will loose that baby faster than you can say “slip 2 to the CN and hold to the…”)
- any yarn/project that can’t survive being dropped on the ground a few dozen times.
The Right Stuff for Knitting/Crocheting in Public
Bags. You will plenty of bags to take your project with you. We are talking about an elaborate system of big bags and small bags and bags stuffed in other bags. Just accept the Bag Lady / Bag Gentleman image now because its unavoidable (and why have I never heard the term Bag Gentleman before now when I just made it up?).
I have lots of bags and I rotate them in and out of my daily life as they wear out and as I get sick of looking at hem. I have more than
I can show you you have any interest in seeing. But here is my current on-the-go bag configuration:
You need a big bag to hold everything. And yes, mine is a dog food sack. Its a dog food sack that has been padded and lined on the inside and then grommet-ed and given two nifty carrying handles. And it has my name on it. Some ladies like to carry around name-brand designer bags worth hundreds of dollars. I like a dog food sack that a friend made special just for me. (That thing is practically indestructible, btw. Here is a free guide for making a basic bag from a pet food sack. It doesn’t include the liner but it should give you some idea how these are made.)
I do realize dog food sacks are not the accessory that everyone wants. But get yourself a big and tough bag to hold all your stuff.
Inside that big bag you’ll need your project bag. I like the cloth, drawstring project bags. They are easy, light weight. I can toss them in the washing machine when I need to. I have bunches of these but I never seem to have enough.
Project bags are the handiest thing and once you get one or two, you’ll never have enough either. So for those who have sewing machines, and know how to use them and everything, try this free mini-class from Craftsy. Then you can make as many project bags as you like.
Inside the project bag is your project (don’t say duh) and your yarn. Travel is hard on balls of yarn so you’ll also need some kind of yarn containment system. For me that is sometimes a cleaned out yogurt container. Sometimes its an old bowl. This week I’m using… a small bag.
Its a yarn cake cozie. Its great for keeping your travel yarn from turning into a hot mess of a tangle. Like it? Its one of my patterns, and its free, and you can grab your copy right here.
Finally you need a bag for notions and tools and all the other junk that you can’t get by without. I’m talking about all the little stuff that a scatterbrain like me would loose is a flat minute if they didn’t stay zippered up in a bag.
I carry around a pen, my reading glasses, my Chibi tapestry needles, a pair of small scissors, foam beads which I use as needle tips to keep my stitches from sliding off knit needles, a needle/yarn gauge and two candy-type tins.
Only one of which has candy.
The other has my colorful assortment of stitch markers and row markers. Those row markers, or something similar like safety pins, are absolute necessities. You’ll need them for holding a dropped stitch that you just now noticed and won’t be able to fix until you get your project back home.
The Right Attitude for Knitting/Crocheting in Public
First off, right away, before we go any further, I want to point out that no so long ago many of you chimed in and agreed that from now on we tell the world its not easy. Knitting and crochet is not easy. We just make it look that way because we are awesome and talented and gifted. That’s the official party line remember? Good.
So having agreed that knitting and crochet is only for the awesome, talented, and gifted, how you handle the people who want to talk to you about what you are making will depend on how much coffee you’ve had, how much sleep you’ve had, and probably how well (or how poorly) your project is working up. That’s perfectly fine. We all have our own way of dealing with that quagmire known as the rest of the human race. Handle those curious folks however you like. (Just don’t tell them its easy.)
But I’m officially giving you permission to tell fibs, to take the easy way out, and to say whatever it is that makes the encounter go as smooth as possible. Here are some hypothetical conversions that I have in no way actually had. Honest.
- When you are crocheting a shawl and someone comes up to say “Is that knitting? I just love knitting. I knit all the time,” you could say “Me too.” And then keep crocheting.
- When you are contentedly stitching away under the sunshine on a pretty day and a woman half your age tells you: “How sweet! My grandmother used to do that too,” you could say “I know. She gave me this pattern.” Then no matter what happens next, lower your work, fix that youngling with a hard stare, and say “She also told me that you don’t brush your teeth every night before bed.” I can almost guarantee that will end the conversation.
- When you are knitting socks in public, and doing it all by yourself and not asking anyone to help out or even pay attention to you in any way, someone will come over to tell you that knitting socks is a waste of time and you should give it up. Its inevitable. There is something about sock knitting that offends the sensibilities of the hyper-efficient, time management oriented soul. You can allay all their anxiety by saying “I’m immortal. Time is meaningless to me.”
- When someone comes over and says “I just love that color you’re using. Is that yarn hand dyed?” you say “Hi! And yes it is hand dye. Isn’t it gorgeous? I bought it on sale at the XYZ yarn store. Have you been there? Its a great shop. We have a group that meets there on Thursday nights and you should come. Here let me give you my email…”
- Finally when some comes over and asks”… is that a dog food sack?” you say “No. Its a Glenvichy Antigona. It cost me $4500. It only looks like a dog food sack. That’s the latest thing you know.”
Really, that’s all you need to take your yarn on the go and enjoy yourself: a simple project, a lot of bags, and a smart mouth.