In thinking about the Men's Rocky Mountain Knitting Retreat, I realized I should probably offer some advice on traveling with yarn. Here's the blog (a day before it get's published on knittingman.wordpress.com) for you to peruse. Let me know if you have any other travel tips!
In my quest to be helpful to knitters in all things, it occurred to me that the new knitter might not quite understand the implications of travel on their budding passion. The experienced knitter, too, might have been making errors in their travel planning for a lifetime simply because they have not been better taught. Here I will attempt to give a few travel tips that might help knitters, both new and old.
First, begin with a basic question. "Why do I need to travel?" Before you leave the comfort of your local yarn stores, your various tools and your stash behind, ask yourself if leaving is really necessary. Be mindful of the fact that, should an emergency arise, you may be far away from yarn suppliers. If it is at all possible, stay in the comfort of your home. If there is no pressing need, don't take the unnecessary risk that you will need to replace a special double point that only your local yarn store supplies. More importantly, don't risk angering your stash. It can be a needy beast, requiring constant affection to avoid making the yarn feel neglected.
If you've evaluated all of the possible consequences and have made the decision that travel absolutely cannot be avoided, do so. If you follow the guidelines below, you can rest assured that your trip will be without major crisis.
Begin by evaluating your stash. Can it come with? I've left mine alone for just a few days and been rewarded with sullen glares from my yarn. The unspun fiber wouldn't even look at me. I can only imagine if I left it for weeks on end. Remember that your stash requires frequent love and attention.
Once you've decided the stash can (or must) come with, find out how many suit cases your airline allows. Consider airlines that don't charge for extra baggage and invest in a few of those giant plastic bags that you can suck the air out of. You'd be amazed how much yarn you can fit once the air has been removed.
If your stash won't fit in your luggage, the next choice is driving. Long trips in a rental truck can be expensive but this should be considered insurance. What if you were on the road and lost a cable needle? If your entire stash is there and on hand, you will be sure to have whatever you need.
In extreme situations, the stash may be left home. If this is the case, you must hire a house sitter! Provide them with specific instructions on stash care including sitting in the room with the stash to keep it company, giving it occasional pets and bringing over a guest or two to admire it in all its glory. You don't want an angry stash. Do whatever you must to keep it happy.
With the stash left home, you'll have to make some difficult decisions. Begin by gathering all your needles. Fortunately, these are relatively compact and should fit in a suitcase. Next, be sure you have the requisite notions including stitch markers, scissors, measuring tape, crochet hooks and so on. Finally, you'll need to gather up some yarn.
When selecting yarn, I would suggest approximating how much knitting time you will have. Estimate how many projects you will be able to complete in that span. Finally, quadruple that number. This should cover any unexpected situations such as being stranded in the airport, losing a set of needles or being driven so insane by your family that you sit in the hotel room all day knitting.
The types of projects should also be considered. If you have very young children, you may want to leave the cobweb lace behind. Blankets are challenging to travel with, but may be a nice lap cozy if driving in the winter. Socks are generally my preferred travel knitting, primarily because strangers tend to be so awed by all those double points.
Now that you've prepared your yarn for travel, you also need to take a close look at the destination. If traveling to a rural area, look up fiber farmers. Once while visiting family in central Utah, I came across a rancher who sold me two giant alpaca fleeces for $20. You may find the occasional unexpected yarn shop in these little towns too. In urban centers, find out where the yarn stores are and have a plan for how to get to them. Unsympathetic travel companions may require some persuasion on your part, but I've found that suggesting destinations the whole group might enjoy that happen to be near a yarn store is a great way to go. If all else fails, you can play sick and "stay in" while everyone else goes about town. Just be ready to explain that pile of yarn in the corner. I usually say "It's not new. I brought it with me. It just needed to breathe for a while."
Finally, getting your new yarn home should be considered. If you've gone with a rental truck, adding the yarn to the stash on the spot is possible. Otherwise, you may want to consider shipping it back home. Just be sure that your house sitter will be there. Notify her that the box should be opened immediately and the yarn should be lovingly stroked upon arrival. You wouldn't want your yarn to be angry before it even got in the stash, now would you?