Summer holiday knitting: project planning


It’s Allison here today as Louise is only just back from the photoshoot from her book. It went supremely well and I know she’s hoping to show you a few sneaky snaps next week once she’s had a chance to sift through the photographs!

Louise and I were chatting recently about her deadline to finish the book before the upcoming summer holidays. I said I hoped that she was going to have time for some knitting that wasn’t book-related and it kicked off a discussion about how we plan our holiday knitting. I’m off to Canada for four weeks this summer so I’ve found I have to be quite strategic with my planning too – although I’m always overly optimistic about how much knitting will actually get done! We thought it would fun to share our own plans and tips – and we invite you to share yours with us.

A little yarn ball winding on the beach?!

A little yarn ball winding on the beach?! Why not?

Tip #1: Fibre choice – look at where you are going

This might seem like an easy one, but our thoughts are a little more in-depth on this one. Look at the weather forecast or patterns for where you are going. What are the temperatures like? Is it really hot? What is the humidity like? These are important considerations when it comes to fibre choice. That lovely shawl you were planning on knitting in baby alpaca may start to felt from the moisture from your hands if worked on in the high heat of the day!

Lighter fibres such as cotton, linen or bamboo (or blends containing these fibres) are great options here, as are lighter weight yarns such as lace, fingering, sport or dk. You might want to check out Louise’s and my review of three cotton yarns if you missed that one.

Tip #2: Pattern choice – playtime vs. knitting time

In addition to planning your knitting, I’m sure you’re thinking about the various activities you’ll be doing while on holiday. Why not consider them both at the same time? If you’re going to a beach and there’s lots of sand and splashing hijinks, can your project get wet? (A good project bag to minimize sand intrusion helps too).

Or are you holidaying with boisterous friends and family who will want to talk your ear off the whole time and you’ll need a project that allows you to engage in conversation without paying too much attention to your knitting? (Garter stitch is your friend in situations like this). Think about how you decide which project to take to the pub for knit night and apply the same thought process.

But if you’re going to have lots of time for quiet reflection, then by all means, break out the lace! Projects you can knit when the kids are in bed don’t need to be so simple either, especially if you’re not even watching the TV.

Of course if you knit in strange, new place like a gondola - take pictures!

A portable project means you can knit anywhere – even in a gondola in the Canadian Rockies!

Tip #3: Size matters – pick something portable

I’m a very slow knitter so when I’ve got a project on the needles or I’m about to start something new, I’m constantly thinking ahead to the next season when I anticipate the project being finished and I can wear it. Do I want to a cosy new sweater to wear when the air turns chillier in the autumn? Absolutely. Is it practical for me to be carrying a sweater WIP and accompanying yarn on my holidays? Nope.

If you’re traveling at all on your holidays then chances are your space is likely at a premium what with all the limitations on hold luggage and carry-on these days. Try to stick to smaller projects that are easy to tuck into your carry-on, beach bag or whatever you have with you. Shawls, scarves, socks and small child/baby knits are all excellent suggestions.

Tip #4: Find your focus – do NOT pack ALL the projects!

This is the one that gets me every time. I think, “hey! I’m going to be in Canada for four weeks! I can knit four jumpers in that time!”. My enthusiasm for the holidays gets the better of me and I over-optimistically pack between six and eight projects (or more!).

There’s nothing wrong with variety, but if you’re an easily distracted knitter like myself, then why not use your holiday as an opportunity to focus on making some real progress on one or two particular projects? Evaluate the length of time you’re going to be away against how speedy a knitter you are – but also be realistic with yourself about how much time you’ll really be able to devote to your knitting while you’re away. Make sure you’re leaving time for sightseeing, and for seeing your loved ones! Another suggestion for keeping focused is to join in a Summer KAL and use the shared community, camaraderie and chatter about the project(s) to keep yourself motivated and on-project.

Win-win: souvenir yarn from a LYS last summer AND supporting a local indie dyer.

Win-win: souvenir yarn from a LYS last summer AND supporting a local indie dyer.

Tip #5: Yarn tourism, anyone?

When I’m travelling, no matter where it is, I always love to see if I can visit a local yarn shop or meeting new folks at a knit night. It’s a terrific way to experience the knitting culture in another city or country, as well as being a fabulous way to meet other like-minded folks with a shared passion for knitting and yarn. Check out resources like Knitmap or Ravelry boards for where you’re visiting to find out what might be available and ask questions.

Make sure to also clear this in advance with your family or travel partners for wanting to do this so that you can take the proper amount of time to enjoy yourself instead of a rushed dash in and out of a shop searching for souvenir yarn! Advanced reconnaissance, er, research, can help you figure out if there’s an interesting activity, museum, other shops, or whatever nearby to amuse them. Alternatively you can make a plan or request that this is something you want to take the time to do on your own. A little research into any local dyers or specialty items that a shop might have will also be useful to you if you’re looking for a memorable souvenir

I do hope you’ll share your own tips for how you plan your summer knitting projects! And wherever your summer holidays take you, may they have a few yarn-y adventures too! 😉

One thought on “Summer holiday knitting: project planning

  1. The main thing I’ve learned about holiday knitting is to pack three projects. The exact number will probably vary based on your personal circumstances, but the logic is to assume you’ll finish one, one will crap out in some unpredictable way (maybe just needing to be rejiggered with certain info or tools you only have at home), so the third one is for back-up.

    As for what KIND of thing, I always have something portable and fairly simple in the car. Ideally simple enough that I can knit even in the dark – stocking stitch socks are ideal – for late-night and/or tunnel driving! (Um. In this scenario, obviously I am a passenger…) Something big and plain-ish (a sweater or fairly simple shawl, maybe) is great for quiet evenings etc. Holidays are generally not a good time for working on my own designs, so I take advantage of the chance to make something just for fun.

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