Wednesday 5 May 2021

Don't forget your knitting!

Here in England, our lives are slowly returning to something closer to normality than we’ve been living through recently. Most adults have had at least one dose of the vaccine, we can now meet friends outside for a drink, pop to the shop to pick up some non-essential items, and my children are back at school.

Unfortunately, after such a long time being at home, I have forgotten how to prepare to leave the house! I no longer automatically pack a knitting project and a book, just in case, but an incident last week reminded me just how useful these things can be. The COVID-security rules at our local pool during my children’s swimming lessons are pretty comprehensive, and digital devices are not allowed poolside, so I was very relieved that I happened to have grabbed both a book and some knitting as I left the house! While a few of the other adults had a book to read, several were sat twiddling their thumbs, while I happily propped a book on my knee, and read while knitting my sock. Two half-hour sessions of uninterrupted knitting and reading time is my idea of heaven!


What projects make good out of the house knitting?


My go-to grab-and-go knitting project is socks. I always use magic loop, so I don’t have to worry about dropping a needle anywhere and not being able to retrieve it. I tend to limit myself to socks that are knitted from a single ball so there’s no risk of a second ball of yarn trying to escape from my bag!

Vanilla socks (socks with no patterning) are ideal, or simple socks that you’ve memorised the pattern for – I don’t have to look at my phone for the pattern, or wrestle a pile of paper on a too-small chair with no table. I can even knit at the cinema if I stick to afterthought heel socks! I can knit away without having to stop to add the heel – I usually have a pair of afterthought heel socks in self-striping yarn on the go for moments when I don’t want to have to concentrate.

Best of all, because socks don’t usually require more than one ball of yarn, I don’t have to take out a bigger bag just to fit my knitting in, and after many years of carrying a changing bag round with me, I am very grateful that I can now fit everything I need in a shoulder bag!


Sweater backs and sleeves

When I am knitting intarsia sweaters, I don’t ever take the intarsia portion out of the house with me. I love intarsia, but the bobbins don’t fit neatly in a bag, and one will always run out at the wrong moment. I do take the other parts of the sweaters out with me to work on when I’m out and about though. Sweater backs are the most straightforward part to work on, especially if they don’t have any shaping, but sleeves also work well. I do find that bits of sweaters fit better in my bag if I work them on circular needles – just use the tips to work back and forth as you would on straight needles. You can fold the cable in half when you pack up and the project will fit in your bag more easily. Using circular needles also avoids elbowing the person sitting next to you!

How can I keep my project safe?

I keep all my projects in individual project bags. I like bags that seal either with a drawstring or a zip so the project is kept clean while it’s in my bag. My favourite out and about bags are those where the top can be folded down so the yarn can sit in its makeshift yarn bowl without escaping across the floor, or into a swimming pool or sand pit. I have many project bags, and they are all distinct, so I know which project is in which bag and I can grab it at a moment’s notice. My family are used to me referring to projects in terms such as ‘the sloth one’, even if the project itself has nothing to do with sloths!

When you have to get up, always remember to seal the project into the bag, otherwise you may find that when you next come to work on it, it will have gained something sticky from the bottom of your bag, or snagged on your keys.

Have you had a chance to knit while out and about yet this year? What do you like to work on when you’re out of the house?

Want a new out of the house cast-on?

Need to cast on a new project for out and about knitting? Why not try my Siren Song socks? The pattern is easy to memorise, and only takes a single skein of yarn. Prefer intarsia? The Unicorn of the Sea Sweater (Ravelry link, also available on LoveCrafts – affiliate link) has a plain backs and sleeves that you can knit while you’re out, and you can concentrate on the intarsia portion when you’re home and can safely wrestle some bobbins!


Happy knitting!


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