And she’s off….

This will be my last post for a little bit, since Team Harlot is heading off for our 2005 bike adventure. It’s 360km of family bike riding, camping and visiting across Ontario and parts of La Belle Province and I’m hard pressed to think of a time when I could need unplugging from the world anymore than I do. After yesterday’s meltdown I have a chapter and a half (instead of two) written, 6 loads of laundry (instead of 9) but I did find the camp stove. (I had covered it with a camp towel. Apparently simply putting a cloth over something is enough to make it un-findable. All I had to do to get those three hours of my life back yesterday was to move that cloth. Ever wish you were smart enough not to be able to outwit yourself?)

You know you’re ready for a vacation when all you’re knitting is little tiny shoes and you think there’s nothing wrong with that.


Nothing at all. These are the “Chunky Ankle-strap Shoes” from (which you would think was the only book that I owned) 50 Baby Bootees to Knit, using Knit Picks “wool of the andes” in “daffodil” which I quite like. It’s not the softest yarn on the block, but has a nice firmness, and has a little bit of a crunchy thing going on that really turns my crank. I think it would be quite good for cables. (Cabled bootees? I have got to get a hold of myself. This bootee thing is a disease.)

For those who asked, yesterday’s bootees were from the same book, the “Slip-ons” knit out of Knit Picks “Elegance” alpaca/silk. (I like that one too…I’m playing around with the new Knit picks stuff. This yarn is quite soft…probably not the best choice for bootees, since the resulting wee shoesies (for the love of wool. Stop me.) are sort of “limp”.) The little leaf on it is not from the book, I took it from “Knitted Embellishments“.

Even though I will be blog absent until the 31st, I’m not leaving you entirely at loose ends. The very funny (and sadly, blogless) Lady Rams will be entertaining you in a couple of entries, assuming that the technology doesn’t defeat us, and I’m leaving behind a time delay entry or two. There’s also the chance that I’ll hook up with a computer on the way…so I’ll blog if I can. I’m not going to worry about it though, since I hear tell of people having rich full lives without ever knowing what I’m up to. (Hint: Bootees)

The real question, of course, is what sort of knitting does one take on a bike trip? The knitting must be:

1. Small. If you are carrying everything you need to conduct your life, from shelter to pots, underpants to coffeemaker, on the back of your bike, you really have to pay attention to size. A sweater is not going to cut it.

2. Light. See reason above.

3. Washable. This will be knit by daylight and firelight, dragged in and out of a tent and crammed in a pannier. It’s totally going to need a good wash. Now is not the time to think of the white merino laceweight (despite it fitting reasons 1 and 2. )

4. Chartless. Charts suck by firelight. Words (a few) are ok.

5. Interesting. It’s the only knitting I shall have for 10 days. Just thinking that gives me the heebie jeebies. Who only knits one thing for 10 days?

6. Lots of work. It needs to be not finishable in 10 days, or I’ll have NOTHING.

Ideas? (I’ll check tomorrow before I pack.)

71 thoughts on “And she’s off….

  1. Um… That’s a tough one. How about a simple-enough-to-memorize lace pattern and some other-than-white laceweight? You could knit a shawl big enough to cover your sofa when you get back home.

  2. The phrase “bootie knitting” is FUNNY.
    Take several socks – maybe all those mates you need to finish?
    [HEJ takes cover from flying dirty laundry…]

  3. Socks. definitely socks. You can pack more than one and really, isn’t it time to put a bit of your focus BACK on the sock/hunk calendar?

  4. Socks, socks the perfect portable project. Small and washable. Darling booties but pray tell, do you know that many bootie babies or have that many pregnant friends? They are absolutely adorable but what are you going to do with them?? Inquiring minds want to know.

  5. I would bring along a bag of all my leftover scrap yarn and “knit” on one of those knobby-knitters, churning out yards and yards of tubular I-cord. To make it interesting, I’d switch to another color when I got bored. By campfire light, I could slip yarn over nail again and again. And I’d use white thread from the miscellaneous kit to sew the tube into circular hot pads or a rectangular table runner. Each day could be separated by the same color or produce a new hot pad, so the long, harsh, rainy days would have minimal knit space or produce little doll hotpads and the wonderful, long days in the shade at a rest stop would incorporate the loveliest and prettiest leftover colors in my stash. Or….a couple of plain socks might qualify as light and interesting. Either socks or hot pads would provide a lovely platform for frogs, snakes, bird nests, wildflowers, pine cones, panoramic beach scenes, or sunsets.

  6. I’m going with the crowd and voting for socks – the perfect travel project. I’m wishing good travel weather and fun with your family. Thanks for providing for us while you’re gone.

  7. I second Jenny’s vote for finishing the mates to those lonely socks! Have a wonderful trip ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. If I got a chapter and a half written and 6 loads of laundry done in a single day it would be the most productive day I’ve had in months!

  9. Socks. But I liked the idea that Kristel had even better. Any easy lace pattern for a large shawl. Preferably in something that won’t pick up bits of twigs and leaves. Perhaps in a nice cocoa brown? Have a *wonderful* trip! It sounds divine!

  10. Take a small drop spindle, some carded fleece and dpns. Spin your own yarn on the ride out and somewhere along the way a trip related idea will present itself and you’ll knit up a memorable token of your travels. Or at least you’ll be able spin and ply a sturdy yarn rope, if needed.

  11. I’m thinking like the wife of that Greek guy that was gone so long, and she kept ripping it out so she wouldn’t have to marry any of those user dudes. So literate I am. But I think you could talk one of the ladies into pulling out your needles every night.
    It’s the process.

  12. I’m guessing you’re a bit socked-out by this point, having dragged The Sock all across two different continents in the last few months. My vote goes with a shawl or scarf with an easy to memorize repeat and fingering weight yarn in a non-white color. Laceweight seems like it would be too easy to catch on things and would be a bitch to undo in the unlikely event that a mistake is made.

  13. I am going to be burned at the stake as a heretic but how about a book. You know, a novel. Story, character, etc. Not so great by firelight but for that I recommend beer (or wine) and conversation. Books can be left and purchased on route to lighten the load. The bonus is your family will be so shocked that you didn’t bring knitting they might actually converse in interesting ways.
    Probably a crap idea but you never know.

  14. Odd lengths of yarn to make 8″ x 8″ squares for Annie (knittygritty)’s John Glick project. Mindless, thoughtful, and best of all, just think a square or dozen a day could be very satisfying.
    Just sayin.

  15. Well, I’m leaving for 10 days of vac tomorrow morning too – not biking, but still – and I’ve got a perfect project (so I think): knitty’s skating queen skirt – for one of your daughters or yourself (do you wear skirts?)… anyway, #4 circular needles, increasing rib, never gets very big, and if you finish it, send it home and make something else (i.e., 2nd socks)… my 6 y/o has also wrangled me into knitting some Barbie outfits, and I’m finishing up a couple other things as well, but I vote for the skirt! Have a great time ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Socks. Then hiding them in the girls’ packs or insisting they wear them.
    Or you could just mail them home. A few big envelopes and some stamps can’t add all that much bulk. Right?
    You can also mail some yarn to yourself for the halfway mark. Pick some up, send some home. Mail is wonderful.

  17. I’m voting for dishcloths. I have no time to read the other comments to see if somebody already thought of this, but I just think it’s brilliant. You can use them to wash the dishes on the trip, you can seam them together in case you forgot your underpants, or if you need an extra bikini for somebody — two washcloths make a bikini top, two more for a bottom. You could also use them for bike cushiony covers if your (or someone else’s) arse gets sore. Let me think. What else? Um…by the time you come home you could patchwork several together and make a really clever and comfortable drawstring skirt. Or it could be the dishcloth shawl. You could market the pattern and make a mint.
    Plus, the whole idea of my Harlot knitting dishcloths will be enough to carry me through the Weekend From Hell I have ahead of me because of a doctor’s transcript being expedited even though I am behind on my other work ahead of his. I will just chuckle and giggle the whole way through if I know you’re knitting dishcloths. Please? For me?

  18. hello stephanie? listen, whatever you take, make it a *felting* project – it’s gotta be washed right? i’d do the felted clogs, which you so kindly helped me with – or mittens or whatever. winter’s coming…..

  19. How about a lace shawl or stole in linen? Linen gets softer and drapes nicer the more it is washed, yet is probably hardy enough to be dragged around a campsite (although I haven’t tested that theory myself – tempted to do so, soon).
    Plus, you can get linen on a cone, so you can entertain your family by digging around the campsite, muttering to yourself “Now where did I leave that stinking cone?”

  20. I dunno what you should bring on your trip, but I totally hear you on wishing you were smart enough to not be outwitted by… yourself.
    Happens to me all the time. I’ve gone so far, sometimes, as to have to “dumb things down a bit” when I’ve got some wicked new plan I’m embarking on, for fear of confusing myself later. sigh.

  21. Socks. But you can do baby socks. Those are heaps of fun and so cute! Take your left over sock yarns and knit up the wee socksies. They won’t take up much room. You can whip out matching little hats if you so desire.

  22. one of my favorite baby sock pattern ends with this immortal line “knit another sock”
    i would take some lace weight or fingering weight yarn and maybe use EZ’s gull wing pattern for a wide long stole?
    greens for the forrest?

  23. I’m all for obsessive bootee-making.
    You know, that just sounds wrong, doesn’t it…especially since the kids are nearby…
    I’ll miss you terribly. I’m making cables of the handspun I plied using your gorgeous wool. A very small cabled thingy which is not a bootee, but may very well end up wearing booties with the sunglasses. Or perhaps a llama thong, just for you, since, you know, better underwear is in the works, I hear…

  24. Oooh a felted thing.. perhaps! Because it’s sole purpose is to BE washed!! Felted clogs? A french market bag? a hat?Yes.. definitely something felted!

  25. socks. socks, the ultimate portable project, Nothing, absolutely nothing, beats socks. TO get more out of a single sock, you could do kneesocks. Good in Canadian winters. Or you could knit a skirt. I just bought wool to try this, would love to have some company.
    enjoy the bike ride.

  26. Booties. Why not? Not socks. Nothing that takes dps – unless you are planning on bringing spare sets along for when they got lost at the campsite and you can’t find them by firelight.
    Actually, I would get over your dislike of circular needles and do something like cowls or hats for the winter. do them in fine enough wool – you could have 4 done by the end of the trip – and then let the girls fight over them. I don’t think straight needles pack as well as circs.

  27. Enjoy your bike travels! My family has been thoroughly entertained in the Okanagon over the last couple of weeks.
    But no bikes. And no booties. Endless family socks, and, yes, a shawl. The Harlot’s travel advice is always good.

  28. I vote for something like a prayer shawl (k3, p3 extra wide seed stitch in worsted weight or bigger). It’s easy, not entirely mindless, and with the right yarn, fun.
    Oh, and on the towel hiding the camp stove, you’re a froopy chick who knows where her towel is. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  29. Have a great biking trip! (with no rain of course!)
    hmmmm, they really need to invent glow-in-the-dark yarn!! And I agree….socks for everyone!
    Have fun!!

  30. I have no suggestions for knitting but must insist that you have a great time on your trip! Bon voyage!

  31. I’d like to point out that booties fit all of your criteria for bicycle knitting. However, your recent obssesion with booties has me dying to know…….are you pregnant?

  32. I was wondering about the dastardly bike seat as well. May you bike in comfort! Looking forward to Rams, the comments always make me laugh ( albeit sometimes after I find the dictionary). And I, of course, have no idea what you should knit. I’m with the book suggestion. Happy trails!

  33. Oh Glory Be! A bike trip you say? Did you not learn from the past trips? This if FUN?
    Well, fun for you, perhaps.
    I will be sending good rolling thoughts your way and missing you every mile that you travel.

  34. How about designing your own lace motif. Lousy for firelight, but I never use up much yarn that way. knit, rip, rip, knit, rip, rip.
    (just following up on the Penelope idea)

  35. I think finishing all the second socks would be a good idea. I might take something like EZ Baby Surprise Sweater, or her Best Baby Sweater, it’s knit in one piece from the neck down. Other than that maybe pillows, then you can sit on them on the trip home.

  36. Norma is right, dishcloths, or rather the flower shaped chenille washcloths from the Weekend Knitting book (I am assuming you have this), is almost as great a portable knitting project as socks. And I am sure you could memorize the pattern easily (although I can never remember it!). Of course, socks have become my portable knitting project of choice lately!
    Being a more obsessive reader than I am a knitter, if that’s possible (occasionally I do both at the same time), I would certainly take knitting AND several books! The suggestion about taking a book and leaving it behind when you are finished is a good one. But check out You can register the book you choose to read and then when you are done, you can “release it into the wild” for someone else to find and read. A real interesting idea when you are traveling. Sometimes, the book continues to travel even after you go home!

  37. The Fleece Artist Goldilocks Shawl. Great, one skein of yarn, and no pattern to think of except the increases. Good Luck on the ride!

  38. GLOVES! They’re small like socks, but require more work and will take longer to finish! And the timing couldn’t be better with cold weather just around the corner. If I remember correctly, I saw a beautiful pair of gloves in the latest VK! Even mittens would work if you’re not up for doing the gloves, and would be a bit of a reprieve from the sock-making. And just so you know… I had shut everything down for the night and was laying in bed when the glove idea came to me — I knew I had to get up and fire the pc back up to post this or I’d never get to sleep. Have a great trip!

  39. What about some mittens with an allover fair-isle pattern for day (Russian/Kombi style) and like the others suggested socks for campfire knitting? I hope you’ll let us know what you choose, have fun on your trip!

  40. The “Stonington Shetland Shawl” from Elizabeth Zimmermann!! Pure garter stitch knitting, interesting construction, mindless knitting, great reward when finished. Instructions to be found in “The Knitting Workshop”. Or maybe a “Pi Shawl”? It’s knit in the round, stockiknette, with a mindless increase row every now and then, and putting in a pattern is not neccesary because there are already pretty rows of eyelets ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s also EZ’s creation and can be found in every book by her, except the “Knitting Around” one, I believe. “Knitting Almanac” has the best instructions in my opinion. Use a lightweight yarn (fingering), quite big needles, and off you go with the perfect travelknitting ๐Ÿ™‚ It is highly rcommended to add a border, but if you are not up to an elaborate lace border when you arrive at that point, I’ve found that a 8-12 stitch garter border is a good substition, and pretty, too ๐Ÿ™‚
    I myself took “Kiri” in KSH with me on a two week camp trip with campfirse etc. etc. but found that I never worked on it – except for maybe one pattern repeat in the whole time because there was SO MUCH else going on, food that needed to be cooked and sleep that needed to be slept.
    Have a good trip ๐Ÿ™‚

  41. Ahh, the last few days before leaving on holiday with the darn family. Stress and chaos. Hope you have a really good one.
    As for the knitting question; might I suggest Ruffles? It’s perhaps a little lacking on the “interesting” side, as the short rows keep repeating. But it’s the smallest knitting I’ve ever carried around(not counting doll clothes etc). It’s pocket size if you do it on 2,5 mm needles. My other suggestion is victorian all-the-way stockings, nasty itchy business, actually not recommended. Se Ruffles here (wasn’t able to make a link)

  42. SocksSocksSocks. And a couple of scribbled out patterns from any random pattern book. Pick a pattern, make it work into a sock, lather rinse repeat ad nauseum.
    Have fun on the bike! ๐Ÿ™‚

  43. Socks, yeah, okay, but what about MY needs? The 31st? You can’t tell me there’s NO wifi out there on the bike, can you? Oh, you can? Dang, we’ll miss ya. Be safe.

  44. think out of the box–MAIL yourself some knitting –(i don’t know about Canada, but in US, you can mail stuff to the POST OFFICE and ask them to hold for pick (and note, if not picked up, return postage is guarenteed–and put you home address on the package.
    then–as you bike through a town, stop at PO, pick UP fresh knitting, and drop off and mail home completed projects..
    (if a city or town is big enough, you can do the same with FedEx/UPS or other services.)
    think of it–Yarn waiting for you.. and when you get home, piles of completed projects that need a light wash and block! Why carry when you can let someone else do it for you?
    (i suspect you stop in towns every few days and stock up on food supplies.. so why not stock up on yarn.. not new yarn,but your own!

  45. A whole army of booties?! Other than that I won’t be much help. I’m sure some socks wouold enjoy the ride too. Good luck with the whole biking/camping thing. More woman than I…

  46. Simple lace pattern tablecloth in mercerized cotton. I dragged one on a week-long bus tour of Italy years ago and it wadded up small enough to fit throughout the trip.
    And if it isn’t washable, it’d never make it as a tablecloth.

  47. As I recall from one or more of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s books, she knit pi shawls while sitting outside on camping trips while her husband fished. Lightweight yarn, repetitious portions and smushable into panniers. Plus, with circular needles, you don’t risk impaling your hand when digging into the panniers after dark.

  48. I’m liking the mailing yarn and project idea! I’m also liking the stashing finished projects in the infidels’ packs. How ’bout charcoal grey to disguise fire smudges? Enjoy your trip!

  49. I really liked S.Kate’s idea…
    QUOTE/ Take a small drop spindle, some carded fleece and dpns. Spin your own yarn on the ride out and somewhere along the way a trip related idea will present itself and you’ll knit up a memorable token of your travels. Or at least you’ll be able spin and ply a sturdy yarn rope, if needed. /QUOTE
    There are tons of suggestions already from all your readers, and I know you’ll come up with something, so all I’m going to add is HAVE A WONDERFUL TRIP! RELAX! YOU DESERVE THE BREAK!

  50. It has to be Norma’s Dishcloths…what an imagination! Brillant! But I would add a couple of the other ideas too, such as socks (of course) and mailing knitted items back home so you don’t have to carry them. Have a wonderful time!!

  51. Entrelac something. Even the simplest of entrelacs cna be interesting to knit….
    or perhaps domino knitting? Once you’ve got the pattern down, it’s down, but like entrelac, infinitely interesting.
    Barring those, a simple to remember lace shawl in something dark, or socks. You can pack fewer than you need, and knit up a pair to be worn on the way home….

  52. I think I’d go for a scarf. Here’s a couple that are easy and cool:
    “My so called scarf” The really fun thing about this one is that it looks more woven than knit. How often do we knit something that doesn’t look knit? I really enjoy this pattern… I liked it so much, that in addition to the one in Manos I’m making for me, I’m making one for my sister in South West Trading Company’s bamboo yarn that she (inadvertantly) picked out herself. The bamboo yarn is really nice to work with, and it’s turning out really pretty. Since the bamboo yarn is smaller, I did 40 per row instead of 30, and there’s more rows per inch, so it’d take more stitches to finish… maybe even enough to keep you busy for 10 days. The pattern is really easy to memorize.
    Lots o’ pretty cables ๐Ÿ™‚

  53. I say a scarf
    –you can roll it up as you work
    –you can make it last as long as you want
    –you can use any kind of yarn (washable dark color)
    –create your own pattern!

  54. You are a brave woman !! Bicycling all that way. Knit the socks , I say. Make them long or make leg warmers. You may need them. When you are on your way through Cobourg on the waterfront trail give me a wave. Happy wheeling.

  55. Have fun, eh? Having just returned from a delightful week’s vacation, I can wish you the best with no guile whatsoever. Enjoy yourself!
    I thought that suggestion from the Odyssey was hilarious.

  56. I’ve probably missed your bon voyage however I can’t help but boost the linen idea. I took a hank of linen and patterns on index cards backpacking in the mailer bag (which kept everything dry when I took a spill creek crossing) and knit linen face/wash/dish-cloths. Alternatively I pulled a Penelope road-tripping from Denver to SoCal working out my own Pi Shawl (as demonstrated with your Diamond Scarf there is more than one use for sock yarn). G’night.

  57. Hmm… booties? Socks, washcloths, oh, and Lion Brand has a delightful beaded scrunchie pattern on their website (by delightful, I mean “delightfully 1987”). You could *really* embarrass the girls by insisting on knitting and wearing those… and maybe insisting on them wearing them, too.

  58. I know I’m too late, but I suggest you dig to the bottom of your knitting basket and find the fuzzyfeet. Winter is coming and you will want them when you get a good cold snap. I bet you even forgot about them.

  59. i LOVE your socks. i love love love them….can you recommend a pattern to work from so they will look like yours?

  60. I, too, have wonderful mother-in-law who shares this birthday. Her name is Diane and she also raised a son who knew how to clean toilets, but is unable to run a washer/dryer. Oh, well. She’s responsible for the toffee bar dessert and the best ad for faith that I know. She never blinked an eye over 9 grandchildren from us alone, but could calm any one of those said grandchildren in a flash. Diane only gives an opinion when asked and appreciates knitted gifts!!!

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