Like a Willie Nelson Song

I’m almost packed, I just have to add my knitting to the suitcase and then I’m off to the airport.   I’ll get to Minneapolis just in time for the opening of Yarnover, and I’m really looking forward to it.  I really like the work I do, teaching and being with knitters, but these larger events have a little icing on the cake – a chance to see (however briefly) other teachers I only run into once or twice a year. This many years in the field and the other teachers start to be your friends, and events start to be tiny reunions.  There’s not much time to see each other when you’re working, but still.  I’m so looking forward to it. My one wish for things like this is that each teaching day came with four evenings so that I could see everyone I want to, and sit with them, and hear what they’re working on… all those knitter minds.

bagsonthec 2014-04-25

Lined up on the chesterfield is the knitting.  I think I’m finally learning not to take way, way too much.  (Because someone will ask, the first bag is from YoYoGo, The second’s my Splityarn bike bag, and the third is a Tom Bihn yarn stuff sack. The cat hair is courtesy of Millie. It was a gift.) After years of practice, I think I’ve finally got it down to a silly amount of knitting rather than a laughable quantity.  If I were going to be home, any one of these projects would do me, but once I’m on the road? Away from the stash? Any less than this and I start getting insecure. (What if I have a layover? What if my plane is cancelled? What if I suddenly knit faster than I ever have before and I run out?)  I like to have an assortment.

sexyboo 2014-04-25

I’m taking the Sweet Dreams adaptation I’m working on, but it’s beaded, and despite Denise at Lost City Knits sending me this video that really would make beading on a plane a little more possible, I’m just not feeling it.  (By the way, I went out and bought the crazy dental floss thingies she’s using there – I didn’t even know they existed, and the minute I’d bought it I found my crochet hook down the side of the couch. Amazing.)  This will be my “alone in my hotel room and not moving” knitting.

pluckyobsession 2014-04-25

I’m also taking the Color Affection that I have been working on ignoring for more than a year. I picked this up again a few weeks ago – and I swear it’s going down. I can’t handle it kicking around for any longer at all. It seems stupid to finish it just in time for summer, but whatever. If I put it down again I know I’m never picking it up. This knitting’s no good for when I have limited space – like on an airplane. There’s three balls of yarn and they’re forever needing to be unsorted, and that’s the kind of yarn game that ends with me annoying the passenger next to me. I try to be a better missionary for knitting than that.

To fill in the gaps, I’ve got a new sock on the go, although there’s no guarantee it’s going to make the cut.

vermiculture 2014-04-25

It’s Skeined Alive 80/merino 10/cashmere, 10/nylon – in a fabulous colour called Vermiculture. I feel great about the yarn, but the pattern I picked is Anne Hanson’s Sign of Four, and I think the stitch pattern might be totally lost. I’m not feeling it at the moment, but it could start coming together in another repeat or two. We’ll have to see how it feels.

That’s it. That’s all I’m taking, although the pangs keep coming.  The urge to tuck a little skein of sock yarn into a pocket, perhaps just a little ball of laceweight as backup… Never mind of course that I’m going to a knitting convention and to a great yarn store… and that if I need more yarn I shall be awash with it in about four hours… No no.  What if, what if…

Maybe I’ll just put in one more thing.  It can’t hurt.

(PS. I’ll be at StevenBe on Sunday afternoon,  if you wanted to stop by and say Hi.  I’m teaching until 1, and then I’ll be around for a few hours until the next class.  Give them a call and reserve a book if you need one, and I’ll see you there.)


77 thoughts on “Like a Willie Nelson Song

  1. The Color Affection will be perfect to wear on the plane home, you know, when you’re above 30,000 feet and the short sleeve shirt that seemed so sensible in the overheated airport is completely inadequate to cover your goose bumps.

    And that sock yarn is wonderful- if you don’t like the pattern, it will be gorgeous in a plain sock. Lovely! (I’m so dying to cast on a new sock…but first I have to finish the men’s 10 1/2 wide socks with all the weensy little cables…)

  2. The one time I didn’t pack a zillion projects was a driving trip to see my parents. I was stranded for several days and RAN OUT OF PROJECTS!!!!!! Just sayin’

    • it just takes once. one time you wish you had just taken it. one extra skein of yarn, one extra pair of jeans, one extra book- yeah, they take up a tad more space, but your peace of mind is worth it. the thrill of packing lightly is, for me, almost immediately replaced with the sinking feeling of not having options.

  3. shouldn’t you take at least one project where you “feel it”? And where you can do knitting on the plane? Maybe choose it on the morning before hopping into the taxi?

  4. I agree you need a definite plane project that you are ‘really’ feeling. Although we all know that if the new sock pattern does not suit you, the yarn would make a lovely pair of plain vanilla socks. And we all know you have that patter stored in your head anyways. Have fun enjoy this next stop of you book touring.

  5. Have knit Sign of Four several times. But this last time (just finished in fact) I list track of the repeat each row pattern twice and after do the 8 rows twice I ended up doing each row once. Yes, yes I noted this and did sock 2 the same. This turned out very attractive in a busier pattern yarn. Similar to a chunky seed stitch. So, once again, not a mistake rather a design element. You might like it.

  6. I understand your concerns, especially since the opportunity to purchase more yarn over the weekend is really, really low. Oh. Wait.

  7. Knit a Clapotis? That’s immensely portable, pretty, and shows off how simple and elegant repeatedly dropping a stitch can be. And pulling out the rows and rows of stitches would be *easy* on an airplane!

  8. Steph, I do the same when we go on vacation somewhere. My husband asks me, “How long are you planning to be gone?” or “Planning on being snowed in in July?” I tell him it makes me feel secure, kind of like money in the bank… 🙂

  9. Always better to have too much than not enough! I find myself packing extra yarn just to go to work, or to knit night. I can’t explain my behavior, but I’m glad I’m not the only one who exhibits it!

  10. Oh man, Colour Affection. I keep thinking I want the final product but the endless garter and yarn wrangling always stops me. Like the Doctor Who scarf, but crescent shaped.

  11. When I flew to San Diego and back in a day three weeks ago I was doing carry-on only and the bag was full of birthday presents. I came very very close to running out of yarn–I didn’t have another hour’s worth by the time we landed. Never again!

    That sock is starting out gorgeous, by the way. If you need help feeling the love with it I’d be quite happy to cheer you on.

  12. You need more projects ! What if….. A giant chicken eats your plane before you board or you loose a needle. THINK, woman! More projects! On second thought, there might be a bit of yarn to be had in Minneapolis, in case of emergency.

    That is the coolest video ever. Knitters are so ingenious! Running to CVS for dental floss now!

  13. Not only is the stitch lost, the yarn colour is broken up by the stitch pattern, and its beauty is lost. I think I’d do something simpler. The ribbing shows off the yarn much better. I’d love to see a plain ribbed or stockinette sock.

  14. Thanks for the video link! I didn’t even know that kind of dental floss existed!!! I have gorgeous beads and now I have an easy way to knit them in, if and when I find that dental floss!

  15. Well, I have knit on a Color Affection on a plane. BUT it was to Guam, AND the seat next to me was open. That’s a long enough flight to figure out how to organize three measly balls of yarn… 🙂

    LOL – and then I failed your human test, so maybe take my post with a grain of salt!

  16. Looks like a good selection to me, but maybe add that one ball of sock yarn. Love the bags, and the photos are amazing! Looks like you are mastering the new camera.

  17. I think there is something like yarn-PTSD. The totally unrational fear to run out of yarn and knitting project – especially when you are going to a knitting retreat…..

  18. When my son had braces, his orthodontist gave him plastic flossing gizmos that were blue plastic, fish-shaped with a tail. That’s the best way I can describe them. Anyway, they were great for beading. I snipped through one side of the “fish” so I could get the bead on it, get the bead on my stitch, and pull the fish out. It worked really well. And Matt kept getting tons of these from the dentist, so I never ran out. I think you might be right about the sock. Your stitch pattern is probably going to disappear.

  19. Love your sock yarn! And if you end up ripping it out, you’ll have burned that much travel time knitting and have the bonus of a full skein to start over.

    Have you ever tried a beadle needle? It works like a crochet hook, but you can load up the needle with ~ 20 beads instead of having to pick up a new bead each time. For me, it’s the absolute fastest way to add beads to a project, and good for travelling or sitting in a group and talking because you can load the needle in advance. Here’s a link to a tutorial (, and you can get one from

    Have fun on your trip!

  20. okay, I really hadn’t planned on commenting today…BUT, I so love that you used the word chesterfield. That’s the word my grandma always used…just brought me back to a great place:)

  21. Had to look it up to be sure….yep, vermiculture DOES mean the cultivation of earth worms…..and it’s weirdly cool how pretty that yarn is with a name like that – although you can see where the colors come from! (Particularly if you compost). #wordnerd
    So excited! I just phoned my husband to tell him I was going on an outing on Sunday to meet my knitting blog heroine! Woohoo! See you at Stevenbe.

  22. I tried to pack sensibly for Easter weekend; I took a barely started BSJ and a little embroidery and then as an afterthought shoved in the next panel for the same embroidery. I finished the first embroidery and the BSJ just needed the cast off by the time we got home – knitting faster than you have for the previous days/years/months is totally possible! Also I think I’m with you on the stitch pattern getting lost – it might need to be a vanilla sock.

  23. It’s probably too late to change it but I’d recommend Sign o’ Four in a solid or semi solid in a lighter colorway. I made some in navy and the pattern is lost; have started more in a creamsicle orange color.
    Have fun!

  24. Actually making color affection now is genius. It’ll be done for the warm weather and thus it should go in the Christmas gift pile as it is less tempting to want it yourself when it is warm. And you can convince yourself that you’ll knit anither next fall. Then, by next November when you excavate the pile, you’ll rediscover it and be ecstatic that there is one less gift to finish.
    Sounds like a great plan.

  25. OMG you got skeined Alice’s vermiculture! I got that color for sock yarn two years ago when I met Megan, the dyer (sp?) at ny sheep and wool festival! I love the color but be careful the first time you wash it because it runs a bit. I made the socks and still wear them two years later. Enjoy! I love that yarn color!
    Ps socks wear well and I am tough on socks since I work on my feet!

  26. heh . . . I always have two projects with me for every commute, even though realistically I only work on one on the metro. But what if a needle breaks? What if the yarn knots and I can’t fix it on the train? What if? What if?

  27. I can totally relate, I am currently packing for a little knitting getaway with the best friend and narrowing down what to bring is proving to be more difficult that deciding what to name my almost fully cooked baby … nevermind the fact we are starting the trip by attending the DKC Frolic where surely we will both collect a couple of souvenirs.

  28. That Splityarn bike bag is SO PRETTY! I have some travel sneaking up on me and I’m already worried that none of my in-progress projects are especially suited to travel… (a large worsted weight blanket probably shouldn’t come on the plane, right? Sigh.)

  29. Yes, you should thank Millie for the cat hair! Like alpaca or angora, it adds some downy softness to any knitted project! (It also adds a little extra spice to the spaghetti sauce.)

    And next time, you should probably reference an Eagles song (the one about something that will “surely make you lose your mind”) rather than the Willie Nelson song. . .

  30. that stitch pattern really does have a lot more impact the bigger the piece grows; it’s very subtle at first but then BAM, it looks like quilted fabric from a distance (or that quilted toilet tissue, one or the other).

    have a great weekend; happy travels!

  31. It’s nice to hear that you put things aside for more than a year. I finally finished the first of a pair of socks I started after I got your book Knitting Rules. Not a lot of mistakes in it and it fits. Not sure if it will be destined to be a single sock like the mateless ones after doing laundry. Eight years to finish a sock doesn’t bode well. Currently enjoying your new book.

  32. Going to class tomorrow night at StevenBe… finally meeting my knitting/blogging idol and I’m in the biggest knitting slump ever. Nothing started but a failed project. Hoping to be inspired.

  33. Hang in there on the sign of four! I felt the same way with mine – once you work more repeats and step away from the knitting – the pattern pops out more! I love mine! I can see the pattern in yours – it looks nice 🙂

  34. First of all that beading/dental floss video blew my mind. Woah. Wow. That was some crazy voodoo kind of thing. Awesome.

    I always love and am inspired by your pattern and yarn projects. However, I can’t imagine a long trip without plain sock pattern and a basic sock yarn (my go-to is Zitron FACH Trekking) just in case my brain is fried and I need some rounds of stockinette to keep me sane. Sometimes a lace pattern will put you right over the edge… 🙂

  35. Hi did you ever finnish the pattern for the little baby set in august 2013 knitted in a cream colour wool? i think this little pattern is adorable and would love to purchase it i have looked on ravelry but am not able to find it please put me out of my misery kind regards Pat.

  36. I’m 52, and until I break down and get some bifocals, I always carry a “Large Print” project that I can work on in low light, and my sock knitting. Getting old is definitely not for sissies!

  37. There is nothing like having to pack three months worth of stuff into volume, weight, and bag number limited luggage to teach you exactly how much knitting you actually get done. Two of those back to back have taught me realistic yarn packing. Though I still feel like I’m going to run out somehow…

  38. I use the dental floss beading method. I just load up as many pieces of floss with as many beads as I need for the next couple of hours of work, and I’m good! You can reuse the floss pieces over and over and over.

    I tie a big, loop knot in the softer end (usually a bowline, although an overhand knot over a fold, leaving a loop, works perfectly well), Load the beads on the stiff end, push them all past the fuzz and safety pin the loop to the knitting or the needles, or the bag The fuzz holds them on just fine. Then, you just add beads to your work as necessary. I have lost, I think, a grand total of **2** beads in restaurants and planes with this method. Yes, really. No big deal, easy peasy. Try it and see!!! I bet you bring it on the plane on the way home.

  39. Thank you so much for the great sock class yesterday. It was really fun to meet you in person and I really learned a lot.

  40. As always, you are an inspiration. I travel to the British Isles this summer, and I’m already in a panic about how NOT to pack too much knitting.

    Maybe one of these trips, I’ll get it right. Thanks for showing how can be done!

  41. Wow. Your post contributed to a cross-pollination of sorts. I have almost completed two box bags, after being scared of sewing in zippers for YEARS (tutorial here: I just wish that it was actually knitting, but now the sewing bug has bitten. Maybe once I have a few knitting bags, one can stay in the car with a WIP. Thanks, Steph!
    Anyhow, hope that you’re having fun with teaching!

  42. Wow – that tutorial is crazy good! and it looks pretty easy. Back in the day I used to string ALL the beads onto the yarn and then pull them up into the knitting as needed….nice to see innovations at work. When I pack my yarn projects I always take way too much so that I avoid being bored. But that’s by car – if I fly, I make sure there’s a yarn shop somewhere nearby so I don’t have to bring all my WIP’s. One day I hope to take one of your classes – enjoy the teaching and teachers!

  43. So, it’s my birthday today and I’m sitting at my compy, reading your latest post. I have a package next to me sent by my mother that I have delayed opening as I am really into delayed gratification. I want to draw the birthday goodness out as long as possible. My husband asks about it, so I decide to open it. Lo and behold it’s “Knitting Rules!” by the Yarn Harlot! The picture of it is even on my screen. Fate I say. Not surprising though, as I turned my mother onto your blog recently. I can’t wait to read it. Hope you make it to Chicago sometime soon!

  44. Gorgeous yarn, always gorgeous yarn, you have such a good eye at choosing. Can’t wait to see the Sweet Dreams adaptation! Wow, it’s been a year already on the Color Affection!? I hate it when projects date you. 🙂

  45. This is weird. I am going on a rather long flight tomorrow, and I was just sitting here with my laptop, idly wondering what I could possibly use to put my sock yarn and needles in, that would look tidy and protect my wooden 2.25mm DPNs in my carry on luggage. Thought I might as well catch up on the Yarn Harlot blog before I go, so opened it up and started reading. You had all those little bags lined up on the couch, and I was suddenly inspired! I ran and got my sturdy little oblong ‘Wicked Sista’ cosmetics bag, hiding in the bottom drawer in the bathroom and rarely used. Voila! Perfect! Timing, as they say, is everything.

  46. I made the Sign o Four socks, and felt the same way at the beginning, but pretty soon there were these diamonds crawling up my leg, and I love that when I wear them, I can look down and see a whole sea of secret diamonds on my leg. . .

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  50. I can leave the yard at home when going, but I never know which NEEDLES I will need for the yarn I buy so want to take them all.

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