When I was getting ready to leave, I had the hardest time getting it all together. Going away on long trips is tricky. Not just because of the clothes and creature comforts, but the yarn situation. This being my life, I am travelling some superlatively yarny places, and if there was truly a shortage of yarn I could indeed buy as I go, but that always involves also buying tools, or packing a million needles, or not being teaching while the market is open, and space is at a premium this go round. I have one large suitcase for all my teaching stuff, and then all my personal things (for two weeks!) fit into a single carry on.  I though it over, I tried to get realistic, and managed to fight off the way that I usually pack yarn. Usually, I pack not like I’m travelling across the country, but to an different dimension, where time, space and knitting work differently. Usually I pack like:

a) I am going to have more time to knit while I am working than I do when I am at home. (This, is lunatic. There is no knitting during a teaching day. There is talking about knitting, and looking at knitting and discussing knitting, and all the students knit, but I – do not.)

b) Like if I do knit, I will suddenly an miraculously knit faster than I ever have before, thus requiring massive amounts of yarn that I should have on my person. Example: I can knit about a sock a day. Three balls of sock yarn with me on a plane is not “insurance” or “optimistic.” It’s delusional. Even if my flight were delayed, I would not be delayed for six days.

c) Like I have tons of free time – because I’m not at home. This too, is completely bananapants.  Today’s a great example. I got up at 5:30, had a bath, organized my teaching stuff, then sat down and did Bike Rally emails, and started this blog post, and now I’ll go teach from 8:30 til 4:30, and then there’s a booksigning from 5-7 (you should come. Say hi.) and then a quick dinner, and then it’s bedtime. How do I think that’s got a ton of spare time in it? At home I’d at least be knitting before and after work, but when I’m on the road I’m doing my regular job before and after work.  This does not up the yarn requirements.

All of these things together, usually mean that I’ve put a small yarn store into my suitcase by the time I leave for a trip.  Way, way, way more than I need – and this time I was determined not to freak out and over-pack.  So, I packed:

1. A pair of half finished socks.

2. Two balls of yarn for a toddler sized sweater.

3. Two balls of sock yarn.

yarnonbed 2015-11-07

I am two days into my trip, and I think I have a problem. The pair of half finished socks became socks on the way here. The first ball of sock yarn is 1/4 the way done, the two balls for a sweater are cast on and going. I have one ball untouched, and 12 days to go,

I, am rather possibly,  underyarned.  I swung too far the other way. There’s not enough yarn on that hotel room bed to see me through, and I can see that now.

I’ll take a swing through the marketplace tomorrow at the The Dalles Fiber Festival Marketplace, and see if things are better. Right now? Me vs 14 days? I’m seriously underyarned. I went way too far the other way.  I need 500m of a man coloured sock yarn, and rather possibly, a bottle of wine.  We’ll see what gets solved in the marketplace tomorrow.

108 thoughts on “Underyarned

  1. I am always in awe of your knitting speed. That amount of yarn would be a few months for me! Good luck shopping for yarn and not coming away with more than 500m, wool fumes might get to you.

  2. I’m with Julie – that amount of yarn would last me a month (and I retired early with all kinds of time to knit now). Some yarn that goes with needles you brought seems wise…..best of luck shopping and the wine is also wise (always)

  3. Yeah, I’m jealous too. That’s – at best – 6 months of knitting on the hotel bed for me. I recently took a one week stay-home vacation & the most I finished was two hands & half a wig done on the doll I’m knitting, a row & a half on the doily I’m crocheting, 4 rows on the mohair cardi & a completed dishcloth. Buy a large skein of a luxurious yarn, knit a shawlette & add it to your Christmas gifts. 😉

  4. I have the same problem everyday. I will stuff a knitting project in the handbag like I’m going to suddenly have free time, it never happens.

    • But don’t you just feel better having it with you? 😉 I take my knitting to work every day, then end up working thru lunch and breaks. When is this knitting-at-work supposed to get done? Still, it’s nice to know it’s there waiting for me.

      • Yes, I too bring my yarn faithfully to work and never get to knit. But on the one day I forget any yarn? Suddenly, I have hours of free time

      • During meetings, of course! ;o)
        As long as you look up from time to time with a thoughtful expression, that hideously boring 2-hour meeting just flies by!

  5. I totally understand your problem 😉 As to the equipment question: I bought a wonderful interchangeable needle set with case last year, added a pair of needles (going between 2.75cm an 5mm – I don’t need larger needles) and some cables in my most required lengths. It’s less than 20cmx20cm and real flat. There’s place for sewing needles and little scissors as well. This reduces my package-amound incredibly and gives me a great freedom in buying and knitting newly bought yarns.

    • Vera – I’m with you! I love my Chiao goo red twist set. It was one of the best presents I ever received. I throw a couple of 2.25mm 100cm sock needles to scratch my TAAT sock itch and I am ready to tackle anything. However, if I recall correctly, the author prefers straights.

  6. 2 balls of sock yarn – that’s at least 4 days of knitting, right? And a toddler sweater – 1-2 days? So it looks like you packed about half of what you are possibly going to need, if you have more knitting time than usual. Not a completely dreadful oversight. And there are certainly worse places/times to be underyarned.

    I’m an overyarner, too. “Oh, I’m going to Edinburgh for a weekend. Better take the shawl I’ve been knitting since August, 2 pairs of socks, a hat and some yarn that I want to use just in case I decide that that’s the perfect thing to work on.” The best part? My house in Edinburgh is 5 minutes from a yarn store.

  7. Do not panic! Trust yourself and the amazingly helpful wool, which will leap into your arms at the necessary moment. You will get through this time….and prosper!

    Keep us posted.

  8. Hope you are able to successfully re-supply! Packing knitting for travels is the hardest part of travel, in my opinion.

    The good news is that the Columbia Valley has some fantastic wineries so you should be able to score a good bottle to help smooth things over. I’m kind of partial to the Maryhill Winery and Terra Blanca.

  9. Hahaha! It is so hard to get it right when we look into the future. But, we keep trying don’t we?

    One thing you always get right: your blog is the most consistently enjoyable one I read. I so appreciate your humorous and loving writing. Thank you!

  10. I hear you about packing yarn. I’m leaving for a week to help a friend recover from surgery and the hardest part is what knitting to bring with me. I vote for purchasing more sock yarn as you have the right needles for that project and seem to always need some for your Christmas box. My favorite aspect of what you wrote today is the word “bananapants”, which I will be sharing with my son the moment he wakes up.

  11. I’m glad to know that even someone as experienced as you in packing knitting supplies for long-ish trips has trouble accurately gauging just how much yarn is enough. I struggle with this all the time, even when I’m going to a yarny event, but especially when we go to Florida in the winter. There just aren’t yarn stores around down there, so I always overpack.

  12. I am one of the slowest knitters around and I always overpack. Besides being slow, usually if I am traveling, I have to take relatively simple projects so that I can “visit” while I knit. No one else in my family is a knitter so they don’t quite understand. I’m sure they will (better) give you before and/or after hour access to the marketplace.
    By the way, thank you for you older post on what you take with you when you travel and are living in hotels. I have found that to be very helpful. Stay sane!!

  13. I had to touch the man to prove I’m real. H-m-m-m-m, more yarn, more socks for Joe and others on the Christmas spread sheet? Knitting at warp speed as you do, you can make a huge dent in your gifts list. Hie thee hence to the nearest yarn source and knit on!

  14. This would only be a problem if you didn’t have time to shop for more yarn. But, where you will likely be surrounded by it, it’s a great opportunity! Relax and Enjoy!

  15. Lol, that would be way more yarn that I would require for 14 days! Perhaps the powers that be are telling you to spend any idle time you without yarn to relax, rest and enjoy the marvelous places you are visiting! Have fun and be safe.

  16. Welcome to Oregon!! If I were not working today I would be seriously finding my way out to the Gorge. (and I second the above commenter’s recommendations of Columbia Valley wine, especially Maryhill, and I would include Cor and Syncline) I can’t wait to hear what man-colored sock yarn you find–Your blog is my favorite, favorite yarny adventure of the mind each week… THANK YOU for taking us all along with you!

  17. Back in the old days when I had long commutes and long meetings on the phone I could go thru that amount of yarn in a week… now? It’s really hard to type and knit at the same time… I’ve tried using dictation or Dragon but I seem to think best through my fingers and that means I can knit or work but not both… I think I need to work on that.

  18. I can’t get out there tonight, but if book signing people bring you sock yarn, you’ll need to buy another suitcase! Remember that girl who asked for sock yarn remnants for her crazy blanket? It could be like that!

  19. I try to take a laceweight yarn and a large shawl project with me. It squishes down into a small space, takes a lot of knitting time, and doesn’t require as much yarn real estate. I usually pack too many books. Buy a paperback or two and it will make your yarn lat longer.

    • That depends on your reading vs knitting speeds. I can knock out a paperback in 1.5 hours, but a sock is a full weekend of 10 hour days knitting.
      There’s a reason my Nook goes everywhere with me (along with knitting, of course).

  20. I’m about to pack for an international trip that involves 8 flights in 4 days. Whatever quantity of yarn I pack, I’ll add two skeins. Thanks for the warning.

    • Be careful what you take in your carry on. Not all international flights allow knitting needles. I can usually get away with bamboo dpns because they look like pens in my work bag. Good luck!

  21. My biggest problem is that I seem to have KADD (knitting attention deficit disorder). I tend to flit from project to project, so I’ve always got a ton on the go…I would probably be tempted to bring them all with me in the unrealistic hopes that I would finish any of them…and then I’d come back with even more yarn than before. It’s probably a good thing that I don’t travel much. Enjoy your trip, though, and best of luck with that wine!

  22. I had to pack for six months in Africa a few years ago. I figured this was my chance to get to the Lizard afghan with the 14 skeins of Silk Garden I brought. No surprise, less than three months in I’d run out of yarn. There is no yarn at the open marketplaces in Togo, West Africa when it’s nearly 100degrees F. So I ripped out all m squares of Lizard and knit them into Entrelac. The yarn was happier and so was I since now those skeins, in a sense cost me $7 a piece instead of the $14+ I’d paid for them.

  23. Any time I have tried to pack NOT SO MUCH YARN for trips, I have always – but always – regretted it. Better safe than sorry, I say…

    And yet, it’s true – I never get as much done as I think I will. Someone needs to write a book that addresses serious issues for knitters who camp: moths, leaves, dirt, lighting. But no – all you see are books on how to pick the right campground or the right camping stove or whatever…

    • Lack of needles is what always hurts me. The only time I took one ball of yarn and 1 set of needles, I broke a needle. And yarn shops were surprisingly hard to find in Quebec City.

    • EZ’s book Knitter’s Almanac talks about what to knit in the woods, and she was talking about a canoe for transport. Several of the projects in the book were picked for being appropriate for camping/canoe knitting. Hint: zippy bags are good in the canoe in case you tip over.

  24. Headlamps are your friend if you knit and camp. I LOVE mine, even though my hubby and kids don’t… they get blinded every time I look at them 🙂

  25. I love the use of ‘bananapants’! You’ll be fine, the marketplace will rescue you even if helpful knitters do not. I wish you luck!

  26. You have needles with you for sock yarn. Buy more sock yarn and keep crossing people off your Christmas list while you are away from home.

    • And you could always start on next year’s list if you produce more socks than needed for this year’s Christmas (guessing that hand knit wool socks are a popular gift in Toronto in December).

  27. I’m sure you can find some decent wine somewhere, and I am CERTAIN you can fulfill your wildest dreams of yarn requirements at the marketplace. I am equally sure your readers and students will probably help you out…..

  28. Stephanie, I have a slightly off topic question to propose…. Do you ever use washable wool for socks? I hate the stuff but am finding it harder and harder to find regular sock yarn. any thoughts? anyone?

    • If you are knitting gifts for non-knitters washable wool is the way to go. I knit a really big shawl for my sister, longer than her butt, 1000 yards of laceweight, 1000+ beads, 1000 hours of knitting. A Marie Fischer pattern in real wool. Her housekeeper was casting about for a few more items to fill out a load of wash, saw the shawl on the top of her dresser and tossed it in. It is now a weird felted collar. Better safe than sorry. Both she and the housekeeper (also a relative) are getting man-made fibers this year.
      Julie in San Diego

  29. I love your writings and knitting! A little thought came to mind about your fabulous sock knitting and teachings and philanthropy. Joe has a sound studio and maybe you could make some instruction sock knitting DVDs and offer them as Karmic Balancing gifts for donations to the next Bike Rally go round:)

  30. I would buy sockyarn. You probably still need some for Christmas presents and you have your sock needles with you. So, only yarn purchase, not tool purchase. Makes things a lot easier.

  31. This made me smile because I am away for five days for work and was just kicking myself for being underyarned! My last trip away was 15 days and I went a bit overboard but from where I sit now, that’s a better problem to have. Enjoy

  32. You must always pack yarn like the zombie apocalypse is going to hit while you’re away! I would have one skein sock yarn per day and then include a sweater. Have fun but don’t forget to post! Thanks!

  33. I just feel better when I overpack knitting projects. Like I’m taking a bit of my home style comfort with me. I can squoosh the balls of yarn when I need something soft in this harsh world.

  34. The way I look at it is this: if I’m going to be gone for longer than a week, then I don’t try to pack light. I pack as much as I can take with me without incurring extra costs or requiring additional assistance. Whatever I can haul around and lift overhead under my own steam is allowed. So I’m bringing the big suitcase and it’s getting checked. And things will get packed and never unpacked ( meaning they went unused ). And I’m OK with that because the psychological torment of trying to nail down exactly what I’ll do and need over the course of 2+ weeks is not worth it.

  35. I am not a fast knitter at all, and even my stomach dropped a little when I saw that wee supply laid out on the bed. But do not abandon hope! I am positive there will be enough yarnlovers near by to come to your rescue.

  36. Being underyarned as a knitter is the W.O.R.S.T.!!
    I am sure you can fall down with your cc in your hand and find some yarn pop into a bag just to keep you going for 14 days! Let’s just say it might be a “good problem to have”!!!

  37. I actually think you might be ok. You get a lot of knitting done at the airport and on planes, right? Travel days mean a lot of knitting gets done. But then you’ll have your teaching days where less than this is getting done.

    Also, yeah, you’re doing fiber events, so you’ll have ready access if you do run out.

  38. When I visited my sister at Christmas I overpacked on yarn (we are both knitters so there is plenty of knit time). Then my brother-in-law asked for a special felted balmoral, and I spent much of the visit making that for him. I’m still trying to finish all of the projects I took with me in December…

  39. If I could knit as quickly as you, but couldn’t pack all the yarn I needed, I would take patterns and needles and purchase the yarn as I went.
    However, since I’m old and have arthritic fingers, your original pack would last me more than two weeks.

  40. Going by your normal rate:
    One pair of socks for every travel day (or equal)
    Extra sock for each change of planes for delays
    Extra pair for winter storm season
    Same amount for every 3 or 4 days of teaching. Lets face it being on the plane or waiting at the gate gives you much more knitting time then being where you are working.
    That should still over pack you by some amount.

    Interchangeable needles are great for traveling. Taken out of their neat storage case they can be put into a sandwich bag and take up very little room. (You will need a needle gauge.) Add your sock needles and you should have the tools you need. You will still be missing some needle sizes which you might want to add to your teaching bag.

  41. I thought of you as I went through the Marketplace. I hope you found yarn to satisfy your needs. There were a lot of very pretty goodies there.

  42. Ha! Couldn’t have planned it better. Underplanned and running out of yarn while in the midst of a fiber festival. Surrrre. Go crazy, buy a skein of something that you wouldn’t normally buy (no green, orange, or brown) and use it for yourself. This could be exciting. I will be anxiously awaiting your choice(s). I love that red yarn you have!

  43. I bought a set of size 3 Karbonz 8″ dpns. I can’t believe I splurged like that. Am super excited waiting to get them in the mail so I can work more on my project. If I could, I’d stand next to the mailbox watching for the mailman.

  44. I over yarn all the time. Tonight for an 8 hour shift I brought two baby sweaters that only need a sleeve, and two balls of yarn to start a new baby sweater. It’s winter season and I work at a hotel, but even then I had far too much yarn with me. I think you bring more yarn/yarny projects just incase you find yourself bored with the current project and need to switch for a bit. That’s my reasoning anyway. I’m sure you’ll find something lovely in the market place.

  45. An idea for future trips:

    As you travel, of course get something you will enjoy from your LYS du jour. Also, get some yarn for future trips. Cache it in a bus station box. Put all the keys on a ring, and don’t forget to label them. If it’s any consolation, I could start a box for you in our local bus station; Green River Utah.

    • Wow, what a thought: yarn caches all over the world where one travels. Great idea! Now you really have me thinking about where to put my (obviously increasing) stashes..

  46. You are the Yarn Harlot, you can’t help but attract more yarn to you somehow. It will be entertaining to see how, but, for now, please gently set your yarn anxiety aside, to the best of your ability! It will be fine! You’ll see!! Thanks for the post!

  47. I recently read One Second After, which is an apocalyptic story about all electrical gadgets everywhere at once. And now I’m terrified that I’m not going to have enough yarn no matter where I am (even when I’m home amid my stash) and I want to buy all of the yarn. All of it!

  48. I saw the title of this post, and had mild panic attack – just thinking about being “underyarned” made me want to run very quickly to the nearest yarn store!!!

  49. Thank you read this to my husband and he is on the floor rolling around laughing we are away camping and you just absolutely announced every dilemma I have when packing but at least camping I’m not limited to bags but a car lol . I too feel I will get super human crochet speed while away.

  50. Just a thought – How about lace weight yarn and a simple lace shawl? This just from the standpoint of packable and time consuming. (At least from my experience…)

  51. If this were me?? Im pretty sure I would have subconsciously done this because I would want to buy more yarn. It’s become a real addiction. “Hi my name is Pattye and I’m addicted to yarn….” I hope you find something lovely to inspire you!

  52. I panic at the very thought of running out WIPs. Better to be overyarned every time. This is a very useful post to read because I am plotting a travelling adventure and am having to contemplate yarn needs in intsy wintsy detail – so thanks.

  53. This sounds very familiar. I remember my first longer trip abroad after I had gotten more obsessed with knitting. I packed yarn for SO many projects — AND I got so excited about the lovely local yarn I bought a couple skeins on top of that. Just nuts.

    Then I started to slowly get better, reducing the amount of yarn and projects to take with. Until last summer I only took 700 meters of thin fingering yarn to turn into a shawl and 7 days into the 10 day trip I was out of yarn.

    Buying yarn to fit the needles you have already with is the way to go I guess. Also, there’s a plethora of patterns for shawls where gauge doesn’t actually matter much at all (only affects the yardage needed and size of FO) and even ones which you can knit until you run out of yarn. In case you get bored of socks.

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