Friday, June 19, 2009

Choosing a Travel Craft

(crossposted at BlogHer)

BlogHer 09 is just over 5 weeks away which means I have to start considering what to take with me on the road. Travel time is great for catching up on reading and podcasts, but it's also the very best time to work on simple portable projects. What should I pack for 5 days in Chicago? NOTE: My flights both ways have 2 - count them two!- changes of flights each direction.

Travel crafts have several unique requirements:
  • little reference material- an easily copied page or two from a book, or a pattern. No way you want too many extra books or reference materials with the small tray tables. Cars, trains or buses offer even less work space.
  • easily pack-able size. A project that fits in the pocket of carry-on is idea.
  • handwork only. I've heard of women bringing crank machines on airplanes -but I've never witnessed it. And I wouldn't want to share a crowded airline row with one.
  • easy to quickly pack up.
  • no small parts to lose.

The first choice and most logical project is a pair of socks. Socks are mostly repetition work, with one big interruption where you have to pay attention: the heel. These are the first socks I'm knitting from Two-at-a-Time Socks and the first time I'm using this method. Knitting socks on a "magic loop" isn't new to me, but two at a time rather doubles some of the challenges. So the heels, I fear, will be very challenging. I either must get beyond this point before I fly or accept that I may be ripping and redoing while traveling. I'm not certain this is an acceptable option.

What else is a portable fun project to work on?

Several years ago I purchased a cordoroy jacket, styled very much like the common denim jackets: seaming along the front and back, deep front and back yolks, a close-fitting waist band and cuffs. It struck me as the perfect base for embellishing with embroidery and stitchery. And it is. The joy of working on it is that I can wear it, pull thread and needle out of a pocket and work on it, then put it on again. But Chicago in July isn't a place where I can imagine needing a jacket. This would be too large a project to carry along any other way.

A simple crochet project. I've been enchanted looking at the crocheted potholders that Grumperina received in a recent exchange. It wouldn't take long to get a pattern or two together and choose to make these as small holiday presents.

A beading project like my DNA chain projects would be easy to pack, but I fear flying over the center of the country during summer storm season. One surprise patch of turbulence and my project could be all over the cabin.

There is a felted coasters project I'm working on. I haven't been fond of any of my designs so far; progress is going slowly. A few squares of felted sweaters, though, some threads and some needles and I will have plenty of time to work on this.

Sewing? Nothing portable and hand-work based. Painting? Uhm, no. Screen printing? Again.. NOT PORTABLE. The most logical projects are still embroidery, crochet or knitting socks. Maybe, given those choices I'll just start a new pair of socks when I get to the airport and know I won't get to the heels before I get home.

Do you have any recommendations on crafting projects we can take on the road?

Other Readings:

Threadbare's Meagan Ileana embroiders images of her every day life. Simple lines become toes and hands, grass and flowers, drawn out with needle and thread. What a way to capture the memories of a day or two on a special trip. ht: hellocraft

CRAFT offers a small practical project -especially you're hitting the road to head to wedding/reception. Linda Permann worte a simple tutorial for a crocheted bowtie. Requiring only one skein of yard and a crochet hook, this totally qualifies as a grab-for-on-the-road project that can be put to use when you arrive at your destination.

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

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