Tools, the travel edition

As I was packing my knitting bag for our recent trip, I realized that a rather substantial proportion of the stuff I tote about with me for travel knitting aren’t things you’re likely to find in your local yarn shop.  Sometimes you can get a version of them in a yarn store, but the yarn store version isn’t quite as good.  And some of it is just stuff you won’t find there.  So since I’ve finally gotten my knitting bag to the point where it’s pretty much perfect for me, I thought I’d share what’s in there!  You can see several of my travel essentials here.

toolsFirst up, that ruler.  Now, I know you’ll think I’m dorky to have a favorite ruler, but by all the woolly gods, I have a favorite ruler.  I love it for a few reasons.  First, it’s tiny (thinner than a credit card) and tucks in to my travel needle case with ease.  Second, it’s disgustingly precise (32nds and 64ths of an inch on one side, 10ths and 100ths of an inch on the other side).  Finally, the measurements go all the way to the very end of the ruler (which I know is controversial in the ruler world, but it’s what I like).  If you’re going to make a swatch, you might as well measure it exactly, and this ruler is the best way I know to do that.  If it encourages you to go ahead and make a 6 inch swatch instead of a 4 inch swatch, all the better.  I may have accidentally liberated mine from my college drafting lab, but you can find one over here (do yourself a favor and get a few, someone will want to borrow one and they do tend to walk off).

Next, those scissors.  Again, it seems like a really silly thing to care about, I know.  But so many tiny scissors are absolute crap.  Either they’re too small to use with comfort or the blades are about as sharp as a nail file or they get fused together the second time you use them.  These are proper (sharp, functional) scissors, with handles big enough to use that don’t stop working after three snips.  And while I can’t promise what the TSA will do on any given day, I’ve taken them on many plane rides with no problems at all.  You can find them here (they seem to have stopped making the blue and green ones, but I have the gray and red ones linked here too, and they’re just the same…I just match them to my travel case, which is totally normal).

And of course, my magic safety pin stitch markers.  I lov these enough I included them in the Curls goody bags.  They are light weight, fit more or less every size needle I ever use, take up no space in your kit, don’t snag, and can even serve as an actual safety pin in a pinch.  The only trick is they tend to be shockingly expensive if you buy a dozen in a fancy baggy in a yarn store.  But they’re super cheap if you buy a pile of them on amazon (300 or so for less than $10).  Get a bag and split them with a friend (or just hoard them for yourself, you’ll find all sorts of things to do with them).

And finally, and perhaps most shameful of all, graph paper post its and the One True Proper Pencil.  Yes…yes I do take these with me everywhere.  Most everything I knit is for a pattern, and that means I need to take notes as I work.  Those notes are often in chart form, and that paper makes it easy.  And that pencil is the only pencil I don’t end up wanting to use as a weapon, so better for everyone really if I stick with it.  But even if you’re not quite as determined about it as all that, an easy way to keep track of how many repeats you did on the foot or the clever thing you figured out about the thumb comes in kind of handy (and pens don’t belong near yarn).

So how about you?  Any non-knitting products you’ve seized upon for knitting?  Anything you simply must have in your travel knitting kit?  I can’t be the only one with strong opinions about these things.