I didn’t mention the knitting I brought with me: Gudrun Johnston’s Havra shawl (originally a Mystery Knit A Long, but the mystery has long since dissipated, since the KAL ended a few months ago).
I’m using Tosh Merino Light in Composition Book Gray. Originally I planned to do the colorblocked version, and use up some TML half-skeins I had left over from other projects, but once all the finished object photos started popping up on Ravelry, I realized I liked the single color versions much better. So I bought a second skein (so much for this being a fun way to use up the stash!), which luckily ended up virtually identical to the first.
The pattern is beautifully clear, and I appreciate that the lace pattern repeats are written out as well as charted – especially because having both helped me learn how to read charts, which I can do now! (I think the reason I’ve had problems with charts before was that they involved cable stitches, and I have a terrible time remembering which symbol means you hold the cable needle in front or behind. It’s sort of like Z plying and S plying – mirror images just trip me up. I can never figure out which button in the elevator opens or shuts the doors, either.)
Nonetheless, I’ve found that through no fault of its own, this shawl has become my back-up knitting. Mostly I picked it up for the fun of the KAL, without having a burning desire for a gray shawl, and while I actually find myself very much enjoying the process of this project, my product-driven compass keeps swinging back to whatever more desired object I’m currently constructing.
But ironically, backup knitting – or at least, this example – turns out to be wonderful travel knitting. It’s one of my few non-sweater projects going right now. My established sweater projects are all far enough along to be unwieldy to wrangle on an airplane. While I thought about casting on a new sweater project for this trip (because the beginnings of a sweater are often pretty manageable), the next ones I have next in my queue will require alternating skeins, which isn’t very portable. I’ve been pondering a Prowl by Steven West, but the yarn I want to use is handdyed, so I’d likely have to alternate skeins on that, too.
This is where people who knit sweaters in pieces and seam them up at the end definitely have an edge. A sleeve, or a cardigan front, or even a pullover front, is pretty portable compared to a 3/4-finished seamless sweater. But I realized the problem isn’t just that I tend to knit seamless sweaters that get bigger and unwieldier as you go. It’s also that my sweaters are too precious to me! The idea of something happening to a sweater project – with its significant investment of time, and yarn! – is horrifying; I find myself unable to risk it. (It’s true that something happening to a sleeve or cardigan front is less risky – but I’m still not sure I’d have enough yarn to replace one if tragedy struck.)
So the sad truth is that I can travel with my Havra because I’m less afraid of something happening to it. Sorry, Gudrun! That’s not at all a comment on your lovely pattern, just on me and my priorities. I hadn’t spent a ton of time on this shawl (at the time I took it with me) and I can replace a couple of skeins of TML if need be. But for instance, the top-down sweater I’m knitting out of Plucky Knitter Single? The yarn that I splurged on for my birthday and managed to snag in one of their fast-moving updates? I can’t replace that so easily. And a sweater’s worth of stitches is (usually) quite a bit more than a shawl’s worth. So even though I’ve reached the point of that sweater where all I need to do is finish the body by knitting stockinette in the round for about 8 more inches, and plane travel is the almost perfect situation for a lot of mindless knitting, I can’t bring myself to take it out of the house.
So my Havra will be well-traveled, and it will make her all the more well-loved. Eventually.
(Do any of you feel the same way about travel knitting?)