Advise me :: knitting for travels in a developing country

People! I’m sorry for my radio silence! This month has been a flurry of activity – traveling, getting ready for traveling, holding down the fort while my husband has been traveling – wash, rinse, repeat. It has been intense. And very little knitting has been done (but oh do I have something fun to show and an amazing story to tell related to it).

In 24 hours – 24 HOURS! – I am leaving for 10 days in Nicaragua, where I will be leading a team of 11 teenagers and 8 other adults on a mission trip, installing water filters in a rural village, working with a youth empowerment project, and helping with children’s health and hygiene education. It is going to be AMAZING, and I am so excited. We have been planning and preparing for this trip for more than a year, and it’s hard to believe it’s finally time to go!

This is my team! (all but one) I love them!

This is my team! (all but one) I love them!

I am basically all packed (a minor miracle!) except for two major details: what reading to bring, and what knitting to bring. I don’t expect to do my usual daily knitting (getting up early to spend a quiet hour with the needles and unwinding at night with a little TV and fiber). But I will have plenty of travel time for knitting. Several hours of flying and hanging out in airports tomorrow and on our return, as well as a good number of hours on buses and trucks once we’re there.

Here are the parameters:

  1. I want to bring only one project (or one type of project – i.e., not multiple needles sizes or multiple balls of yarn).
  2. It needs to be something I can knit without having much of a pattern in front of me (like, if I can write down the directions on an index card or in my notebook, that would be fine; even better is if I don’t need to refer to a pattern at all).
  3. It needs to be something that’s not too precious, in case I lose it or it gets dirty or otherwise ruined.
  4. It needs to be relatively small (i.e., packable and not too bulky).

So, if it were you, what would you bring? I know socks is probably a no-brainer, but I’m not feeling that. I’m sort of thinking shawl (unsurprising, I’m sure), but it would need to be something that would take minimal concentration (i.e., not much of a lace pattern). I’ve also thought maybe baby hats that I could leave in the country (if I do that, what’s your favorite simple, easy-to-memorize, baby hat pattern?).


(And if anyone wants to suggest what kind of reading I might want to bring on the trip, that would be great, too! I’m leaving my iPad and Kindle at home, so it needs to be an actual book. I’m still working my way through A Dance with Dragons but thinking a 1000-page hardcover book isn’t ideal for my travels….)

14 thoughts on “Advise me :: knitting for travels in a developing country

  1. Try a hitchhiker – super fun, garter stitch, only need to do something every 8th row – sock yarn – knit till you’re out of yarn or you want to stop.

  2. Do you like the Laurie R. King series about Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes? Beekeeper’s Apprentice is the first book…that would be a good choice.

  3. I knit a lot of preemie hats and this is the pattern I use…I know it was a free pattern on Ravelry or a blog, but I memorized it long ago so I can’t give proper credit. 😦

    The decreases are based on multiples of 7, so you either cast on a multiple of 7 or work your pattern so that you end up with a multiple of 7 before you start decreasing. For a simple roll-brim hat I cast on a multiple of 7 (I do 49 or 56 for preemies, but full-term babies would need a larger hat) and knit mindlessly in the round till it looks to be almost the right height (I aim for 4-5″, including the edge that rolls, for preemie hats.)

    Then you just decrease every other row and knit the alternating rows. First decrease row is K5, K2TOG as many times as necessary. Second decrease row is K4, K2TOG…and so on. When you get down to just a few stitches (I think it’s usually 11?? Maybe??) on your needles, you cut the yarn and pull it through the stitches to close the top. You can also decrease further and then work a couple inches of i-cord to tie into a little topknot.

    This can also be worked with a K2P2 ribbed brim. Just begin with a multiple of 4, and then adjust to a multiple of 7 when you get to the plain stockinette portion. (For instance: Cast on 48, work ribbing, then increase one stitch in the first row of stockinette.)

  4. I realize this is 2 colors and violates some of your requirements but I’m packing for a trip right now and debating the pattern At Dawn, because it seems relatively mindless but also interesting and is “compact” to me in the way that you describe. (Though I see how two colors might not be compact enough!)

  5. I think something like hitchhiker would be perfect, because you can bring an extra skein of yarn for a second one in case you finish the first (but it will barely take up any room). But do you want something a little more advanced?

  6. I like the idea of leaving baby hats behind. I’m on a dishcloth/spa cloth kick lately. What about knitting dishcloths and leaving them behind?

  7. What a wonderful adventure. I wish you a safe trip with your team and think it is a great educational program. I have just chosen the “Clapo Ktus” myself for an upcoming roadtrip – a combination of the Clapotis and the Baktus and a simple pattern that you can memorize fast. You can use any leftover yarn and make it as long as you wish.
    As a book, I usually choose a short story compilation for trips. Alice Munro’s stories are a great read.

  8. That to me is prime ballband washcloth knitting territory. Cotton is forgiving on dirt, the cloths can be gifted, and the pattern can be memorised in a single pattern repeat of 6 lines of knitting. Better yet, if you have the right cotton yarn with you, the ball band has the pattern on the back of it.
    Have a great trip!

  9. I made Wingspan last summer and loved it: it’s a sock scarf made out of sock yarn, using short rows so you’re only working a few stitches at a time, easy to remember pattern, and you can make it as long as you want. I wore it all last winter and got tons of compliments. Oh, and it’s a free pattern.

  10. Pingback: Things I did and didn’t do this summer | earthchicknits

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