How To... Knitting hacks - LoveKnitting Blog

Published on May 29th, 2014 | by Amy Kaspar


Knitting hacks: Pare down your project bag

Sometimes, packing up your knitting for that road trip or day at the pool is like packing up a child, with all of the accessories you end up bringing. Here, expert knitter Amy Kaspar shows us a few ways to pare down your bag…

Remember – you can use items that are either lying around the house, or are already in your Road Trip Bag for another reason. These little ‘hacks’ or shortcuts will make life easier, lighten your load in a pinch and make you realise how much you can use the world around you for more than just inspiration when you knit.

The first tip, though, is not a ‘hack’. Just bring the amount of yarn you need! We all like to think we knit at lightning speed, but if one ball of the yarn we are using is all we can realistically knit forΒ the day, then leave the four other balls at home.

Now, ready?

To protect your yarn from the elements, cut the corner of a sandwich bag and thread your yarn through it, and then seal up the top of it. I am a pull-from-the-center knitter, but this also prevents pull-from-the-outside knitters from losing their yarn to the sand, boot and shoe muck from the floor of the bus, or a light rain outside.

With non-zip close bags, you can use the open end by taking a twist-tie or some spare yarn to cinch up the opening a bit.

Knitting hacks - LoveKnitting Blog

Do you have six thousand stitch markers in your knitting bag? I sure do, and every time I open the little container with them in a public place, a confetti celebration of stitch markers fly all over the place.

I always have random yarn ends from old projects hanging around as well, so I use those as temporary stitch markers. When I am done measuring, or knitting as long as I need to knit, I clip them and toss them in the trash.

Knitting hacks - LoveKnitting Blog

Speaking of clipping, do you carry scissors in your knitting bag and travel nail clippers in your everyday bag? The nail clippers are great for clipping yarn. Leave the scissors at home.

Perhaps you are really good about throwing away your yarny bits at the end of your projects. If you have to place a bunch of stitches on a holder, or if you want to put in a lace lifeline just in case you get lost in the pattern, have no fear. Just grab your dental floss and thread that through your stitches, if waste yarn is not available.

Knitting hacks - LoveKnitting Blog

Nobody wants to have their larger knitting projects just hanging on their laps during the warmer months. I usually have my purple double-pointed needle or a shawl pin handy to thread through the bulk of the project, so the item is rolled up and not draping my lap with its extra warmth.

Especially scarves; I make scarves all year, so it’s worth keeping them rolled up to avoid them turning into rhythmic gymnastics props…

Knitting hacks - LoveKnitting Blog

Is the pattern you are using housed in a large pattern book? Be sure to verify your home country’s copyright laws, but most places allow you to copy a pattern you rightfully own for your own personal and private (not to be shared with anybody, ever) use.

In other words, you generally can photograph a portion of your pattern on your smartphone, or copy and paste the instructions to your own personal and private document, as long as it is not shared or distributed in any way.

Take snippets from your pattern and transfer them to your smartphone, so you do not have to carry around the entire book, if your country legally allows you to do so.

Knitting hacks - LoveKnitting Blog

Are all of your point-protectors on other projects? (This is where we all lie to ourselves and say, “I only work on one project at a time!”).

Grab that wine or champagne cork, or a pencil eraser, or flower-arrangement foam, and push it onto the end of your needles to prevent your stitches from slipping off of the ends.

Knitting hacks - LoveKnitting Blog

What if you forget your tape measure? No worries; just look in your bag. The standard sheet of printer paper is 8.5″x11″, and the standard size in the UK is A4, which is 8.3″x11.7″. Do you need a smaller approximate measurement? Fold your paper in half and divide the dimensions above by two.

Your knitting needles are measured from tip to tip if they are double-points or circulars, and from tip to the very end of the needle for straights; if the company says they are 10in/40cm needles, then you have a general measurement right at your fingertips!

Other common items you may have: DVDs are 4.75in/12cm in diameter. The average romance novel is 6.6in/16.75cm tall by 4.15in/10.5cm wide, unopened.

A credit card is 3.375in/11cm across by 2.125in/5.4cm tall. I use an iPhone 4S, and I know that I need the length of two iPhone 4s’s from the heel before I start the toe on my socks (I wear a size US 10 shoe…sad but true).

Knitting hacks - LoveKnitting Blog

Believe me, I am not encouraging anyone to entirely replace their knitting tools with household objects. I love my little accessories bag, but sometimes I am unable to bring everything with me and not feel burdened.

Being resourceful while we knit is nothing new; how many times have you attended your local yarn shop, library, or coffee shop knit night and seen one of the little tricks above being used? We all do it…

What are some of your tricks and knitting hacks? Please share in the comments below, and ask your fellow knitters for their input as well. We could all use another secret weapon to add to our arsenals.

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About the Author

Amy lives in Chicago and can either be found knitting, writing about knitting, designing knitted things, or watching professional hockey while knitting. There is also a necessary cup of coffee nearby at all times, Follow her on Twitter @thefiberfriend for more yarny bits.

Last updated: June 3rd, 2014.

28 Responses to Knitting hacks: Pare down your project bag

  1. Ellen Porcari says:

    I use a clear cosmetic bag from the dollar store for project accessories. A 6″ ruler, 3 or 4 extra stitch markers (I sometimes lose them), a crochet hook for mistakes, small scissors, and the key for my interchangeable needles. Takes up almost no space and I can pull it from one project to another quickly since it’s generic. I like the zipper bag trick and am going to put that into use. I also prefer the 2 gallon size zipper bags for projects. You can see immediately if you have everything, the whole thing can be tossed into your tote of choice, and nothing falls out.

  2. EXELLENT choice of romance novel!

  3. Angela Paul says:

    What a brilliant use for champagne corks…I’m so pleased I read this before buying the planned needle stoppers πŸ˜€

  4. Julie gerhardt says:

    Love your idea of taking a pic of the directions! I always have my iPhone handy!

  5. angharad says:

    LOVE this article πŸ™‚ I use hair ties as stitch markers.. they are strechy and much less annoying than the plastic markers which seem to get in the way x

  6. Di Anderson says:

    do your shoes come in crates since they are too big for shoe boxes? πŸ™‚

  7. Lisa says:

    For measuring I use a free iPhone app called ruler that gives me a grid in inches on the screen. I also have a knitting app that has a row counter function.
    Sitch markers have been hair ties, bobby pins or bread clips and twist ties. At work, paper clips or rubber bands are easy to come by.
    I love the yarn in ziplock bag! I will get that going immediately.

  8. Donna Viveiros says:

    I thought every knew that the paper currency in the US is standard 6″ long (i.e. $1 bill) I use it for measuring whenever I am out and about and son’t have a handy tape measure…and easy to fold for smaller increments. Most of my patterns are now on my small zip drive…even on vacation, I can start a new project…I find a local print shop and print out the pattern I want..I make notes on any changes I decide to make, and when the project is completed, I add those notes to the original pattern on my flash drive.

  9. Amy Kaspar says:

    What great ideas, everybody! Keep them coming. Also, no, my shoes come in standard boxes…it turns out most men still have larger feet than me. πŸ˜‰

  10. Nichole says:

    Evernote is a great tool for saving patterns and it has an app that you can use on your smartphone.

  11. Diane says:

    I use the plastic zipper packaging that curtains come in to keep everything I need for a smaller project all contained in one spot. I can see everything, zip it up to keep things from falling out….Nichole, the evernote tip is a good one!! Once I’m familiar with a pattern, I’ll write an abbreviated version on a post it and take that instead of the pattern.

  12. Margaret Sharp says:

    If I’m sitting next to a strait up and down table lamp shade I clip my pattern on to the outside with a clothes peg . And This helps with pattern instructions.

  13. ellen switkes says:

    For projects on dpns, I hold all needles together and wind a rubber band twice around one end of all needles and then loop it to the other ends and wind the rubber band twice around the other ends and then I don’t worry that the stitches will slip off in my knitting bag. I use rubber bands wound the ends of regular needles too, no need for fancy equipment or corks.

    I copy my pattern on standard paper and mark off inches and half inches along one side with pen, so I have easy measure without carrying a ruler.

  14. Francine says:

    I needed markers on my last trip. At the same time I had one of those rubberband bracelets my grand made for me around my glass case. I took the bracelet apart( which can be refixed) and used the different color rubberbands as markers.

  15. Sspinnr says:

    I use a ruler ap on my iPhone and iPad, since I always have at least one of them with me. The free knitting ap I use has a highlighter bar that can be moved at the end of each row, and so my PDF or digital pattern is handy too.

    The US Dollar bill is about 6 inches long, too.

  16. Nancy Siegert says:

    Great article! I always lose my cable needle when I’m flying,so my husband asked the flight attendant for a swizzle stick used in drinks. I suppose you could order a drink to go with it!!

  17. Diane Piles says:

    When casting on attach safety pins to every 25 stitches as then you have only to count small amounts rather than all the stitches together.

  18. JoAnn Ward says:

    Great ideas! I usually pack a large tote bag with several projects then only work on one little one. I have a little wrist bag I carry with a short cable needle to knit dish rags.Never thought to roll scarves. I will be taking a wider variety of projects now, maybe just one… Or two. Thanks!

  19. Robin Gelsinger says:

    I use twist ties for stitch markers. They lay in the bottom of my bag and if I lose one no big deal.
    I have also used a pencil or crochet hook to hold my cable stitches.

  20. Lisa says:

    I left my cable needle behind once, and searched my purse unsuccessfully for a “hack.” Then, I was inspired! I took my ballpoint pen apart and used the inside for the cable needle. (of course nowadays, folks just cable without the needle…but this was back in the day!)

  21. Goldie says:

    I am learning so much from this site! Thank you to all who share.

  22. Kathy O'Bannion says:

    Wonderful ideas. Never though of them before. Great website from across the pond.

  23. Luvtoknit63 says:

    I use plastic straws as stitch markers. Cheap!

  24. Jacqueline says:

    Consider carrying index cards for notes or pattern info or 3″ X 5″ measuring; From another knitter I got the idea of using a ‘lobster claw” jewelry finding to attach my yarn needle to my scissors and/or clippers. Crochet hooks mostly fit in travel toothbrush holders (put a dab of cotton in the end with the hole). Use a bright color of cotton or synthetic yarn to attach your needle gauge/ruler to one of the handles on your knitting tote – I pull mine out of the depths by the yarn, thus the need for strength. Try looping your cable/project over your arm while you are a passenger. That removes some of the weight off your wrists and/or lap. Thanks for all the other tips I’ve found here!!

  25. Susie says:

    A dollar bill is approximately 6 1/4 inches long, Folded in half it’s 3 1/8 inches. It’s a nice little ruler if needed. Empty Altoid boxes make excellent tool holders. You can decorate and label the lid, make yourself a little travel tool kit. Lots of ideas online for Altoid decoration. I also make myself an emergency sock kit. It has all the things you need for sock knitting and it rolls up. I love it. I make them as gifts for fellow sock knitters.

  26. Andrea Johnson says:

    My favorite on-the-go measuring tool is my own hand. The first segment of my thumb (tip to knuckle) is about an inch, my index finger is about three inches, and my hand from the tip of my middle finger to the heel of my palm is about seven inches – about the distance I need to knit the foot of my sock before I need to start either decreasing for the toe or making my short-row heel, depending on which way I’m going.

    • Maureen says:

      Snap, Andrea, I too use my hand for measuring, it was also my Dads fav tool I picked it up from him, I mostly use it laying down palm and measure from middle finger to end of palm that way, its always handy being on the end of the arm haha xoxoxo

  27. Edna says:

    I use small rubber bands or pony tail twist ties for needle stoppers.

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