Knitting on Vacation: What to Pack

Spring is here, and many of us will soon head out on fun vacations. You, of course, will take your knitting. What else would you do, sitting in the sun or with a gorgeous view in front of you, and plenty of time on your hands? Yes, you’ll definitely need your knitting. 

What to pack? As a well-traveled, experienced Knitter, here’s my list:

  • Yarn, but not too much. You’ll need enough yarn to get you through your vacation and back, but don’t feel you need to pack enough for the next six months. I am always tempted to pack waaaaay too much, taking up space I could better use for clothes, shoes, or souvenirs on the way back. 
    • Think about how well your project fits your destination. Heavy wool at the beach? Not a great fit, in my opinion. If you’re going someplace warm, light cotton yarns will keep you from sweltering underneath your project and will work best thrown in a beach bag and exposed to sand and water. Going to a ski resort? Pack the heavy wool and let your project keep your knees warm.
    • Can your yarn be replaced? Think about the “what ifs.” If you lose your luggage, spill red wine on your yarn, or some other disaster befalls your yarn, will it be the end of the world for you? Think about taking inexpensive and easily replaced yarn when travelling.
    • How’s your eyesight and attention level on vaca? You’ll likely be on the move (and hopefully, pleasantly distracted) when knitting on vacation, so consider a larger weight yarn you can knit in less-than-ideal lighting and with lots of other things going on. Vacation is a time to zone out, so give yourself that option. 
  • Knitting Needles, But Only What You Really Need. Yes, you need to be prepared. But not for every single project you could possibly make on vacation. Again, check your pattern before leaving town and make sure you have the right size. Believe me, trying to find knitting needles while on the road is difficult and takes up time you could be spending doing something fun. If you’re not sure on what size you need, start your project at home or at least make a swatch. 
    • Circular Needles Travel Better. Remember the time you lost a straight knitting needle in the sofa cushions? It happens. Don’t let it happen on an airplane, in a rental car, or who-knows-where and you can’t find it and can’t replace it. With circular knitting needles, you’re far less likely to lose a single knitting needle and thus ruining your vacation.
    • Airline Travel? Yes, you can travel with knitting needles. TSA says so. I’ve never had a problem in decades of airline travel. Some airlines may ask you to put away your knitting needles during take-off and landing. Be considerate and do so. Do so anyway; these are sharp sticks we’re talking about. Also, I take point protectors with me and use them on the plane when I’m not knitting, just to be safe. 
  • Scissors, but not on the plane. You would think you could take a tiny pair of dull scissors on the plane, but not those sharp-pointed knitting needles, right? WRONG. TSA in Knoxville has taken possession of several small pairs of scissors and a couple of really cute Swiss-Army knives from me over the last couple of years (including the ones with the sweet Edelweiss flowers on them!!!!). But they’ve never even questioned my knitting needles. Go figure. I think you could probably pack a pair of scissors in your checked luggage (the bags you may or may not see again), but do so at risk of losing them. Prepare to buy a cheap pair of nail clippers or something else with a blade once you get to your destination or clear security. Most cotton yarns can be cut with a good yank, just sayin.’
  • Patterns – store it on your phone. Hit the easy button on this. You don’t want to haul around a pattern book with you, and paper copies get lost and damaged beyond recognition. Take a photo of your pattern and keep it on your phone, at least as a back-up. If you need to refer to it while you’re in the air (and your phone is supposed to be off), jot it down on a sticky note or inside a paperback book you also plan to take. 
  • Other Stuff? Keep it Simple. Remember, you’re on vacation! Knitting should be stress free and simply something to help you relax and pass away the time in the airport or just while zoning out, listening to the waves hit the beach. Yes, of course, take whatever stitch holders or whatever you know you will need, but only take what you absolutely must have. Leave the rest at home!

I hope all my readers get to enjoy their Knitting Someplace Special this coming spring and summer! Blessings, Cindy

Cynthia Coe is the author of The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, interrelated stories about knitters and those for whom they knit and love. The sequel to this book, The Knitting Guild of All Saints, has been released! Available in paperback and on Kindle, included in Kindle Unlimited. 

Yarn – It’s Fundamental to Human Culture

We’ve all seen the memes. “My other hobby is buying yarn.” “My yarn stash exceeds my expected lifespan.” “Yarn is like chocolate; you can never have too much.” 

We treat yarn as if there’s an abundant worldwide stash ready for us to buy, in any amount. Craft stores literally stock enough yarn to reach the ceiling. You can obtain yarn for any project you have in mind with a couple of clicks on your phone.

This wasn’t always the case. In researching for my next book in The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, I’ve been shocked to learn how much time women have spent over the centuries making yarn and thread. Before industrialization, if you were a human being and a woman, you would spend a good part of your waking hours making yarn or thread. If you were a Neanderthal woman, you would have used fibers from the inner bark of conifer trees to make string for fishing lines and nets, to hang food to dry, to set traps for small animals, and to sew together animal hides for clothes and shelter. If you lived in Europe up until the industrial revolution, you would carry around a spindle and a fist full of wool, and you would make yarn while you watched the kids, walked, talked, and generally while you kept an eye on whatever else went on in your life. You would know how to work a spinning wheel as well as you knew how to cook. It’s what your family needed to survive.

Why don’t we study this in history class? Why don’t we see remnants of these time-consuming tasks featured in museums? Think about it – yarns, threads, and cloths eventually deteriorate and rot. These cushy, soft products don’t survive as long as items made of metal, stone, or even wood. So our foremothers’ efforts put into anything woven, knitted, or sewn have largely faded (or rotted) away from the saved artifacts of human culture.

The next time you pick up a skein of yarn to knit your next project, consider yourself blessed. Thanks to human ingenuity, all you had to do to get that yarn was click buttons on your phone or make a craft store run, which you probably enjoyed. Appreciate that you, as a 21st century woman, have the leisure to simply sit and knit for the sheer pleasure of it. 

Blessings, Cindy

Recommended Reading:

The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World, by Virginia Postrel

Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years, by Elizabeth Wayland Barber 

Cynthia Coe is the author of The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, interrelated stories about knitters and those for whom they knit and love. The sequel to this book, The Knitting Guild of All Saints, has been released! Available in paperback and on Kindle, included in Kindle Unlimited. 

Legal Disclosures: I provide links to products (including books I have written), and as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases (which means I may get a very small fee if you click through the link and buy something).

How the Pandemic Ended My Yarn Snobbery

I was a “yarn snob” for about two years. After discovering the joys of buying high quality wool, alpaca, and even silk yarns online, I gleefully knitted cardigan sweaters, pullovers, shawls, and small blankets out of the finest yarns on the planet. Of course, I also had to discover hand washing of all these lovely fibers. My crafting budget took a hit, too.

Then came the pandemic. Within a couple of months, supply lines to all these wonderful all-natural yarns came to a screeching halt. Two companies from which I had previously bought wool yarns closed or sold out. Another subscription service supplying all kinds of wonderfully squishy yarns struggled to get products out of South America. I bought up lots of yarn on clearance or going-out-of-business sales, but my days of buying wooly goodness in the form of knitting yarn were clearly over.

But my knitting was still in high gear. With reduced schedules and lots of free time around the house, I imagine I wasn’t the only one doing more knitting than usual this past year. I imagine many people took up knitting as beginners, too.

My own demand for readily available yarn quickly veered off towards good old-fashioned acrylic. Frustrated with shipping delays for the so-called “luxury yarns,” I found that I could click a couple of buttons or swing by the big box craft stores and get all the synthetic yarn I wanted. 

And is acrylic so bad, after all? I think not. It’s affordable. It’s durable. Projects I made from acrylic yarn twenty years ago still look great. And I can throw them in the washing machine AND dryer without experiencing total disasters. Yes, acrylic yarn is a by-product of the oil industry, but at least it’s used for a good purpose. Right? 

I still love to wear my warm wooly sweaters, especially during these Dogwood and Blackberry Winters of our Appalachian Spring here in Tennessee. I don’t enjoy hand washing the things. But I sure do like going out to the mailbox and getting new acrylic yarn just days after I order it!

Happy Knitting, Cindy

Cynthia Coe is the author of The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, a collection of interrelated short stories about knitters and those they meet through knitting and sharing prayer shawls. 

Copyright 2022 Cynthia Coe

Is Yarn As Addictive As Candy?

It’s been said that yarn-buying and knitting are two separate hobbies. I’m inclined to agree. With all sorts of lovely, soft yarns on the market these days, it’s easy to get carried away. 

This past year, I made the big switch from buying cheap, synthetic yarns to buying higher quality, all-natural yarns. I’m really glad I did. The yarns are softer and much better looking. As an environmentalist, I can feel better about purchasing more sustainable products. 

After bumping up my knitting skills in the last year as well, I’m also ready to say, “my knitting is worth the better yarns.” If I’m going to use my much-practiced skills and well-honed techniques, I should quality materials. If you’re just starting out, using cheaper materials is recommended. But I’m well past that stage in my life. It’s time to “own” my more advanced stage of knitting.

Yet I still go through a heck of a lot of yarn, as much as I knit. It’s hard to pass up on the pastel violet yarn that would make a gorgeous springtime sweater…or the yellow and orange sherbet fingerling alpaca that would be just the thing for a summer garment…or the silk and wool blend navy blue yarn that would match everything in my winter wardrobe. 

Yarn is indeed as addictive as candy. One look, and you want to indulge. Visions of all the great sweaters, scarves, cowls, hats, and even summer tops dance in your head. You feel better just having the stuff in your hands. And, like candy, you can have too much. Your yarn storage bins bulge with yarns that’s been sitting there, un-knitted, for the last several years. You cringe at your credit card bill and vow to say “enough!”

It’s “yarn diet” time for me, I’m afraid. I’ve promised myself I’ll knit through the four sweater projects and three or four smaller stashes of yarn before I buy any more yarn. But once I’ve knit through these projects….I can buy more yarn!!!

Happy Knitting (and Yarn Buying), Cindy

Cynthia Coe is a writer, book reviewer, and avid knitter. Her books and blog posts can be found on her Amazon Author Page

A Shout-Out to Ewe Knit & Sew for the swirl-pop yarn in the photo! What a great marketing idea!

What to do With All That Clearance Yarn?

Tis the season when the Big Box stores run their yarn clearance sales. We’re all enticed with clearance sales notices popping up in our emails and texts, letting us know of the 70% off sales we likely won’t be able to resist.

So more than a few of us head off (or sneak off) to the yarn store and stock up. If we’re lucky, we pick up that yarn we found too pricey a couple of months ago and get to work on that sweater we envisioned. Or we might find some colors that will work for the fall and winter, and we happily get to work on Christmas gifts.

But what about that yarn at the unbelievable price, in bright summer colors? Well, some of us buy it anyway and figure out what to do with it later. If you’re like me, you can’t just pass it up.

You’ve got a problem on your hands: what to do with all that clearance yarn? I’ve found myself in this dilemma lately. In knitting through my stash, I’ve come up against a plethora of bright, happy colored yarns – bought on clearance in years past – and no discernable plan for any of it. Here’s what I’m doing with it:

  • A Sampler Shawl. I’ve got six skeins of pastel colored cake-type yarn that looked good in the store but turned out scratchy and not-so-nice. I’m using it to try out some new stitches. This shawl may look okay when it’s finished; it might not. That’s okay.  I’ve tried out lots of new techniques and stitches I’ll use in other projects.
  • Mini Prayer Shawls. I’ve used up the Caron x Pantone mini-skeins to make small, coaster-sized squares to hand out as “thank you” gifts. I’ve been asked to speak at a local Book Club, and I’m planning to hand out these mini Prayer Shawls to those lovely ladies who bought and read my latest book. They could probably be used as coasters, phone charging pads, or some other household use.
  • Something wonderful and unexpected. Several years ago, I bought a huge plastic bag full of blue, green, and white yarn at a big box sale of manufacturer rejects and remainders. Just for kicks, I made a long and skinny shawl that’s become my favorite go-to early morning wrap. The yarn tuned out super soft, and the shawl is vibrant and looks terrific. Who knew?

I know you creative knitters will have many other uses for clearance yarn. Feel free to drop a comment to share your ideas with me and other readers!

Happy Knitting, Cindy

Cynthia Coe is the author of The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, a collection of interrelated short stories about knitters and those they meet through knitting and sharing prayer shawls. 

Copyright 2022 Cynthia Coe

Psssst! The e-book edition of The Prayer Shawl Chronicles will soon be on sale! On Tuesday and Wednesday, August 13 & 14, The Prayer Shawl Chronicles will be on sale for only $1.99 at this link from 8 a.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday until 11 p.m. on Wednesday night. Give it a try and help me out by reviewing it on Amazon!

Getting More Knit From The Kit – Using Leftover Yarn From Knitting Kits

Have you finished a knitting project and had yarn left over? This happens frequently to me. If it’s inexpensive yarn, I usually put it in a bin I keep for donations. Once a year, I give this bin to a school, camp, or summer program for crafting by children. But if it’s expensive yarn I really like, I want to make something else from it.

I recently began knitting from kits ordered online. I’ve done two kits by Kitterly (, and I just started my first kit by KnitCrate ( When I first started knitting from kits, I feared I’d get to the end of a pricey project and not have enough yarn to finish. Happily, I can now report that both of the Kitterly kits I’ve done left me with plenty of leftover yarn. (The verdict’s still out on KnitCrate, but so far, so good. I’m impressed with all the extra patterns I get with their kits.)

What do you do with a good hank of expensive, high-quality yarn that’s too big to simply toss out? After working through a Kitterly shawl kit, I had enough to make both a narrow runner for use on a credenza and a large coaster. I also re-used the colorwork pattern on my “extra” items, since the pattern was still in my head. These small projects made nice transitions after spending a couple of weeks on the main shawl project. I also felt better getting three projects out of an expensive kit, instead of just one. (Honestly, I may end up using the runner and coaster more than the shawl!)

Knitting is a frugal craft. We make high quality items rather than buy cheap ones at the store. Knitters are the kind of people who look for good value for their money and don’t like to see nice materials go to waste. By getting “more knit for the kit,” knitters both use their awesome creativity to make something useful and get maximum value for their purchases. 

What do you do with leftover yarn?

Happy Crafting! Cindy

Cynthia Coe is a writer, book reviewer, and avid knitter. Her books and blog posts can be found on her Amazon Author Page.

Putting Away the Winter Stash

Springtime has come to Sycamore Cove in a sudden burst of green leaves, yellow buttercups, violets and azalea blossoms. Winter is good and gone. It’s time to put up the winter knitting supplies.

My jewel-toned yarns of burgundy, teal, dark blue, and greys go to the zipped-up bin in the upstairs closet where I won’t use them until autumn. My “works-in-progress” baskets scattered around the house now hold yarns in pastel pinks, spring greens, and cheerful yellows.

Putting up the winter stash elicits mixed emotions. Thinking of the Christmas gifts, winter hats, and warm sweaters I made last season gives me a satisfied sense of accomplishment. But then there’s the projects I planned to make and didn’t, the yarns I had pegged for sweaters or hats or lap blankets that just plain didn’t get made. I wonder if I’ll get to them next year. I wonder where I’ll be in my life, whether that yarn will “speak” to me like it did last year, or whether I’ll come up with some new and unexpected use for those unused skeins.

Life is sometimes like that unused winter stash – projects you planned don’t pan out, you don’t have time for them, or you lost interest in them. Maybe you’ll get back to them, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll surprise yourself with a great new idea next year that just hadn’t occurred to you this year. You feel good about what you did accomplish and give yourself a pat on the back for completed and successful items that gave joy to others or served some useful purpose.

But for now, it’s a new season. New yarns mean new projects, new opportunities, new possibilities. It’s springtime – a time for new beginnings in life and in knitting.

Cynthia Coe is a writer, book reviewer, and avid knitter. Her books and blog posts can be found on her Amazon Author Page

The Perils of Knitting the Stash

Some say buying yarn is as much of a hobby as actually knitting yarn. I’m guilty of that myself.

You go to the yarn store and see those lovely skeins calling your name. You only have a vague idea of what you will realistically do with that lovely yarn. You buy it on faith…or maybe hope…or maybe just sheer avarice. You take it home and maybe leave it in your “to do” basket of planned or unplanned knitting projects.

But there those lovely skeins of yarn sit for weeks. Or months. Or even years. 

My longest running member of my yarn stash is a bag of undyed cotton yarn I bought on vacation in Monserrat years ago. Who has yarn purchased on a Caribbean island?! I had to have it. I had misty plans of making a summer sweater from that yarn. After the island was nearly obliterated by a volcano, I kept that yarn around just to remember a wonderful place I had once visited. I now have a more solid plan to knit a shawl with it.  We’ll see.

The perils of keeping a stash is that you, ultimately and inevitably, have more yarn that you’ll probably use. If you completely knit through your stash on a regular basis, you’re a better person than I. But most of us over-buy yarn with nothing more than hopes and dreams. If we do use skeins from the stash, we often have too much yarn and skeins left over, too little to use for something else. Or worse, we haven’t bought enough for a project, finding that out long after the yarn is available. 

So what’s a knitter to do? Keep feeding the stash? Put yourself on a yarn diet? 

I’m challenging myself to donate unused yarn to schools or children’s summer programs. I’ve got a big bag for some lucky organization! But in the meantime, I’m eyeing that lovely new yarn I just spotted in the craft store….

Happy Knitting (and Stashing!), Cindy

Cynthia Coe is a writer, book reviewer, and avid knitter. Her books and blog posts can be found on her Amazon Author Page.