I started writing this post about a week before we left to go on holiday, in the hope that it would help me to make a decision about taking craft bits on holiday. It did, but I didn’t finish the post! I’m now back from the holiday, and if you want to know what I took with me and whether I brought the right things, I’m sorry but I’m going to make you read to the end!
When I was a teenager, the thing I disliked about going on holiday was leaving my piano behind.
Now I’m older, I’m fine with leaving the piano at home! But as person whose hands need to be busy with something, the difficult thing is deciding which craft bits to bring on holiday with me.
The temptation to just bring it all is very real, but obviously I can’t bring my sewing machine, and as our holidays usually involve travelling around and seeing things there isn’t much spare time in the day. Also now the boys are older, we don’t have to be back for early bedtimes, so there often isn’t a lot of time in evenings either.
When making a decision about taking craft bits on holiday, it depends on where you are going, how you will be getting there and what you’ll be doing while you are there.
I should say at this point that when I talk about flying, I’m writing from my experience and not because I have any kind of inside information about what airlines will allow! If you are flying or are not sure, it’s probably best to check with the airline.
If you’re flying, crochet is normally safe. I have had crochet hooks queried at airport security, but I suspect it was because the security people didn’t know the difference between crochet and knitting, and knitting needles can be a problem.
Although crochet hooks are usually fine on aeroplanes, scissors can be an issue. Last time I checked, scissors with blades of less than 6 cm were permitted. I have had bigger scissors taken away at security! Little embroidery scissors, like the stork ones or those tiny ones you get in sewing kits are usually fine.
When deciding on a project, if you’re going in the car, you might have space for a blanket or something else potentially bulky. If you’re flying, a smaller project is probably better. Granny squares or another modular project could work well. If it’s one you’ve already started, you could plan to make more squares while you are away and leave the rest at home. Amigurumi projects are good, as are crocheted flowers which could then be made into something when you get home.
I like to have everything I need in a separate, easy to access bag. Then I can whip it out whenever there’s a lull and I have a few minutes.
If you’re going in the car or by train, bringing some knitting isn’t likely to cause a problem. And if you’re not driving and you can knit without getting car sick, that’s even better!
Attempting to take knitting on an aeroplane can sometimes cause a problem at security. The issue is the needles.
Having said that, I have managed to get through with socks on double ended needles (they were wooden ones). I even took a circular needle on a plane to Denver, although they weren’t happy about it and said I should probably leave it in my bag during the flight. The flight was 9 hours and my hands needed something to do, so I got the knitting out and watched a film and it was fine!
The best thing to do is to check with your airline. If you do decide to chance it, make sure you have some of those huge safety pin things to transfer your knitting onto in case they won’t let you take the needles. That way you won’t lose your knitting as well.
Obviously it’s going to have to be hand sewing! It might be tempting to bring something that needs finishing off by hand, but realistically it’s probably going to be too bulky and trimming off threads is messy and not the most fun part of a project!
If you want to sew, you could try something small, like a stuffed animal.
Another option would be some applique.
Otherwise embroidery is probably the easiest way to go.
In my experience, airlines are fine with sewing needles, and an embroidery project is unlikely to take up too much space in your hand luggage.
You could try a cross stitch kit, or another embroidery kit. A good thing about a kit is that it will contain everything you need. If you’re stressed about getting ready for your holiday, it’s easy to buy a kit and pop it in your bag, rather than hunting out different threads and bits you might need.
Another option is to add embroidery to something, like a top or a jacket.
Something else you could do is choose a fabric with a print that you could embellish with stitching, beads or what ever you like, and turn it into something like a bag or a notebook cover when you get home.
If you can’t find a print you like, you could use a rubber stamp and stamp it onto fabric using permanent ink before embroidering it.
If Embroidery’s Not Your Thing…
As I’ve already said, if you are willing to sew by hand, you could bring a small project. A stuffed toy, dolls’ clothes, a pincushion, a glasses case or a patchwork project wouldn’t take up too much space and you could do them on a plane, by the pool or in the evenings.
However, I know that a lot of us who like to sew don’t particularly like sewing by hand! I’m all in favour of slowing down and appreciating the time things take to do, but at the moment I am not ready to take the idea of slowing down to the speed of hand sewing!
Taking a sewing machine on holiday is not a realistic option. So if you don’t want to sew by hand, you might have to make peace with the idea that you won’t be sewing while you are on holiday.
However, there are other things you can do, and all you’ll need is a notebook and a pencil!
- Make a list of the things you want to make, complete with pattern numbers so you can buy them from internetland or your favourite haberdashery when you get home.
- Design your own things that you want to sew. Make some sketches, think about the shapes the pattern pieces will need to be, consider colours and fabric as well. Even if you don’t make them, you’ll still have fun designing them!
- Decide to organise your sewing stuff when you get back. Plan how you will organise it. Decide what you want to keep track of. You could design some labels in your sketchbook to make on the computer when you get home.
Other Things You Could Bring
I would recommend taking a notebook or a sketchbook with you all the time, not just when you’re on holiday!
Inspiration is everywhere. If you are not much of a sketcher, don’t worry. Practice is the way to get better if that’s what you want to do. Otherwise one of the things I’ve learnt is that when it comes to inspiration, it’s not about the drawing, it’s about having something to start from.
While you’re on holiday, there might be colours you find inspiring. The pattern on a tile might suggest a patchwork project, or outfits other people are wearing will perhaps prompt an idea for making something similar.
Having a notebook means that you can jot things down, make little sketches and record colours, and you don’t have to show anybody else if you don’t want to!
I would recommend bringing:
- A sketchbook or a notebook. If you find plain pages intimidating, sometimes lined is easier to draw on.
- Pens and pencils for drawing and writing. If you have a favourite thing to draw with, then bring that. Being somewhat contrary, I like to use pen for drawing and pencil for writing rather than the other way round! If you’re planning on adding colour to your drawings, a pen with permanent ink is a good idea. I use micron pens because they are nice for both drawing and writing, and they don’t smudge if I decide to add paint or coloured pencil.
- Something to add colour with. Coloured pencils will do, but get nice ones! They’ll be better for blending if you don’t have the exact colour you need. A small set of watercolours might be an option. Obviously you’ll need to remember to bring a brush as well. Watercolour pencils gives you the best of both.
- Washi tape. It’s handy for sticking things in, it’s pretty and it doesn’t go brown like sellotape does.
What I Took With Me This Time
Tiny balls of cotton yarn, a crochet hook and a free pattern for Easter chicks.
Micron pens, pencils, pencil sharpener and eraser.
Viviva Coloursheets. These are watercolours that come as paper sheets rather than as blocks of colour.
A bluetooth printer. It’s not entirely necessary, but I like having the option of printing a picture from my phone to stick in my sketchbook.
I also brought my nature journal.
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…I hardly used any of it!
I crocheted half an Easter chick on the aeroplane before abandoning it in favour of watching Minions and The Office, and I made a couple of entries in the nature journal, written ones, I didn’t draw anything.
We had a lovely time! Upstate New York is beautiful, even in the “mud season” when it’s not really winter any more but spring hasn’t started. We travelled around all over, we saw Lake George and Lake Champlain, the Catskills and the Adirondacks, and we went back to Vermont and New Hampshire.
I took lots of photos and I’ve got plans for some of them, but apart from that I didn’t do a lot of creative stuff.
On the plus side, I was glad I had the bits I did, because I knew I had the option of using them if I wanted to.