Knitting on a Plane

If I had my druthers between being a Traveler and being a non-Traveler, I’d choose traveler.

I like going places, even if I have been there before but especially if I’m going someplace new. I don’t always get to travel. It’s a pricey affair these days and time is scarce.


I spent quite a bit of time in airports and on planes this past week, and I managed to finish up these simple stockinette socks. No pattern. I just cast on a went for it. (I don’t know if it’s possible to get those Crazy Zauberballs to match, but I wasn’t going to waste my time trying.)

Boring ol' stockinette airplane socks over at This Knitted Life.

At some point as I knit away on one of my flights, it struck me how far I’d come with my plane knitting since its first occurrence. I remember it well. It was January 1998. My friend’s mom had just retaught me the basics of knitting, long since forgotten since my grandma’s first lessons years earlier during childhood. I was in college and about to embark on a long flight from Oregon to New York City, followed by a second long flight to Oaxaca, Mexico for a language course.

I was crisscrossing North America with my cheap yarn.

I stayed up most of the night before that first flight, in front of my childhood fireplace, fiddling with the stitches. Casting on. Knitting a few rows. Scrapping the whole thing in frustration. Starting over.

Again and again I did this. I just couldn’t put it down.

(This was so long ago that I hadn’t yet discovered problems like this could easily be resolved with a good glass of wine.)

Somehow on my first flight, I recall putting aside my mistake-ridden knitting long enough to grab a bit of sleep before again picking up my yarn (surely acrylic? I don’t even recall the color…brown, I think) for another long stint of frustrated, ugly stitching in a haze of exhaustion and sleeplessness.

And that’s how I got to Oaxaca. One imperfect stitch after another.

That was nearly 20 years ago, and I still love to knit on planes. I glance at all the other passengers, watching movies and playing games on their devices*. They’re just killing time, and I guess I am too. Although I am spending my time more pleasantly immersed in a hobby of mine, making something. Or at least that’s what I like to think. I want to whisper to my plane-mates: learn to knit…you’d be happier for it! I feel kind of bad they’re missing out.

Boring ol' stockinette airplane socks over at This Knitted Life.

It was later on that same trip to Oaxaca that I REALLY was taught knitting again by my Oaxacan buddy. She taught me in Spanish, and for years afterward I thought of knitting in punto or derecho before again learning the art in English. It was just the first of my many knitting adventures in Mexico.

Boring ol' stockinette airplane socks over at This Knitted Life.

These socks have already brightened my greying days. I love their colors. I only wish I somehow could have crossed paths with the Yarn Harlot, who I later realized was in the San Francisco airport the same day I was. Granted, I was dashing through between flights in an overly dramatic Hold My Flight!  fashion with mere moments to spare. But you never know. I would have asked her to sign my sock.

Some flights are worth missing.

*I need not remind you there was no such thing as a device in 1998. You either brought a paper back or the early version of a laptop, or you were mindnumbingly bored out of your mind.

I hope to see you over at the Yarn Along today. I’m currently absorbed in Today Will Be Differentand have enjoyed it greatly so far.

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  • Reply Alina November 2, 2016 at 6:14 am

    Oh, I loved this flashback! Your socks are amazing – love the colors and imperfect matching!!! For some reason I just can’t knit on the plane, people start looking and I am VERY shy. Plus, I am so unorganized and will lose all my notions for sure 🙂 So, only reading on plane for me 🙂

  • Reply Kat with a K November 2, 2016 at 6:26 am

    I love mismatched socks! And, I agree knitting while traveling is the best way to while away the waiting time!

  • Reply Katie November 2, 2016 at 7:34 am

    I’m so jealous of people who can knit on planes, in cars, on trains, etc. I get horrible motion sickness and my only option is to take enough dramamine that it knocks me out and I sleep the whole way there. I really wish they’d hurry up and invent the transporters from Star Trek already.

  • Reply stephanie young November 2, 2016 at 7:59 am

    i simply can’t start packing for any trip before I get my knitting lined up…..I’m much much smarter in my old age, though. I remember one trip packing a giant, woolen nordic-type sweater that just needed the sleeves finished and hauling that thing and all the extra yarn in my carry on……and it was mid-summer. Now I might take a complicated lace shawl and have to be rude to my seat mate if he/she starts to talk to me…..can’t they SEE I’m needling to be in ‘isolation’????

  • Reply pumpkin sunrise November 2, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    I love the idea of mismatched socks but can’t do it….a personality flaw. I am the opposite of you, I am a homebody through and through. I over pack when traveling because I don’t know what knitting mood I’ll be in. Except for santa barbara where space was precious. I only took TWO projects (that is me paring it down!).

  • Reply thesoaringsheep November 3, 2016 at 5:31 am

    fab socks 🙂 I’m so grateful to be able to knit, it’s a great way to occupy your hands and you can either think about what you’re doing or day dream. Perfect hobby really lol

  • Reply zeta ( November 3, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    I haven’t knit on a plane yet. I’m always afraid that they will take my needles! This may be my biggest knitting fear!

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