How to make a long flight bearable: the knitter’s solution


In the past five days, I have flown from London to Johannesburg and back again!  That is a seriously long way to fly for such a short period of time.  I was there on business (to teach a workshop) and so can’t even give you many impressions of the city; I had no time for sight-seeing.  I can tell you that everyone I met was super-friendly and that the students I taught were amazing – so dedicated and optimistic and smart!


I approached the flight as any knitter would: what project would make the best airplane knitting?  I had finished up all the projects I had been working on so needed to find something new.  It had to be lightweight, take up no room in my handbag, and be fairly monotonous and repetitive.  There was one obvious choice.


Last year, I bought a dozen balls of Rowan Kidsilk Eclipse in the colour Virgo, just after it was discontinued.  I used five balls to knit my Gossamer pullover, but put seven balls away with the intention of knitting another Reversible Cabled-Rib Shawl.  I knit one years ago, in a vibrant grass-green, and it remains one of the favorite things I have ever knit.  You can see it in this post, where my enthusiasm for the project is hard to miss.


This shawl will be gorgeous in the Eclipse!  It knits up incredibly sheer, with lovely texture and movement.  The pattern was designed by Lily Chin for the Winter 1999/2000 edition of Vogue Knitting.  It has since been published in many anthologies of Vogue Knitting patterns and can also be purchased on Ravelry (link).  The green one took me over 18 months to knit!!!!  Not, I might add, because it is difficult, but because it is a boring and monotonous knit and kept getting put aside for more exciting projects.  I can say with absolute authority, however, that this shawl is worth every minute of knitting time.

I can also say, that with 4 more trips to Johannesburg planned this year, I am likely to finish this one in less time!  I have a good 18 inches done (unblocked), which means I have one-quarter of the shawl already knit.



And now, I think, I deserve a nap!

16 thoughts on “How to make a long flight bearable: the knitter’s solution

  1. Lovely design! Was there any problem taking your knitting needles aboard? I understood that they would be confiscated by airport security . . .

    • My solution to this dilemma is to take this opportunity to find a fun, portable crochet project! I learned to crochet socks on a long flight. TSA doesn’t seem to care about crochet hooks. And I have had total success using one of those plastic give-away letter openers where the blade is tucked inside to replace scissors that might get taken.

  2. Hi. This depends on the airline and where you are flying to/from. Some places are notorious for confiscating needles (like Mexico). Even when regulations are on your side, the security agent on site has absolute authority. There are hundreds of threads on Ravelry forums discussing this, which you may want to check out for specific routes/airlines. I always come prepared to have my needles confiscated (put in a lifeline before you go to the airport!) and have an extra set in my luggage.

  3. that is an awful lot of flying – and you will be doing it how many more times??? Love the shawl, and I remember you writing about the green one… and this yarn. In fact, you inspired me to grab several skeins of this yarn in a golden color way at my local yarn shop – got a great deal on the discontinued loveliness. 🙂

  4. This is a gorgeous project! I bought some eclipse inspired by your last post about this yarn, and you have inspired me once again…. 😀

  5. This shawl is going to be totally stunning! I love your photos with light in the background, highlighting the sheerness of the metallic yarn. What a wonderful project for flights. 🙂 Best of luck for your future flights to Johannesberg!

  6. I love the colour that you have chosen and think that this shawl will be even more versatile than the green one (and you know how much I like the green one)! What a pity that Kdisilk Eclipse has been discontinued…

  7. What a beautiful project, I love the way you have photographed it, it looks so light and floaty. The green shawl is stunning too, I can totally see why you have fallen in love with the pattern!

  8. This is beautiful and I have always loved your green shawl too (perhaps more because of the colour). It has made me want to knit one in a nice jewel colour too. But I am trying to be disciplined about the number of projects I have on the go at any time, and disciplined about using yarn in my stash. One day I will get to it…. perhaps if I have a long flight! I am also keen to make a soumak….

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