One of the things we learned early in our trip was not to trust Google info about the hours any particular place was open or even whether it was open at all. This is especially true to restaurants but other shops as well.
Staffing shortages, illness (Covid, right?) and other factors contribute but, whatever the reason, we learned the hard way that, if you are counting on it, CALL before you go to make sure they are open.
Google, like many of us, is having trouble "keeping up" at this time. Just call.
And...for those hours in the car, bring a book or, better yet, don't forget your knitting!!! Need a new stitch marker or two "for the road"?? Go HERE to take a look at beautiful handmade sterling silver stitch markers!!
Food is an issue if a) you want to eat and b) you don't want to go inside to do so. Here are my top four tips:
1. Bring as much food with you as you reasonably can (and, yes, this means you will probably need an ice chest/cooler for milk, yogurt, whatever). I cannot over emphasize the wonderfulness (?) of having good food WITH YOU, in the car. Just do it.
2. Find grocery stores that will let you order online and pickup curbside - Safeway/Albertsons and Whole Foods are the ones we used but I think Kroger is with the program, too. Handy to stock up on such fragile things as bananas and, oh, all sorts of things you need
3. Find restaurants that will let you pick up curbside. Black Bear Diner was kind of our go-to when we were out west. Simple and fast and very decent food!
Warning, finding a place that will do curbside sounds easy but it is not. A couple of times we had to zip in to pick up pizza....it was too late, we were too hungry/cranky to mess around with trying to find curbsite. Nothing is perfect all the time.
4. I need to say again: bring food with you. Bring PLENTY of food with you. It will bring you peace and joy at the end of a long day of doing whatever you do on a roadtrip.
Always bring things to do on those long drives through west Texas....or eastern Montana. When I say "bring things" I always mean "bring your knitting with you"!!! And yes, you need plenty of stitch markers because might (surely you will) lose a few in the car as you go. Stitch markers?? Go here to see my oh so cool handmade sterling silver stitch markers for all your knitting needs!!
So let's just talk about this one right off the bat, shall we? During a pandemic you may not feel comfortable going inside a gas station (or anywhere else) to use the restroom. At the beginning of the trip I was determined not to go inside anywhere there were other people. Later, I relaxed a little bit and "cased the joint" before I determined whether I wanted to go inside. Mainly, If there were a significant number of people inside, I opted out.
All that to say you may find you need an alternative to going inside to use the bathroom. You're a guy? No problem, find the nearest tree, right? Girls have a bigger challenge but I am here to tell you that your good friend, Amazon, has your back! Search things like "female urinal" and you will find several to choose from.
Oh, yes and bring knitting or something else to do "on the road". Want to see sterling silver stitch markers?? Click HERE!
Here is something to think about that will make things go faster: can you go up a half size or a whole size in needles? I almost always use size US 1.5 (2.5mm) needles to knit socks. On these socks, I decided to go up to a US size 2 (2.75mm) and just see what happens. They are for my son so I think they will be fine and, with this Hawthorne yarn, it is working great so far. Just something to consider; it won't work with every yarn or every project but if it will work, it will speed up your sock knitting!
Here is a another tip for faster knitting - use great yarn. It doesn't have to be the most expensive, "indie" or hand dyed yarn. It needs to be nice & "bouncy" and plenty of commercial yarns are excellent. My top two favorite mid-priced yarns for socks are Hawthorne and Brown Sheep Sock.
The yarns I am currently using to knit socks (pictured above) are Hawthorne (the gray one) and West Yorkshire Spinners, which is also a great sturdy sock yarn just not as nice as Hawthorne, IMO.
For more tips to knit socks faster, click HERE or HERE or HERE or HERE
Another tip to knit socks (or anything, really) a little or a lot faster: scrunch up those stitches on the left needle!! If you control the stitches with your index finger, they won't fall off the needle. If they do, not the end of the world - take a deep breath and slowly and carefully pick them back up (bonus tip - keep a smaller knitting needle or big sewing needle handy to use when you need to pick up a dropped stitch or two - genius!).
Click below for more great tips to speed up your knitting!
A simple but crucial tip: check your work often. Just pause and look at what you have done for the past couple of rows. Why you ask? Well.....I was working on this very simple 1x1 ribbing for a sock cuff. I thought it was going great - what could be easier, right?? Then I just stopped and looked at what I had done. Yep, you guessed it, there were 2 purls together 2 rows back which of course threw off everything going forward from there. Sigh. I picked back the stitches one at a time and started again. The photo above is after recovery - I was too disappointed to feel like taking a photo of the actual errors.
So, fixing errors will NOT make your sock knitting faster. What will make it faster is not making (obvious) errors in the first place. Carry on & knit, fellow brave knitters.....:)
Here's another little tip - decide on the heel flap pattern you like and stick with it. Don't waste time deciding which type of flap to do - pick one & stick with it! When you are someplace you can't knit (can't imagine where that would be) you can explore the various options for heel flaps. Use your knitting time to knit those socks - not to make design/style decisions! ;)
More tips to speed up sock knitting! Two things: metal needles (especially HiyaHiya - so smooth!) and small circulars (I use 9-10"). Will you lose a few stitches on the metal needles until you get used to them? Yes, you will, but ONLY until you get used to them! Take it slow at first but know that you will get used to it! Fast, faster, fastest! GO!
Need to knit socks faster? Here are a couple more simple tips for you! (Click here to see the first tips to knit socks faster!)
Tip: pick a toe style and stick to it! The wedge toe is maybe the most popular toe shape but there are lots of others - I am currently using the rounded toe and plan to stick to it for every pair of socks I knit (Click here to see the simple sock toe pattern.)
Tip: Knit a little looser - don't fight the stitches! If your needle slips right into the stitch easily, your knitting will be faster - it's a known fact!
Need heirloom quality silver stitch markers for knitting?
Click here to see the markers (and some project bags, too!)
Always trying to knit faster? Need to get to the next beautiful yarn in your stash? YES! me, too. Here are a few tips for knitting socks a little faster!
First, pick a simple pattern. It doesn't have to be vanilla socks; it could be a simple pattern that is easy to memorize. Example? Ribbing is easy, especially if it includes a lot of knits & not many purls....like knit 5, purl 3! Easier/faster than k2,p2, right?
Second, pick a heel turn style and stick to it for all your socks. Don't waste time searching a lot of different heel turns - google "most popular heel turn" and stick to it! Boom - time saved!!! (Most popular? The French Heel - just do it & stick to it!)
More tips to come - stay tuned!
Need some beautiful last-forever stitch markers? Try these handmade ones in sterling silver!
Since I was doing a lot of knitting in 2020, I realized that I could make sterling silver stitch markers. I had the silver, I had the need and I had the know how. So I made it happen. Several different designs, all made by hand, one at a time in my studio in Baton Rouge. Turns out these are by far my favorite stitch markers. So clean and easy to use. 2020 was a year of surprises in so many ways.
I hope you found knitting or some other meditative, relaxing activity that makes you breathe easier during this time becuase, you know, it's not over yet. Hang on.
At the very beginning of the pandemic I read (on the MDK blog) the expression, "Bob's Your Uncle". After that, for awhile, I heard or read this expression in several different places and it captured my imagination - now my husband and I (well, mostly I) use the expression often. So colorful! So much fun in a world of so often bad news. Just a moment of lightness - sometimes that's all I need to life my day up a little bit!
Awkward segue: handmade silver stitch markers for knitting!!! Click to see!!
I know I mentioned before that we love to travel, especially in the western US, where are sons live. We almost always drive so that we can take our time & enjoy the journey. One of our favorite things to do is stop along the way and look for cool rocks. We live in a place (south Louisiana) with no rocks at all but I grew up in Arkansas, so most all rocks could be described (by me) as "cool". Anyway, we have gotten a little bit pickier with what we pick up & haul back across the country.
So, early in the pandemic, I decided to switch out all of the "knobs" in our house with knobs made of the the rocks we have collected over the years! It was a fun project and we love the results. Each knob is a little work of art!! Rocks rock!
In between rock stops, I knit. Want to see the sterling silver stitch markers I make? Click the button below!
I think maybe a lot of people got interested in new hobbies during the lockdown due to Covid. The first thing I did was continue my love affair with knitting. I was a relatively new knitter last March when the lockdown started but I have done a lot more knitting in the past year. All I knit are socks....I love a small, more or less "bite-sized" project and if it's portable, even better!
Two stitch markers in one! yay! no more rootling around in the bottom of your bag because you need a bigger or smaller stitch markers - these markers do double duty. WIN! Click below to shop!
Simple sterling silver stitch markers for knitting. Smooth and oh so easy to use. These handmade silver stitch markers get the job done in a beautiful way.
Bonus: these are meant to be passed down to the next generation of knittings in your family. Pure sterling silver!
Click here to shop these silver stitch markers now!
I love anything that does double duty and these stitch markers are perfect - they work for many different sizes of knitting needles from small needles you use for knitting socks or baby things to larger needles used for bulky sweater and shawls.
No more digging in the bottom of your project bag to find a stitch marker that will work! One & done - win!!
Special request for larger knitting stitch markers so these were born & will remain a permanent part of my knitting accessories collection. I know they work will with US size 15 knitting needles and, since they are a loose fit on those needles, I also know they will work with larger needles. I couldn't get my hands on larger needles when I was sizing them so it's a little unclear what size needle is the outside limit!
Click the button below to shop these silver stitch markers!
Because I have discovered knitting during the panemic, I also rediscovered a love of sewing.
Put those two things together and you get lots & lots of handknit socks PLUS handmade project bags for knitting as well as these narrow bags to store all the knitting needles! And you gotta love that cotton fabric!
This is the smaller version for DPNS, other shorter knitting needles and small circular needles. I also made a larger/longer version for single point longer knitting needles so that you can store your entire collection of needles in one place! Yay!
I love these little sterling silver stitch markers! I make them in two sizes so if you knit socks (like me) you can use the smaller size and it will not get in your way AND NO snags! Perfect. If, however, you are into somewhat larger knitting project, you might enjoy the larger size. Easy to use, easy to see. Perfect for everything knitty that you do!
Also, a great gift for your favorite knitter!
Click here to check out these stitch markers!
I introduced smaller stitch markers last week and then realized that what we REALLY need, as knittiers, is stitch markers that do double duty!
These sterling silver markers not only mark (and keep up with) your stitches, nestling securely around a stitch or two or a row or two; they also will fit nicely and easily around knitting needles up to a US size 9.
Yay for functional and beautiful knitting tools! Did I mention that these stitch markers are not only useful on a day to day basis but are also meant to be handed down to the next generation of knitters in your family?
Enjoy! Click here to shop these new, convertible silver stitch markers!
I love to knit and I love to make jewelry so I thought, why not combine the two? I make some silver stitch markers that include gemstones (you can go here to see those) but these newest ones are just a simple little twist of non-tarnish sterling silver wire (love those sweet little balled ends!!).
Simple, functional, elegant. AND guess what.....
These silver stitch markers make great gifts for the knitter in your family or for the knitter wannabe!
Use everyday and plan to hand these down to the next generation of knitters in your family!!
Click here to see these elegant, silver stitch markers!
I am Laura Teague, a metal smith, knitter and sewist living and working in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and traveling the western US whenever I can!