Walking & Knitting…

My walk to work is 1-1/2 miles each way. At a pace of 3 mph that’s an hour of walking each day, 5 hours per week, 21.65 hours per month, and 260 hours per year. That’s a lot of potential knitting time!

I have to subtract rainy days and days where it’s too cold for my fingers to be out of my pockets. It’s a bit hard to knit under these conditions. Fortunately that doesn’t cut out too much time, since we live on the Central Coast of California and the weather tends to be pretty mild. Then there are vacation days and sick days, where I don’t go to work. Based on my estimation, that still leaves me with roughly 200 hours of knitting time per year… which is nothing to sneeze at! (except in May)

I have completed several hats, scarves, and socks during the course of my walks, that I most likely would not have been able to complete otherwise. I have found that people tend to be more friendly to you when you’re knitting. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that people generally do not feel threatened by knitters. Also, a walking knitter is a relatively unusual sight, so it tends to make people curious. Knitting and walking does wonders to help promote the craft.

I have a few safety and sanity tips for those of you who want to take up knitting and walking. Small projects work best. It’s hard to carry an afghan while you’re walking. Stick with hats, scarves, socks, baby things, iPod covers, etc. Pick something where you can memorize the pattern easily. It’s hard to refer to a printed pattern when you’re walking, unless you want to use an around-the-neck music holder for your pattern like they use in a marching band.

Walking causes your body and hands to bounce slightly, so intricate lace patterns or tricky decreases (such as P3tog tbl) might best be avoided as a walking project. If you have a 9-5 work schedule, the end of daylight savings time causes it to be dark on the walk home. That doesn’t mean you have to stop knitting! My daughter Kathleen can shape the toe of a sock in a dark movie theater. Not me. I know my limitations. On a nighttime walk I stick to garter stitch or stockinette stitch and check my knitting at each street light.

Don’t look so intently at your knitting that you trip on cracks in the sidewalk or walk into a utility pole. It’s important to have a project where you can look up every now and then. Don’t try to pick up a dropped stitch while crossing the street. Pedestrians have to walk defensively in order to avoid getting run over by a car, so just pause your knitting until you get safely across the street. Then you can stop and track down that errant stitch.

It works best to have something to hold your supply yarn, such as a fanny pouch, a backpack, a baggy sleeve, or a big pocket. I’ve had some success with holding my supply yarn under my arm, but if I forget it’s there and raise my arm it can be several yards before I notice I dropped the ball. I have also been known to put my knitting needles under my arm while I did something else, only to have to backtrack a block or two to recover my dropped needles.

For advanced walking knitters, you can add an iPod. Be careful about doing that too soon, though! If you’re concentrating on your knitting while listening to music, all your key tools (vision, hearing, and brain function) for not getting run over or crashing into things are distracted with other activities. Ease into the iPod gradually. Start by just getting comfortable walking and knitting. Then add the iPod with the volume at a low level. Once you get on a roll, the volume can slowly be turned up.

With enough practice, you’ll soon be walking, knitting, singing along with your iPod, allowing cars to turn left in front of you, greeting your fellow walkers, and waving at the bicyclers and drivers that you see regularly! It’s a pretty fun way to get to work.

-Jenne Hiigel

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3 thoughts on “Walking & Knitting…

  1. Great note! I haven’t tried knitting while walking yet, but the marching band music holder seems like a brilliant idea — if you’re self-confident enough to be seen with one. Perhaps it could be accompanied by a bold strut and the occasional high kick …

  2. Snap! Great post.

    I mostly knit hats in the round on circular needles when walking – stocking stitch or at worst k2, p2 rib. I can manage simple slip-stitch in two colours but that’s as fancy as the walking knitting gets. I usually carry two projects cast on and joined up just in case I get to the decreases before I finish my walk. I can knit with dpns and walk, but both activities slow down and the knitted fabric is not as even – circs in the round are much easier.

    I use a light cotton bag with fabric handles that just fit over my left wrist to carry the yarn in. Originally the bag held 5 kilos of rice. I’ve also marked, in indelible pen, the 5, 7 and 8 inch measurements on the bag so I don’t have to carry a measure to work out when to start the decreases. Everything else goes in a back pack. I tried knitting out of the back pack, but the yarn kept catching on the zipper teeth.

    I keep several needles “loaded” and in bags by the front door so it’s a simple matter of grabbing a bag as I leave the house. The white bags are for hats, the yellow bags are for socks.

    People are usually pretty tolerant of knitting and walking. Often they say pleasant things. Only twice in several years has anyone been rude – not really sure what the problem was as it wasn’t in relation to near accidents or other safety issues. I’ve never tripped while walking and knitting.

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