What Should I Knit? (Pre-Packing Edition)

By Kay Gardiner
July 22, 2021

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  • Do we get to vote?
    Hana is a Kay sweater, no question.
    Cables and embroidery! A patchwork quilt of a sweater! Boxy shape!
    And only one color of yarn, simpler than multiples for travel.
    I’m looking forward to armchair travels.

  • I’m about to say something shocking: I DO NOT KNIT ON VACATION. At. All. But that doesn’t stop me from seeking out yarn shops. On one memorable trip to Cornwall we were happily pootling along a country lane and I saw a handmade sign — yarn for sale. “STOP THE CAR” I shrieked to my long-suffering companion, who was no doubt regretting his decision to invite me on this trip. I bought a sweaters-worth of handspun Black Welsh Mountain Sheep yarn from the farm shop from a very nice young lady who seemed bemused that an American would want such a thing.

    But I digress.

    • Wendy you have shocked me to my core. TO MY CORE

  • Also: how on earth did I miss seeing that cabled patchwork design? Swoon!

  • When I read your article, I had forgotten about Petula. I know! Very nice looking sweater. I had never seen the others. I’m sitting by myself, in the dark, and said “wow!’ when I saw The Twigs. So pretty! But then, ‘oh WOW!’ When I saw Hana. Hana is The Perfect Sweater. Everyone should make this one! My vote is Hana. I hope you have a wonderful trip!

  • I’m all about Field Guide #10, Downtown.
    Have knitted the Bottom Line Pullover and now on Petula.
    Happy Vacation !

  • Hana! Hana! Hana! It’s a classic, heirloom-gifty sweater. Everyone should have one!

  • I also love her designs. I have knit 2 and will only look at the photos in the future. I am pretty small and the sizes are all huge. I adjusted the second pattern to fit better but the designs are meant to be big and with the adjustments the sweater just doesn’t look like I think it should. so before casting on decide whether you actually want an extra large sweater and will wear it!

  • Junko’s designs call to me. Hana is such a magical reworking of a traditional look and the textures and patchwork look make it my top pick.

  • Love them all. I am on team Hana for travel. A patchwork of places knit together into one fabulous journey.

    In revisiting Downtown, the Two Knitters, One City interview revealed itself to me. It brought back memories of my early career days in Boston. And I have fond memories of the vacation I spent knitting a Ralph Lauren fair isle sweater on a Block Island beach.

  • My first sweater was The Rug by Junko Okamoto, and I just leapt in with both feet! Her directions are so clear, and her designs are so distinct and interesting, any one of them will keep you going to see what’s next. My sweater is a fave and I’m still so proud of it, even many sweaters later. That said, you can’t really go wrong with any design by Isabell Kraemer either…not much help, am I?

  • I am utterly taken by Hana…that’s the one I’d “go” with!

    • Oh my! Hana is the one! How did I ever miss it when it was published?!?! It’s a perfect travel design, no color work, but those cables are scrumptious! I just had to buy it. So, if it’s not your ultimate decision, how about a KAL???

  • Hana is gorgeous – so are the others but one color and texture makes it an easy choice for me!

  • Hi Kay! A conundrum for sure. All 3 have their own special special :). My pick would be Petula though. The reason is that it is also in my queue with yarn ready to go and just waiting for that trip. Whatever you choose will be wonderful and I anxiously await those progress pics. Have a fabulous trip!!

  • Hana! It took my breath away. I am always jealous of those who can knit on airplanes. Our flag carrier (Turkish Airlines) expressly forbids knitting needles in the cabin, leaving me on long flights with nothing to do. And since I won’t check my preciousness in baggage, I can’t knit once at my destination either. Sigh!

  • Hana should be it, absolutely! It is perfect.

  • I think the Hana sweater would provide enough patterning to avoid boredom but has the advantage of dealing with only one color. Bon Voyage!!

  • I’m totally team Hana! That is on my list too. Atlas would be perfect for it.

  • Kay! As much as I love all the choices, I think that Hana is perfect travel knitting – because it’s knit in panels and will be so much more portable.
    I also think it’s so very you. What color will you knit??

  • This is a off comment but what do you recommend for a substitute for Rowen Denim? From what I’ve seen there’s nothing out there that has the wonderful and hand beautiful fading over time. Enjoy your vacation and I’d sleep on a few options and then go with my heart!

    • There’s nothing like it, sadly. The good news is that you can still find it on yarn shop shelves sometimes, and in destash sales. It was around for so long that lots of people have it.

  • Voting for Hana because 1. Junko and vacation are like chocolate and peanut butter and 2. how about Twigs KAL in the fall? Have a GLORIOUS trip!

    • Yes!!!!!! I am down for a Twigs KAL in the fall.

  • I guess I am in minority but twigs is so stunning, followed by petula if you want then Hanna but for Virginia climate Hanna is too heavy for our mostly mild climate.

  • All such beautiful choices! I’m ready to finally cast on Petula today (funny you mentioned it). If you traveled with denim yarn and Whitby, then I think Hana is the one. At least you won’t be dealing with blue hands.

  • Assuming there are no future travel restrictions, I have a 10 day cruise planned for the Greek isles in November. I am trying to plan the opposite. I am sifting through options of something in fingering weight yarn (more knitting time with less yarn to carry), and a pattern that is not TOO complicated and not too plain either. I don’t want to be married to a pattern or a measuring tape. I want to cast on, get a handle of the pattern and GO!

  • Well, The Twigs has been in my favorites since forever, but I do think Hana is more you. And in color blocks it would be awesome. Don’t know how long you are traveling for, but my worry with Petula is that it is mostly stocking stitch, and if you whack through that in a hurry you may get done. I ran out of knitting on a vacation once, and I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.

    • The horror!

  • On one hand I like Petula for the long stretch of stockinette good for when you’re with other people and need to listen, or at least appear to be listening lol! and for long car/train rides to be able to enjoy the landscape. You can plan to do the stranded color work yoke on the plane when you have to concentrate. On the other hand…the Hana is convenient for the fact that its knit in pieces and hopefully the pattern in each piece is easy to memorize? so that’s handy, but the complexity of it is intimidating for me, I would go with the Petula. I would tackle Hana when I’m safe at home. Have a great trip!

  • Hana! I have knit a few of Junko Otamoto’s sweaters and they are amazing! (Have you seen her Kurt? It’s so incredibly clever!). I find myself admiring her creativity with every stitch. And I think colourwork is not for travel – too much to keep track of. Good luck deciding! And, have a lovely trip!

    • “Admiring her creativity with every stitch”–high praise and well deserved! I keep hearing how well written the patterns are, and I just have to try one.

  • Oh, my Hana is soooooo tempting! I’m going to have to knit one of those. I, too have my Petula all queued up with yarn and everything. I’m not sure I could concentrate all that time for every cable, so I’d be a Petula vacation girl. I’d sneak in a skein or two and the needles for Hana, though!! I’m not at all capable of only choosing one trip project!!

  • Hana does look great. But I am curious: How do you embroider knitting pieces?

    • It’s its own art form, actually pretty easy because you have the grid of the knitting as your background,

  • Hana! It is you. And with all those twists and turns you’ll be tremendously entertained.


    • The crowd roared!

  • Well, if you don’t knit this, I will because I just bought the darn pattern.
    I cant wait to start this!

    • Let’s both knit it! Let’s make it A Thing!

  • I used to plan a project before vacation but that was before 09/11. Lately I purchased a cross body bag from Della Q that is perfect for knitters because it has 3 different pockets and a clear flap for the pattern check it out if you are going to travel

  • Hana – def a Ms. Kay piece if ever there was one. Have a blast on your trip, sweets

  • It’s not on your list, but what about Junko Okamoto’s gorgeous Plum sweater? It has texture, a bit colorwork, a boxy fit, and it’s reversible.

  • You seemed more excited about Hana versus The Twigs. I find excitement about the design is a major factor in whether I can finish something.
    The only potential concern I can see is if the patchwork design would lead to gauge or construction issues.

    • It’s not real patchwork, and I’m encouraged by the projects people have made, it seems to work really well.

  • I don’t know how I missed Hana before and now I am kind of obsessed. It’s the crowd favorite for sure, and mine too.

    • It’s everything. Who am I kidding, I’m taking Petula AND Hana.

      • Now you’re talking!

  • I must point out that the individual pieces of Hana aren’t much more to carry around than a sock… So aside from the terrific shape and fabbo embroidery, you won’t be in danger of suddenly having an entire sweater in your lap, nor of having those massive rounds that feel as though progress is stalled, as in your current Swoncho moment…

    ALSO – you have all those brilliant interchangeable cables from Norah in your toolkit now, so you could really go wild, off road, make up something using Junko’s terrific map! (That might not be vacation knitting – that would be kitchen table knitting for me.)

    Embroidery is stalking me from all angles, like a sneaky craft just waiting to break into my queues and stash and budget…. My current dilemma is that, in order to stitch on my new phone case, I have to leave my phone unprotected for more than a fraction of a second.
    (https://pelacase.com/products/black-eco-friendly-google-pixel-4a-stitch-case?collectionPageRank=19&collectionPageHadFilters=false – available for other phones as well)

    Have a great trip!

  • Cables! Cables! Cables! I’ve never seen that sweater and OMG, it’s going in my queue NOW!

    Have a wonderful time!!!!

  • I’ve been swooning over Junko Okamoto’s patterns since picking up knitting a few years ago. The Pam dress was/is the apple of my eye but (as always?) once I put something on a pedestal nothing is perfect enough (my skills, the best yarn) and so I keep admiring. Still wishing for a robust supply of Moeke yarns.

    I love the idea of an Okamoto KAL, anything EXCEPT the Pam, lol

  • Hana is amazing! I would definitely go with that if I were going to knit anything other than socks and shawls while traveling.

  • I’d knit Petula, but you do you. All I have to add is that I just wound a sock skein and selected my Wanderlust pattern. Departure is still two weeks off, but I’m ready with sox and The Shift …

  • Hana! Hana! Enough of a challenge to be interesting but not so much that it would be a problem or divert from other activities–chats, views, discussions of meals, etc. I am so glad you’ve brought Hana to my attention. I’ve always loved Junko Okamoto’s designs but I’m very tall and many are one size. This has lots of scope in sizes and I’m thrilled! A new one for the list. So I would love to see what you do with it–the blue yarn would be stunning! Have a wonderful time and keep safe.

  • Hmmm… I would go first for the mock patchwork cable, but if you’re traveling, will your attention wander? Will you want something more mindless, or more absorbing? Are you sure you can’t cram a skein of sock yarn in your purse as well? I’m getting anxious just thinking about not traveling with enough yarn…

  • It has to be Hana! No contest – knit in pieces, one color and I am already seeing you in my minds eye wearing it. But maybe not in a muddled dark color….

  • When I look at Hana, I think its name should be “Kay.” So you! It IS your sweater.

    I’m also loving Junko’s Anu. The cross stitchy coziness says winter and holidays to me. (Would not be an ugly Christmas sweater.). Anything Junko always gets my vote.

    Can’t wait to see your WIP in the wild.

  • Take the Hana for you (the epic project you crave and only one color of yarn to keep track of) and take along yarn for an Olive Petula (about as much as a sock project and it can be the swatch for your future Petula) for the times when you can concentrate more on a chart and want something you can just tuck in your purse for those quick coffee break or “l need to rest my feet” times when you are out and about. I took 3 WIPs on a quick trip to Arlington (delayed funeral) last weekend- finished the Flash Cap, got a good start on a simple bandana shawl, finished my book and started another (kindle) and after tinking back and reknitting 2-1/2 rows, decided the linen stitch dish towel (fingering wt cotton) was better left in the bag for later.

    • Olive Twigs, not Petula! I knew I would get them mixed up! (Although a cobalt w mustard flowers Petula would be lovely on Olive.)

  • PS. I think dark color would look fantastic. Even “weathered” like that denim was!

  • I would definitely do Hana! plenty of pattern changes for the easily bored (such as myself) and fewer skeins to carry. Plus so . . . boho, vintage vibe, and COOL!

  • Hana.
    It’s so very unique.

  • Petula!

  • Take Hana! She’s the perfect travel companion for you. I love the subtle contrast color on the joinery. If she was made for you (she was), there’s no question you’ll enjoy the trip together.

    • Love The Twigs. I think Junko Okamoto is a genius. I have both it and Papa in my queue. I also think Ranunculus by Midori Hirose is another great one.

  • Have a wonderful vacation, Kay!!

  • Hana, definitely. It’s been in my queue for a while. I think Madeline needs one, too. She has her Papa sweater, and I never did knit one for myself.

  • Help I ordered the Hana sweater pattern !

  • I vote for Hana… all those amazing cables!!! All the options are fabulous for different reasons. I love the texture of Hana and I think it will look fabulous on you!
    Happy travels!

  • I would leave the knitting behind, bring my Kindle and pay so my attention to what and who is going on around me. The thing I like to do most is fine books by local authors out ones that are set in the place I am (or near it, or in the same country). That’s what I do in my down time, otherwise I like to see and experience as much as I can without taking around a knitting project. I’ve found I don’t usually get much knitting done anyway.

    • Different strokes for different folks! I’ve been traveling with my knitting for decades and it’s a fun part of the experience for me. Knitting lets me feel calm in the face of inevitable delays, long flights, etc.

  • Well…here’s my two cents, even though the thought of all those cables gives me the heebee jeebees. I like the shape and generous ease, so cosy. But even though light neutrals are perfect for accessorizing, I really, really like the color versions better. There is a red-brown one on Rav that is to die for. Hope you do color, Kay! And am still reeling over Wendy’s No Knitting on Vacation revelation. If anyone can breeze through Fair Isle while gazing out a train window, I bet she can.

  • I’ve been swooning over Hana for months, and dithering over the perfect yarn and color. One version I love mixed three different yarn colors for the different sections. But the one-color versions in variations of white yarn are stunning too. Then I thought, could this be awesome in Rowan denim? I think Yes it could! But my stash is completely empty of it. Gah. I’ll keep dithering…

    • It was almost made for Rowan Denim! Although it would be a very heavy sweater in denim, given the size and shape–that wouldn’t stop me, though. I’m definitely pondering hard about color!

  • Hana! I love the cable sections. It’ll be great for travel too because it’s only 1 colour, plus it looks like it’s knit in pieces and then joined together? Even better for travel knitting!

  • Hana! I am also planning travel knitting and Hana may be my choice. I have some handspun that I dyed with food that would be perfect for this (beets, black beans, etc). I also missed Hana until now but now I want to cast on for this Right. This. Minute. Until this post my first choice was Carol Feller’s Transom which I also first saw here.

    • Petula gets my vote. Lots of lovely uncomplicated stockinette with a little color work – it will fly off the needles! And you’ll be ready (or nearly ready) with something new for fall when you get home