Lounging on the sand at the beach while working on a knit or crochet project sounds so relaxing. So why is it that yarning at the beach can sometimes go so wrong? To get the most out of breach crafting, you really need to be smart about choosing your projects, supplies and even your mental approach. This guide can help you get it right so that your summer is both relaxing and creatively productive.
The Right Yarn for Yarning at the Beach
The beach is a beautiful place but it is also one that is messy. Sand is going to get in everything, including your yarn. The kids or the dog will inevitably shake their water off right on to your craft project. Make all of this less stressful by choosing a durable, water-friendly yarn for the beach. This simply isn’t the time to work with a fine mohair. Here are the traits you want in yarn that’s going to the beach:
- Water-friendly and durable. Select yarn that will get its shape back if it happens to get wet. Cotton is a good choice. Superwash yarns also work. If it can be tossed in a washer / dryer, then it’s a good choice for outdoor crafting.
- Comfortable for crafting in the heat. It’s usually hot when you’re at the beach, so you don’t want to work with a super bulky yarn that is going to make your whole body sweat as soon as you start crafting. Lighter yarns in soft, crisp fibers are your best beach choice. Tip: Have a cold drink nearby and make sure to grab it periodically to keep your hands cool as you craft.
- Yarn weight. You probably don’t want a very bulky yarn to work with because it will be too hot. However, you may also find that you don’t like to work with thread or fine yarn because it requires smaller tools that you don’t want to lose at the beach. A DK weight or worsted weight yarn is often a great beach choice.
- Affordable. Things happen at the beach. Picnics get spilled, items get lost in the sand, so no matter how careful you are, you want to work with low-cost yarns that you won’t feel stressed about replacing if need be.
Crochet designer Rohn Strong recommends Scrubby Smoothie, which is a smart soft cotton machine-wash choice. He also notes that wool yarn can be a great choice because it is cooling in heat and warming in cold. In contrast, acrylic tends not to be breathable, so it may not be ideal for hot day projects.
The Right Hooks and Needles
When selecting your supplies for the beach, the main thing that you want to consider is the material from which they are made. Many people enjoy using aluminum or steel crochet hooks and knitting needles, but these can get really hot out there in the summer sun. Pack yourself plastic, bamboo or other lightweight tools that don’t heat up so easily.
Fun Fact: Crochet designer Kristin Omdahl enjoys crafting at the beach.
Choosing a Knit or Crochet Project for the Beach
In addition to your yarn choice and the right tools, you really want to think carefully about choosing a project for the beach. The biggest thing to consider is project size; most people don’t want to work on a big project at the beach. One reason is the aforementioned heat; you don’t want to have a heavy blanket unfurling across your legs as you try to get your tan. It is also nice to have a project that is super portable, which is obviously easier with small projects. In terms of portability, you may also want to pick a project with a limited color palette (or one that gets its color from self-striping yarn) so that you don’t have to carry skeins and skeins of yarn with you.
The other thing to consider for crafting at the beach is how likely you are to be interrupted when you’re working. Will you have kids running up to you every few minutes to ask for something? Will you be picking up your work and putting it back down between activities like volleyball, surfing and walking on a boardwalk? Or are you going by yourself to enjoy a few hours of uninterrupted crafting time? If you are likely to get interrupted, you want a simple project with a pattern repeat that’s easy to remember, not something where you have to count rows carefully. You’ll also likely want to pack stitch markers. In contrast, if you plan for a really focused beach crafting experience then you might want to pick a more intricate crochet project.
How to Pack for Yarning at the Beach
You want to make sure that you have all of the materials that you need for knitting or crochet at the beach without having to drag your entire craft studio with you. These tips will help:
- Plan your project ahead of time. Know exactly what you need in terms of yarn, hooks and needles and notions, and pack only those items with you. Tip: You may wish to bring one extra yarn skein and hook in case you finish your project early or decide you don’t like working on it. If so, pack yarn you know you always like to use.
- Use ziplock bags. Keeping everything separated out in clear bags will make it easier to find everything you need. The plastic will also keep the items safe from water. Put your crochet hooks, knitting needles and tapestry needles in their own clear bag. Put yarn in its own bag, separating it out by color or fiber as needed. Print out your pattern and put it inside of a sheet protector. Bring an extra bag or two for your project to get packed in as you work, especially if you’re making a motif-based item.
- Get smaller supplies. For the most part, you can use your regular knit and crochet tools, but you may want to buy smaller travel-sized options for certain supplies – such as a tiny tape measure and smaller scissors.
- Put it all in a craft tote. Keep your crafting supplies in one place by corralling them all into a tote specific to this purpose. Choose a bag roomy enough to hold everything but otherwise as small as you can. This bag can then be tossed into a larger beach bag as needed for easy carrying.
If you’re taking a plane to your beach destination, be sure to check out our complete guide to packing yarn projects for air travel.
It’s All About Your Attitude
These tips should help you with your beach crafting, but the biggest tip that we can offer is to take time to get in the right mindset before your vacation. If you’re going into the experience with a daydream about long periods of uninterrupted beach time with your yarn, but the reality is that you’re traveling with three kids under the age of 5 and your two high-energy dogs, you’re just going to end up frustrated. Here are some tips to get in the right frame of mind:
- Journal out your expectations. The page is the place to daydream so before you head out go ahead and imagine what the ideal beach yarning situation would be. After writing it out, review it with a careful eye and check if your expectations are realistic. If not, figure out how you can get the essence of what you seek from the experience. For example, can you get the alone time you want by doing a sunrise beach crafting hour to yourself while your partner watches the kids?
- Lower your expectations. This is not the time to try the niche knitting technique that you’ve never gotten the hang of or to test out new supplies for hairpin lace. This is not the time for fussy projects, projects that stress your mind, or projects that require vigilant attention. Many people take “beach reading” with them – lighthearted novels rather than academic reading material – and you can think of your “beach crafting” choices in the same way.
- Make beach art. Find ways to meld crafting with your beach experience. Crochet starfish to add to your children’s sandcastle. Knit a drink cozy for your mai tai. Go out on the beach looking for the perfect place to add a little yarn bomb.
- Embrace meditative crafting. If you have the luxury of a relaxing beach trip, make the most of it by incorporating some meditation into your crafting. Breathing in with one row and out with the next is a great simple way to bring more relaxation into yarning.
- Have fun! Set out with an intention to have a great time at the beach, regardless of what happens. Maybe you’ll craft, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll love what you make, maybe you won’t. Make it a time for enjoying the journey, without a worry about the destination.
Check out the patterns in Yarning with a Beach Vibe, our free ebook of coastal-inspired knit and crochet patterns