Top 6 Knitter Problems while Traveling in Asia

I’ve been having a harder time than expected to keep up with my knitting while on the road. Sure, I’ve had a few successes, such as being able to finish my ‘Simple Skyp Socks‘, and making some progress on my brioche scarf, but other than that, not too much is happening on the knitting side of my backpacking adventure …

I suspect I may not be the only knitter out there that has run into this knitting rut while traveling around Asia. Here is a list of the top five knitter problems I’ve had while backpacking around Southeast Asia.

1. Where have all the knitters gone?

Since arriving in Hong Kong six weeks ago, I have yet to see much, if any, evidence of knitters during my travels.

This has led me to conclude that there simply aren’t that many backpacking knitters out there. I did happen to meet one girl from Switzerland who also knits. This, of course, was great as I finally had someone to talk to about my WIP’s and FO’s. But since she’s left, I have only been met with curious glances as I casually take out my knitting on the beach.

This has brought me to a bit of a dilemma. Should I succumb to the social pressure of the raised eyebrows and find a good chick-lit to read instead of knitting while on the beach? Or instead just ignore those curious stares as knitting in public is one of the best ways to increase awareness and understanding about the whole “us knitters are people too” issue.

2. It’s not easy to knit and tan at the same time.

Knitting requires dexterity in your hands and arms, and it’s next to impossible to get an even tan and knit at the same time. Trust me, I’ve tried. Almost always, you’re forced to sit up with the yarn creating unflattering shadows over your midsection, resulting in uneven tan lines. I often set out with the best of intentions and get a few rows done, before realizing that it simply is not going to work. I then stash my knitting away (rather guiltily) and catch up on some zzz’s.


3. I enjoy eating more than I enjoy knitting.

I have a confession to make. I love food. More specifically, I love all Asian food (Indonesian, Chinese, Malaysian, etc.). When you travel, you tend to eat a lot. And unfortunately for me, I don’t have four hands. So eating means I’m not knitting. And vice versa. And in the battle between eating and knitting, eating is winning right now. Which is not good for this blog, since it’s a knitting blog and not a food blog. But can you blame me? Just look at this deliciousness.

4. Traveling can feel like a full time job.

In between reading up on your next destination and planning out next week’s schedule, not to mention working on this blog, there is little to no time left for downtime. Also, I’m now realizing just how dependent I was on Netflix back when I had a stable job in Calgary to knit, and now that there’s no Netflix, there’s no knitflixing. Although my latest sock pattern is so complicated, I doubt I’d be able to knitflix to it anyways. Seriously though, it’s got charts galore. I need to figure out a way to print the pattern out, otherwise I can sense a lot of frogging coming up in the nearby future …

It's hard to find that work/knit/life balance.
It can be hard to find that work/knit/life balance.

5. Knitwear isn’t very practical in hot and humid countries.

My newly finished pair of socks are looking at me rather sorrowfully from my backpack, as I haven’t worn them even once since casting off. It’s not a motivating feeling to finish your WIP’s (work-in-progress) when you know that you’ll just be shipping them back home before even being able to appreciate them. Then again, while on the top of Rinjani, I definitely appreciated having some wool socks that doubled as mitts. All the more reason to find more mountains to climb.

Simple Skyp Socks

6. Bedbugs and knitting don’t mix.

It’s almost a given that if you’re backpacking through Southeast Asia, you’ll pick up bed bugs sooner or later. To kill those suckers you have to wash every thing you own on high heat. Like very high heat. Like the kind of high heat that will shrink your baby alpaca toque and merino wool sweater five times too small if you’re not careful. Been there, done that.

Unfortunately, that baby alpaca toque just happened to be one that was knit for me by Pascal and I’m not sure if I’ll be lucky enough to be knit a second toque from him (knitters are a sensitive bunch who aren’t too keen on giving second chances if said knitted items get damaged/lost out of neglect from the recipients).

Trying to fit into a toque.


The one refuge that I can still find while knitting, is on top of a mountain. It’s up there, in the cold, that knitting still feels right. Yet another reason to make it over to Nepal, where cold mountains abound.

So, as you may be able to tell, I’m in a bit of a rut. On the traveling side of things, life is going great. Pascal has now joined me on my travels and we are currently in Malaysia, close to the border with Singapore. We’ll slowly be making our way up to Kuala Lumpur over the next week. Malaysian culture is a fascinating blend of Indian, Chinese, Singaporean, and Indonesian, and the food deliciously reflects this.

We’re hoping to find a semi-permanent base (by semi-permanent I mean anywhere from 2-6 weeks) to stay and volunteer, so we can save on living costs. And hopefully this stability will allow me to find a way to add knitting into my daily routine, which I have been missing out on.

If anything, changing hostels on an almost daily basis can be exhausting, and I’m looking forward to being able to settle down somewhere! I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂

Can any knitters relate to these problems? Leave a comment below!

Knitter Problems Asia

You might also like: The Backpacking Knitter’s Bucket List