Quick (Crafty) Travel Tip: Use Tray Table as Yarn Winder

A few trips ago, I packed all of my normal stuff for a plane ride: iPhone, Kindle, magazine, snacks, and knitting. It was only once I was on the actual flight that I realized I had forgotten to wind my yarn, and so had a pretty much useless skein. In my early morning purse packing, I had simply grabbed the nearest mass of yarn, not the pretty, ready to use ball I meant to get. (For the non-yarn crazy: Yarn is often shipped in a skein, which is basically a really long strand looped over and over, then twisted and folded.  You can’t knit or crochet when yarn is like that, as it would become a tangled mess. So you have to wind it into a ball. Imagine the scenes you’ve seen in old movies of someone sitting with yarn looped around their hands, and someone else winding it into a ball. That’s what I’m talking about.) Pictured: A lovely example of a skein from the Etsy store ByMelody.

So what is a girl to do? There I sat, mid-row, with plenty of yarn but no way to wind it. I looked around, thinking, can I use my purse? Or my knees? How about my arm rest? After a number of unsuccessful tries, and with mounting frustration, I finally was struck with inspiration. The tray table! I wrapped the yarn around it, then closed and locked it. I slowly started winding the ball around my hands, and it actually worked! It wasn’t perfect, but after about ten minutes I was able to get back to my actual knitting. So if you forget to wind your yarn before your trip, don’t despair! The seat back table in front of you will work in a pinch.



  1. From one knitting warriorette to another, “Brilliant!” As I was reading your post, though, I thought you were going to say that you looked around, spotted someone who seemed sympathetic, and asked him/her to hold your skein so you could wind it! That would have been a story!

  2. Clever! I’m a knitter that travels too and would love to know more of your favorite projects to bring along.

  3. this post makes me wonder if we’ve ever been on the same flight 🙂 you know how you always nod and acknowledge the knitter two rows back?

    love your solution. i have made a colleague hold my yarn on a trip so i could wind it. he was deeply perplexed by the experience.

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