For the past couple of decades, at the start of every year my mom starts building an Emergency Project Kit. She spends weeks finding the perfect pattern, winding yarn, and collecting everything she needs to make it. She packs her supplies into a couple of Ziplock gallon bags, tosses them into a project bag, and stashes it on her shelf. It's hard to watch a project get all the way to the starting line only to be benched, but it's done with very good reason.
She goes through all this effort in case of a hurricane, which is a threat to her home in Florida between June and November. Along with wind and rain, hurricanes bring lots of idle time, power outages, closed businesses, and sometimes evacuations. Having a project ready to cast on allows her to funnel her nervous energy into an activity that, for her, will be distracting, calm her nerves, and pass the time.
But, an Emergency Project Kit isn't just for hurricanes. In fact, it can be incredibly valuable for other unexpected life events like:
- a snowstorm or other extreme weather event
- spur-of-the-moment travel
- a health emergency
Building an Emergency Project Kit seems like an easy task, but it actually requires some strategic thought. Here are some tips to creating a successful kit:
1. Pick a Simple Pattern
An Emergency Project Kit needs to be built around a project that does not require much thought and definitely not one with new skills. This is not the time to add an unnecessary stressor to your unexpected, possibly chaotic, situation. Here are some considerations when picking a pattern:
- Pick a one-color, one-skein project so you're only managing one skein of yarn.
- Pick a pattern that you've made before or from a designer you're familiar with. You don't want any surprises - like confusing instructions - when you're without electricity.
- Pick a pattern with an intuitive repeat. This will eliminate the need to track your pattern and simply allow your hands to knit, knit, knit.
- Consider picking a project that calls for fingering weight yarn. It's more compact and light weight than lets say worsted weight.
2. Roll Your Yarn and Swatch
After choosing the yarn for your project, roll the yarn and make a gauge swatch. It's important to think ahead and be prepared - you may not have a ball winder or a library of needles available when it comes time to cast on. There's nothing worse than starting a project only to realize you don't have the right size needles or hook.
3. Round Up Your Notions
Read through your entire pattern and pack the notions you need. You'll need the basics (think: needles, scissors, darning needle, and tape measure) plus other special notions called for by the pattern. Always be sure to pack extra stitch markers!
We also suggest thinking through potential situations to determine what else you might need. Consider things like paper and pen, small flash light (or one of our Pattern Magnifiers), stitch stoppers, or hand care products. Also, pack something that simply makes you happy, like a special stitch marker, skein of yarn that brings back good memories, or a small bag of candy.
4. Print Your Pattern
You may not have access to the Internet or electricity, so be prepared with a printed copy of your pattern. We store ours in a protective plastic sleeve for safe keeping.
Having said that, we also recommend taking pictures of your pattern instructions and keeping an electronic copy on your phone for tablet just in case you misplace your printed pattern.
5. Keep It Together
One of the most important things (and arguably the hardest) is to keep your Emergency Project Kit together. This is so so so important. When the time comes to grab your Emergency Project Kit you don't want to have your scissors on your desk or your needles be in use on another project.
Use a zipper pouch to keep your project safely stowed so when the time comes you will be confident that everything you need is inside and ready to go. We also recommend a weather-proof bag to protect your yarn from the elements.
Having a project ready to go can make all the difference when it comes to managing an unexpected life event. And not just for you. Do not hesitate to pass your project on to someone in need. .
Lastly, once you've used your Emergency Project Kit, get to work on building your next one. Always be prepared to make life's lemons into lemonade...or in our case a hand knit garment.