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.
The idea of an Emergency Project Kit isn't isolated to just hurricane situations. In fact, they 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. Think Simple
An Emergency Project Kit needs to be built around a project that does not require much thought and definitely not one with new skills. Pick a one-color project that you've made before (here's looking at you, Sock Knitter) or a pattern that has an intuitive repeat. Keep the project simple, so you don't add another stressor to your unexpected, possibly chaotic, situation.
2. Roll Your Yarn and Swatch
After choosing the yarn for your project (and we recommend just one color yarn so you have less to manage), 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.
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.
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 handknit.