Sunday, 20 April 2014

Desert Island Knits

If a knitter were going to a desert island and only allowed to take five things with them, what would they choose?

(Other bloggers have joined in a similar exercise: read more at Triskele Designs and The Knitter's Handbook.)

4 basics & 1 luxury item

This thought intrigued me and I wondered what exactly I would take with me or what I would want to have if I ever got stranded on an island and had to stay indefinitely. So I gave it some thought and made a list of what I consider to be the most important items for such an eventuality.

A sheep

The island would have vegetation, I assume, otherwise survival would be impossible in the long run. I could probably find some plants that I could knit with instead of using yarn, but I think that I just like the smoothness of wool and, assuming it isn't scorchingly hot all the time, I would rather knit with wool than vegetation - at least until I figured out a process to extract plant fibre. So the first thing I'd take along with me is a sheep, probably merino. I could shear it and use its wool while having a bit of company at the same time.

Drum carder

Obviously I'd need a drum carder to process the fleece from my sheep so that is definitely an item I must have. Working it would probably give me a bit of muscle too so that would help with life on the island. I would produce nice spinnable batts and be sad that nobody but Mable the sheep would be around to admire it.

Spinning wheel

I guess you can see where this is going. Once I have nice batts of Mable's wool, I'd need a spinning wheel, so that is my third item. I have a nice compact Ashford Traveller, so I'd take it along after having replaced the rather rickety mother-of-all and perhaps adding a lace kit just in case. I'd rather have the wheel than my spindles because it is more relaxing, less taxing and faster to work with.

Knitting needles

Of course, I will need some decent knitting needles. I think I would only take circulars with me because I can use them instead of straight needles and DPNs. That gives me lots of flexibility and I could knit all sorts of things. With time, I could whittle my own needles from wood on the island, I suppose.

Luxury item: acid dye kit

My luxury item really isn't something that is absolutely necessary, but I love colour and would probably get tired of only having white yarn after a while. (Sorry, Mable.) So I'd choose a good acid dye kit to add a bit of colour to my knits. I am not keen on dyeing with plants, though that would definitely be something I'd try on the island, but for ease of use I'd opt for acid dyes.

And with that, I think I'd be set for years! I'd have everything I need for making something from sheep to garment. What would you choose? I look forward to hearing what your desert island choices would be. Let me know in the comments!


  1. I'm with you on all the items except I'm wondering if there would be any need for woollen items. The sun would be so hot the colour would be bleached out of things anyway so there would be no need to dye it in the first place. And another thing too is that I like people to see what I've knit and crocheted and they never would if I got marooned there. Boo hoo. I like your ideas though and you would have the company of a lovely sheep. Looking forward to reading other people's suggestions/ideas

  2. Hi Tanya

    I did wonder about being on a hot island too and whether wool would be such a great idea there. But then it occurred to me that it could be an island in a cooler climate too, of course, so wool would come in handy.

    If it were a hot place, I would try and knit with other fibres if there was anything I could use among the plants.

  3. I love your list and that you're planning to explore other fibres but what about the important stuff like wine?! ;)

  4. Hm, I don't like wine unless I use it for cooking, but I would miss my cocktails! I am hoping for coconuts, some mint and perhaps I can get my hands on hidden, burried rum!

  5. Really interesting post! Even though I'm not keen on knitting I like your opinion about what to take with you to the desert island :)

  6. Hi Demy! I agree, it is interesting to see what's important to people. Hm, maybe my luxury item should have been my other half!