Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Hotel Room Stitching: The Whats and Whys


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Certain times of the year, the yearn to go road tripping overwhelms me. There’s nothing I love better than a good road trip!

One of my favorite aspects of a road trip is staying in different hotels along the way. I love hotel life! I don’t really know why. It’s not as if I stay at swanky hotels or anything. But I think it’s fun to stay in hotels, especially if you’re traveling with family or friends.

When road tripping, I rarely bother to take embroidery with me anymore, because the fact is, I never get to it. There’s just too much else to do on vacation – too many things to see, people to visit, places to go. Embroidery ends up taking a back seat, if I remember it at all.

But lately, I’ve had the unique opportunity to stay in a hotel for some extended bouts of time, without the vacation vibe hovering over the whole experience, while I take care of some medical treatments. And I’ve been staying alone, so there’s lots of time on my hands! When I prepare to pack up for these chunks of hotel living, you can bet that, in these circumstances, my embroidery plays first fiddle. I’m not exactly getting out and about and “doing the town,” so I need something to do to while away those hotel-room hours.

Whether you’re traveling for business, pleasure, or necessity, packing needlework stuff for hotel stays is a good idea, if you know you’re going to have time to stitch.

Here are the stitchy things I’ve been taking along with me lately – maybe they’ll give you some good ideas for your next hotel stay.

Stitching in a Hotel Room

This is my needlework corner in the hotel room I’ve been living in.

Now, hotel room stitching has its pros and cons. I never find it as comfortable or convenient as being at home, but, with a few considerations, it’s passable!

On the con side, there’s the whole question of hotel lighting. Hotel lighting is always my first consideration when traveling, because, generally, hotel lighting stinks.

If you’re driving to your hotel and you have room in your car, you can remedy the situation by packing along a light. There’s no way I’d haul one of my BlueMax studio lights with me – they’re heavy and cumbersome. But most craft lighting manufacturers produce smaller lights that are decent for travel.

For my recent circumstances, I’ve found my Dublin craft light and magnifier to be a good companion. It’s not exactly compact, but it fits easily in my car and it’s light enough to carry from the car to the room without a problem.

Another option that would work really well in hotel rooms and for travel: CraftOptics, which are super portable and allow for both magnification and light. I have a pair, but my eyes have changed so much this year that, unfortunately, they aren’t my first choice right now. But if your eyes are pretty stable, then these make an excellent traveling companion for hotel-room stitching.

If you don’t need magnification, but still need good lighting (and if you’re staying in a hotel room, trust me, you’ll need extra light!), consider any kind of small, portable craft light. I like the Stella lamp, which folds up neatly into its carrying box and is super light and super bright. Other manufacturers, like Ott and Daylight, make perfectly good, small, portable lamps, too.

Stitching in a Hotel Room

This might seem like a weird addition to my luggage. It’s a small, portable, fold-up table – like a TV table or a couch table. It’s very light and very easy to set up and take down. When folded, it doesn’t take up a lot of room, but admittedly, it’s not something you’d necessarily take through an airport or pack in a super crowded car.

Since I have room in my car, and since hotel rooms often lack moveable table space, I’ve been packing along this little folding table, and it hasn’t disappointed me! It’s super useful, not just for embroidery. I shift it around the room, wherever I want a small table space away from the permanent furniture in the room. Whether I dine on it (um…not room service – just sandwiches that I slap together!), use it to set my iPad on for Face-Timing my family, or use it to spread out my stitching supplies, it’s been a really good addition to my hotel get-up.

In fact, toting the table allows me to forego toting a stand. I can rest the edge of my embroidery frame on the table, and I don’t need to have a stand with me.

If I were to take a needlework stand, though, the Needlework System 4 stand is the way to go. It folds up neatly, takes up little space in the car, and is light enough to carry hither and yon. They also make a travel stand that folds even smaller and can fit in your luggage.

So, the little table and the Dublin craft light are the large items I’ve been packing for my hotel stays. But what about the actual stitching supplies?

Stitching in a Hotel Room

Right now, the project I’m taking with me is Late Harvest, which is set up on stretcher bar frames. I slide the large frame with the main project on it and the small frame with the stumpwork pieces on it into a pillow case, and throw that in the car. (Ok, maybe not throw…)

All the supplies I need for stitching get tucked into a large mesh zipper bag, like the one above. You can find these mesh zipper bags for needlework through local needlework shops and online, through shops like Nordic Needle. They carry them in several very convenient sizes.

Stitching in a Hotel Room

Inside the mesh bag is…well, everything! I even throw in a full size pincushion, because I can!

I keep all my project threads and beads (which are in individual tiny bags inside a larger small bag) inside a smaller mesh bag. All my tools go in flat little gift-card tins…

Stitching in a Hotel Room

…like this one!

I’m not really sure why I take three pairs of scissors with me, but I do. There’s also a circular thread cutter in there (definitely going overboard on the thread-cutting tools…), a pair of tweezers for the inevitable mistakes, and a combination stiletto / laying tool, for cranky threads.

And, of course, there’s my bead-mat-in-a-tin, so I have somewhere secure to pour out beads.

Stitching in a Hotel Room

My needles, I keep in tiny plastic tubes with tight-fitting tops, so that they’re nice and secure. One tube holds my project needles and the other holds a wide array of needles that just might come in handy.

When I’m actually stitching, the needles I plan to use go into the pincushion, for easy access. But when I’m not stitching – when things are packed up and ready to go back in the car – they go back in their tube.

Stitching in a Hotel Room

Inside the large mesh bag, you’ll also find any necessary printed instructions, a pen and a pencil, and a spool of thread.

Stitching in a Hotel Room

Finally, I include a small tin full of these tiny Mill Hill bead embroidery kits I wrote about back in January.

These are my back-up plan. Sometimes, I don’t feel like working on a larger, more intense project, but I still want something to do with my hands to help time go by productively. These fill the bill. I have five of them tucked into a small tin, tucked into the large mesh bag. They give me a sense of security.

So, that’s my current stitching set-up for hotel rooms. And even though it sounds like a lot of stuff, it really isn’t. Everything for the embroidery fits into the mesh bag. The mesh bag, table, lamp, and pillow case with the frame in it all go from the car to the luggage trolley to the room with no problem.

Once I’m settled in my room, I establish my stitching corner and I’m ready to go when the urge strikes!

What About You?

Any tips, ideas, suggestions, solutions for stitching in hotel rooms? Any secrets for successfully combating space problems, lighting, and so forth? What prized stitching possessions do you tote with you for hotel stays? Feel free to share your insights below – I’d love to hear them!


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(88) Comments

  1. I use a makeup bag for transporting all my tools when I travel. The top zippered pouch is just the right size for holding pencils, rulers, and fingernail files. The middle section has Velcro pockets so I’ve got needle packets there; behind it is another zippered pocket that I use to hold tacks and my Evertite tightening tool. At the bottom is a really large zippered pocket that holds all my really big stuff, like wire cutters, scissors (embroidery and paper), 4″ embroidery hoops and a pair of cheap reading glasses for magnification. I like having everything together because I’m less likely to lose something as long as I remember to put everything away when I’m done stitching. What I’m still trying to figure out is portable lighting; I haven’t found a battery powered light that’s bright enough for me.

  2. I always take needlework to do on trains, planes and in hotels. I try to take something interesting but not too hard. I take an 8 inch hoop, a clip on daylight magnifier which will clip to the hoop or an arm rest/ table in a train or plane, and a daylight led portable light. I like my light source to be indeoendant from the magnifier. If I am going to a workshop I will take a larger clip on magnifier as well. Works for me. I have tried magnifiers clipped to glasses, I find them too heavy, they hurt my nose after a while also they are very restrictive on head movement. I just wish I could get a small clip on magnifier with a higher magnificaton.

  3. When I was taking a class in Williamsburg VA. with Nicola Jarvis then since I was by myself…in a hotel room..I parked myself right by the window and I also brought a small clip on Led Ott Lite (battery operated). I used a Needle Necesseties embroidery frame and their lap stand …worked great for me.. Yes the lighting is underwhelming in a hotel but I found the window and the clip on light with the “hotel desk lamp” did the trick..Plus I hauled everything up to the room and to class in a rolling sewing machine bag so everything stayed in one place. I did have a small magnifying light me also for the hard to see bits!

  4. Where did you get that small foldable table? Who is th manufacturer .

    Gotta get me one of those.

    Good article. Thanks.

    1. I would love to know as well. My 89 year old mother with Alzheimers lives 6.5 hours away from me. I have been going to care for her for a week or so at a time every month or so. I would like to take my stitching with me but there is nowhere to set up at her house. I tried Google using folding sofa table in the search box but what I see looks flimsy, not sturdy like yours appears. Maybe you could just share the brand name.

    2. Hi,
      I have an adjustable personal table 29.5 w X 19.25 D X 24″ – 29.5 H and folds flat. I got mine at Menards. I have seen them at Walmart in colors also.
      The one Mary has I enlarged it a bit to see the name and it’s Table-Mate. I googled it and Bed Bath and Beyond has it. Theirs is 20L X 15 W and adjustable 213/4 to 29.25. Adjusts to 6 heights and 3 angles. SKU42442769 and it listed for 29.99.
      Thank God for Mary!
      Hope this helps
      Terry Anderson

  5. All of your tips are great! Thanks for sharing them. I’ve learned mostly by realizing after I get to the hotel & try to work on my embroidery project that I need something. Trial & error I guess you’d say. đŸ™‚ The first thing I did was buy a lightweight, easy-to-take-with-me light. Now I need to invest in the fold-up table. I’ve put together a “travel” kit of embroidery tools that is always ready to go too. I like the small kits so I keep one in the travel kit.

  6. Mary as I read your article, I imagined myself in a space with time. This is for me the beauty and joy of embroidery. It is portable and soothing. The challenge which you acknowledged is having the external supports be right. You gave some great suggestions. I especially like that folding table. I frequently lose my needle in the couch. I hope you are doing well.
    Mauri Reizes
    Where did you find such a nice table?

    1. Thanks to Terry Anderson, I just reserved one at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Thank you, Terry and thanks so much Mary for all your tips and suggestions.

  7. I always carry a light bulb – 100-150 watts (or the equivalent these days). I can change the bulb in the hotel lamp and have some extra light. I don’t always have to use an extra light this way.

    The only problem with this solution is that I have to remember to collect my light bulb when it is time to leave. This usually works if my trip is to one hotel/motel and stay a while. But, if I am traveling from one hotel to another, by the 2nd or 3rd hotel, it usually is forgotten, and someone else benefits from my brighter light.

    1. Joan, try bringing a length of 2″ wide brightly colored ribbon and tying it around the lamp base. Then when you do that last look-around-the-room, you won’t forget your bulb. :>)

    2. I also carry a bright bulb to put in the hotel lamp. I have made a special padded, bright colored draw string bag for my bulb so that when I am packing up if that little bag is empty I know I have to go get my light bulb from the lamp.

      I would also like to know more about the light weight folding table.

    3. Joan,
      put a reminder in your cell phone to ring either the night before you leave when you will be finishing up for the night or for the morning you are leaving.

      I use my cell phone for all sorts of reminders such as this including taking out the ketchup before dinner one day a week at lunch time when I make burgers for dinner as husband does not like cold ketchup.

  8. What a great setup, not too much, not too little. What kind of tweezers do you use? Do you listen to books on tape while you stitch? I don’t think I go anywhere without a book of some sort. And I like to take an embroidery piece that doesn’t require a lot of concentration. You’re doing a good job, you should be very proud of Mary.

  9. Hi Mary, I am sad to hear your reason for travelling and hope you find the improvement you need really soon. Have you consulted with a Nutritionist? Although there are so many suggestions out there I do know for sure that choosing what you eat carefully can make a big difference. I am convinced that eating Organic is the way to go especially in the USA where so much spraying takes place and there is the worry of eating genetically modified food items. Beyond that avoiding meat, wheat, dairy and coffee will be a huge benefit. Recently I have started a regime of honeygar (apple cider vinegar with honey) and lemon juice first thing every morning. It is instrumental in helping the body to become more alkaline. Basically most of what we eat creates an acid environment in our bodies. Good Luck Mary….. thank you so much for all your wonderful and inspiring posts… ‘see my suggestions are just selfish attempts not to miss any of your future posts’. No really these are all aspects of eating that I am slowly incorporating into my daily practice, including eating so much more organic raw vegetables and salad. There is so much to learn on the Internet about our health and helth giving practices and it always seems best to simply incorporate as many as seem doable and not harmful. Bless you

    1. Hi Claudia, if you had been a follower on that website or email list you would have known that Mary’s health’s problem will not be cured with that kind of advice.

  10. Mary
    Would you please tell me where to buy the folding table you picture?
    Thx and am praying you are doing well.

  11. Hi Mary,
    You are someone to write about. Really, someone should do a book on your upbeat mood in the face of trauma, your ability to turn lemons in to lemonade – not for yourself, but for all of us, and figuring out what to do so that you don’t have wasted time on your hands while traveling. Truly, you are amazing.
    Just have to warn you that with radiation, the hardest part is the months after treatment when you feel too tired to even raise your hand over your head. Don’t worry too much about it, you will feel better in time but certainly do not feel compelled to do anything about the frequent naps you will need.
    Your fans will wait patiently for you because you are the best and only one like you.
    Good good luck with all of this.
    Dr. Karen Lawson

  12. Mary,
    You are so well organized with everything you need and want to hand. I think that you spent mental time while driving to figure all this out. Hope that your room is otherwise comfortable and that you do have some friends or family in Kansas City to spend some time with. Also hope the hotel staff are fascinated with what you are doing and you can share progress with them.
    And, of course, hope(3) your treatment is progressing really well. Having some extra rest time too is great.
    All good wishes Mary,
    Ann B.

  13. Good morning Mary
    It looks like you have hotel room stitching well under control!

    I spent forty years in and out of hotel rooms
    during my working career. I wish I had kept a diary or blog on the number of needlework pieces I completed in this foreign environment.

    About two years before I retired I came across a petit point prairie landscape with wheat sheaves that I had started for my mother. She had passed away several years ago and I guess I felt there was no need to complete this.
    I needed something serious for hotel room stitching so I packaged this up in a pillow case with all the essentials I would need to complete this piece. It just automatically went into the suitcase for every trip. I have already told you about how I dealt with hotel lighting. I too carried something else to work on if I were not in the mood or too tired to work on the wheat field harvest. This work was often knitting – small items like gloves or mittens.
    The wheat field piece was finished two weeks before I retired.
    One thing that I did when I left the hotel room in the morning was to put a hand towel over the work if it were still on the table.
    I never knew if it were removed by housekeeping but if it were, it was always there as I had left it.
    The benefits of hotel room stitching:

    There is nothing else you have to do (take out
    the garbage, get groceries, do a load of laundry, etc etc.)
    Chances are no one will disturb you.
    You can watch TV or better still listen to a radio program.
    You can do this in your pyjamas.

    Please keep us informed about your hotel room stitching, Mary. I am sure there are many stitchers that do regular stitching in hotel rooms and perhaps they will tell us their stories.

  14. I always take needlework with me while traveling. (You never know when the time will be right to do some stitching…) I pack Christmas ornament projects because they are small and light and easy to do on airplanes as well as in hotel rooms. You are soooo right about the lighting in hotel rooms. Thanks for the tips – I’m seriously considering the Craftoptics tool

  15. I have two must-takes…a 100 watt bulb to increase room lighting and a small lumbar pillow since most hotel chairs are not designed for a good stitching position.

  16. This tip is works well for travel and home. I have a couple of the Mill Hill bead kits, and I couldn’t stand the beads coming unsorted. So, I got a few centrifuge vials (I have a geek streak in me) and segregated the beads into the vials. The 2-ml seems to work best for me. Some of the needles fit into a vial, as well. So it’s a win-win for me; the beads are segregated, the vials are small enough to fit into the zip-lock bag, and I make less of a mess if I spill beads!

  17. Once my husband had a long weekend seminar and I accompanied him with a large needlework project. There were things for couples to do in the evening, but I had the whole day to stitch. First, I scoped out the hotel going into all public rooms, restaurants, etc. I found a dinner club restaurant that had huge south facing windows. I carted my stuff down in the morning and enjoyed stitching in the natural light by myself in a large quiet room. I had to be out by 5 pm though.

  18. Mary: This is such a helpful post, as I have struggled with how to accomplish a workable situation for stitching in a hotel room. We do a lot of medical travel and I particularly like the foldable table idea, as the furniture is never in a convenient configuration for stitching. Perhaps you can share a link to the manufacturer, as it looks like a lot of us would like to purchase one of those for ourselves! They could become one of your advertisers if there is enough interest-I imagine there may be.
    Prayers are still going up for your return to good health-you are an inspiration in how you have carried on with your work and your life in such trying circumstances. God bless! Amy

  19. Mary, This was an excellent post. So many useful ideas. Love the pillowcase for securing your stretcher bar framed projects.
    Thanks for much for sharing. Hugs!

  20. Hi Mary. Like you, I am at the hospital every three weeks, but I live close enough that I can stay at home. I take myself for treatment and really love the quiet “me” time. I always take along an embroidery project because it is small and portable. While you would think the hospital lighting would be bright enough to embroidery under, it does not have the directed light focus that I need. I am going to look at all the options you have presented to find something for my trips. Thanks so much!

  21. I travel a lot with my stitching since I go to a weekly craft night at my local library. I am a crazy quilter. My mode of stitching is pretty free form, I am not following a pattern, so I rarely travel light. Fortunately a recent renovation to our library has resulted in pretty good lighting. I have a box that is labeled basic tools. It holds all sorts of things: marking pencils, stiletto, scissors, thimbles, pencil sharpener seam ripper, tweezers, thread heaven, etc. It is compartmentalized so it keeps everything neat. It has enough extra space to stick in a few threads or beads if need be. Separately I either carry my portable file box full of floss. I use the Annie’s keepers storage system that Mary has recommended. Otherwise I use a small box with threads I have set aside for a specific project. For travel I try to stick with smaller projects. Right now I am working on a series of 6″ blocks that are on small frames. I just put these in a tote bag.

  22. Hi, Mary,

    I enjoyed seeing your list of embroidery necessities for traveling. I hadn’t thought of taking a table along, but what a good idea. I liked your idea of using a tin for scissors, but I always worry about damaging the sharp tips. That would, however, avoid the danger of stabbing myself when I reach into my bag. I have some little plastic blade sheaths that Fiskars used to sell separately for some of my small scissors and snips, but haven’t been able to find them at my local stores recently and they do frequently disappear for various lengths of time into the detritus of the studio making them not always available when needed for a trip. A tin or a small plastic box would certainly solve the problem. Thanks for the idea. Wishing you all good things on your path to recovery.

    1. I use small tin boxes for transporting my scissors and have never had a problem with damage. You might try lining the tin with felt. Just a thought! I also always take an extension cord with me as outlets are sometimes out of the way and hard to reach.

  23. I just want to let you know that I am praying for you. You seem like an incredibly strong woman with a wonderful outlook on life. I admire your courage.
    God Bless,

  24. You are such an inspiration… you truly take lemons and make lemonade. Here you are going through tough medical procedures and turn it into a great article to help us stitchers. I really admire your will and determination not to let this stop you from doing what you love and taking the effort to share all your tips. Today’s tips were very helpful as my husband and I cruise for days at sea so I’m always looking for ways to improve my stitching on the boat.

  25. Your mobile stitching station sounds pretty complete! The only thing I might add would be my beloved magnetic board, a Knitters Pride oversized folder. I love it because it is fully covered in fabric, comes with several rare earth magnets and a very strong strip magnet, can stand up as an easel, and even has a pocket for my pattern sheets. Now if it only came in a color other than black!

  26. I have nothing to add, really, other than I use a pillow case to protect my larger hooped embroidery when I travel, too. đŸ™‚ I use regular ziploc baggies for floss, needlebook, and scissors (in their little leather sheath) but may have to look into those mesh ziplocs–they look much more sturdy!

  27. Dear Mary — I have no real embroidery travel secrets other than multiple sizes of Vera Bradley totes and accessories. However I share in common with you surgery and follow up treatments away from home. I finished 3-1/2 months ago and am just beginning to feel better, have an appetite, and some slight normalcy of energy level. This being said — I live here in the Kansas City area — and though I’m a stranger to you — you are a “friend online” to me —- and if you need help, errands run, supplies delivered – I am available. And I offer my thoughts and blessings to you during treatments and recovery. cb.

    1. Thanks, Christie! That’s very sweet of you! I’m doing really well, though. I go out midday for my appointment, run errands and the like if I need to, and then hunker back down. I love KC! If I felt more like myself, I’d be lapping up the time and visiting some favorite haunts. Actually, if I felt more like myself, I probably wouldn’t be staying in a hotel in Kansas City, come to think of it. :-/ I’m only here Monday to Wednesday this week, and next week, Tuesday to Thursday. Then I’m finished with this particular course of treatment! So…counting the days, but not doing too badly at all. I really appreciate the kind offer!

  28. You are to be commended for your ability to keep up with your stitching. When I was fighting cancer, I started a project, figuring I would get a lot done in doctor’s offices, in the hospital, and during recovery. Nope. Never had the energy to do much. I am considering framing the unfinished piece, though, just to show that I *beat* cancer and went on to bigger and better things.

    1. Yes, frame the piece! The parallel is striking: you didn’t finish the piece, and cancer didn’t finish you!

      I so did not mean for that to sound like a really bad slogan. Ugh.

  29. Dear Mary

    I love the photos of your embroidery items especially the fold up table what a good idea as there is usually a lack of table space in hotel rooms and everything is nicely stored in your zipper bags so you know where everything is. The zipper bags are a great idea for needlework items when you are travelling and I like your Mill Hill embroidery kits a great travelling companion when you just want something easy to embroider. Thanks for showing us your Hotel photos and set up, I do wish you well and God Bless you.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  30. Depending on destination, I take with easy to see projects such as a needlepoint or blackwork which require little equipment or supples and a stronger pair of drugstore reading glasses which helps compensate for poorer lighting. I like Hazel B’s suggestion to use a pair of reading glasses over prescription ones,though I’m not there yet. Right now at my son’s family home, I have two different canvas work projects requiring only 3 colours,but a variety of stitches. The whole fits into a medium ziplock bag with needle book and mini pincushion.
    Occasionally I graduate to plastic shoebox or sweater box size.hotel lighting is atrocious and we are usually only there long enough to sleep!

  31. When I travel (unless it a trip for stitching, the best kind!) I bring the bare minimum. A pair of clip-on Daylights is good in case one goes out or I need light underneath too. One good scissors, extra needles certainly. Not much else other than the project itself. Mill Hills are great traveling companions! In hand and easy to follow. I never bring high-count work.
    More often than not, when traveling I am in the passenger seat. And I am one of those lucky people who never has had a problem reading, knitting, crocheting or stitching the car. My travel trick is to prepare a project before I hit the road. I choose something with a lot of repeated border pattern or large same color areas, like the sky. (This trick is not good for over-dyed threads.) I stitch half of each cross and when I have completed a color section, park the the thread. I do as much as I can this way, choosing whatever is the dominate color on the project and maybe finish stitching some of the places where there are less stitches of that color. Then when I get in the car, I don’t even need my chart! I just finish each stitch in the right color. You can do this part in your hotel room and then when you are sitting in a waiting room as I have done many times in hospitals, you can do the last leg of each stitch and just stuff it back in your tote when you need to get up and follow the nurse.

  32. Before I retired I traveled a lot and always had a project with me. If flying I carried on a small knitting project. In the hotel out came the
    Needlework project – usually something on stretcher bars. I carried a table weight / a 3lb exercise weight that I could also use to weight the frame., a clip on magnifier with built in light and a small yazzi bag ( Nordic Needle) that has multiple see thru zip pockets to hold my tools. I love these Yazzi bags – the come in multiple sizes and I use different ones to story specialty tools by needlework type. I have a bag just for needles, one for scissors and thread cutters, one for frame tacks with a small craft hammer and tightening tools for Evertite bars. I use one for magnets, thread holders and wax. I have one for rippers, laying tools, tweezers, punchers and pull thrus. I put a label on the handle so I can quickly identify contents. They store nicely in a book shelf. When I travel I just fill a small yazzi with the tools I need. I use the large ones for specialty items like
    Metallic threads or my small collection of gold threads..it all makes organizing for travel so much easier.

  33. OK, now you have shown us this great set up for traveling. But… you must tell us about the fold up table. Please.
    On a side note. I’m thinking about your health and wish you good luck with your treatments.
    I enjoy your newsletters.
    Terry Harman

  34. Frequently take a zip and stitch kit. Don’t need chart or picture, and can see the holes easier. Also great for passenger in car.
    Lightbulbs: pack high wattage one in tin or other hard side container, since usually hotel bulbs are very low wattage
    As for orts, Enjoy the freedom of missing the trash can when they fall anywhere.
    Wand magnet for finding those dropped needles, especially if stitching in bed.
    Take copies of instructions and pictures, keep originals at home in case of loss
    Kay’s)?) folding foot stool. Since I’m short and my feet don’t always reach the floor. Helps take pressure off my back.
    I utilize a packing checklist and update after trips to make sure I don’t forget anything. One for needlework and one for everything else..
    If the hotel is one with refrigerator and microwave, a combo heat/ice pack comes in handy for overdoing it!
    For frame weight, a few rolls of pennies/nickels in a sock works in a pinch.
    For directions that go in a noebook, I use a Staples presentation book. The outside is flexible and the pages are “fused” to the spine, no rings, less bulk. They come with different page capacity. And use a small bank clip to mark and hold pages open.

  35. Hi Mary glad to read your traveling list especially regarding the light in hotel rooms one extra thing I take is a small magnet retractable stick to make finding the needles and pins that gets dropped. Hope your health is improving.
    Beryl (Yorkshire UK)

  36. I travelled recently by bus with a group from my cross-country skiing club. I did not have too much room to bring my embroidery stuff, having my skis and snowshoes to bring as well as the proper garments for outdoor activities.

    I brought my little magnification glasses that I clip to my regular glasses and I carried my headlamp that I bought in an outdoor equipment store to provide with the perfect light. I can adjust the direction of the light as well as the intensity of it. It does not take a lot of room and you can work everywhere.

  37. The last time that I stayed at a hotel the room was lit only by two rather dim bedside lamps. The bathroom though was beautifully bright so you can guess what I sat on to do my sewing. I did need to use a cushion off the armchair.

    1. Jan….ha ha ha…I can almost “see” you in that hotel space and sitting in the “you know where” on that cushion…giggle giggle…and sewing! I love it! What an image! Good for you for solving the problem of where the lights are the brightest to sew! That is real dedication to sewing!!!

  38. to those wondering about the table – it looks like it says “table-mate” on the first photo. If I’m correct, it’s available (in the US anyway) at Target, W*mart, Bed Bath & Beyond, etc. and of course Amazon, and is about $25-29 depending on who’s selling.

  39. Motel lighting is only good for 2 valuable tips for when you don’t have time to keep up with the dusting & vacuuming – sheer curtains and 25 watt light bulbs! For anything else, the hotel lighting is barely adequate for preventing tripping over the furniture.

    I think I could use one of those tables at home – the folding TV tables just don’t get close enough – the legs hit the chair.

  40. When I spend time in hotels (a LOT of time) I got involved in bead crochet – so I Love your bead mat in a tin, and needles in the tube are a great idea, then they don’t stick through anything. Love the table. Good luck with the Hotel sewing.

  41. Good morning Mary ~ I almost always have stitching with me, even going to a Dr. appt. Like you, everything goes in one of the Zip Mesh Bags. When traveling I have 2-3 different things to work on, each with its own bag, always one thing small enough to work on when my only space is a chair at the airport. At least when I am on the train I can spread things out a bit more. Each project bag has the needles I would be using, a pair of scissors and hoop. I have a small fold up Ott light that runs on batteries, it isn’t like the lamps at home, but works nice for being portable and small to fit in the suitcase. And there is my mag glasses that attach to my regular glasses. I think stitching in a hotel room or the car ( I am the driver) is some of best stitching time…nothing else to think about – no dishes or washing to do, no cooking. Reading the comments below is interesting to get ideas from others. Thank you for sharing your tips and finding time for us – you are a strong and inspiring person

  42. Dear Mary,

    You are one in a million, stay strong.
    Wishing you God’s Blessing, may he continue to hold you in the Palm of His Hand.

  43. Totally amazed with your ultra super organisation – well done. I take stuff with me and when I get home ask it if it enjoyed the ride, as I usually don’t even get around to taking it out of the bag. Take care of yourself, think of you often. ttfn

  44. I take stronger reading glasses than normal for greater magnification which I find helps with the less than adequate hotel lighting. We stay in one hotel quite often so I’ve learned which side of the hotel gets the afternoon sun and that’s the side I request as there’s nothing like natural light…plus it feels nice and warm in the winter. I transport everything in freezer strength zip-lock bags that then go into my travel sewing tote. The tote is always packed and ready to go with at least one job so I can grab it quickly if needed.

  45. Hi Mary! Keeping you and your treatments in my prayers. My mom has experience with similar ones; you have my empathy. On your scissors picture, can you tell us s but more about the pair of scissors at the top of the pic, the ones laying on the thread winder? I love the lines on them. Very art nouveau. And they look sharp, too!

  46. Very very useful chat. I am a bit of a collector, so have a largish supply of tins, commerative sort. One type that is a biscuit tin (think cookie) is ideal for my trip needs although I often cannot fit a hoop into it. I walk to a craft group and attend an embroidery group in town, so everything is chucked into my basket, which is large and lined, so can take everything including a tin or 3.

  47. I always bring my needlework when we travel.

    We have never been in a hotel room which did not have a table that, although large, could not be moved, although we were in one hotel from a major chain which could not understand why we needed a second chair (of any type) in the room, so I am surprised that you mention that problem.

    I bring a clip on book light which I clip to my hoop if I need light.

    I apparently need less to stitch than you do. Sometime ago I was annoyed at not having a way to just bring needlework easily and made myself a fabric case in a wallet type setup. It has 3 pockets inside so I can bring up to 3 projects and keep them separate (although generally there are 2 inside and hoops and the light are in the 3rd section). There is a large velcroed flap over these 3 sections. The front has a small pocket for scissors and a wider one for needle packets, etc. These each have their own fold over, velcroed top flap. There is then a flap the size of the front of the case which velcros closed over it all. It was specifically designed to fit in a suitcase and when I used to use same it took about the width and about half the length of my suitcase and is maybe an inch thick.

    Then when we had bed bugs and stopped staying in hotels we started traveling in a VERY small RV (a Chevy Express van, not a bus). Space is very limited in same. I bring the same case with my embroidery. Depending on the trip length which affects how much and what stuff we are bringing with us, the case either sits in the largest section we have when we are on a short trip (in which husband keeps his laptop, tablet, etc.) or when we are on long trip and his camera bag and our sweatshirts are in that section, in an overhead compartment over the bed that also has the TV/stereo related equipment and our bath towels. Since it soft and mostly flexible I do not have to worry about it making noise where it is which gives it a big advantage over a hard case of some type. (Amazing how the smallest noise of something hitting or moving can be aggravating when on a trip and hearing it over and over and over again.

    We no longer use suitcases – we bring our clean clothes out in laundry bags for the trip, stow the clothes in the 4 shelf closet (holds a week of our clothing) and use the laundry bags for the dirty clothes as we go and the spare one for our leftover clean ones on short trips. So the case now will travel out in one of the several bags we use to bring other stuff our in and the store the bags to take it all back into the house after.

    1. I saw a lot of people mention scissor tips –

      My scissors came with leather triangle shaped point covers which I keep them in and could easily be made from a very small amount of leather.

      Also, when husband was doing scherenschnitte and silhouette papercutting he bought fish tank hose at the local home store and cut short pieces of it to stick over the pointed ends of the assorted scissors he used for cutting same. This would, of course, also work for needlework scissors. The hose is sold by the foot and generally comes in more than 1 diameter size so one can pick the size one needs.

  48. I’ve never had cause to stitch in a hotel room, but might be making use of some of your suggestions for our ‘big road trip’ we’re planning in September. I’d like to have a little project to take along to work on in the evenings once we’ve settled in for the night.

  49. Dear Mary, I am so sorry to hear that you are having health problems.I know the feeling, but please know that I have added you to my prayer list. Keep well and know we all need you to teach us how to make things beautiful
    Love, Eileen

  50. Hi Mary!
    I’ve been following your blog for a while, and learned to stitch mainly through your tutorials.

    I’ve never seen your laying tool/stiletto before. Where did you buy it, and/or do you have any recommendations for purchasing one?

  51. Dear Mary, Thank you for the great post. When working away from home for an extended time, the lighting in my motel room wasn’t good so the owners provided me with a very useful student’s desk lamp with a bright light.
    Your folding table is a very useful ‘tool’. My work table at home is a small, wooden, light-weight, oval-shaped English pub table and is “just right”.
    When travelling away from home to attend embroidery classes I pack a small folder for notes, colouring pencils for stitch direction and thread colour as well as my trusty clear plastic cosmetic bag with my scissors, needles etc.

  52. I never had to stay in hotel rooms when I was in the hospital off and on for a year and a half getting repetitive surgeries for a fistula. (A hole that is not healing easily) I did learn to keep one of my works in progress in a tote with all needed items in case I was put in the hospital again. Even now I keep a wip packed because the men in my life do not seem to understand what I need nor why I need them. So I keep a project that takes a lot of squares or something easy and repetitive to do while in the hospital. Along with extra hooks or needles depending on the project. I do not take hard projects because when on medication or when you get tired. You seem to make a lot of mistakes. Now I live in a small town that I do have to travel for medical treatment sometimes. So your ideas may come in handy for me sometime. Thank you God bless you and best wishes for your quick recovery.

    1. The hole was caused from having cancer surgery for throat cancer then the radiation was so strong my wound across my entire throat opened up and caused me to have this fistula. The one thing I want to say to you that does not pertain to needle work is to make sure you use a very good lotion or salve that the doctors should give you to prevent burns from the radiation. This is not to scare you or anything. It is because at the time I had the radiation they did not tell me I could be burnt that badly from the radiation. The last treatments are usually stronger and that is when I was burnt and developed the fistula. Bless you Mary I never had the nerve to tackle embroidery until I found you on the Internet. I had crocheted, loom knitted,quilted and many other crafts but never thought I could do embroidery .now I do crazy quilting and a lot of stump work embroidery. I try to get youn people interested in some kind of needlework because I think it is so important to carry on all kinds of needlework. Thank you for what you have taught me. I know you have a lot of courage because you shared your courage with me so ai would try embroidery.

  53. Dear Mary, lighting would be my major need. A while back you mentioned recorded books for your drive. They would also be great for hotel stitching. Three recommendations are The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley, Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold, and Blackman’s Coffin by Mark Castrique. The first is a very clever mystery tale of Scotland in two time periods, the next is a sci-fi/ fantasy adventure and the third is a mystery about a disabled vet and an unlikely friend. Best wishes from Frances in Tulsa

  54. Hi Mary
    So glad to hear you are coping OK with the treatment, you are thought about frequently over here.

    I am surprised by all the attention going on your folding table, and pretty well none on anything else. I would like to know how you tell your needles apart after they have been jumbled up in that vial. If I don’t return mine immediately to their packet (and of course I almost never do) they get mixed up and I have a really hard time trying to work out which size is which. I can tell the crewels from the milliners from the tapestries but that is about as far as it goes. So I guess it boils down to how important it is to use the same size needle throughout a project and how much difference it makes if you use a needle one or two sizes apart in the same area. Help please?

    1. Nordic Needle sells a packet of cards with needles printed on them, which I have found invaluable for determining which size needle I have after it’s removed from the package. You just put your mystery needle on the picture and see which one matches.

  55. hello mary, as always , i look forward to your emails. i travel alot to see my daughter and 3 yr old grandson and now a brand new babyboy to the mix. they live 14 houra awy sew when i go i like to stay 8-15 days. sew i bought a vintage camper. usually spend the days with the kids ,but when i get back to the campground-camper i like to relax by embroidering. my last 2-3 trips i finished 2 projects. i always take a small ottlight and keep my floss & thread in ziplock bags. i keep my needles ,scissors,ect in tin toolbox.sometimes i even use plastic tackle boxes to keep it organize. thanks for all the wonderful inspiration & knowledge you give us.

  56. My sister and I enjoy both stitching and road trips. You are so right about hotel lighting. A clamp-on lighted magnifier takes care of that. I have a small plastic container from the kitchen I use for all the tools and I use gallon zip-lock bags for each project. I have a tendency to take too many projects and too many books. But I am getting a little smarter. My tablet holds many books and I try to take only a couple of easy stitching projects. Last year I did Cotton Candy, a nice bit of needlepoint that included a few beads but mostly straight stitches. No complicated crescents or walnettos on the road. The important thing was that I finished the project before fall classes and more complex projects beckoned.

  57. Hi Mary, just to say that I have been reading your blog/articles for about one year. You provide excellent information and explanations suitable for all levels – me a beginner who has aspirations! I am trying crewel work which has long been a want which I am enjoying, not quite ‘Late Harvest’ which by the way looks beautiful. I always travel with needle threaders as can’t always see the eye of tiny needles! I hope you are feeling better now and won’t have to carry on sewing in hotels very soon. Best wishes

  58. Dear Mary,

    Thankyou for taking the trouble to give us such a detailed description of your motel sewing. I never travel without something to read, something to embroider and my spindle and sometimes my weave it looms and/or knitting (this is for car travel).

    I love trawling the Op shops (Charity shops)for useful carriers. Over the years I have acquired a remarkable collection of laptop bags (among other things) in various sizes, several I have even recovered, as I get sick of black bags. Maybe I am a bit of a geek on this. It is rather time consuming but gives me a unique bag. I simply cut panels to fit and sew them (a curved needle is good here)as close to the piping as I can get. I have always done needle turn applique so that comes in handy here.

    At the moment I am working on an embellished cross stitch, which I have on a 12 inch sq stretcher frame, which is very light. As I often like to curl up in the recliner or lounge it got annoying not being able to rest it on something or having it in holder so I thumb tacked a ribbon (about an inch wide)to each side furtherest away from me and I put this around my neck…voila no need to hold it or have it up against a table. I wondered how this would work as I have previously had neck and shoulder problems and the least thing can annoy it, but so far have found no problem.
    Dear Mary keeping you in my thoughts and prayers for the best possible outcome for you.
    Love Judy
    S E Queensland

  59. Mary, you are such an example of what to do when adversity and health strikes. You amaze me with the determination and desire to not only do your needlework, but to share your experiences with all of us.

    I am so sad that you have to deal with this miserable medical condition and pray that it will soon be a part of your past, and you can move forward in good health.

    I watch for your newsletters, and wish you many blessings and happy stitching hours.

    You are in my prayers.

  60. Thought maybe that’s the reason for your no-vac hotel stay. Please count me among your many admirers, for your embroidery skills, humor, graciousness, not to mention good writing! And now the thoughtfulness to keep us abreast of your condition with a face- the- cancer- head- on- while -not -wallowing approach (though one is certainly free to wallow!). I wish you the best as you plow through the CA treatments, Mary.

  61. Hotel furniture is notoriously uncomfortable, so I always take a throw pillow or two when I expect to spend significant amounts of time is a hotel room. Your ideas for lighting and zipper bags are excellent!

  62. Something I read in several posts just hit my brain.

    Most light fixtures are made to take a maximum of 60 watt bulbs.

    If you are bringing a bulb which is more than 60 watts – unless you are bringing one which is LED or compact florescent and is actually using less than 60 watts – you can cause a fire.

    I would also suggest that one only bring the LED ones as the compact florescent bulbs are a major health hazard if they break and technically require a hazardous material crew to clean up (which is a good reason not to use them at all).

  63. I’ve always taken something with me when traveling — tatting, embroidery or needlelace. And I’ve attended lacemaking workshops and conventions where doing ‘homework’ is required at night in order to keep up with the class. The lighting in hotel rooms is always awful. Plus I’m of an age where I need not only good lighting, but also magnification. So when I travel, I take both. For lighting, I take a folding Ott table light AND an extension cord. For magnification I use a pair of reading glasses over my regular glasses. I keep a ‘packing’ list for my needlework and tools. And I love the Yazzi bag to pack my tools in.
    Last year I splurged and had the optician put new lenses into an old pair of frames. The lenses were my regular prescription with a large bi-focal area with an added 3x magnification. I love them!

  64. I love those zipped bags .When ever I travel whether home or overseas I take a large one filled with all my supplies Q snap the piece of embroidery I’m working on scissors etc and have them in my suitcase. I have done some embroidery when flying (as I have a pair of scissors that can be used) but the light is not good as a rule.
    I saw some one had written that they had bought a stronger wattage bulb for the lamp in the hotel room really good idea.
    All the best for your journey there is light at the end of the tunnel. I have been there

  65. Gosh, Mary, you seem to have thought of everything! Well, almost. I also keep a small pair of needle nosed pliers in my kit. You see, most of my work is done on canvas, and sometimes when I am running my stitching thread under previously worked thread on the back of my project, I find the pliers much better than the tweezers for pulling the needle through. And I wouldn’t be without books on tape!
    I can spend countless hours/days in heaven – just ‘reading’ and stitching!

    I love all your suggestions, and a couple of your readers have given me great ideas as well (why didn’t I ever think about taking a 100-watt bulb with me?). Ha!
    Anyway, I pray that your treatments will be over soon. I survived mine and lived to tell the tale, thank God. But I was not able to do much stitching in those days. Between the exhaustion and the joint pain, I had all I could handle. Thankfully, that is in the past and I am happily stitching away again! Keep stitching; it helps to keep your mind occupied.

    God bless, Mary. I’m praying for you.

    1. Patti and others
      I am absolutely blown away by how many of you have survived cancer and done it so optimistically and fearlessly. Well done to you all. I have not actually had it myself, but both my husband and I have had some pretty scary experiences – in his case waiting 4 months to find out his tumour is not cancerous. I salute all you brave people.

  66. Especially in hotel rooms I find I really need an audio book. I use my Kindle Fire -if you already own the e-print version of a novel often there is an audible version available for a relatively small sum, (Much more expensive if you do not already own the e-book.) The Fire also has a sleep feature where you can set the time to turn off the reading for 15, 30 etc. minutes. This gives me a timer so I get up, stretch and focus my eyes at a distance for a couple of minutes. Its also useful for those periods of wakefullness which I tend to when sleeping in a strange place. The kindle volume is not very loud, so it needs to be quite close, but that means that it is less likely to disturb any people who are near by.
    I love the little table.I too have found hotel tables totally inadequate -even for their own room service trays!

  67. I always take a spare lightbulb. Usually a compact fluorescent. Being in the lighting industry for 35 years, I know all about what hotel lighting is….or isn’t about. I make sure it fits in a metal box (I found one that looks like a school bus a while ago) and I wrap it in a flat styrofoam sheet. I leave the tin by the lamp so not to forget to take my bulb back out. It’s worked for 20+ years.

  68. Hello and a very Happy Easter!

    I’m so sorry to learn of your medical needs and trust that all that it entails will soon be a thing of the past.

    I organize each Needlepoint project in its own plastic bag. I like the sturdy, zipper topped personalized plastic bags that many Needlepoint shops sell. Not only are they useful, they make great and lasting souvenirs. I may live in the California wine country, but using my bag from Stitchery Square in Camden instantly transports me to mid-coast Maine! I prefer the bags with handles. In it I put my canvas and all my fibres. A Vera Bradley coin purse is just the right size to hold a pair of folding scissors and packages of needlese. That’s it as I don’t need a magnifier and never use a frame.

    When traveling, I can toss several projects of varying sizes and complexity into a large tote, generally one from Vera Bradley, and I am good to go. (A good way to pick up Vera Bradley items relatively inexpensively is to buy the discontinued, marked down patterns after the new designs have been introduced.)

    My “tip” is for traveling whether or not you stitch. I travel with not only multiple stitching projects, but plenty to read. I find that traveling with a plethora of inexpensive used books works well. As I finish each book, I just leave it behind, gradually lightening my load! (Used book sales such as those sponsored by Friends of the Library groups are usually a good source of used paperbacks ranging in price from inexpensive to dirt cheap, depending upon the book and the group.)

    Happy exploring!

  69. Dear Mary,
    Thank you for showing your set up! I love seeing how other people organize and keep their supplies and workspaces. I do cross stitch mostly and it’s always a challenge to keep things orderly for a pleasuring experience.

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