I like to keep a very simple project in my backpack all the time. That way if I have a weird half hour block of time that's not really good for working, I can pull it out and get some knitting done. (Or if I'm really stressed, I can blow off steam knitting in lieu of studying, which strangely enough does reduce the stress.) These backpack projects take a long time to complete because they only get a little work done on them at a time, they usually only get worked on on school days, and I don't have spare time every school day. My last backpack project was Ryan's blue beanie and it took about a month and a half to finish. Here is my new backpack project:
Please ignore the chipped toenail polish, it has not been sandal weather and so I have not been vigilant. It's a plain sock in a Yarnia house blend called Boylston. This is an extremely popular house blend. It's one strand of navy bamboo (50%), one strand of navy merino and one strand of bright blue merino (27%), and one strand of gray alpaca (23%). As you can see it makes a great dark heathered blue and is a color that could totally be used to make man things. (I usually tag plain socks with the Yarn Harlot's Sock Recipe pattern, even though I don't really "follow" it, I just make a sock. Cast on a number of stitches that seems reasonable, knit some ribbing, knit until I think the leg is long enough, flap heel, gusset, knit until 2" before toes, shape toes. Since this is basically what the Yarn Harlot pattern is, I tag it for convenience.)
I have several requirements for backpack projects.
1) It must be small enough to fit in the front pouch of my backpack.
2) It must not require me to look at a pattern, read a chart, or count rows/stitches.
3) It must be a pattern I can knit without looking; this includes garter stitch, stockinette stitch, ribbing, and things like seed/moss stitch which are basically just ribbing so long as you know where to start.
4) There can't be any shaping, and I should not have to pay attention to what row I'm on.
Given these criteria some projects can go from being backpack projects to not at various stages. A project may start out small enough to be a backpack project then grow too big. Ryan's blanket was once a backpack project, now it takes up my whole living room floor. A project may have a pattern or shaping only a certain times. This project was in my backpack for the whole leg, but had to come out until the heel and gusset were finished because that involved counting rows and paying attention to decrease placement. Now they'll stay in the backpack until it's time to shape the toe. Do you have a take-everywhere project?