The holidays are upon us, and, with it, airplane travel to see family and friends. I hated travel before I was a knitter, but now I can’t help but appreciate a little airplane knitting. It’s so soothing and one of the easiest places on (off?) Earth for me to completely focus on knitting.
Here are five tips I’ve picked up about bringing knitting on an airplane.
1. Plan Ahead for Airplane Knitting
You don’t want to be picking a knitting project the night before your flight. Is this what I usually do? Yes. But my best and most productive trips with airplane knitting are when I pick my knitting projects well before I get on my flight. If you’re a sock knitter, you may be able to just go for it the night before. Your dedication to socks will always amaze me. As for me, I try to start projects that don’t require gauge, are fingering weight, are ideally done on circular needles, and have an easy to memorize pattern. If you love shawls, now is definitely the time to start one!
2. Bring the Right Tools
Can you bring knitting needles on a plane? In short, the TSA says yes. The longer answer from their blog is that knitting needles and scissors under four inches are fine for carrying on an airplane. I’ve heard that plastic and bamboo needles are easier to get through security. I, however, especially when using fingering weight yarn, desperately want to use my metal Chiagoos. As such, I usually only bring the interchangeable needles I need, keep them separate from their cords, put them in a pencil bag with some pens and hope they blend in a little more. Again, they are perfectly legal, but every once in a while I hear a horror story about a less informed TSA agent, and I don’t want that to happen to me!
When I first saw the Clover Thread Cutter Pendant, I thought, “that’s ideal for airplane knitting!” Turns out it’s not, and is specifically banned by the TSA. Instead I usually bring some kid scissors. They are TSA approved, and if anyone has a problem with them, I won’t mind throwing them away at all.
If you’re a weirdo knitter like me and like straight needles, now is not the time to bring them! They’re technically too long, and if you drop one at take off, and it rolls backward … Well, I’ve had that awkward conversation with a flight attendant about asking the passengers behind me if any of them have my knitting needle. I did get my knitting needle back, but I still remember how crazy that flight attendant thought I was.
Read through the entire pattern of your planned project and make sure you’re bringing the correct notions and tools you will need. Seriously, read the whole darn thing to the end. If you love stitch markers like I do, buy one of these awesome jewelry knitting notion accessories at Etsy. It helps so much to have your stitch markers around your neck in a cramped space like an airplane.
3. Just Bring That Extra Skein of Fingering Weight Yarn
I brought three projects with me on my last trip. I only had time to work on two. That third project consisted of two skeins of fingering weight yarn for a shawl. It was probably the ideal travel project, but I was on a deadline for the other two. Sure I ended up dragging two skeins from Albuquerque to New York City and back for no reason, but you know what? I was super happy and comforted that the project was just waiting for me. Give yourself that comfort if you have room in your checked bag. And if not, now you have an excuse to go to the local yarn store at your destination! (Like you needed an excuse.) I can’t emphasize enough – travel is not the right time to bring bulky yarn! I really LOVE bulky and the immediate satisfaction, but the fact is if you get in some horrible travel nonsense delays, fingering weight yarn will keep you plenty busy, while bulky will leave you bored, listless, and yearning for more yarn.
4. Bring a Book
OK, not just any book. I don’t know what it is about knitting (perhaps because I’m making something real with my hands?) but I really like physical books. More power to you if you like digital knitting books, it’s just not my thing. Regardless, this tip is for both physical book lovers and digital book lovers – bring a general knitting tips book. I thought I would outgrow this need after my first year of knitting, but, honestly, I still need a great overall knitting book to get me through a pattern now and then. Nothing is worse than being trapped on a plane with a knitting project with no idea how to do the next step in a pattern! If you don’t have WiFi during travel, or your battery dies, this is especially frustrating. If you’re one of those intuitive, make-it-up-as-you-go knitters, kudos to you! For the rest of us may I suggest these books for your airplane knitting help: Vogue Knitting Quick Reference: The Ultimate Portable Knitting Compendium or for those who want a Kindle edition of a similar type of book: The Knitting Answer Book, 2nd Edition: Solutions to Every Problem You’ll Ever Face; Answers to Every Question You’ll Ever Ask.
5. Travelling Internationally? Just Learn to Crochet.
Hardcore knitters, I know you’re not going to like this … but you can save yourself any chance of emotional trauma by bringing crochet instead. I’ve had no problems travelling with knitting needles in the United States – but international travel is different and riddled with rules. You should do your own research, and just for sanity’s sake – bare minimum, don’t bring your very favorite needles. I’m bi-craftual, but I admit, crochet doesn’t soothe me quite the same as knitting does. But crochet hooks are just lacking in any type of security threat – especially if they’re not metal. I personally bring with me Stitch ‘N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker. It has both plenty of cute patterns and covers the basics of crochet, which I usually need a bit of help with.
Worst case, always remember you can go the way of the Yarn Harlot, and knit with pencils.
Have any travel horror stories to share? How has your experience been with international travel with knitting?
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase using the links above. These commissions help keep Knit’s All Folks! running and are at no cost to you. I only link to products I genuinely love. Thanks for supporting the website! My affiliate disclosure can be found here.