Knitting at 35,000 feet
Good news! The US Transportation
Security Administration no longer considers knitters
to be a threat to your red eye flight to San Francisco.
According to the "Permitted and Prohibited
Items" list, knitting needles and crochet
hooks are officially allowed in carry on baggage.
However, although you and I
and the Tiny Diva know that the only real damage
a metal 4mm needle can cause is no worse than
that of a ballpoint pen, the final decision is
always up to the discretion of the security screener.
While it's unlikely you'll run into any issues
traveling within the United States, the rules
can be very different while flying to other countries.
For example, Canada's security screeners could
care less about what's done in the United States.
If they complain about your Addi Turbos, flashing
a copy of the Permitted Items list won't get you
What should you do if you run
into problems? The following four tips may not
get your W.I.P. through security, but they will
help you avoid any unnecessary complications.
Sharp metal objects are more likely to
receive questions or be closely inspected. Consider
traveling with bamboo or plastic needles that
raise fewer flags. Also, your beautiful Point
5 jacket may not be the best project for your
carryon; those 15mm needles can appear more like
clubs than craft tools.
If your knitting kit contains scissors, pins,
sewing needles, metal stitch holders, or anything
else metallic, pack it in your checked baggage.
On the plane, I like to carry a retractable vinyl
measuring tape and a plastic yarn needle. It's
nicer to snip threads with scissors, but in a
pinch, I find most yarns break by hand, if you
separate the plies first. It's not neat, but the
ends can be trimmed later. While you might 'get
away' with these items, they are questionable,
and might cause problems for all your knitting
You may be randomly selected for a comprehensive
hand search of your bags. In this case, it's handy
to keep knitting projects individually packed
in large, clear, freezer bags, or zippered vinyl
bags. Airport security personnel can quickly see
the contents without accidentally unraveling a
ball or dropping stitches.
In case of a problem, you'll be calmer if properly
prepared. If traveling within your home country,
carry a small stamped envelope, pre-addressed.
Most security stations will let you mail the items
home. If traveling internationally, use an International
Reply Coupon instead of standard stamps, but make
sure the value will cover the weight. If you have
to surrender your needles, that plastic yarn needle
can come in handy to put the stitches on a spare
bit of yarn. At least you won't have to start
that fingering-weight cabled masterpiece from
scratch when you get home.
So, you've run into a problem. Airport Security
informs you that your needles are considered lethal
weapons. What should you do?
Stay calm. The screener will
ask you the purpose of the object, or explain
that it is too dangerous to fly. Resist the temptation
to make jokes, complain, cry, or throw a temper
tantrum. These reactions will get you nowhere.
If travelling within the U.S., mention that you
had read on the TSA's website that knitting needles
are now allowed. Politely ask the security screener
to explain the rules, but don't expect a satisfactory
Although the situation is stressful,
remember that it's not the end of the world. You
may have to go on a 2 [or 12] hour flight without
your knitting, but as soon as you land, you'll
have a great excuse to go shopping! After all,
you can really use a set of bamboo circulars in
that size, right?
The one time I was restricted,
I had passed through that same checkpoint with
the same knitting five times that month. I mentioned
this, but the screener kept repeating, "Too
many sharp metal objects." I paid $3 to have
my project stored for a week.
In the end, if you're questioned
at all, you're probably not going to get on that
plane with everything you packed. But as long
as you're properly prepared, you won't lose anything