In the northern hemisphere, the summer travel season is upon us.Â My friends and rellies in the southern hemisphere are planning their winter ski vacations.
And every traveling knitter, no matter where you are in the world, has one key question in mind: can I take my knitting on a plane?Â The answer is an enthusiastic but qualified yes.
Within North America, the TSA clearly states that “Items needed to pursue a Needlepoint project are permitted in your carry-on baggage”.Â Read their post for a bit more detail.Â The Canadian Air Transportation Security Authority agrees.
Within most of western Europe and the UK, and between North America and Europe, they are also permitted.Â These Heathrow Airport Security guidelines state that knitting needles are “widely prohibited”, and says that you should ask your airline, but doesn’t outright tell you not to bring them. I’ve flown in and out of Heathrow a number of times in the past few years, and not had a problem. The only exception seems to be France, which has an outright ban.
Ultimately, no matter what the airline and government regulations are within a given territory, you’re still at the mercy of whoever is manning the security checkpoint.
To reduce the chances of confiscation, take wood, bamboo or plastic needles rather than metal.Â If you do want to take metal, I recommend short circulars – I’ve not had any problems with them.Â And this sounds silly, but don’t ask the question or bring attention to them – just stuff your equipment in your carry on bag and send it through the x-ray machine.Â “Needle” is a word that has many meanings, some of them scary, and you’re more likely to get attention if you’re overheard using it.Â Have your knitting cast-on – I’ve heard of some people being questioned for having needles without knitting on them.
I also tend to pare down my kit when I’m traveling – to save space and hassle.Â I leave my scissors, metal ruler and tins of safety pins at home or in my checked baggage.
You may be asked to surrender your needles, so don’t take your favorite ones on the plane. When traveling, I always transfer my knitting to inexpensive needles I wouldn’t be upset about losing.Â If you don’t want to lose them, carry a self-addressed, stamped puffy envelope with you so you can mail them home.Â Thread a lifeline before you leave for the airport so that if you do have the surrender the needles, your knitting can be salvaged.Â And bring something to read, just in case.
And just because you arrived somewhere with your needles doesn’t mean you’ll be allowed to leave with them – there may be different rules at your departing airport.
But most important of all, remember that yarn bought while traveling doesn’t count as stash, it’s a souvenir!