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How to travel with knitting - What I learned the hard way

Chantal Ratnam

It's been ages since my last blog post and the one that I planned has changed slightly.  I initially wanted to write a post about how to choose a knitting project to travel with and the various adventures my knitting had on my three week trip to Southeast Asia.  It was going to be witty, charming and clever.  This is not that post.  To be honest, I think contemplating my knitting options leading up to my trip was probably more fun than actually travelling with knitting.  While I've never travelled with knitting on a plane before, I follow plenty of Instagrammers who've posted plenty of airport knitting pics.  I made the assumption I was perfectly fine.  That was only sort of the case. Here's what I learned:

 

1) I remembered reading at some point that if you had a project on your needles it was ok to bring them on the plane so when I initially packed my carry on I chose one skein of yarn to go on the plane and a spare 'just-in-case' skein with extra knitting needles to go in my suitcase.  This was ok for the most part although I did get pulled to the side twice in different airports so that security could take a closer look even if they didn't take anything away from me. I did a little more research for the purposes of this post and it turns out that it isn't quite so 'bind off and block'.   What I should have done is properly checked each country for the hand luggage restrictions and also each airline to know if knitting needles were allowed on their planes (I know, I know... its common sense after the fact).  If I had done this I would have known I was completely fine in Canada, the United States and Thailand, I would have definitely checked them in Cambodia, who's site explicitly says they're prohibited and I probably would have played it safer in Vietnam where I had the hardest time finding information.  

While I did have to do a little digging around to find what I was looking for I still managed to stumble onto tons of sites with knitters asking the same questions.  Here's the best advice I found: if you're gonna gamble with your knitting, apparently the consensus is put your project on cable needles with interchangeable tips.  Even if your needles are confiscated your project can be salvaged.  Some said non metal/glass tips were a good idea and don't walk with more tips than you need - check the rest if you have to.  I can tell you that the only time I was asked not to knit on a flight was on my return flight from Kalibo to Manila - which leads me to my next lesson.

 

2) You know your super fun notions bag packed with your favourite pair of embroidery scissors, spare knitting needles, sewing needles, metal crochet hooks and giant, extremely pointy, safety pin stitch holders? Do yourself a favour and check that.  Don't do what I did on that Kalibo flight and throw that into your carry on thoughtlessly.  Luckily, the security lady at the gate was incredibly nice and let me dash back to luggage check where I was escorted behind the airport to the luggage trolleys to tuck it into my suitcase.  Afterwards, my Filipino friend that I was travelling with told me that I had made that mistake in probably the only airport in the world that would let me do something like that.  She said that the naturally thrifty nature of Filipino people is what prevented the security agent from throwing it all away.  I like to believe the pain on my face made her have mercy on me.

(sleeve separation with a crochet hook - no needles allowed on the plane... whomp whomp whomp)

3) PLAN YOUR PROJECTS!!!! I really can't emphasize this point more.  I am a born procrastinator who hates making decisions.  This meant that I was making project decisions at 2AM when I needed to be at the airport at 8AM. I ended up with a single skein of yarn that wasn't sufficient for any of the three projects that I wanted to work on and no way of knowing if I could get more of the same colour way, never mind dye lot.  This meant I spent my 14 hour flight to Korea perfecting my swatch game.  

(Sleeve separation at 10,000 feet)

So there it is.  Everything I've learned about travelling with knitting that I think will help you guys out.  I give myself a little bit of latitude for not knowing these things beforehand since this was my first real trip into the world. I learned tons and I did eventually come up with a system that worked.  The key was minimalism.  While I held my breath at every security check hoping that I wouldn't run into trouble, I made sure that I only had the bare necessities, and every time I passed through the gate I reminded myself to invest in a cheap set of acrylics as soon as I returned home.

 

 



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