If you read our blog, you know that in addition to loving all things fiber and fashion, we’ve also got a bit of a thing for travel. That’s why when Kathryn Vercillo of the blog Crochet Concupiscence offered to guest blog about traveling with yarn, we couldn’t resist.
She also opens up her bag for another edition of What’s In Your Bag? Read on? We think so:
Knitting and crochet projects are an excellent diversion for any plane ride. The repetition of stitching is soothing and relaxing, which is exactly what most of us are looking for on our vacations. The stressful part of it all can be figuring out what projects and craft tools you are allowed to take on the plane, how to pack them properly and how to work on them in those crowded little seats. This guide will help you figure that all out so that you can travel smoothly with your craft.
What Can I Take on the Plane?
The first question on everyone’s mind is, “What will I be allowed to take on the plane?” After all, with all of the tightened security rules that the airlines have these days you never know what they might take away before you get to the gate. Here are some of the basic rules to follow based on current TSA guidelines.
Crochet hooks are almost always okay. These are not considered sharp or dangerous so you should have no problem getting them on the plane.
- Rules on knitting needles vary. Here’s what the TSA currently says: “Items needed to pursue a needlepoint project are permitted in your carry-on baggage or checked baggage with the exception of circular thread cutters or any cutter with a blade contained inside which cannot go through the checkpoint and must go in your checked baggage.”
- Scissors must be small. The rule is that metal scissors with pointed tips must have blades no longer than four inches. Alternatively you can bring blunt-tip scissors.
- Sewing tools. Sewing needles and pins are allowed on planes so you can pack them if you’ll need them for your project.
Note: Keep in mind that that these rules are subject to change and may vary depending upon where you are traveling. Always check the TSA site and your own airline’s guidelines before you pack if you want to be sure.
What Should I Take on The Plane
Just because you’re allowed to take your tools on the plane doesn’t mean that you should. Here are some tips for the best yarn tools on planes:
- Choose plastic or bamboo hooks and needles. They look less threatening and therefore are more likely to easily make it through security than aluminum or steel tools.
- Choose smaller size tools when possible. A long, pointy knitting needle looks more dangerous than a smaller, rounded needle. Most airplane security people won’t care either way but if you want to get through security smoothly then this is something to keep in mind.
- Circular knitting needles. Many knitters recommend this option because if you drop a straight needle on the plane it will be a lot more likely to roll away and get lost. Note that it is commonly recommended that circular needles be smaller than 31” in length.
- Kids’ scissors. You may want to bring kids’ craft scissors since these will cut yarn just fine and aren’t considered a safety risk.
- Stitch markers. You may have to stop in the middle of your project so make sure that you have a way to mark your place.
Best Projects for Airplanes
Once you’ve got your tools settled, you need to decide what project is going to be best for the airplane. Here are some tips:
- Choose a project without too many color changes. If you pick a project that includes twenty different yarn colors with color changes at every row then you need to pack twenty skeins of yarn in your carry-on luggage and that’s a hassle. Choose a project with one or two colors of yarn instead.
- Consider yarn weights. Your yarn will require less space in your carry-on if you choose fingering weight over bulky. Think about that since you can only bring a small carry-on on board.
- Select a mid-sized project. You don’t want to bring along an afghan worked continuously because the project needs to fit in that small seat with you. However you also don’t want to make zillions of little blocks or tiny amigurumi pieces because you risk losing some of them on the way. Choose mid-sized projects like a cowl, shrug or 12” blocks for a blanket.
How to Pack and Organize
Once you have the right tools and the right project, it’s time to pack it all into your carry-on to use on the plane. The two important things here will be to choose the right carry-on bag and to organize everything for ease of use during the trip.
First, you want to make sure that you choose a good carry-on bag. Although you can take large carry-ons onto most planes, you may want to go with a smaller bag to ensure that even if the plane is fully packed your bag won’t get moved to the plane’s underbelly. You want to choose a bag that has lots of pockets and separate spaces. This allows you to easily separate your yarn project from other important things like medication, electronic gadgets and snacks. The Rio and The Satchel by Jordana Paige are great choices because they are large enough to carry many items but small enough to fit nicely on a plane. Plus they have lots of pockets to keep everything you bring well organized.
Even if you do pack a reasonably small carry-on bag, you will want to pack a smaller bag inside of it that contains the project that you want on the plane. This way, you can easily pull out your project and keep it under the seat in front of you in case your bag does get checked or gets placed somewhere far away from you on the plane. Your smaller bag should include just the most necessary items:
- The portion of the project that you are currently working on.
- The yarn you need to complete that portion of the project.
- The hook or needles needed for that part of the project.
- Stitch markers in case you need to stop in the middle of your project.
Everything else can stay in your larger carry-on bag. You may want to keep your tools safely organized in one place by putting them together in a carrying case such as the Crafter’s Tool Butler.
Your craft project should be a joy during your trip, not a hassle. Pack smartly and it will be!
This guest post was written by Kathryn Vercillo of the blog Crochet Concupiscence. Kathryn’s work has been published around the web on sites like Crochetvolution, SF Indie Fashion, Whip Up, Handmadeology. Her newest book, Crochet Saved My Life, will be out in August 2012.
We’re always looking for creative and adventurous stories of yarn, travel and handbags on our blog. If you’re interested, please let us know in the comments or email us!