Needle Tip Bundle

The travel season is upon us. Many of us travel in December to visit family, or to take a winter vacation to far-off places. And as knitters and crocheters, many of us would like to take our projects along because the airplane really is one of the best places imaginable for knitting and crocheting.

But here's the thing: You can't take your needles and hooks on every aircraft if you are flying internationally. While flying with hooks and needles in the USA is no problem, keep in mind that TSA rules don't extend past the USA. As many knitters and crocheters who travel internationally have learned - not every country thinks it's okay to bring hooks and needles on the aircraft. I've had my share of hooks and needles confiscations (Mexico in recent years has been terrible for me...) and it's an incredibly frustrating and nonsensical experience. It can be expensive too!

What's most frustrating for me are the international layovers: many times you have to go through security AGAIN when you transfer planes. I was on a flight once from SFO to Singapore with a transfer in Tokyo and I had all my knitting needles confiscated during that Japanese transit.  While you might be able to research all the regulations of your destination countries and the countries you are transiting through, that research is far from easy and many times the regulations just aren't published online. What's more, if you are rerouted due to delays, weather or mechanical problems, you may find yourself routed through a country you didn't even anticipate.

smuggling crochet hook

So what is a poor knitter or crocheter to do? There's no way that I'm leaving my knit or crochet work at home - especially for an extended trip and a 24 hour flight. I'm a light traveller and typically bring carry-on luggage only, which leaves me no option to check in my hooks and needles. Plus, being able to knit or crochet on a long flight is an absolute must for me - what else is there to do?! That's some quality stitching time!

So this is why I've had to develop a strategy for getting my hooks and needles onto international flights.  If you do a lot of international travel and want to bring your projects with you, this is what you might want to do to: 

1.  I only bring the tools I absolutely need and I separate them out in my bag so that even if some are found, chances are high that I can get other ones on board.  I also bring redundant tools if I am mid-project. So for example, if I am working a project with #8 needles, I will bring 2 sets of needles and I will stash them in different spots.

2.  If I am bringing knitting, I bring interchangeable needles like those from a Denise set.  Plastic, bamboo or wood needles are preferable to metal, but I have had success with my metal needles too.  I bring them disassembled with the cords packed separately from the needles.  If I am mid-project, I will detach the needles from the cord and put stoppers on the cord to secure my work.  I never leave the needles attached so that the Xray technician can clearly read "knitting project".


3.  I camoflauge my needle tips among pens and pencils.  I've packed a pencil case and thrown the needles in with them.  Although now my preferred approach is to make a few rubber-banded bundles containing pens, pencils, and needles and I stash these little bundles in separate locations in my bag.


4.  I throw my crochet hooks in with my toothbrush and toothpaste. Somehow the hooks seem dental to me. 


5.  I use an old dental floss container to hold stitch markers, and more importantly, act as a yarn cutter.

Dental Floss Airplane Yarn Cutter

Do you have any international travel tips?  Do you have some confiscation horror stories or tips on which countries are the strictest about confiscating hooks and needles?  Let me know in the comments!