News knitting on the go

Published on June 2nd, 2015 | by Elizabeth Bagwell


How to keep your knitting safe on the go

Like to carry your knitting projects with you?  Travelling knitter Elizabeth Bagwell shares her tips for taking your yarn with you wherever you go.

Like an athlete in training, I’ve been taking my knitting out in public this week. I’ve knit on a plane, a boat, a bus and at the beach. Over the years, I’ve developed a few guidelines to help me keep my yarn and knitting needles safe on the go.

Look after your knitting! LoveKnitting blog

1. Protect your stuff from your needles

In 10 years of carrying my knitting around, I’ve damaged about 3 needles, usually due to trapping one in something unyielding, like a car door, and lots of bags. Most of my bags now have 2.5mm holes in, thanks to my habit of shoving a sock-in-progress in every one. Point protectors not only blunt those spikes but also keep your needles together, reducing the chance of losing one.

2. Keep your yarn clean

A sandwich bag, a tea towel, a dedicated knitting bag it doesn’t matter what you use. Ideally, choose something that will resist liquids, so if you plonk it in a wet spot on the coffee shop table or a drink carton leaks you’ll have one less thing to clean up.

3. Don’t keep your keys in with your yarn

It’s so tempting, particularly if your clothes don’t have pockets, but resist the urge to toss your keys or anything with a zip into your yarn bag. Snags and tangles are almost inevitable and can turn into a snapped thread.

Top 6 tips from real knitters - use the center pull! Read more on the LoveKnitting blog.

4. Use a centre-pull ball

Pulling your thread from the centre of the ball means the ball will move around less as you knit, which reduces the chance of it jumping off your lap and rolling halfway down the bus.

5. Use a circular needle

It’s not always possible, I know, but circular needles are ideal for knitting in public. They’re joined together and permanently attached to the work, so are hard to lose or forget. It’s incredibly frustrating to realise you’ve brought just one needle to knit night or to lose a DPN down the side of an airline seat just after take off.

6. Be aware of your surroundings

There are few places I won’t knit, but it always helps to be aware of your surroundings. Train so crowded your head is in a stranger’s armpit? Toddler with sticky fingers wants to sit on your lap? Had a couple of drinks and your tension has gone a bit wobbly? Maybe the yarn should stay in the bag…

7. Yes, you can take needles on a plane

Knitting needles are allowed on planes. You’re also now allowed to take scissors with short blades (under 6cm) on most flights. Be aware though that the decision made by security is final: if they decide that your item, whether it’s a knitting needle, a hank of yarn or a paper towel is a threat, they are duty-bound to confiscate it, so don’t take anything you’d really hate to lose. That said, in over 20 flights in the last year the only things I’ve had confiscated were water bottles (my own fault really) and nail scissors, once.

Do you travel with your knitting?  What do you do to keep it safe?

About the Author

Elizabeth is a keen knitter, occasional designer, enthusiastic traveler and a professional freelance writer. She spent three years working for British knitting magazine, Simply Knitting, and has also written for The Knitter and other craft titles.

Last updated: June 27th, 2018.

37 Responses to How to keep your knitting safe on the go

  1. Doreen says:

    Been knitting since aged 14 – now into 83rd year and even at my age, one still learns from other people -I do knit from pulling from centre of ball but the tip about being on a circular needle I like, and thank you for that tip as will use.

  2. Jennifer Spencer says:

    You may also wish to bear in mind that knitting needles and short scissors are permitted on US flights, but not necessarily anywhere else. Check the regulations if you’re planning any international travel.

    I nearly lost my favorite small scissors in Australia because I stupidly didn’t check their flight security regulations and my favorite knitting needles in France for the same reason. I was luckily allowed to go back out to the airport and mail them back to myself by post (and I had to find a box and a post office), but that was only because I had the time to do it.

  3. Karen says:

    Wood needles are airplane friendly. I travel with a set of interchangeable needles with wood tips. Airplanes…circular are they way to go. Also, lots of plastic bags for work in progress.

  4. Charlotte Vitale says:

    Have come across some airlines (and a train) that took my No. 1 DB needles (I knit tons of socks) but not my No 7’s in the sweater project.. Luckily I had another set in my checked baggage and was able to quickly pull an end yarn through the stiches. Think it all depends upon the time, place, and security person. Might be getting a bit more select in the USA with the investigations going on in TSA.

  5. Carole says:

    What is the date for World Wide Knitting in Public Day

  6. Drenda Tomlinson says:

    World Wide Knitting in Public Day is this Saturday, June 13.

  7. Pat says:

    I knit in public regularly, at meetings, on buses, trains, even walking down the street. Of course, the knitting has to lend itself to frequent stops and starts to be good for walking. I have also taught knitting in small installments on commuter trains.

  8. J C Thibodeaux says:

    I often knit in public. My favorite down time is going to lunch at Chili’s and getting a spot at the end of the bar and ordering a glass of wine and something to eat and I knit. I prefer the bar because I can stay as long as I like at the bar-no need for table turnover. Sometimes I get strange looks but I am in my Zone knitting!

  9. Tonia Olsoe-Rubeo says:

    I’m a Flight Attendant and almost always have a project with me on my mostly international flights. While I’ve had security in London test the sharpness of my knitting needles by fingertip, I’ve never had needles taken from me (metal or bamboo, straights, dpn’s or circulars). And I usually just take a pair of children’s craft scissors, as the blades are short and also blunt, not sharp (another important consideration). Happy knitting and crochet! ToniaOR on ravelry

  10. judith turner says:

    I had !y gave short blade scissors confiscated on a Australian flight to UK! Made me so mad! Can I get these back when I return
    LOL? NO!??

  11. Pam says:

    I have scissors that has blades that are less than a half inch long for when I fly. But I haven’t flown since I bought them. They are very sharp and come with a scabbard.
    Very tiny & cute.
    I knit or crochet on the train and bus. Some people won’t sit next to me while others want to watch.

    • Pam says:

      Almost forgot. I use a carry bag with handles as I have lost my work when the bag has dropped from under my arm. So handles are a must.

  12. Jennifer says:

    I had just started knitting about 3 years ago, and was flying somewhere. I decided to flat knit on circular needles because I could just imagine dropping one of my single points on the plane and having it roll five rows away. Best decision I every made – pretty much always use circular needles for flat knitting now. Seems I always drop a single point even when I’m sitting at the table or desk. 🙂

  13. Patty says:

    One thing I always have in my carryon when I go to the airport for an international flight is a 6×9 padded self-addressed mailing envelope with several stamps on it (usually about $1.25 worth), so that if necessary I can package up any offending needles or scissors and mail them back to myself rather than having them confiscated. It is cheap insurance against losing favorite tools and only weighs an ounce or two. I can always rip back and pick up stitches if I have to pull needles out at a moment’s notice.

  14. Janice says:

    just an fyi: KLM took my 2 circular size 1 needles when we were leaving Budapest.

  15. Gill says:

    i use a small drawstring top washbag to keep my current sock projects in for when I knit away from home, it is both waterproof and quite pretty to look at with is vintage floral pattern

  16. Yvette says:

    when I’m knitting and walking around I use a Yarn Bracelet to hold my yarn, do its right there on my wrist and circulars are perfect, you can’t lose a needle that way. The Yarn Bracelet would be handy for your knitting in public day.

  17. Wendi says:

    What is a yarn bracelet? Link, please?

  18. Jessica says:

    I use these clips, Ewe Clips, to keep my knitting safe from sliding off my needles, safe from my babies and toddlers, and they never fall off my needles on their own.

  19. Ann Jones says:

    If you knit in the car (as a passenger) be careful when you get out and go into a restaurant along the way on a cold snowy day. After eating, we got back in, I picked up my knitting and after a row and a half the yarn became wet and frosty and continued to a wet and frosty end. I was left with the vision of the ball, left outside in the snow, caught in the door, was the ball unwinding faster and faster from Mahone Bay until it got caught on something and broke! I now have 11/12ths of a sweater and all my knitting friends have had a good laugh!

  20. Carlotta says:

    Zip locs help a lot

  21. Joyce says:

    I use ziploc bags for my portable projects. Admittedly not the most attractive solution, but they keep my projects dirt free, pet hair free, and safe from liquids. I put the needles and ball of yarn and whatever I am knitting in the bag- and then put that bag in a (more attractive) knitting or tote bag with any other supplies I need. When I take the project out to knit, I leave the ball of yarn IN the ziploc bag – no ball rolling away anywhere, and the yarn feeds nicely through the open top of the bag. If I have to stop suddenly, it is quick and easy to put the project back in the ziploc. If a project is hibernating for awhile, it is safe and clean until I pick it back up again.

  22. Lyn says:

    I travel back and forth to the Middle East namely the UAE Dubai and have never been allowed to take knitting needles on a flight :-((

  23. Interesting that you were allowed knitting needles in your baggage, was this baggage that went in the hold or cabin baggage, as instructions on all air lines confirm that knitting needles are not allowed. which is a shame as I find I enjoy doing my knitting on holiday.

  24. Sarah C says:

    I recently went on a Easy Jet flight to Naples and I was told I could take any wooden knitting needles on their flights. I was a little dubious so I took one of my cheaper circular needles and yes all was good. That was in our carry on luggage so I was very pleased

  25. Corri says:

    I fly a lot and my knitting keeps me sane. You say there’s a two hour delay??? Perfect! I I’ll finish this sock and cast on the next before I get home tonight :-). I’ve never had TSA question my circulars. Instead of gambling with questions about small scissors, I always carry finger nail clippers to break my yarn. Works great!

  26. Sheila says:

    I’m on holiday abroad at the moment and travelled with Monarch airlines who say they allow knitting needles in hand luggage but Birmingham Airport that we left from say they do not allow them in hand luggage so I always hedge my bets and have my Knitpro needles and hooks in hold luggage and crochet on the flight using a plastic hook (which is no real loss if it’s confiscated) and use a dental floss dispenser for cutting yarn instead of scissors etc. I carry the yarn and hook in a fabric bag which fits over my arm so the ball of yarn doesn’t disappear off under the seats !

  27. Linda says:

    i came very close to having my beloved square, steel circular needles confiscated in Mexico. Luckily we had fellow travelers still waiting to check in so they took my knitting. Unfortunately, we had a 3 hour flight delay and I was without anything to knit.

  28. Nini Heredia says:

    You are not allowned to knit in the plain!!

  29. Norma Martin says:

    Hi there. Thank you for a great article. It has always been a dilemma for me – knitting on a plane – since the understandable anti-terrorism rules came into being. I knit all year round (air con in summer) and would really love to knit on a plane but always feel I have to pack it all in with my main bag.
    I do always of long habit keep my knitting in a separate knitting bag with a waterproof lining, however I keep meaning to take up the yarn from the middle of the ball but keep forgetting – will do next ball! Actually I have more than one knitting bag as I always seem to have more than one garment on the knit! Depending on my frame of mind, tiredness etc., I ring the changes – maybe if I’m a bit tired, for example I’ll choose the most straight ahead knit to do.
    I too use circular needles when necessary – knitting a large cot blanket for my grandson they came in very handy – 3 separate sections nonetheless.
    One tip I do have is I always try to finish a row before leaving off a knitting session – if possible – If the doctor calls you in from the waiting room – you let it go ha ha. But even then if I know I’m next in, I’ll time it accordingly.
    The one tip I’m taking away from this that’s new for me though is one of the comments above – crocheting on a plane! Thanks for that – I’ve never really taken to crocheting but maybe next plane trip will be the ideal opportunity!
    Happy knitting everyone! 🙂

  30. Pia Thadani says:

    I don’t fly a lot, and i’m flying to the Knit and Crochet show this year. If I pack a set of interchangeable needles in a checked bag, do you think they’ll be safe? I’m concerned that TSA agents won’t know what they are if they scan the bag, and since they’re sharp points they may think they’re dangerous. It’s actually 2 sets in one pouch, along with connectors and stoppers and extra cords and such…would really hate for anything to happen to it. I’ve been considering fedexing it to the hotel instead.

    • Pia Thadani says:

      (yes, I know, I’m probably being totally paranoid).

    • Sheila says:

      I pack Knitpro symphonie dpns and Knitpro symphonie circular needles AND Knitpro metal crochet hooks together with scissors, metal stitch holders, needles and metal ‘gourd’ shape stitch markers in fabric roll up cases in the middle of clothing in my case and have never had any problems

      • Pia Thadani says:

        Ok thanks! 🙂 I’m in that “obsessing over stupid things” phase. Always seems to happen when I’m really excited about something lol

  31. Mette says:

    Need your help fellow knitters! So got the bag, the needle tip protecters and starting from inside the ball down, but I’m terrified of breaking my wooden knit pro needles (for the third time…) on the go. Does anyone know of a type of protector that can be clipped around the needles and preferably fit more than one size needle?? I cannot be the only one with this problem out there 🙂

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