Mrs Jones, Crafty Maven

  • Can you knit on a plane ...and other advice for the crafty traveler
  • Sarah Boulter
  • interchangeable knitting needlesknit tool kitknitting on planesproject bagsyarn store

Can you knit on a plane ...and other advice for the crafty traveler

Sometimes squeezing in time for craft can be a challenge in this mad world of high achieving, over committed super women and men. Many of my friends will look at my latest project and say “I don't know how you do it”. Well the secret my petals is somewhere in the vicinity of obsessive compulsive and time management. Rather than focus on my compulsive over achievingness…. maybe we can talk more about time…and travel (but no, not time travel, sorry this is not my secret power!).

I have to be honest, most of my knitting happens when I am travelling these days. I have it down pat.

First, I have projects neatly packed in their own little bags. You can get some very pretty project bags, but I repurpose cotton rice bags that come with a built in zip. Luckily we eat a lot of rice and I have accumulated quite a lot of these rice bags. The great thing about these bags is they aren't too big and you can leave your yarn in the bag while you stitch leaving just a little gap open for the yarn to slide out. This stops your yarn from rolling away on the bus.

 Rice bags make useful craft project bags

I advise this from experience having had the rascally ball of yarn spool off under several seats on a bus once. It set off a chain reaction of high school students catching the ball and passing it back under the seats to reunite it with its project. The good spirit and enthusiasm of these teens was wonderful to behold as the usual disinterested, I’m too cool for school snarls were briefly forgotten in the chase!

I also always use interchangeable knitting needles on a cable…my favourites are these Knitpro Symphonie needle tips and cables. There are a couple of reasons for using this type of needle.

First they pack up small and the last thing you want when travelling is a pair of long, pointy sticks to put in your bag. And because I use wooden ones (rather than metal) they pass muster in the security check of airports. I have travelled overseas on a couple of different airlines and within Australia and have never been questioned on them yet.

 Of course the second reason for using interchangeables is that if the unthinkable happens and they are confiscated at an airport then I can screw off the needle tip and preserve my knitting.

Which brings me to the second thing I travel with….a small case for my accessories. Now one of my dear friends gifted me a Namaste Buddy case a few years ago and I carry this. In it I carry stitch markers, the pins for changing my needle tips and a spare pair of caps for the needle cable and a large darning needle. The buddy case is probably bigger than I need but it does have the feature of being magnetised so my things stay put (I put the stitch markers on a safety pin for this purpose).

Case of knitting tools for travelling 

Now no need to race out and buy one (well who am I to deny you a crafty indulgence...go ahead if you wish)…but say you have stumbled here the night before a long plane trip and you need a solution now…you could use a small tin or a small plastic jar or similar. In fact a small snack box with one of those advertisers fridge magnets hot-glued into the lid for the little needles and safety pins would be very crafty and practical and be a use for the multitude of real estate agent magnets on your fridge right!

And the final thing in my project bag is a tape measure. I do have possibly the most stylish one in a leather case that came on sale from Elk accessories in Melbourne a few months ago, but a simple dress maker's tape will do.

Oh and often there is a screwed up piece of paper with the pattern printed on it in my bag and a pencil! Smart people will probably have their pattern on their tablet or phone, but I often find with travelling its so easy to forget where you are up to so writing it on the paper which you can quickly slip in and out of the bag suits me.

You will note I don't have scissors. Really it's not necessary and it's a sure fire way to get security at an airport pawing around in your yarn bag! When I travel on non-aircraft I usually have my pocket knife which has scissors on it, but actually that is more likely to be used on fingernails! If you are using non-synthetic yarn you should be able to snap with your fingers. A friend recently said she travels with a cutter from garden twist ties, so if you feel you need a yarn cutter try that!

Green twist tie cutter can be used for cutting yarn

So to answer the question that might have brought you here...can you take knitting needles on a plane? You sure can, but be clever about it. When knitting on a plane, I was once asked to put them away for take off...in case I took an eye out (fair enough) but otherwise the staff are usually very interested..sometimes they even give me special treatment (another nice cup of tea for the nice nanna knitting in row 12...).

I have completed some quite big projects through travel crafting. I completed a lace cardigan on buses over the space of 12 months. 

Honey bee cardigan







And I recently made a beanie for myself between Brisbane and Copenhagen and a cardi for my granddaughter on planes between Brisbane and Perth!

Tebe slouchGarter knit baby cardigan

One of the things I have discovered about knitting or crocheting while traveling is how knitting in public delights, fascinates and engages people. Those who knit or crochet themselves will almost always ask about your project, talk about their most recent project and share a conspirator’s grin. 

But what I love the most is young men who will watch intently and slyly for a while before curiosity gets the better of them and they ask what you are making ask if it's knitting and then often share a story about their nan or mum who also knits or crochets.

 So co-crafters of the world, craft while travelling…it’s a way to make friends and buy time for your passions! Do you have a travel craft story or tip?

  • Sarah Boulter
  • interchangeable knitting needlesknit tool kitknitting on planesproject bagsyarn store

Comments on this post (2)

  • Sep 12, 2015

    I am reminded of growing up in England, during the fifties, when it was common to see women knitting on public transport.
    Memories of my teenage years include the daily bus trip to school and back.The school bus collected students from the surrounding countryside taking them to high schools in the nearest town. It was common to see girls knitting as the bus wound its way though the pretty Cotswold country lanes and villages (shades of Midsummer Murders!).
    In those days we (girls that is) all seemed to knit and crochet – I remember learning to knit a dish cloth at primary school using thick wooden needles and string. While our mothers, aunts and grandmothers knitted and sewed much of the family’s clothing – particularly baby clothes. Any anouncement that someone was ‘expecting’ would bring out the needles and patterns!
    It is pleasing to see a resurgence of these crafts. I think that knitting and sewing was seen by many women of my generation as ’women’s work’ that tied us to oppressive female roles.
    Thanks to the the feminist movement women and men can now have a career AND knit!

    — Grandma Rosie

  • Sep 11, 2015

    I can highly recommend knitting whilst travelling. Long flights to Europe or the US provide wonderful opportunities for knitting. Train travel through Europe provides even more possibilities. The other advantage of knitting “on the go”, is that it seems to knit in some memories to each garment. As I knit for family, when I see them wearing various pieces it reminds me of where I was when the garment was under construction. Some fond memories indeed. Oh and project bags for balls of yarn are a must. I was once at the doctors surgery and when I walked into the consultation room I discovered that I’d left a trail of yarn down a very long corridor!

    — Jacinta

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