Monday, 30 June 2014

Knitting on a Jetplane

It's pretty obvious that knitting and air travel were made to go together*. There's the arrival at the airport hours (literally hours) before your scheduled departure time. There's the time spent during the flight itself, where you're obliged to sit still and not make too much noise. And then there's the queues to wait for security, passport checks, customs... to a non-knitter, it must seem like time idly squandered but, for a knitter, this is the chance to focus for hours on a project that would be otherwise impossible with the distractions of every day life.

My favourite travel knitting projects are socks and lace shawls. Projects with a high meterage-to-gram ratio, and something that I can absorb myself in while confined to a seat or a holding bay departure lounge. I knitted Haruni during a trip to the Netherlands and last year made a Swallowtail shawl in Denmark. Each project took less than 50g of laceweight yarn and positively sprinted off the needles as I worked on them whenever I was sitting still!

A Swallowtail shawl can be knitted from less than one 25g ball of Sublime Lace

There is a thorny question that goes hand-in-hand with travel knitting, though: can I take my needles on the plane?

The general consensus here at McA seems to be that it depends entirely on the whims personal convictions of the individual security personnel. And since I've never encountered any objections to my own travel knitting, I'd like to share with you my top tips for getting away with knitting on planes:

1. Don't ask if you're allowed. That question forces the staff to cover their own back and there's a greater chance that they'll say no.

2. Take wooden, bamboo or plastic needles instead of metal. They shouldn't get flagged up on any x-ray machines scanning for metal.

3. Take short double pointed needles, circular needles or crochet hooks and store them in a pencil case along with pens and pencils.

4. If you have really precious needles, take a stamped, self-addressed envelope with you so that you can post your trusty tools back to yourself instead of having to surrender them to the amnesty tubs. You might also want to take some scrap yarn to slide your project onto so that it doesn't unravel.

5. Take as few needles as possible in your hand luggage and store the rest in any suitcases going in the hold.

While I can't promise that this advice will cover every eventuality, I can testify to the fact that I've knitted on flights to Europe and to America on various airlines and it's never been questioned or objected to. And since air travel provides such ideal knitting conditions, I'd recommend tucking a wee project into your holiday bags and making some good knitting progress as you fly off to lands afar.

*I'd just like to say that I've never flown with small children but I get the feeling it's a very different story.