How to Pack Yarn Projects for Airplane Travel
by Kathryn Vercillo
Vacations are a time to relax and decompress. Unfortunately, travel itself is often stressful. Getting to the airport on time, dealing with going through security, handling flight delays and simply having to sit with the throngs of people who are also traveling can all build anxiety in our bodies. Knitting and crochet have both been proven to help reduce stress. That's why it's so smart to take your yarn projects with you on your trips. Are you worried that trying to pack your project will just add one more stress to an already frustrating travel plan? Don't fret; we have all of the information that you might need to make your travel crafting easy.
TSA Guidelines for Knitting and Crochet Tools
One of the most stressful parts of air travel is the first step of getting through airport security. There are a lot of rules about what you can and cannot bring on planes. Luckily, your craft supplies are generally going to be allowed on the plane so you don't have to worry too much. There are, however, a few guidelines that you'll want to know to make sure that you sail through to your gate without any issues.
- Knitting needles and crochet hooks are typically allowed on planes. You should have almost no hassle with crochet hooks. Knitting needles might prove more difficult because a rare security person might consider them a weapon. This doesn't happen very often. The easiest way to prevent problems is to bring plastic or bamboo hooks and needles, as these are less likely to appear threatening than aluminum or steel supplies.
- Scissors can get you into some trouble. It's truly unlikely that your crochet hooks or knitting needles will be confiscated. Where you might run into trouble is if you bring a pair of scissors with you to cut the yarn. Scissors are considered a potential weapon. Pointed-tip metal scissors that are longer than 4" are not allowed on planes. Your best bet is to bring a pair of plastic kids' scissors. They cut yarn just fine and won't pose any problems going through security.
- Sewing needles are allowed on planes. If you use a sewing needle to weave in your yarn ends then you can go ahead and pack that into your carry-on bag because there are no rules that disallow these craft supplies.
These are, of course, general rules. Security personnel at any given airport can always question what you are bringing on to the plane. For that reason, you should be sure not to carry supplies that are important to you. Leave your vintage crochet hooks and favorite knitting needles at home and bring the ones along that you're okay with losing on a trip just in case the worst scenario happens!
Also remember that TSA guidelines do occasionally get updated. Check the official list of prohibited items before you travel. Your airline might also have specific rules that you can review on their website. You will especially want to double-check this information if you are traveling internationally, as the rules can be much stricter at foreign airports than they are here in the United States. The bottom line is: you are probably not going to have trouble getting your craft supplies on to the plane but make it easier on yourself by packing non-threatening plastic craft tools.
Pack a Separate Craft Bag
Since you're unlikely to encounter any real problems with getting craft supplies through security, the main hassle that you'll have is probably going to be packing everything into your carry-on bag. Most airlines allow you to take on one personal item (such as a purse or laptop bag) and one small suitcase (with specific measurements as outlined by the airline). If at all possible you should pack everything else into your suitcase and make your personal item a craft bag. You might pack a wallet and any medications into the craft bag, since it will sit under the seat in front of you. Alternatively, you can carry your purse on as normal and pack a small craft bag into your suitcase. You have to make sure that it all fits in those two bags but then you can remove the craft bag to keep with you when you store your suitcase in the overhead compartment. It's important that your craft bag is a separate bag just in case you're on one of those flights that's filled to the brim and they make you put a tag on your suitcase and send it down with the checked baggage. You don't want to go through all of the work of bringing your craft project only to be stuck without it on the plane!
What should be in your craft bag:
- The yarn for your project. If you're bringing a lot of yarn then you might pack some in the suitcase and just include what you'll use on each flight in the craft bag.
- Your craft tools. Make sure that all of your hooks, needles, sewing supplies and scissors are packed neatly into your bag for easy access.
- Stitch markers. It is not uncommon to have to pause in the middle of your work when you are crafting in an airport or on a plane. Bring stitch markers so you can pause without your work unraveling.
- The pattern for your project. You don't want to be stuck on the plane with all of that yarn and not be able to work because the pattern is sitting on your desk at home!
- Row counter. You might find that with all of that pausing to get on the plane, talk to your noisy neighbor, order your beverage from the stewardess, etc. that you constantly get lost as to which row and stitch you're on. A row counter prevents this problem. A phone app that works offline is a another good choice so that you aren't bringing any unnecessary extra items along with you.
What Yarn Should I Bring?
You can bring any type of knitting or crochet project that you would like when you travel but there are some tips you might want to consider when it comes to making your yarn selection.
- Bring washable yarn. You just never know what kind of silly accidents might happen on a plane. You could be working away comfortably in your seat when you hit a small bit of turbulence and your neighbor's coffee spills right on to the project on your lap. Make life easy on yourself and leave the high-maintenance yarn for another time, choosing acrylic or other easy-wash yarn for your plane project.
- Lighter weights are a better option. Bulky yarns are lovely to work with but they take up a lot of space in your yarn bag and you don't get a lot of yardage out of them. That means that you'll quickly use up what you have, which can be really sad if your flight gets delayed and you find yourself sitting in an airport for hours with only a finished project on hand. Choose worsted weight yarn or lighter yarn.
- Thread crochet might not be your best choice. Although thread is even lighter than yarn, it isn't a top choice for plane travel unless it's a niche you're very comfortable with already. For one thing, the steel crochet hooks might be tougher to get through security. You probably still won't have a problem but these thin, pointy hooks are more dangerous on the plane. You don't want to be working on your project, hit a bumpy spot in the air and jam your hand with the sharp thread crochet hook. Plus thread crochet requires a little more concentration and you just might not have that on a long flight.
- Bring yarn that's ready for use. Center-pull yarn skeins are ideal because they don't flop all over the place so there's less risk of your yarn falling off your lap as you work.
- Don't bring a lot of color changes. When you choose the project(s) for the plane, consider a project that allows you to use entire balls of yarn without color changes. Packing many different colors takes up a lot of room in the suitcase and requires more shifting around in the seat. If you don't enjoy monochrome projects, use a variegated yarn.
Keep Yourself Healthy
Crochet and knitting are great options for plane travel because they reduce your stress levels which helps you stay relaxed and healthy during your trip. However, there are some specific health considerations that you'll want to keep in mind if you're crafting on long flights.
- Take short breaks from the work, such as stopping every half hour for a few minutes, instead of crafting continuously. You will probably be holding your arms at a weird angle as you work because they don't fit naturally in the seat space and this can cause tension in your wrists, pain in your neck and shoulders and even lead to headaches. Just put a stitch marker in your work, set the project in your lap and release the tension from your body.
- During your breaks, you may do some micro-stretching in your seat as well. Boeing has a list of recommended airline seat exercises and Healthline has some stretches specifically for the hands and wrists.
- Make sure to use your overhead light when working. You can cause yourself eye strain if you're struggling to see your stitches in a low-lit plane.
What are your favorite travel tips? Let us know on social media!