Travel Knit Pack

February 11, 2013

It is a known fact that knitters cannot and should not travel without taking along a knitting project. During the long waits at the airport or the dreadful plane rides; there is nothing more useful or civilized to do than to knit. Other passengers can waste away their time chatting idly, playing around on their ipads or snoring ungraciously.  True knitters have something much better to occupy themselves with- they knit.

I have not met anyone who enjoys packing any bag, especially for traveling. No surprises there! With all the existing luggage limitations enforced by airlines; every ounce and inch of our luggage contents count. While packing clothing items is by itself quite a task; packing knitting essentials in a nice little bag can truly be a challenge. Fitting all those essential knitting tools into the tiny space left in the carry-on bag takes equal dose of imagination and optimism. Or perhaps, one could plan ahead and armor oneself with something like a “Travel Knit Pack”.

Seasoned travelers always have a “Travel Bag” ready and waiting.  Once traveling summons them; all they need to do is to grab the bag and go. Minus clothing; all their “travel needs” are in the bag. I have two of these go-to travel bags; one for personal stuff and one for knitting stuff.

Such bags -no doubt- don’t grow on trees and contriving them takes real effort and concentration. I have spent some time perfecting my “Travel Knit Pack”. Here are what a few points to consider when making your own:

  • The Bag Itself
    • Choose soft sided bags over rigid cases. You can fit more in them and they in turn fit better inside your carry on.
    • Size matters- While large and bulky are a no-no; small and flimsy is not practical. Pick a bag that fits your longest needle or tool; nothing bigger. Mine is a pretty durable nylon zippered bag and measures approximately 9”x5”x2”.
    • Material matters- Your bag should be strong (sturdy), yet light in weight. Nylon bags are often the winning ticket.
    • Closure- Only zippered bags, please! Other closures will not do. Velcro is the worst as not only it makes an undesirable noise while opening or closing; it also catches onto yarns and your own clothes.
    •  The Essentials
      • Knitting Needles and Needle Caps
        • Material- While TSA does not mention any restriction regarding the type of needles on their website;  play it safe:
          • Choose bamboo or plastic needles over metal ones.
          • Choose circular, double pointed or short straight needles over the long straight type.
          • If using interchangeable circulars; detach the cable from needles and pack them separately.
          • Needle caps protect all- needle tips, the bag and other contents as well. They also make needles look harmless.
  • Yarn/Tapestry Needles
    • Pack only the short blunt-tipped ones, preferably the plastic kind.
  • Scissors- Blunt tip (kid safe) scissors with a shorter than 4-inch blades
    • Don’t pack those cute circular thread cutters with a hidden blade in your carry-on bags. TSA does not allow them. Also scissors with sharp tips are not permitted.  An empty dental floss container can cut thin to medium weight yarns.
  •  Yarn
    • Don’t take along expensive yarns. It would be devastating to lose them or have them confiscated for some unforeseen reason.
    • Bring enough balls of yarn to keep you going for the length of your trip. Store them in durable (freezer) zip lock bags. Don’t forget to press out the air before zipping the bag. If taking more than one ball of yarn; pack one in your carry-on and the rest in your checked luggage.
    • Scrap Yarn in contrasting color- A couple of feet would do. Just in case you need to leave working stitches on hold, etc.
  • Stitch Markers and Pins
    • Don’t pack all your stitch markers and pins. Just a few different color ones will do. Again, choose plastic over metal. Pack them in Jewelry or snack size zip lock bag. I have various kinds of stitch markers but I love the StichDots for traveling. They come in an old fashioned rubber coin purse which is great for traveling.
  • Ruler/Needle GaugeMeasuring Tape
    • The short 6-inch ruler & needle gauge combos are the best. I carry the one from Knitpicks.
  • Knitting Instructions
    • Make 2 copies of your original pattern. Pack one in your checked bag and one with your project.
  • Writing Material
    • Take along a few sheets of post-it pads (preferably 3”x5”) to help in following instruction lines or to make notes on.
    • A small and light weight notepad is always a good idea to have at hand. I prefer the ones with graph paper or blank pages with not lines.
    • Pencil, Eraser and Sharpener
      • Mechanical pencils are the obvious choice. Otherwise, pack a short pencil, small eraser and a sharpener.

A Few More Notes & Links:

  • Beside a foldable pair of scissors; no knitting tools of mine have ever been confiscated. I had carried the pair on a long trip through Far East. It made it from USA to Toronto, onto Shanghai, Singapore, Laos, and Thailand. Unfortunately, the officer at Bangkok airport viewed it to be of a dangerous nature and took it away while leaving Bangkok for China. I have heard that South American countries generally don’t allow knitting needles/tools. I have visited Peru and Argentina without any issues. However, quite honestly, I cannot remember if I carried my knitting onboard while traveling to these countries. I have carried my Travel Knit Pack safely through airports in the U.S., Canada, Europe, India, Turkey, South Africa, Egypt and Morocco. I might have been lucky and a lot depends on what a given airport security officer deems dangerous or suspicious. Therefore, play it safe. Don’t pack your expensive tools and yarns. Take along a smaller, less complicated project.
  • Check both domestic and foreign government agencies for the latest updates regarding permitted items to take onboard before you leave home. Check regulations for all countries in your travel plan.

© 2013, livingamused. All rights reserved.

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