Can I Take Knitting Needles on an Airplane?

People have a lot of questions when it comes to traveling with their knitting and crochet. But, by far and away, the number one question is: Can I take knitting needles on an airplane with me? The short answer is yes, but read on for important details.

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TSA Allows Knitting Needles On The Plane

If you’re flying in the United States, then you need to know the TSA rules. When you check their website, the answer is very simple. Can I take knitting needles on an airplane? TSA says yes. They say you can take them in your checked baggage as well as your carry-on luggage.

I travel around the USA all the time with a full pack of knitting needles in my carry-on luggage. Yes, I have Signature Needle Arts double pointed needles on my work in progress (WIP) – usually a pair of simple socks (get the pattern here), and a set of circular Chiaogoo needles on a hat (they make great travel projects) and I’ve never been stopped.

How to Pack Knitting Needles For the Plane

The TSA rules also provide this reminder:

“Any sharp objects in checked bags should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and inspectors.”

Therefore, if you’re packing your knitting needles into your checked baggage, then you should follow proper protocol. This simply means making sure the ends aren’t poking out able to hurt someone who might check your bag. This is a good rule of thumb when packing knitting needles in a carry-on as well. Simply use a knitting needle storage bag inside of your larger bag to solve this problem.

I love to use the Erin Lane Bag project bags when I fly. The sock bag and the two-fer are my favorites because I can hang them by the snap on the tray table. These are truly a MUST HAVE for me when I travel.

Knitting needles on a plane and an Erin Lane Bags Twofer bag hanging from the tray table clip - knitting needles with entrelac knitting - Marly Bird

One time, I was on the same flight as a local friend (and knitter) to a show and we got to sit next to each other on the plane. When we pulled out our plain knitting we chuckled because we both had an Erin Lane Bag with our WIP in it! You can see mine was already hanging from the tray table clip while he had his rested on his knee.

erin lane bags on a plane to hold the knitting project while flying - Marly Bird

Also, I’ve been known to use my project bag, stuffed with a nice squishy project in it, as a pillow under my head as I lean against the window.

What About Sewing Needles, Thread Cutters, Scissors, Etc?

Again, if you’re turning to TSA, the short answer here is yes, you can take these things on board. But there are caveats. TSA reiterates, “In general, you may place your knitting needles and needlepoint tools in carry-on or checked baggage.” Therefore, both your knitting needles and your sewing needles / tapestry needles should be fine.

They add, however, that scissors and thread cutters are a different story. Their official rule is that if scissors are smaller than 4″ then you’re allowed to bring them in your carry-on luggage. Unfortunately, their rule of thumb is that “circular thread cutters or any other cutter or needlepoint tools that contain blades must be placed in checked baggage.” In other words, you probably won’t be able to take those on the plane.

Make a note – All of These Regulations Depend on What Happens at TSA Security: I know a lot of people who have taken circular thread cutters in their carry-on luggage without any problems. It all really depends on a variety of different factors. While TSA has formal guidelines, the people at the TSA checkpoint have a little bit of discretion when letting you through security. Therefore, you might encounter someone who says that you can’t take your thread cutters or scissors or anything else on board. In fact, despite the official rule, someone might tell you that your knitting needles look dangerous and can’t come on board.

You have the right to ask for a supervisor. When you do, say that you had looked up “can I take knitting needles on an airplane?” and the TSA site says that you can. Bring the page up on your mobile to show them. In most instances, their refusal is a mistake, and the supervisor will let you through.

But if you always want to be safe, bring an envelope with you that you can use to mail your needles to you should you get somebody who is absolutely unmoveable. It is better to be safe than sorry!

Travel Tip for Scissor on a Plane from Marly

Little known fact about me, I absolutely LOVE BACK TO SCHOOL SUPPLY SHOPPING! It is a personal holiday I do every year 🙂 You may look around the school supply section and only see lined paper and glue sticks, but if you look closer with a crafters eye, you will see items that can be used for your knitting and crochet!

Listen, during back to school time go to your local Target and stock up on the child safety scissor with the rounded blade tip. These are super inexpensive and you can get one in many colors. They are perfect for on the plane as they fit the restrictions for scissors on a plane, don’t take up too much room in your project bag, and if you drop them or lose them you are not out a ton of money.

Another wonderful option, is to bring a pair of…are you ready for this?…toenail clippers! Yup, these work perfectly for travel when you need to snip your yarn!

Travel Tips for Taking Knitting Needles on a Plane

If you want to make it easier on both yourself and the TSA staff, then consider these options when you want to take your knitting project on the plane with you to fly to your next vacation:

  • Pack bamboo or plastic knitting needles instead of aluminum / metal ones – this is not mandatory and honestly I don’t do this at all. But is has been suggested by many so I am listing it here.
  • Choose only the needles you need for the flight. Pack the rest in your checked bag if you have one.
  • Choose shorter knitting needles such as 4″ DPNs or circulars – Straight needles do look like a weapon, LOL. But more importantly, they are cumbersome and will hit the person sitting next to you where as the shorter needles will fit nicely in your own personal space without bothering the other passengers.
  • Stow them properly in a knitting tool bag – as mentioned, I love to use the twofer project bags, but recently I’ve also used the View Ewe Totes because I can see into the bag without having to rummage around it to find something (I put my notions in the project bag too to keep it all in one place).
    • Plastic bags are not an ideal choice because they can get a hole in them, become unzipped, and hold moisture which could ruin your project.
    • This is more for you than TSA but I want to mention this tip: Print the pattern your will use and put it in with your project bag – don’t rely on your phone or ipad as that battery can run out. Have a hard copy with you so you have it on hand if you need it.
  • Bring child safety scissors with you on the plane – YES, I am telling you, this is the way to go!
  • Bring a tin of stitch markers – I can not tell you how often I’ve dropped a stitch marker on the plane for it to be lost forever. So, I always bring extra markers AND I like to use bobby pins as markers as well because they do NOT fall.
  • Bring a retractable tape measure – chances are you will need it and it is much easier to use than one of those tape type ones.
  • Bring scrap yarn and a plastic tapestry needle – just in case, if you do have to remove your knitting needles from your work the scrap yarn can act as a lifeline to hold the project without losing stitches.

The answer to “can I take knitting needles on an airplane?” is yes. However, you can make it even easier on yourself by following the above rules.

black and white image of a travel knitting project next to the airplane window  before take off - knitting needles on a plane - Marly Bird

Can I Take Knitting Needles on an Airplane for International Flights?

This is where things get trickier. Each country has its own rules about what’s allowed in carry-on and checked baggage. Some countries are super flexible. Others are very strict. Therefore, you’ll have to check with the country and airlines you’re flying with when taking knitting needles on international flights. While most people report that they don’t have problems, you just never know. Shiny Happy World reports that knitting needles are allowed on UK and Australian flights but specifically prohibited in Greece and some other EU countries.

Below are the links for some popular destinations; try a Google search to find websites for other places.

What to Knit While Traveling

Well, I am going to be honest and tell you that I often spend more time on this decision than I do on my clothes for a trip. I don’t want to be stuck on a plane with the wrong project!

Here are the key things I think about for my travel knitting projects.

  1. Small enough that I won’t bother the other passengers.
  2. Pattern is easy to memorize and repeat – and is easy to stop at any point should I get tired or have to put it away sooner than planned.
  3. Simple colorwork or no colorwork so I don’t have to have more than 3 balls of yarn with me in one project bag.
  4. Project that I won’t finish too early and not have anything else to work on while still flying – Yet, let’s be real…I’m bringing more than one project with me!

Once I narrow my projects down based on those 4 items I then choose what gets to go. I almost ALWAYS have a simple entrelac project with me because the little tiers are small, I can knit backwards so I don’t have to turn my work, and it is fun to work on. This can be with a self striping yarn so I don’t have to bring multiple colors, or with a few colors of my favorite yarn so I can work each tier with a new color.

Another bonus to this is the person sitting next to you will think you are super cool because you can knit backwards!

For my second project, it usually is between two things: a pair of socks or a simple shawl. Both projects don’t take up much space and are easy to make. I have a general sock recipe (get the free sock pattern here)I use to make socks and really don’t even have to look at the pattern anymore so that makes them super easy to bring on a plane.

The shawl, it can be a little trickier because I have to remember the shaping as I knit. Not impossible but it just take a bit more brain power than I might have. That is where the paper pattern comes in handy because I can make little tick marks on the paper to keep track of where I am as I knit. Then, when I put the shawl away with the pattern, I know the next time I pull it out I will know exactly where I am in the pattern. YAY!

Oh, something to mention is that one good thing about the knitting travel shawl project is it doubles as a wonderful project to work on while on the beach enjoying my vacation.

knitting needles in a work in progress shawl sitting on the lap of Marly Bird next to a sun hat - small knitting projects are great for travel - yes knitting needles can go on a plane - Marly Bird

The best part of traveling with my knitting needles on a plane

The best part is the chance to just sit and relax while I listen to a good book and knit. I can let others control the flight, handle the people around me and I just get some solitary time with my needles and yarn. Plus, I get to share my love of the craft with others around me.

Passengers and flight attendants usually will stop me to ask what I am making or how long I’ve been knitting. It is nice to share with them a little about knitting and how therapeutic it can be.

So, yes, you can take your knitting needles on a plane with you. I often do and once, I even had my mom sitting next to me knitting while I crocheted on the plane! Can’t wait to do that again!

Marly Bird and Marly's Mom on a plane knitting with knitting needles

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    • Marly Bird says:

      On every US flight I’ve been on, I could knit without any problem. It was when I tried to take needles on a flight from Mexico to the US there was a problem.

Marly Bird

The One and Only, Marly

Marly is a knitwear and crochet designer (and yarn addict) that is here to help you learn how to knit and crochet in a way that's fun and approachable.

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