Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Everyone loves knitwear... even the TSA

As Dana asked about plane knitting, I figured I might as well share what I've learned in the last few weeks.

First, knitting needles are no longer prohibited in the US, and I've never had mine confiscated in Canada either. However, knitting supplies are only permitted to the extent to which you don't look threatening; the screeener can confiscate anything s/he chooses. A short list of things that the screeners may or may not find threatening:

  • >30" circular needles
  • metal needles
  • big needles
  • dusty shoes

Seriously, what you need to do is the same as what you always need to do: be friendly, look non-threatening, carry non-threatening implements, and don't run into a screener having a bad day. (Why yes, I do have some stories, but not about knitting needles per se.) I especially don't believe they'd confiscate flexible plastic sock needles, so that's mostly what I've been using. I have travelled with pretty long Addi circulars, but they were size 3, which lowers their percieved threat level. It probably didn't hurt that they had quite a bit of my grey wrap sweater coming out of them already, making them look warm and fuzzy. I promise an update on the grey sweater soon, as it's growing again.


  1. i've had some foldable scissors confiscated (duh), but the most unpleasant experience i've had since 9/11/01 wasn't with a screener but with a fellow passenger. i was in lax knitting up the sleeve of my little nephew's sweater on some bamboo double-points (size seven, maybe?), when this jerk sits down next to me in the gate waiting lounge and says, "i can't believe they let you fly with those things and they won't let me bring my nail clippers!" i asked if it bothered him that they were letting me bring my needles or that they weren't letting him bring his clippers, a question that was apparently far too logical for his little pea brain to process. i explained that i was fully within the law and had passed all of the screeners. he was still sputtering and nasty. i then pointed out to him that the ball-point bic stic pen he was using to complete his expense report was far more lethal than my double-pointed needles, both in hardness and in the fact that i'd impale myself with more force than any intended victim (physics, anyone?). eventually i had the good fortune of giving up my overbooked seat and getting a first-class one on another flight and never had to see the guy again. it really soured my otherwise meditative, peaceful knitting experience, though!

  2. I've had quite a few people comment on the needles as well, but folding one of them in half (go go flexi-needles) seems to stop their complaints cold.

    I did, however, run into a few knitters who were thrilled to find out that you can now bring knitting onto planes. I hope to see more knitters in the future!