I’ve been travelling a lot lately, which is always its own mixture of fun, frustrating, tedious and exciting. I enjoy getting to see new places and explore new scenery but I’m not sure I will ever miss being bleary-eyed at airports, checking I have my passport for the five thousandth time and hoping I haven’t missed a last-minute gate change.
Unfortunately, airlines have yet to have a row of seats with trestles so the embroidery addicts can bring their frames as they fly, so my Jacobean crewelwork is currently hiding under the tissue paper at home. However, I always make sure I have a few more portable pieces to break up the tiresome waiting that always comes hand in hand with travelling.
Travelling with your craft supplies isn’t always easy. First of all, you can’t bring your entire stash. After all, you do need to leave room in your suitcase for all those exotic new fabrics and yarns you will undoubtedly find on your routes around cities that just happen to cross every craft store in town. The other issue is airport security can be a little challenging when the contents of your hand baggage might come in handy if you need to dispose of someone on the plane…
There’s a lot on the Internet about whether you can or can’t travel with things like knitting needles, thread cutters, small scissors and pins. Several airlines say on their websites that small blades (and the definition of small seems to vary country to country) are okay and knitting needles are allowed in hand baggage. However, ultimately, everything is down to the discretion of airport security, rather than the airline you are travelling with, and it’s one of those situations where there’s not a lot you can do to argue.
I normally stick to crochet projects if I’m flying, preferably with a nice, fat hook and have never had any problems or had the hook trigger a search. Much as I love doing hairpin lace and working with size 40 cottons, they aren’t ideal when you’re struggling to stay awake or bouncing around with some particularly exciting turbulence.
I’ve had Aoibhe Ni’s Venus shawl started for quite some time now, and apart from the initial cast on, I think all of this has been worked on airplanes. From my limited progress, you can tell I generally prefer to sleep during air travel if at all possible. The yarn is Olympus Emmy Grande 192, which is a 2-ply cotton that I picked up when I was in Japan in 2014, which shows the shameful lack of progress on this project.
Unfortunately, taking it out again made me realise I’d been inconsistent between rows with how I worked the central stitches, which might have been partly why it was working up in a weird shape. As I had worked it over such a long time as well, the tension wasn’t as even as I would have liked either. Thankfully, not making too much progress means there wasn’t too much to rip out.
I had intended to leave the first row or two in, as I remembered Venus being really fiddly to cast on. However, a fatal moment of distraction and some excessive brute force meant that I was left with not even a magic circle to start again. Whoops. Back to the drawing board for that one…
On my return journey, while I was waiting for my bags to be scanned, I realised I’d made an incredibly stupid mistake. One of the guards asked me to open my bag so he could search it. Much to my horror, it turned out I’d managed to leave all my ‘dangerous sewing items’, intended for my checked baggage, in my carry-on.
Then began the process of opening every single pocket and turfing everything out to be swiped. Most of my sewing kit would be difficult to replace, but my snips, as well as being the most amazing cutting tool ever, have a huge amount of sentimental value to me and I was starting to get worried that they were about to be confiscated.
Thankfully, it seemed to be the box of pins that had caused the most alarm and they weren’t even too bothered by my tekobari – which even looks horribly sharp and stabby. After swabbing my bag and me for explosive residue, they eventually let me through, sewing paraphernalia intact. A relief, but I think I was quite lucky there. Moral of the story: pay some attention when packing your own bags.
If you are going to be taking your projects on your journeys, I really recommend having a collection of project bags. If you haven’t overpacked, this makes it really easy to just grab a project, have everything to hand and make the most of your waiting time between flights. Be a bit careful with things like knitting needles, unless you have something to cover the end, as my double pointed needles seemed to be able to stab their way through anything. I also tend to keep my scissors and sharp objects in my Ayanokoji gamaguchi purse as it has small pockets to keep them in and the clasp top makes it easy to just pop open and shut.
If you are headed on any adventures, safe travels and happy crafting!