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Flying overseas soon? Don't forget to take your knitting!

Knitters on a Plane - Flying Long-Haul

Take-on Bag

  • You’ll need a large tote that looks like a good but big hand-bag. This is the one I chose:

    I love it! It has met all my requirements below. It comes with stitch markers, large tapestry needle (don’t take on plane!) and a small wool cutter attached to the inside of the bag. There are zipped and open pockets on the outside of the bag, and also inside.

  • It needs to be big enough to fit all you need and small enough to fit under the seat in front of you without taking your foot space. You don’t want the crew to insist on putting it in the overhead.

  • It needs to be sturdy and not a typical knitting canvas bag.

  •  Preferably reasonably waterproof as this bag will double as your day bag in your travels.

  • Choose one which has an adjustable shoulder strap to go over your torso and not hang from your shoulder. Top tip for preventing back pain. Mine can be removed and the bag has handles to use as you would a hand-bag.

  • Buy one which looks nice and you like the colour of. This is not the time to buy the cheapest or with the mindset of ‘that will do’. This bag is going to be your work-horse and look good.

  • On your holiday it will double as project carrier, lunch, drink, hat, purse and lipstick carrier, too. And the odd small gift you find room for.

  • Preferably with a zip for ultimate waterproofing. Mine had large domes but folded over easily when we got caught in the rain. Choose size and other functionality over zip.


  • Buy bamboo and a spare of each. Get used to using them in advance. It’s not recommended to use them for the first time mid-flight. They have a different feel to them and you need to be careful not to put pressure on them as they can snap, especially the sock needles. Store in between firm cardboard.

  • It’s not worth the risk of security confiscating your metal needles. Honestly! As if you would use them on anything (or person) other than your knitting! Security people obviously don’t knit!

  • Pack your precious and pricey needles in your stow-away luggage.


  • Choose projects that are light in colour. The lighter shades are easier to see in low light or darkened cabin.

  • Be sure you’re taking projects that don’t require constant reference to a pattern or concentration, and a pattern you’re familiar with. I took what I thought was a simple sock pattern which needed me to purl one stitch every fourth stitch on every fifth row. This was not suitable for a low light or dark cabin as I needed to check regularly. I had to put it away and was immediately grateful I had three other projects to choose from.

  • Consider a neck light if you don’t want to be bothered by low light. However, your fellow travellers in your vicinity may not be impressed if they’re trying to sleep.

  • Keep each project in its own bag rather than all mixed in the main bag. You will thank me for this tip.


Tape measure

  • Take one which is retractable. You don’t want to rewind an old fashioned tape measure by hand every time you use it and you just know it will get tangled in your bag.

Other important things

  • Learn to knit by feel. Choose projects that don’t require you to look at them all the time. If you don’t know how to knit by feel, practice before you go so most of a row can be knitted without looking, with the occasional glance down and as you start the next row. This is very handy for knitting in low light and as you watch movies or read.

  • Take more than you think you’ll knit. It’s good to have options if you get bored, your needle breaks or any other reason you didn’t count on which causes you to stop knitting. Take print-outs of other patterns that you might want to try.

  • Take a knitter’s hand cream or balm.

  • Take another ball of sock wool. Just in case.

  • In your stow-away bag, take new snap-lock baggies. Use these for your return trip with your wool and knits you made. You can squash them down quite easily by removing as much air as possible before sliding them closed. Ask a wool shop you’re buying from if they offer the service of air-suction from packaging.

  • Look for wool you can’t buy at home. Especially wool that supports small suppliers and those raising heritage breeds.

Thanks so much, Christine, for your invaluable advice! You've got me thinking and planning for when I head overseas soon! x Rachel


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