Allow me to explain

Dear Employees of the TSA,

Since it is you who are repeatedly searching my bags as I travel around the United States (at least, I hope it’s you.) I thought I would take this opportunity to explain some of the stuff you keep finding in my suitcase. I understand that the presence of all of those pointy metal sticks is probably what is triggering your attention, so allow me to explain. I am a travelling knitter.

Legends are told of these knitters who knit on one thing at a time until it’s done…but these are rare knitters and you will likely encounter few of them during your luggage searching career. Besides being cursed with a wicked short attention span, it seems to me that not all knitting is suited to every minute of my day, and I always have several things on the go so that I can knit all the time. This is, despite the frowns and odd looks that you give me when we spend time together rummaging my travel bags, is normal knitter behaviour.


My first and truly mighty companion is the perennial travelling sock. I got a comment yesterday from someone who noted that this sock showed, er….little progress despite turning up everywhere I go. True enough. The first time I wrote a book, I knit a pair of socks, starting the day that the book launched and continuing slowly, a few rounds every time I went somewhere, every-time I met someone.

I thought (though I am not usually prone to these romantic notions) that it would be a really interesting way for a knitter to record an extraordinary time in her life. A pair of socks so chock full of memories that you could scarcely wear them. For me it seemed so much more apt than a collection of fridge magnets or postcards.

When I began to celebrate this new book, I did the same thing. This sock (which will eventually be a pair) was begun in Pearson International Airport as I left for the first time and has seen everything I have. I knit a little on it each time to make it last the whole extraordinary journey.

Since I’m trying to make the Travelling sock last, I need another pair or two to take the real sock knitting heat.


The trekking sock, for moments of exhaustion or conversation, when I am only capable of plain vanilla round and round stockinette,


and the Potamo-ma-pus (I simply cannot say that.) socks.

The pattern isn’t difficult but does require attention, and I’m apparently not bright enough to knit from a chart at the same time as I think about anything else. I learned this the hard way, since every time I try to knit them while watching TV or having a conversation, I need to rip out an entire freaking repeat. (You will not hold me in higher regard if I tell you how many repeats I ripped out on these before I copped to this.)

For actually knitting during the flight, I have requirements as stiff as you do. Airplane projects must:

1. Fit in my purse. No afghans, no sweaters, nothing big.

2. Be light. So light that I will not resent it as I stagger through the 5th airport in 5 days hating everything, except you, my dear airport screener.

3. Not be warm on my lap as I sit in the airplane waiting for it to taxi away while the cabin temperature attempts to gently steam everyone aboard. (What is with that? Why are planes only comfortable when they are up in the air?)

4. Be on circular needles. I haven’t run into any airline restrictions (Thanks for that.) but straight needles have a tendency to poke the guy sitting next to you, and I do try to be polite. Constantly knitting, but polite.

5. Be interesting and challenging enough that by the 5th plane in 5 days I’m not thinking about stuffing my mouth full of the wadded up pattern just to break the monotony.

Right now, the Summer in Kansas shawl is fitting the bill.


I only knit on it on airplanes, so it’s going slowly, but it has the added bonus of a chart you can spread out on your lap that makes you look very busy and can deter conversation from the guy in the seat next to you.

Finally, I need to bring the meat and potatoes knitting. This is the knitting for in the evenings in hotels, for in cars, while watching tv, out to dinner in restaurants…etc.


I’ve got a client/friend producing me a set of twins sometime soon and each of them will need a sweater. This is “Rutelilje” from Dale of Norway’s baby book # 129 and though I’m getting a serious twitch from what seems like endless seed stitch on 2.25mm needles, I’m loving it. ( I don’t want you to worry about me twitching while I’m on planes. This is on straight needles, and we’ve already determined that this project doesn’t meet the screening requirements. No worries.)

When I pack all of this stuff I take everything I need to complete all of these projects, even if I am only going for 3 days and no-one could ever finish even one of them in that length of time. This speaks to a deep fear of running out of something to work on and an even deeper delusion regarding the speed at which I knit. This too, dear TSA employee, is normal among knitters. Also normal is the tendency for knitters to pick up more yarn and needles as they travel as both stash enhancement and souvenirs. All of these things together explains why it was absolutely normal and even to be expected that there were 5 sets of DPNs, 2 circular needles, 3 sets of straights and 11 balls/skeins or hanks of yarn in my suitcase on my way home. (Oh. That other stuff is roving. Did I mention I spin? It goes with the drop spindle in my cosmetic case.)

If you feel that it would help keep your employees from looking at me like I have three heads, I would be happy to print out letters of reference from other knitters and spinners who have not only carried this much, but purchased other luggage to hold their projects and acquisitions.

Many thanks for all that you do to make the world a safer place, and please don’t touch my underpants (not even with the gloves on).


Public Service Announcement.

Claudia, everybody’s favourite orange loving knitter and spinner is taking it on the road again this year and riding her bike 150 miles to raise money for MS research. This is a cause near and dear to my heart, and I want you to give her money. (I thought about trying to think of a nice way to say that, but sometimes, directness is best.)

If every knitter pledged her a dollar. Just one….

The possibilities boggle the mind. If you can possibly afford to contribute to this wonderful cause, please do.

145 thoughts on “Allow me to explain

  1. Awesome! I’m so glad there are other people out there as nutty as I am… working on several “packable” projects at once. I even have one project I save for backpacking… usually socks!

  2. TSA should be used to travelling knitters by now. At least they are well broken in at Port Columbus, I’ve certainly managed to do it for you here.
    You’re more disciplined than me. I usually have several projects that go in the carry on to amuse me during my flights and the endles waits to connect.

  3. The only thing worse than having the TSA question my need to knit on a plane would be having them touching my underwear (shudder).
    You should see how much knitting I took with me when we were gone for a month last summer. What you’ve described seems downright restrained.

  4. I laughed until I cried at this one. I know a few airport screeners. They do think we are a little nutty and are often worried that we’ll go carzy after having to rip out yet another row of that complicated pattern and stab someone with our pointy little sticks. One even thinks that we keep all those extra DPN’s so that we can stab the yappy people next to us to shut them up!!

  5. I certainly hope it wasn’t my comment yesterday that sparked the mention of socks. It was just for a laugh. 🙂
    I for one, will probably never be on a plane. Well, I have been in one, but never flown in one. I have a problem with heights and a little claustrophobic. Nothing major though.
    Makes you wonder why I wanted to be a fighter pilot when I was younger, doesn’t it?

  6. As I’m cleaning the diet coke off of the moniter I’m thinking…See, it’s normal that I pack more knitting than clothes when I travel. The fear of not having the right kind of knitting for the occasion is a valid concern.

  7. I am extremely happy to find out that despite their pointy and metal qualities, needles are ok on planes! I always needs to bring three or four different things to do on a plane w/me (short attention span? me? Never!) and I’m very glad that I can add my newly found love of knitting to the list!

  8. I’m comforted in the knowledge that I’m not the only one who can’t say/spell Pomatomus. I finally just gave in and dubbed them my Hippo socks. Hippopotamus…pomatomus…it’s all the same. Sort of.

  9. What is that GORGEOUS yarn you are using for your trekking sock??? I LOVE it and MUST have some – help???

  10. A well thought out plan to say the least. I hope you e-mailed your letter to them. I can’t wait to see the response 😉 And did you see the prize Claudia’s giving away? We’d all be fools not to donate.

  11. I see absolutely nothing wrong with your packing of kntting/travelling projects. Nothing. (I am sending my husband here to read this post, so he understands I am not alone).
    YOu should see what I take to the cottage in the summer. It’s a large amount of yarn, needles, patterns, books, magazines… You just never know what you might need.

  12. It does make you wonder, if so many of us share the same strategies for avoiding conversations on planes (whether by knitting or some other tactic), WHO are the people who want to talk so much? An alien race, no doubt, sent to infiltrate.

  13. Love all the current projects, especially that Trekking wool sock. Would you care to share with your readers the colorway/name of it? So relieved to read that you cannot knit Potampotmus (sp? whatever?!?)socks and watch TV at the same time!!! While I am content to think of you as the knitting goddess, I still like to think there is the remote(very remote) possibility that I may one day knit as beautifully as you do. One last thought: do they (they being the airline companies and current security measures) allow metal knitting needles on airplanes/in the cabin with you?

  14. I honestly think you should print a few copies of this to carry along….you never know! Maybe you could get some special treatment….from being a little crazy? or something equally special? 🙂

  15. Wow – I’m number 18… but I really don’t have anything to say – other than apparently I should check your blog at lunch instead of waiting til the evening when you have 100-200 comments already…

  16. Heh. Now I won’t feel bad next time I travel home. Though I may have to explain it to the people I’m going to visit. Muggles. They don’t get it.

  17. I can spell Pomatomus. I can say “Pomatomus” I have ripped it back 3/4 of a repeat 4 times now trying to knit Pomatomus when distracted. Can’t watch TV. Can’t chat. CAN’T lose the pencil — or I’ll be renaming it ‘rana catesbeiana’ and tossing it in a corner and having a good long sulk! Fortunately there are always other socks, would-be Olympic scarves and other projects to entertain this non-flying knitter.

  18. When I took a last minute trip to Maine for business, I packed yarn first, clothes second. Needing to assemble and stuff one of Debbie Bliss’ pigs for my grandson for Easter, I purchased a bag of polyester fill while there and had to literally stuff it into my suitcase for the trip home. Wonder what the screeners thought of that. I think it’s nice we provide them conversation for their breakroom.
    But I had a lovely conversation with a Canadian gentleman as I knit my socks and he reminisced about his grandmother knitting. It was most pleasant for both of us!

  19. I don’t trust those screeners — they hold my very sanity in their hands. If they decide they don’t like my dpns and take them away, I’m toast. So I always bring a fresh ball of sock yarn and my pattern in my purse and tuck my nonmetal dpns in the side pocket of my cargo pants, just in the unlikely event that TSA changes knitting needle regulations as I am on my way to the airport. You can’t be too careful these days.

  20. Fortunately, the TSA never gives me guff about knitting needles. And I have had the great pleasure of chatting with a few flight attendants who knit–they always apologize for interrupting me while I’m counting.

  21. Excuse me while I go get a squeegee to clean the coffee off my monitor!!
    My carry on contained At Knit’s End, a knitting magazine, 3 knitting projects and 3 books on tape. One of the books on tape was returned to the library from which it was borrowed by the plane cleaning crew who found it – the book had nothing to do with knitting. (Wouldn’t want you to think that I treat knitting material disrepectfully after all)
    Thanks for the story of the travelling sock. I’ve been at your blog for a couple of weeks, and am slowly working my way through your archives so was wondering.
    I’m home here, I’ve found my support group!!!!!

  22. I had a sneaking suspicion that the increase in the “TSA Love Notes” in my suitcases coincided with my increase in project variety that accompanies me anywhere. Now I know for sure!
    Along with a knitting project (or 3 or 4) I carry various stitching projects that include multiple needles *and* scissors. You just have to have the right project for the right mood.

  23. Sigh. I came to work today with no knitting. I never have time but on the other hand, I seriously jinx myself into long waits when I don’t have any sticks & yarn with me. The travelling sock plan hasn’t worked so well for me since I am darn sick of the blue sock I was knitting. Get over it, I tell myself. At the least, just cast on a new sock! okay. that’s the plan.

  24. Heh. I’ve flown in and out of all three Washington DC area airports (usually National, which is by far the strictest of the three). I’ve also flown in and out of Denver several times, which is widely acknowledged to be the most on top of things airport in the country. And I’ve flown in and out of some less strict airports (Port Columbus, for one. I’ve never had anyone ever blink there). The knitting needles and crochet hooks don’t even get a second glance from the TSA folks (scissors are a different story, but I’ve learned to pull them out of the carryon and set them on my shoes so they can look at them without having to dig through the bag. They’re the blunt tipped kindergarten scissors which are A-OK and I’ve never had them not get through. They just want to see them first).
    Passengers, on the other hand, are a different story. At least once a trip I get asked if I really made it through security with those knitting needles (bamboo circs, generally, so we’re not even talking metal dpns or straights). Uh, yeah, I did. Because otherwise I wouldn’t have them, no? It’s amusing, although there’s been a couple of times where people have been obviously envious of the fact that I knew knitting needles are ok by the TSA because if they’d known *that*, they’d have brought their knitting along too… I think of it as a public service- yes, you can knit on planes!

  25. Now I understand how you can get so much knitting done. On a side note: Be sure to not store any needles next to your undies and I think you’ll be secure in the fact that no one will touch them. Undies that is, not needles!

  26. I’m a one-project-on-the-plane-at-a-time knitter (I know, a rare bird indeed!). I was always surprised that TSA people never even LOOKED at my knitting stuff, not even the 14″ steel size 2’s! This post explains it. I’m sure I’m a cakewalk compared to your yarn-plus-needles entourage! 🙂

  27. I sincerely hope that someone from the TSA reads your blog! This post could not have come at a more prefect time. I am currently trying to make packing decisions based not only on the 14+ hours (not counting layovers) of plane travel I will be doing this weekend, but also on the fact that the reason for the travel is a camping trip. How to pack enough knitting to keep me sane while traveling, yet not take up too much space in the camping gear or poking holes in the tent? I am definitely taking my sock in progress, but that will clearly not be enough.

  28. So I’ve heard before that just in case you have needles confiscated at the airport, you should take a self-addressed padded envelope with you to mail those needles back home to yourself. Has anyone ever had their needles taken or taken the envelope to mail them back? Let me know if that’s one more thing we should all pack. sorry to be blogless

  29. Oh, that was YOUR trekking sock! For some reason I thought it belonged to the woman that showed you the Cool Metal Thingie (which is now in my possession, pretty much assuring that I will make the switch back to knitting on dpns for the most part).
    I once had a security screening guy look at the x-ray of my carry on and say, “Oh, you’re a knitter!” That was awesome.

  30. I always knit socks when I travel. Maybe I should try a shawl when I fly out to visit Margene et al. Great idea.

  31. I travel the same way but with an equally ridiculous collection of “just in case” reading thrown in for good measure.
    I should say that the firsttime I travelled with knitting I went on the TSA site first to check on what was allowed. (I’m a researcher – what can I say?) Knitting needles got a thumbs up (although I’m not sure what made my itty bitty stork scissors more dangerous than the 12 inch #6 needles) and I brought them. Predictably I got stopped at the security screening and whipped out the printout from the TSA site. The supervisor came over and was soooo impressed with my preparedness. The screener was just perplexed.

  32. Alas, I am a simple knitter – one traveling sock project that goes everywhere and one pay attention project, currently a lace moebius scarf. That’s it – just 2 lil projects… and a 14 month old who wants to play with the yarn, pointy sticks, and patterns.
    Anyway, I had noticed the temperature differences on planes in the air vs. on the ground and I suspect it is because the air outside the plane is extremely cold at altitude and warmer on the ground. I’m guessing the AC can’t adjust quick enough for the temperature changes. Knowing that doesn’t help much, eh? I’ve learned to dress in comfy layers to compensate.
    Oh – and LOVE the Pomatomus scarlet socks! 🙂 And what mom can resist the baby sweaters that you throw out! 😀

  33. The really funny part is that you’re traveling to YARN STORES and are surrounded by knitters. So, you know, if you ran out of a project because you knit so fast it was all over before you were? You could probably pick up another project pretty soon after.

  34. On a completely different note – someone commented on your April 27th St. Louis entry that s/he appreciated seeing another African-American knitter. While lurking around, I saw entries on this blog that might be encouraging to that person. Whoever you are, I hope you see these!
    BTW I finally got your 3rd book and it’s fantastic! Thanks for all you do to keep so many laughing and knitting – two essentials for living a good life 🙂

  35. Thanks for letting us know how to donate. Such a nice way to do something good. And on another note, I’ve finally signed up for a beginner’s Drop Spindle Class on May 25th. Everybody wish me luck!

  36. Is there a physical address to send donations for Orange Claudia? I have deliberatly refrained from getting a credit card – someone who has the economic sensibility of a drunken magpie should not have an internet connection and a credit card – but I do have a freshly filled checking account. Please post this information quickly, as there is a closeout sale at a local yarn shop and I’ve just discovered turbo needles…

  37. I’m a knitter and quilter and have been traveling a lot for work (spent one year in taipei recently). Knitting is usually in my carryon. I often have quilting supplies in my checked baggage, consequently they like to look in my suitcase…I’m starting to collect those little notes they put in your suitcase to see how many I can collect…I must have almost 20 by now! Glad I’m not the only that gets searched! btw – do you have a schedule yet for when you’ll be in Denver? Can’t wait!

  38. I am absolutely going to print out your letter and take it to the TSA at our tiny airport here in Cody (which you will never visit but that’s okay, we’ll come to you).
    Just for the record, no one has ever questioned my needles on a plane. I must travel among the sane.

  39. Thank you! Finally, I am not the only knitter (compulsive yarn buyer) I know that has bad to buy extra luggage to carry my “souvenirs”. I actually got my friend (who doesn’t knit) to carry it back into the country (since I was limited to 3 bags…). But, the yarn made great presents, I swear!!

  40. This is what happens when Muggles search your luggage. The Dale baby sweater is gorgeous, but that is a sea of seed stitch. Don�t forget to walk around a little while you�re on the plane. We don�t want anymore �Knitter Down� alarms.

  41. The Pomatomus socks get easier. By the foot of the second sock, I was glancing at the chart at the beginning of the round only. I could knit them at the tv or while talking as long as sustained eye contact was not required.
    The finished product is worth it.
    I did have to rip back twice though. Oh, forget it, they’re a pain in the ass.

  42. Knitpicks sells special bags, in luggage and carry on size, just for the travelling knitter who needs 10 projects with her.

  43. Hey! I’m making that same shawl, though it looks like I’m about 20 rows behind you on it. I’ve had to rip back to lifelines a couple of times. I also noticed from your most recent book cover that you, too, are a yarn thrower! YAY!!…of course, I am not saying that there is a better way to knit, or anything AT ALL like that…

  44. Dear TSA person,
    This woman is not insane. The multiple metal pointy objects are simply for purposes of putting loops of string through loops of string. This is also known as knitting. Not only does she have no intentions of using said pointy objects to cause international ruckus aboard a plane, but would not even think of dropping a stitch to do so.
    While she does have many of these long, pointy, but benign objects, I can assure you that this is perfectly normal amongst knitters.
    Thank you,
    Jess, of the Bugs

  45. Hehe…reminds me of the time my mother was searched in Madrid. Her bag was so full that her undies went flying across the room where they then mauled by overzealous drug dogs.
    Always keep in mind though…it could always be worse. I somehow never fail to get the patdown body search from overly touchy feely security officers.

  46. I too have knit the “summer in Kansas” shawl and I have to tell you it is one of my favs. I knit it in DK weight and it is HUGE, but what fun to knit. Cheers and happy knitting .Lulu

  47. I was once melting away in a metal tin airplane on Copenhagen airport when I asked one of the stewardesses why in gods name the air conditioning wasn’t on. She told me they weren’t allowed to turn it on until in the air, due to environmental reasons.
    You can’t believe how much I envy you guys being able to knit on the plane. Everytime I ask over here (I’m persistent!) they say no no no. I have a 13 hour flight to the States coming up, and I’m already mourning the knitting time I’ll lose.
    When is your book toor coming to Europe? 😉

  48. So…it was normal that for a working day trip to DC (from Toledo), I took three projects, planned (and did) visit StitchDC where I purchased more needles and yarn? LOL I even offered the nervous man next to me on the ride home an option to knit if he so desired! (I never knew I was a Knitting proselytizer!
    Happy & Safe Travels to All

  49. That little sweater is soooooo cute !
    And what a sweet idea to have a pair of socks for each road trip! (the only problem I can see is making one pair take that long to knit (grins)

  50. I’m making my husband read this one. We’re going to a cottage for 5 days – it’s a 5 hour drive to get there. I need A LOT of wool, and needles for the drive alone. What if the weather doesn’t cooperate? MORE WOOL…..

  51. I don’t feel so bad, now, as I only have two projects to last through a 3-day trip. I would feel much better if I had one more project, though I don’t have time to find a LYS.
    No problems bringing wooden DPNs on the plane.

  52. You asked “Why are planes only comfortable when they are up in the air?”
    For the same reason that fish are only comfortable when they are in the water. Planes are avian, not terrestrial.

  53. Ahhh yes the TSA.. what fun they are.. it does freak you out when you know they have gone through your stuff doesn’t it?

  54. I would love to donate! I would love to donate more than a dollar, too. I am walking the Breast Cancer 3-Day in October and have to raise $2,200.00 for it, so I know how raising money goes. It’s a pain but definitely worth it! Let me know how in case I can’t figure it out myself.

  55. I love that letter! I’m not the only one who does that! All my friends think I’m crazy and always seem to find it nessecary to point out that I don’t in fact knit that fast, but I like living in my delusions anyway.

  56. Everyone! please donate to Claudia! My friend’s mom has MS and she misses knitting so much!
    This post kills me – it’s so true. When I went to Seattle, I was nervous because I brought somethings to work on, and but knew I would buy some things there – so I brought all my needles, because hey, who KNEW what I would find! I thought I was going to get in trouble (of course they searched my bags) but the nice guys who went through our things were tickled to death. “Wow! You’ve got a lot of projects planned!” They even complimented me on my yarn 😉

  57. Hee hee. I have a compact case that allows me to carry about 25 sets of Addi Turbos in the same amount of space as a double-cd set. Apparently, that’s very alarming to see on the x-ray, because my baggage alwasy gets searched. That said, I usually have a one-slice toaster in my carryon and they don’t even blink at that…..

  58. Ha!
    I’ve run out of yarn once while waiting at the hospital. I thought I’d have plenty. Luckily I’d bought a book eariler or I’d have been taken away in a little hug-myself-jacket. Now I over pack for the bus to work. You just can’t be too prepared. I mean, what if there is a freak snowstorm or crew strike.
    I definately like the ziplock your undies idea.

  59. For reasons absolutely unrelated to knitting, I happen to know a lot about the TSA and security regulations. Here’s the skinny:
    1. TSA regulations are universal, for all airports and airlines originating in the United States. There is no reason for variation between airports (except a TSA agent with a personal vendetta against knitters, I suppose).
    2. The TSA’s “Prohibited and Permitted Items List” has listed knitting needles and crochet hooks as permitted for carry-on and checked luggage for several years now. (The link to the most recent version of the list is here:
    So if they’re rifling through your bags, it’s not because of the needles! 😉

  60. I’m just going to copy this and carry it with me when I fly to San Diego on Saturday.
    So far I have socks (2 on 2 circs), the yarn and pattern for a shawl, a wee bit of roving, a spindle, a toothbrush, nightie and undies packed. What else could one possibly need? Of course I’m taking the large suitcase just in case I get to a few of the yarn and fiber stores in the area.
    I will be missing Maryland – but I figured it was cheaper to fly to the west coast for the weekend instead.

  61. Sod that, just tell me where you bought the blue DPNs! 😉
    I could get into this needles complementing the knitting malarky!

  62. I’m amazed that you all can get your metal needles on the planes. When I took a trip to Chicago last month, I switched out mine (in a current project) for the plastic crystallites. It was a good thing too! I specifically asked if any needles were OK, before they spied them in my carry-on, and the TSA guy said “no metal.” It must be subject to personal positive experiences with knitters, er, local TSA supervisor discretion. 🙂 So, I definitely would take an envelope along, just in case.

  63. Oh! And because that same job that makes me so familiar with gov’t regulations *also* makes me travel all the time, I also know an answer to this one:
    Why are planes only comfortable when they are up in the air?
    Planes use the power from the jet engines to power the climate control system. That works best when the plane is flying the and engines are producing a lot of power. When they are idling on the ground they don’t generate enough power to really heat/cool the plane properly.

  64. I was beginning to wonder about that travelling sock and the apparent lack of progress.. Despite all the knitting I pack in my check on, it hasn’t been searched yet and they haven’t blinked at the projects in the carry-on.
    Marcia’s (owner of LYS) husband (manager of local airport) says that non-metal needles are ok to take on the plane, unless there’s a red or orange alert on. But TSA reserves the right to change their mind at anytime, which is why I carry a padded envelope just in case..

  65. As odd as my suitcase must look, I’ve never gotten a weird glance. I live in DC and fly out through Reagan National Airport. I even had a small conversation with a screener in Denver about bamboo DPNs.

  66. While knitting a lovely alpaca/silk scarf with beautiful (straight) bamboo needles on a 2 hour flight to Atlanta, the man in the seat behind me, who was drinking his way through the flight, suddenly shouted, “Lady, what are you doing with those pointy sticks and why did they let you bring them on the plane?!” Luckily eveyone in hearing distance thought it was as funny as I did.

  67. I can’t believe that just a little more than one year ago, I had no idea people like you all existed or that I would become one of you knit-craz-aholics. OMG, I’m knitting & can’t stop myself!!

  68. Oh, okay. I donated. I figured it out, and it is so awesome what she is doing! Eash $10.00 you donate, you get another chance to win the awesome prizes that she has. Go to her website and check out the grand prize! It is totally worth just seeing. Everyone, please donate! This is super important!

  69. What I find funny is not that you have a drop spindle in your cosmetics case, but that you have cosmetics in your drop spindle case.

  70. Thank you for giving me something to show my husband I’m not nuts. We’re headed out tomorrow on a 4-day trip, probably 20 hours of which will be spent in the car. My original plan called for 10 pairs of socks’ worth of yarn (with at least that many patterns – I’m not unrealistic, am I?). Since we’re packing a family of 4 into a MINI Cooper for this trip, I have weeded down to 5 pairs’ worth. Still unrealistic, but like you Steph, I need my comfort yarn, and heaven forbid I run out. We went to California 6 weeks ago, and not only did I take 20 balls of yarn or so with me, I had to buy a new suitcase to bring home all the yarn I bought. You’ve made me feel normal – thanks!

  71. Thank you for explaining it so well. Now if we could just get TSA to read it they would understand us so much better. That shawl is gorgeous!

  72. Thank you, Steph… I so needed someone to speak up for those of us who have to take knitting through metal detectors… I just had a run in with a weiner who A.wouldn’t let me take my sock into the courthouse as I rescheduled a traffic appointment that I spaced because it was 3 days after I delivered,B.referred to the dpns as ‘blades’ (!!!) and C. When I returned without my knitting and with my cave troll (toddler) in hand, didn’t have the common sense to ask me if there was anybody in the car watching him. (There was.) I mean… the guy threw a hissy fit over teeny tiny aluminum needles so dull they can barely pick up the yarn, but he ignored the rampaging cave troll who, for all he knew, had been cooking all alone in a vehicle without supervision? The next time I went in I left the cave troll w/grandma, brought the baby (as a visual aid) and had a sock on wooden needles. Nobody batted an eyelash. (I got a $200 deduction in my failure to appear fine–it appears that 4 days of labor will only get you so much sympathy.) Seriously, anybody who thinks knitters are going to take over the world violently with their little sharp pointy sticks has obviously never tried to use them to pierce that annoying wrapping on a dvd case.

  73. I have big lace knitting plans for all sorts of summer travel coming up – just perfect for taking with you, a la Elizabeth Zimmerman. Rachel ( and I are hosting a lace knitting as adventure sport knitalong this summer ( to add to the excitement.

  74. Thanks so much for the entertaining post! I’m learning that I am not the only person who has different projects for different situations. I actually started a new Log Cabin project (from Ann & Kay’s book) at work because I was separated from my main knitting bag for ONE day. I’m heading home to Manitoba on Friday for a week of uninterrupted knitting and chatting with my mum. I’ll be taking along 5 or 6 projects to finish and all the wool to start and finish a sweater, so I expect to be well questioned by the TSA. Combine knitting needles with heavy implements for several track and field meets during the summer and I get a lot of strange looks at security, particularly when they see my badge and ask if I am carrying my firearm as well.

  75. This gives me odd comfort knowing there are so many others in the world like me. I travel often to visit family and friends all up and down the west coast. I’ve become the queen of searched luggage and taking off my shoes. My husband no longer even asks about what is in my bag. I leave next week to visit my parents, but have opted to drive at this point. My husband has already informed me that I should take our truck…so I have extra room for the extra luggage that he is sure will come home with me. My parents live in a new city and have already found the LYS for me. Last time I visited them my brother who supposedly hates me showed up with 3 huge bags of yarn for me. Gotta love families who enable your habit. 😉
    And I am the total opposite it seems of most other people. They can touch my underwear for all I care, I can wash it. But don’t even think of touching my yarn unless you want to loose your hand. LOL

  76. The TSA regulations do say that knitting needles along with various other perfectly innocuous objects are permitted; they then go on to say that the official list of permitted objects notwithstanding, if your screener is a complete control freak and/or just plain doesn’t like you, he or she can take any object whatsoever that he/she deems dangerous, including your underwear.
    Well, all right, they don’t use those exact words, but that’s the intent. To be fair, on the rare occasions when I’ve flown since knitting needles were again permitted post-9/11, I’ve had no trouble with wooden ones, which are all I use.
    The baby sweater is amazing.

  77. Stephanie – I love the Trekking sock yarn! Will you please let us know the color? And when are you coming to visit the great state of Alabama (specifically Birmingham!)???

  78. You should try “our” rules (norwegian), if you are to knit on the airplane it has to be on bamboo needles or they’ll actually take your needles (somebody please stop med strangeling the sequrity-guy if he tries to take my needles)!
    I always travel with a lot of knitting, what horror when my suitcase gets lost (even for a day)!

  79. I recognize a kindred spirit here … on my three trips to Europe, as well as various trips around the U.S., I stopped more than one screener with my tote bag full of projects for the trip: quilting & knitting magazines (2 of each), two novels, one applique project for a new quilt, one sock project, one scarf project, the makings for two or three pieced quilt blocks, and a deck of cards when a game of solitaire is called for. If I forget anything, you can bet I’ll end up with a six-hour emergency layover at the airport with the least amount of items to see or buy!

  80. I recognize a kindred spirit here … on my three trips to Europe, as well as various trips around the U.S., I stopped more than one screener with my tote bag full of projects for the trip: quilting & knitting magazines (2 of each), two novels, one applique project for a new quilt, one sock project, one scarf project, the makings for two or three pieced quilt blocks, and a deck of cards when a game of solitaire is called for. If I forget anything, you can bet I’ll end up with a six-hour emergency layover at the airport with the least amount of items to see or buy!

  81. Oh, now I absolutely ache to do a lace shawl. Dammit. I tried Madli’s Shawl once, and never got past the 4th row. I have the pattern for Fiddlesticks’ Peacock Shawl at home, just waiting for me to get the nerve. “Tide Pool” at Knitpicks would be perfect, too. You enabler, you!

  82. I just flew for the first time in many years. I was nervous, but they didn’t question my bamboo circs with a recycled silk Mango Moon yarn shawl. I had a case for my multiple Addi circs in my checked bag and didn’t find any notes, so it must’ve been OK.
    BTW – when you don’t have a plastic knife to spread cream cheese on a bagel, a #13 Addi works fine!

  83. Awwww I’m disappointed… it isn’t magical Harlot yarn???? I was hoping to score some. 😉
    I am soon leaving on a family camping trip— and unbelievably- my yarn bag is bigger than my SHOE bag. I feel like I’ve crossed a line somewhere…good thing no one inspects my bags when we camp.
    Wanna know the worst part??? I’m packing my spinning wheel(Joy) too. I have this romantic dream of spinning at sunrise by the shore………then kntting by the campfire at night.
    Thnx for Soxplanation. 😉 I think it’s a terrific idea– i’ll cast on some Koigu in the car this trip!

  84. Fabulous post, Stephanie!! I think it should be mandatory reading for all luggage checkers! I remember that in 1987 I flew to Europe, with my then-current knitting project on straight needles. It was a sweater for my then boyfriend, now husband. I was seated in the center section of 5 seats, and poked the people on each side of me throughout the flight! This was before I became a circular needle fan. Now I use straight needles, the tiny ones, only to make thumbs!! Circs for everything else.

  85. Loved seeing your knitting again – seems like it has been awhile since we have seen non-sock progress (not that I don’t love getting to know your socks.) I always carry a printout of the official rules from the TSA website, so that I can prove that knitting needles are on the “ok” list (although I’ve never had to argue the point.) And I also carry a self-addressed, stamped, padded envelope just in case I get a screener in a bad mood playing the power game. Never been stopped for needles, but they did pull my little tiny metal eyelash comb out of my makeup bag and said they “weren’t comfortable with that”. Like I’m gonna stab someone with a 1/2″ eyelash comb. Although, come to think of it, it might come in handy for the screener who one day tries to take my knitting needles…….

  86. Stephanie you have just made my day, I cannot knit from a chart or complicated pattern and talk, watch TV or do anything else really . I learnt this many, many years ago and oh yes I do now hold you in even higher regard.

  87. Heh – knitting’s bad enough, try carrying that *and* jewelry-making supplies. Pliers and wire-cutters and wire, oh my! (Which no doubt looks like a junior bomb-kit.) Every single time, I find a love-note from the TSA in my checked luggage. 😉 And I use Denise circulars, btw. Yep, those sure are threatening.
    The screeners at the security points are usually more interested in the massive amount of finished jewelry I have in my carry-on. They see this odd mass of metallic stuff, and invariably insist on pulling it out, then give me funny looks as I start babbling, “Yeah, those big silver-colored ones are from Ethiopia, and that’s African amber, oh, and yeah, that strand of nesting metal cuplike thingies sure does look funny on the machine, doesn’t it? Heh heh heh. Uh, no, no, I didn’t just get back from Africa…you can buy this stuff in America…bead shows…” Meanwhile nervously wondering if they think I’m smuggling drugs inside those big hollow beads.
    What’s really annoying is that many of the trips have been thru LAX. Every time I’ve checked the TSA site and my airline – knitting needles, ok. Then I go to the LAX site: NOT! Most annoying. So when a trip involves LAX–I pack extra books! Gee, next time I’ll just have to take bookbookbook 1-3; my LA friend is a newbie knitter…

  88. Hee hee hee… yes it should be required reading for all security screeners. I didn’t have any trouble on most flights last year when I flew to Malaysia. (only forbidden on the little puddle jumper from Johor Bahru to Kota Kinabalu. Lucky for me THAT was only a 30 minute hop.) Flying to Hawaii in 3 weeks YEA! and I am planning what projects to take. Already have the address & phone number for a yarn store there.
    Happy Knitting!

  89. I am thinking of knitting a Dale of Norway pattern for my friend who is pregnant(she reads this blog- so please don’t use my name when answering this question). The pattern has some stranded knitting on the sleeves and as I have only done one stranded project, and have only knitted hats for babies, do you worry about the floats and little fingers? or do you twist the yarns every stitch to prevent the floats? I have yet to purchase a pattern or yarn for this project – but I have lots of time (November) I know famous last words.

  90. I keep wondering what they think when they go through my suitcase.
    Last year they opened it while I was standing there and and checked it (for plastic explosives, I think). The nice lady commented that I sure had a lot of wool in it (there was some mohair) and what was it for? Did my mother knit?
    I figured it was a lot easier just to say “yes”.

  91. LOL. So taking an extra bag for yarn and yarn accessories is normal while on a trip? Thank goodness! And that shawl is turning out simply lovely! Can’t wait for the FO.
    Come to Portland soon! On my days off from work!

  92. Tell them you’re a knitting instructor and those are your class samples. That sounds easier than handing out copies of your letters.
    I hope they’re not dropping any of your stitches.
    Oh yeah, and Friday’s payday, so I’ll toddle on over to Claudia’s then. Dang, 150 miles. I can only sit on a bike seat long enough to knit one row on my stole, and then my sit bones screech in protest.

  93. I must have run into a TSA agent with a sense of humor. On a flight out of Seattle, I was knitting an afghan in little tiny pieces (yes, I’ve heard the joke and yes it really was an afghan). The agent said he would only let me take the needles if I could prove I was the knitter. So there I was in line knitting a lace repeat in a afghan. The agent passed me and no one complained except for the grandma who wished she had brought her knitting, too!

  94. The reason the plane seems so much warmer on the ground is because it is so much colder while flying. You’re going really, really fast at a really, high altitude. Since the airplane is in this colder condition most of the time, it only makes sense to engineer the climate control system on the warmer side. Wow, that sounded almost like I knew what I was talking about ^-^

  95. Put a copy of Book 3 on top of the packed items. It has a picture of you, knitting. End of discussion, I would think.

  96. I’m a knitter with multiple sclerosis…thank you for plugging Claudia’s fundraising. I’m in the middle of a relapse and haven’t been able to knit. The horrors! The horrors!

  97. I think I’m going to end ALL my correspondence with “. . . . and please don’t touch my underpants.”

  98. That letter to the TSA sums it all up. I’ve never flown before, but I’ll keep your advice in mind for the future. The baby sweater is turning out impeccably, and stopping the seed stitch every couple rows for some chocolate or other mollifying agent is perfectly acceptable. =) I’ve been wondering for a while, and I must know: what yarn and of what colorway is the traveling sock? I simply adore its blue-ness.

  99. I wondered about that sock!
    Hey, Claudia’s donations have gone up almost a thousand dollars just today! How cool is THAT?

  100. How do you manage to get so much knitting done on your schedule ? Little blue travelling sock has almost become your mascot now. Don’ t finish its mate till you are done travelling it would miss out on all the funand I wouold miss seeing it in all the pics .The wool in the treking sock is beautiful what is it ? AND the shawl is !!!!! sputter sputter can’t think of words of how lovely it is. I’ve never travelled by plane with knitting but if I do now it’ll be with bambo needles. I’m with you Stephanie on not touching my undies. We were broken into and all the drawers were emptied out and EVERYTHING was washed and taken to goodwill. It just gave me the willies for some reason . Enjoy your time at home with family –can hardly wait to see where you are going to go next .ohhhhhhhh and Rebecca you are NOT a dork for knitting on one thing till its finished , I USED to like that too. Now its like which WIP do I pick up now to knit on ?? Decisions decisions it drives me nutters ,haha Stay the way you are( if you can )

  101. Massachusetts courts specifically do not allow knitting needles…at least the one I had to go to did not. But colored pencils are alllowed…after, in desparation, knitting with colored pencils, after we were tired of drawing (I matched the yarn color…it DID work) while waiting with the witness I was keeping company, the next day I made sure to bring my wood pencil blenders in my pencil case…you know they are about the same diameter as the circs I’d been using, and are sharpened exactly like the colored pencils, with dulled tips, used to blend the edges of two colors together (yep, can buy a varity of brands at the craft/drawing stores). But I like my homemade ones best, as they are more versatile…Guess what _I_ ended up doing with my pencil blenders? The victim advocate thought I was quite resourceful 😉

  102. Thanks so much for the comment on my blog!
    I love all the items you showed on your post today…simply wonderful. The second sock (I think it was the trekking one) I really loved the colours in it! And the shawl looks beautiful!! I really need to learn lace and do me up one of those pretty shawls…

  103. I have to tell you that I am way too excited to discover that I am knitting my very first Dale from the same pattern book that the illustrious Yarn Harlot is using. I feel impressive by association. 🙂 FTR, I’m doing Erle for my #2, due in August.

  104. I went right over to Claudia’s site and donated, even before reading these comments. Boy oh boy, does that first prize make me drool. Please, please, me! (with apologies to the Beatles)
    The shawl looks lovely. And you certainly need comfort yarn – what a phrase! – and extra projects. We all do. They wouldn’t like it if we all went into withdrawal. Not a pretty sight.
    Don’t forget the SF Bay Area on this trip, please. Remember, Berkeley has Scharffen Berger chocolate, the original Peet’s coffee. Just sayin’.

  105. Oh. My. Gosh. The last time I flew to San Diego, the screener unpacked my *entire* suitcase, including undies, in front of *everybody* (hometown, small airport) present in line for our 5:30 a.m. flight. Do I look like a suspicious person? Terrorist? I’m a near-senior age Grandma for Pete’s sake. (Although I do have to say that I got *carded* last week. Oh Joy!) I had several knitting projects in my large suitcase, and also plenty of space left to fill with yarn & other acquisitions during the trip. Good grief. At least it was the trip out & not back. . . otherwise all the clothes would have been dirty.

  106. I usually travel with a whole pack of men for business. They think I’m absolutely nuts that I need the big honking suitcase and giant purse because I don’t want to be stuck in a hotel room with no knitting. I think the TSA people in Minneapolis and Chicago are so used to me and my knitting they do not blink an eye at it anymore!

  107. Why is it that so many people twitch when making seed stitch, but are perfectly willing to make (shudder) ribbing for miles at a time?

  108. I’m glad I’m not the only one having trouble with that name; I keep wanting to call it ‘Pot-o-what-o-mus.’ Flows better!

  109. While at the gate, aircraft are sort of “plugged in ” to the gate for power for the lights and heat/air conditioning (most places), but in small airports and while taxi-ing, the power comes from an internal generator on the aircraft- which isn’t very powerful. After take-off, these functions are powered by the aircraft engines which is much efficent.
    –from a retired 27 year veteran Flight Attendant..(now I work in a yarn shop 😉

  110. How does one get ahold of your wonder publicist? (or however you spell publisist) If I promised to finish my olympic shawl, and give it to your publisyst if you come to Salt Lake, would your publesist be interested? Can she be bribed in such a manor? 🙂 Could you relay my bribe to your publecest? LOL

  111. Ohhhhh…I wondered why I keep getting “dinged” by the TSA people every time I fly. I thought my luggage contents were pretty innocuous – your posting today, Steph, explains so much.
    TSA “love-notes”. Snort! Funny:)
    And yes! Please tell us the details about the Trek Sock yarn!

  112. I love flying with my knitting. It attracts so many weird looks! I had to track down a Jordana Paige Messenger bag Knitting bag before our trip to Phoenix in March. Finally, I can take a carry-on that actually has clothes in it, and my purse/knitting bag without running afoul of the airline rules about carry-ons. Now I have to admit that I don’t carry as many projects with me as you do, but then again, I am usually not travelling as many days as you are. Two sock projects usually do me just fine. But socks are my standby baseball knitting as well. I am the lady in section 132 at Safeco Field, pretending to watch the Mariners and knitting socks. And then there is little league; high school ball, select ball and Senior ball. I should be able to knit socks for a small country by the end of October!
    I have several skeins of Trekking XXL waiting for me to knit up. Lovely purple, blue, grey, and brown skeins. I love they way they spin that stuff up!
    Haven’t been in a sock knitting mood this week, but just reading and writing about knitting socks is putting me in the mood again. Right now, I am knitting a baby sweater for the Dulaan project, from Steph’s “Daisy” pattern from What a great way to use up all that baby yarn that I have with no babies to knit for!
    Any one else fly with the TSA list of allowable items in their knitting bag? I do!!

  113. I’m not the only one deathly afraid of running out of something to knit?? 3 years ago, before I learned of this knitting thing, my biggest fear was cockroaches. Now, I think I might chew my arm of from boredom if I ran out of something to knit. Even on an errand as short as going to the grocery store…what if there was a big accident and I was stuck in traffic for hours?! …could happen, you know.

  114. Just wait until I get to the USA and Canada – I’ll have an extra suitcase for the yarn and stuff!
    I am glad to see I am not the only doofus who had problems with pomatomus, both saying it and completing it – I thought I was going for lead in the winter Olympic cos I just didn’t get anywhere for over a week – knitting, frogging, knitting, ripping and I wasn’t even talking to anyone! (And I was not civil enough to talk to them either after the umpteenth ripping)

  115. Don’t forget the option of shipping souvenir yarn (or however you spell it) directly home if you become unable to close your suitcase!

  116. I am about to start the Summer in Kansas shawl as a wedding gift for a friend (who happens to be marrying a young man from Kansas, hence the pattern I choose). I’m looking forward to watching your progress so I can follow along. 🙂
    Thank you for publicizing Claudia’s bike ride, too. My mother has MS and has raised thousands of dollars each year by walking in local MS Walks. This year, my cousin planned, organized and whatever-else-is-involved-in-making-something-happen-ed a whole walk for his Eagle Scout project in honor of my mother. I couldn’t be prouder of them both. 🙂

  117. Wow… your knitting has lots of rules… I’m really surprised by that. So, maybe the title of your book isn’t “Knitting Rules!” (as in the celebratory sense) as it is “Knitting Rules.” (as in here they are). Then again, having read it, I know it’s not the latter. Or something.

  118. With the price of gasoline these days, it seems like a ridiculous notion, but my husband and I are travelling by car this summer. We love to be together, and oh!, the places we will go!! And to think of all the yarn I can fit into a car and no one to touch my unmentionables but…me. Blessings, Julie

  119. Completely unrelated to your post, but can I make a request that you be at Estes Park Wool Market? Is it too late for that? I’d love to meet you and get books signed, and I know a whole WHACK of Utah knitters who will be attending.

  120. Boy did you get this one right! I recently went to Paris and London and after reading on someone’s blog that British Air doesn’t let you bring knitting needles I went on line to Lufthansa and British Air and also called them to make sure I could bring my needles. When I was talking to the British Air guy you could have thought I’d asked if I could bring an elephant on board. “Knitting Needles”?? “Knitting Needles???” “No one has EVER asked about that before!”

  121. You cannot post a picture of a trekking yarn as lovely as that and not give the color name or number!!! That’s plain cruel!!! Am enjoying your newest book and planning on going on my 1st ever airplane ride. Need knitting… AND your book.
    PS> Please someone give me the trekking number???

  122. I’m away from home so can’t read all the comments–someone may have already suggested this. As to your underwear and luggage inspections. Put all underwear in ziplock bags! They can “look” and squish, and never have to touch! I always do this, and the inspectors actually seem to prefer travelers do this.

  123. Hi Steph,
    well i’m a little bit back on the repair.. had the foot surgery on thursday but i can’t seem to get my fingers around the knitting process.. but i also can’t sleep straight thru and only today did the foot stop hurting me too much.. have not even thought about the “business” hopefully will start working on that next week.. but in the mean time i’m laughing myself off the chair reading your blog.. thanks so much.. plus at the hospital before they put me under i was reading your latest.. gosh i was really in stitches and they docs were too.. they loved that i had brought you with me as my security blanket.. hee..hee.. hugs talk to you soon.. karola

  124. I’ve googled, yarndexed, and written emails to my sock club supplier to no avail. Would someone please let us in on the Trekking colorway?

  125. with all of the traveling that i’ve been lucky to do lately…i found a box and the closest postoffice to be a knitter’s best friend! i ship it home…no one has to know how much i’m actually buying..and it doesn’t have to fit into my suitcase..and i don’t have to worry about it being lost along the way..with the insurance on the box..they have to replace it if they loose it! and then….after i get home..i get to open the box all over’s like getting presents just for me!

  126. On my upcoming trip out to Tdot (from Mtl), I purposefully chose to go by VIA, and not on one of the express trains, JUST to get some decent, peaceful knitting time in. This was also partially because I fear my needles being confiscated, and wanting to avoid an episode like the ‘amusing’ time I absentminded-ly attempted to go through airport security with all my beading tools (pliers, wire cutters, glue, etc) in my carry-on. They were nice enough about it, and kindly escorted me back to the baggage check-in.

  127. Add me to the list of people wondering which Trekking XXL yarn that is. I’ve searched high and low for an hour or two with no luck. Maybe #67? But that looks too pastel. Something up in the 100 range? Not sure. It is a mystery! Help??

  128. Aw, heck, the TSA screeners can paw my dirty panties all they want… long as they keep their paws off my knits!
    I pack my clean panties into my checked luggage, thank you very much.
    I pack like a woman (read: overpack) when it comes to airplane activities: This last London trip saw me with a pair of socks in progress plus two extra sock yarns to make 2 more pairs, a Koigu scarf kit, the yarn for a sweater. Apparently, in my mind, there was an incredible yarn shortage in greater London which I needed to lay in supplies for.
    Don’t we all?

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