05 December 2007

How to Knit on an Aussie Plane

Knitting is not permitted on Australian flights, as knitting needles (and crochet hooks) are clearly Very Dangerously Sharp Things.

However, you can take pencils on board....

Varnish the tips with Estapol ... leave to dry for a few days.

Measure and mark their diameter. If you're not moving house and can find things, you can wrap elastic bands around the ends too!

Here they are in action, in flight. My pencil needles got through security without any comment, as did my ball of yummy Noro. When the opportunity presented itself, I took a deep breath, and asked the flight attendant if it was OK for me to knit with the pencils - she said I could, and commented that it was a great idea! So I happily knitted for about an hour (Taph's diagonal scarf pattern), and fitted 17 stitches on the pencils comfortably.


Close to the end of the flight, a different flight attendant (an older woman) walked past, and told me I wasn't allowed to knit on a flight, and gave the impression that I was somehow 'cheating' by using pencils. I said that I had asked, and had been given permission, but that I would put it away right away, which I did (I didn't want to cause a scene, or get a bad name for us knitters!). She was pretty disapproving of the whole thing.

So the moral is... if you're lucky, you can knit something narrow on 7mm pencil needles. It's really the luck of the draw with who you get as a flight attendant. But maybe if enough of us do this - making a point about how crazy it is that it's OK to DRAW with a pencil but not to KNIT with a pencil... maybe they'll change the policy? Or perhaps it's the yarn they object to? ;)


  1. That is a hilarious story. Especially about the second flight attendant being dispproving! Yay you for trying!

  2. hahaha I was wondering bout that. I almost took some knitting along to Perth but didn't in the end. Quite funny though that flight attendant.

  3. Yeah, so I was flying from Melbourne to Cairns and snuck through my wood sock needles. :D HA HA! I was not so lucky from Sydney to LA. OOOOOH I WAS MAD!!!!! The security guy was all nice and stuff about it too. He even offered me a bag.

    One question:
    In a country where there are TONS of sheep and wool and knitting are such a popular hobby, WHY FOR THE LOVE OF GOD CAN YOU NOT KNIT ON THE AIRPLANE?????

    One statement:
    It's good to know that as bad as TSA is, there is someone else who has it worse. (I got a WHOLE sock done from AK to Sydney.) Of course at 40 C, there was really no need for a pair of bamboo socks.

  4. What a brilliant idea!
    If you're ever in Coffs Harbour airport, there's a nice pair of 4.00mm 35cm steel straights at security that they made me PULL OUT of my knitting before I could fly from Coffs to Sydney. The security people at Sydney had let them through on the way up to Coffs, but apparently the commuter flight from Coffs to Sydney is a high-risk target. Bloody idiots. Considering that I was travelling alone with my then 5yo and 2yo sons the only person in danger of being killed with my knitting needles was me!

  5. You are a champion! The 2nd flight attendant needs to understand that it isn't the knitting that is objected to for security reasons, it's the n-e-e-d-l-e-s.

  6. How good are you? That's so inventive. I knit on every plane to and from the states (6 all together) and never got even a comment - I had casein sock needles and they went through every security point without any problem!

  7. Anyone who's seen The Bourne Identity knows that a Bic biro poses a far greater security threat than a bloody knitting needle or crochet hook. Grump!

  8. You knitters, you are such terrorist-types!

    I used to be in a union sub-group called the Ladies' Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society - we made union banners. Of course, this was all before 2001 ...

    Good for you for trying!

  9. I can understand the prohibition against skinny little metal sock needles and even against circulars. (My husband pointed out how much they look like a garotte [sp?].) But like everything else, common sense has flown out the window with regard to the subtleties.

    Even here, where the rules allow some sorts of needles, it all depends on the TSA official. Luckily this is a moot point for me, as I'm not apt to be taking any trip involving air travel at least for the remainder of this decade. *sigh*

  10. They're just afraid you'll knit an Afghan. I have had no trouble knitting on American flights with short plastic circular needles or fine bamboo dpns, but I don't flaunt it about, either. I love knitting with pencils! Gotta try that in the jail when I proctor tests.

  11. Now that's what I call Aussie ingenuity! the whole knitting needle as "weapon" thing is so bogus! Good for you for circumventing the ban...


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  13. You are a very clever person. That was genius. I am not sure what they're afraid of. Personally, I would rather have people knitting peacefully than all antsy because they have nothing to do on a flight!

  14. I get them banning metal straights or dpns - the smaller ones are pretty lethal looking but it really is ridiculous that our regs are so stringent when the US has relaxed.
    Do you think the older flight attendant was worried you might garotte someone with the yarn?

  15. I liked the woman who made needles out of tightly rolled paper and craft glue! Well done Jejune! I have fantasised about which readily available materials I could knit with on planes!! (anyone for bamboo skewers?)

  16. Legend! The ridiculousness of this rule is just beyond me. Well done you for pushing the boundaries and furthering the knitting revolution!!

  17. roxie ::
    "They're just afraid you'll knit an Afghan."
    Oh, HOW I wish I had said that!

  18. Actually I think there is a market for metal circular needles up to 60cm long that fit into a clasp, so they can be worn onto a plane as a necklace, used when the aisles are blocked by the trolleys and then whipped back around the neck (with lovely knitted embellishments) every time Someone Official walks past.

  19. oh yes! Marvellous. I think you've take a not so small step in the right direction for all of us! Well done!

  20. From the Qantas website: "Governments have directed that for security reasons, all knives, sharp objects ... cannot be carried in your cabin baggage or on your person.

    Sharp objects or cutting implements include but are not limited to: any knife, including paper knives, carpet knives, box cutters, letter openers, scissors of any kind, tradesman's tools, screwdrivers, corkscrews, darts and knitting needles."

    Tell the flight attendant to go fug herself. It's the implement, not the activity that is banned!!!

    Now that we have a new Government, maybe we should send all the new ministers a suggestion about knitting needles?????

  21. I know someone who used the handles of paint brushes to knit with in a plane when knitting needles were a no no in North America.

    Flight Attendants are just drunk with their own power!


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