In a couple of weeks I'm going to California to see Jules again. I did some research before my last trip because I hadn't flown in a long time, and I wanted to see how the TSA rules had changed. Now that I'm preparing for another trip, I think this is a good time to share some tips for traveling with knitting and crochet projects.
1. Two projects seems to be a good amount to bring. Take one project that takes a lot of your attention, for delays when you need to kill time. The other project should take very little mental effort, for times when you're going to start and stop a lot, can't comfortably read instructions or just need a mental break. Having more than one project gives you an "out" if you hit a wall. And unless you're going on some sort of intensive knitting retreat, are you really going to work on more than two?
2. Choose portable projects. This probably goes without saying. This isn't the time for the intarsia project with 20 colors of yarn or a giant ripple afghan.
3. Take projects that don't take up a lot of room, but will take a lot of time. A chunky hat won't take up much yarn, but you may need to bring supplies for 10 of them to keep yourself occupied. That's why socks are considered such a good travel project.
4. Take projects without a lot of starts, stops and finishing. It will be a pain to get out scissors and tapestry needles over and over again to sew together those granny squares.
5. If you fly, print this out and take it with you. TSA isn't exactly known for consistency. A physical print out of the rules should help if there are any problems.
6. Be prepared in case they take your needles (or anything else) at the airport. Bring a self-addressed stamped envelope so you can mail back your supplies. Also, take some scrap yarn and a (preferably) plastic tapestry or yarn needle. That way you can put your stitches on the scrap yarn if you lose your needles.
7. Clean out, stock and organize your knitting bag. Take out the projects you aren't taking, leftover yarn and whatever else has accumulated. Make sure you have all your notions, even ones you don't think you'll need. Depending on where you going, picking up a tapestry needle may not be possible. Empty medicine bottles are good for notions and plastic Ziploc bags are good for organizing projects and extra yarn.
8. Get a row counter that fits around your neck. I think this one comes with a cord, or at least a place to thread a cord. This is actually one tip I don't follow, but I probably should. I'm thinking about putting a Barrel Counter on a cord. (This probably isn't necessary if you can fit the counter on your needles.)
9. Use point protectors. Some people do this all the time. Sometimes I use point protectors, sometimes I don't, but I make a point of using them when I travel. You want your stitches to stay on when security is messing with your knitting bag. This goes double for dpns. Use something like these tubes or this. Or make your own. If you're crocheting, it's not as critical, but I would use a bobby pin or a stitch marker like this or this.
10. Visit the Ravelry Plane Knitters group. - There's good stuff there, even if you're not flying. You can also read about knitters' experiences in specific airports. (If you're not part of Ravelry, go join. It's free.)