Travelling and knitting


The thing about travelling is that, while it involves excitement – new places, tastes (see below for more on this issue) and experiences; it also involves a lot of waiting.  While reading can alleviate some of the waiting burden, I read fairly quickly, and books are heavy. In many Asian countries it can be hard to find enticing English language reading materials.  Sock knitting is eminently portable, and entirely suitable for the half-listening state that you need to engage while sitting at an airport. Last week I went to Shanghai (yarn purchasing and other photos to follow). I arrived at the airport for the return journey early, in the hope that I would be able to take an earlier flight.  Every flight before my flight was completely full, but I had my knitting and a sunny corner at the gate lounge. 

I knitted away and then did encounter a problem. I finished the first sock, and needed to cut the yarn before I could cast on the next one.  I had a tapestry needle with me (they don’t seem to cause any problems with security) but no scissors, and went off around the airport in search of a cutting implement.  Someone helped at the first gift shop I approached.  Not having any really useful Mandarin (such as “do you have any wonderfully cheap but excellent quality pure cashmere yarn?”, or “Do you have any scissors or cutting implements that will not cause a security crisis?”); I took out my knitting, mimed the action of the scissors cutting the yarn. The shop assistant looked a little startled, but rushed over to a shelf, picked up something, and the then approached yarn with some trepidation. She had no English, apart from “Hello”, and I mimed once again where I would like the yarn cut.  She seemed anxious – like she was cutting in the wrong spot, but then cut the yarn for me, which checking my face to make sure that I hadn’t changed my mind about the appropriateness of the cut. She must have been raised with “measure twice, cut once” as a mantra. I then looked at the implement that she used, and its price (US $6) and promptly purchased it.




I should be set now with my travelling knitting!  Apparently, nail clippers without files (like this one) are not problematic for airlines/airports. This one looks so cute that I think that it will have extra protection.  I have encountered absolutely no difficulties with knitting while flying, but always transfer my knitting to circular needles (which seem to be intrinsically less threatening).  Qantas advises on their website that knitting needles are banned (along with all other “sharp objects”); but my regular old Addi Turbos do not seem to attract any attention.  On my most recent trip to Australia, we flew Qantas, and I knitted in the gate lounge, and on the plane.  The flight attendant did ask me to put it away while we were landing.

While I was knitting the sock above, I probably wasn’t listening as much as I should have been – about 10 minutes before boarding, I noticed that the gate lounge seemed surprisingly empty for a full flight, and noticed that there was a RED FLASHING SIGN saying that the gate had been changed.  While I was boarding, I ran into a friend who informed me that the gate change had been announced twice, in multiple languages.

Are you curious about the new tastes?  I love visiting supermarkets when I travel – its very interesting for me to see how other people eat, and what they regard as essentials.  In Shanghai, they have flavours of potato chips that I have never encountered before.


Sorry about the poor photo, but I was trying to be discreet about the photography – sometimes it can be a touchy subject.  The flavours in the picture about are cherry tomato (which is within the realm of normal for me), cucumber (“Natural & Cool”) getting weirder, mango (quite strange), and lychee (incredibly unusual).  I didn’t try them – I wimped out and had “red wine chicken” chips in my hotel room that night.


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I can be contacted at travellersyarn at

2 thoughts on “Travelling and knitting”

  1. OK, I just found your website/blog & I’m excited. I lived in hong Kong from 1982 to 1992 when I moved to the States with my kids. My husband still works in Hong Kong. Anyway I’m getting ready to be spending more time in Hong Kong as my youngest goes off to college so I’ve been trolling the net for connections to things I love to do. I used to hang out at the YMCA on McDonald road for classes.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to being able to attend a Stitch N Bitch in Hong Kong this coming September/October.

    I also travel a lot and sock knitting is the best thing that I’ve found for knitting. If you don’t have nail clippers, a floss container also works well, providing the yarn you are using isn’t too strong. It also is never a problem with security.

    I have also found that bamboo needles are a good thing. I have not been stopped with those although I must admit, last time I was leaving Australia I decided to put the knitting in the check-in baggage & work on sewing instead. I can see circular needles being more of a “weapon” than bamboo needles that would break.

    Hopefully there will be a Stitch N Bitch while I am there this Sept/Oct. I’m also on Ravlry so I’ll see if I can make a connection there. You can see my one and only hand dyed piece at

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