Answering Readers’ Questions: Knitting Needles?

I recently received this question from a reader in my comments section:

“Question: How does security look at knitting needles? I cross-stitch but don’t travel with it because I didn’t think my needles (and for sure my small scissors) would get through security.”

Great question! As an avid knitter, I always bring my current project on trips. I have always taken a circular thread cutter, which is often billed as being airline-approved. However, while researching this question I was surprised to find out that these are not allowed, yet scissors are. From the TSA website:

Knitting needles are permitted in your carry-on baggage or checked baggage.

Items needed to pursue a Needlepoint project are permitted in your carry-on baggage or checked baggage with the exception of circular thread cutters or any cutter with a blade contained inside which cannot go through the checkpoint and must go in your checked baggage.

On the permitted and prohibited items list, the site says that “scissors – metal with pointed tips and blades shorter than four inches” are allowed in checked baggage and carry-ons. Frankly, I am surprised at their decision about what is safe and what is not, but there you are. The TSA knows best…… I also read posts on knitting websites were travelers had printed out these two TSA pages and carried them through security just in case the agent was not familiar with the guidelines. Sounds like a good idea to me.

The only time I have ever been given trouble about my knitting was recently while flying home from Cancun. There was a print-out at the check-in counter that had a list of prohibited items for carry-ons, and knitting needles were on there. I was bummed but what can you do–the project went in my checked bag. But as long as you’re in the US, feel free to knit, or crochet, or cross-stitch to your heart’s content!

(Lovely yarn and needles from Blue Sky Alpacas. Love their stuff!!)


  1. I’ve been travelling for the past 8 years with my cross stitch needles, no problem. I also carry one of those banned circular thread cutters and no one has ever said a word. I wear it around my neck through security and it’s never set the thing off. I also had no problem taking round tipped scissors through security at LAX. I got them at Albertsons and they were sharp enough to cut my threads. 🙂

  2. Good to know. I’ll keep those sections of the TSA guidelines in my knitting travel kit. And if I read correctly, circular thread cutters aren’t allowed, but thread scissors are? That seems a bit odd.

  3. I bring knitting projects every time I fly and the only place I have ever had a problem was in Hong Kong, where security took my small scissors. I usually carry a small pair of round tip scissors that I bought at Muji for 3 bucks (try to order). They have a plastic cover for the blades so they will never get tangled up with your yarn in your bag.

  4. Add me to the people who only recently learned thread cutter pendants are not carry-on approved. Like Alison, I have never had mine taken away.

  5. I am sitting in a hotel in Geneva with my cross-stitch project – and my circular thread cutter. I got out of the states with it, into the UK, out of the UK and into CH with no problems. I keep everything in my backpack/carry-on in a ziploc baggie large enough to hold my hoop and pattern. I’ve never even been questioned about the circular thread cutter and my bag’s been taken for secondary screening several times, so it’s definitely been seen.

  6. Thank you so much for addressing this issue. I have some very long flights coming up in January/February and I’d love to use that time for stitching.

  7. Just an update to my previous post. I flew home from Geneva (to the states on United), and while I got no questions at security, I was asked nicely to stow my needles and scissors during takeoff and landing. This is the first time I was ever asked that, and I just flew to SFO today (on United), and no one mentioned a thing.

  8. The problem is less of what the TSA will allow, and more of what airport security in other countries will allow. I had a pair of 3″, round-tip scissors confiscated by Airport security in Israel. Now I travel with a pair of 2″ kiddie scissors that honestly aren’t that great. Going forward, I’m betting that my DMC thread cutter won’t raise any red flags anywhere.

    I always take my current project when I fly. As a guy, it’s just too much fun to sit and stitch on a plane and see people’s reactions.

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