The older woman was looking at me horrified. She was white-haired and elegant, and looked exactly like an older French woman should, with her toffee-coloured coat and jaunty silk scarf. This was the second time she’d informed me I couldn’t knit on the plane – the first time she said it in French, and when I mumbled “Pardon – je suis désolé, Anglais.” she repeated herself in English.
I smiled. “How do you think I got these here? And they let my needles through security okay.”
“But they’re more than six centimetres long.”
“Are they?” I measured them against my hand. Measured across the knuckles, with fingers and thumb held tight together, my hand is 10.5 centimetres. It’s a good thing to know when you don’t have a tape measure to hand. So to speak.
“Yes, they’re more like nine or ten centimetres. But they’re fine. I’ve knit with them on planes lots.”
I didn’t say that according to most airline regulations, it’s blades which can’t be more than six centimetres long. You can’t take a long pair of scissors, or a box cutter, or a pocket knife, or a fruit knife, or heck, probably a butter knife on a plane, but you can take knitting needles, most of the time.
Like everything in the friendly skies, it’s at the discretion of the crew, and you should check with the airline before flying. But I’ve knit on planes with these needles on flights to Australia, America, Canada, France, Germany and now Switzerland, so I hadn’t bothered checking, and as before, there hadn’t been a problem.
“I used to knit a lot on planes,” said the woman. “But not anymore. It’s a shame! Knitting never hurt anyone. I mean, really, you couldn’t…” She made a vague gesture, then mimed grabbing at my knitting and stabbing someone in the neck with knitting needles.
I laughed. “Exactly! I have a pen in my bag that’s more dangerous then these needles.
“Hah!” she said. “Which seat are you in? I don’t want to sit next to you.”
I laughed again, and then the flight was called.
I had the window seat, and squinted out at the jet d’eau I turned the heel of my sock and started the leg.
I’ve been flying a lot lately – my boyfriend lives in Geneva, and I live in London – and it’s nice to have something to do while hanging around in airports and on planes. And socks are nice because unlike amigurumi, they’re all in one piece (I dread the thought of losing a tiny eye or a miniature leg down the back of an airplane seat). On top of that, socks are slow knitting. I might whip through a hat or a mitten on a plane ride, but not a sock.
The “plain vanilla” socks I prefer have no patterning to break up the knit, knit, knit. It’s boring knitting, but good for a plane ride and an audiobook, or I prop up my kindle and turn the “pages” with a touch of a knuckle, my hands still clutching my knitting.
Finally – it’s silly, but I think socks are a bit romantic. Something about slipping them on (“pull your socks up!”) and how comfy they feel (“like wearing a hug”) and that they’re for walking on. Or for travelling. Perfect for planes.
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