Sunday, February 24, 2013

Fly the friendly skies, but leave your pin cushions at home

Flying is a challenge today for so many reasons. Take your shoes off, take your coat off, place your computer and liquids in a bin--no they need to go in separate bins. And once you make it past the gate and onto the plane, the seats are crammed so close together that there is hardly room to breathe, let alone embroider.


Once, though, there was enough room to actually knit on a plane--with big metal needles. I was even allowed onto a plane a few years ago with a 24-inch circular needle on which I was trying to knit a lace shawl. I couldn't believe that they let me on since I figured a circular needle would make a pretty good garrote. But, I guess that the Department of Homeland Security isn't worried about lone garroters on airplanes when there are so many other security threats to worry about.


For example, in the security line after a recent trip home to visit my husband, my luggage was searched. I thought I would be busted for my beloved rabbit scissors, even though I knew for a fact that the blades were less than the 4"-length allowed on flights. I was prepared to fight for them.


The agent rummaging through my belongings looked nervously at his colleague and then asked me, "Do you have a piece of art in here?" "No," I replied puzzled. "It looks like a lizard," his helpful colleague chimed in. "I don't have a lizard in my suitcase," I said and glared at the backup agent. "Do you have something metal in here--like a small statue?" "No, I don't have a statue." These TSA agents had to be nuts. They moved away to confer and look at the x-ray of my luggage. "It might be a rabbit," the first agent suggested when he returned.


"Well," I hesitated, feeling a little contrite. "I do have a pin cushion in my shoe." The agents carefully took my shoes out of the suitcase. Wrapped in paper and stuffed into the toe was a brass rabbit pin cushion with a pink velvet, sawdust-filled pad that I had found at an antique mall in Pawtucket. "I knew it was a rabbit and not a lizard," the first agent said to his colleague. "I never thought of it as a statue," I stammered, feeling quite a bit nervous now. The TSA agent took a deep breathe and blew it out slowly. Then he handed me the pin cushion and told me that I could go. As they moved on to the next person in line, I heard the agents laughing nervously at whatever security threat they thought I had posed. They never mentioned the scissors.


So if you are traveling with needlework in the future, remember that small scissors and circular knitting needles are fine to bring on planes, but pincushions could be construed as a major security threat, especially if they are hidden in a spare pair of shoes.

Guess which one TSA didn't like!


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