What’s in your Altoids tin?

I know that I am not the only knitter who carries a mini knitting kit inside an empty Altoids tin. How do I know this? Because there is an entire discussion thread on Ravelry and now – wait for it – a Ravelry group dedicated to this pursuit. I don’t think knitting minutiae gets more awesome than that, people.

I know that it’s possible to get Altoids here in Canada but for some reason they are just so much easier to come by in the United States. (This probably has something to do with the company being owned by Wrigley’s since the 1990s, as I have now learned). In the States, drugstore candy shelves are always lined with several varieties, and I always come back with another tin in some form – dudes, there are Altoids mints, sours, “smalls”, gum…it goes on and on. Each one comes in its own tin of varying size, but so far I do have to give my props to the standard, rectangular, mints tin. It holds a lot.


My main tin is several years old and I don’t exactly remember when or where I purchased it, but it was surely somewhere in the U.S. I use mine as a travel knitting kit, which means I need it to be a) above suspicion at the aiport, and b) able to fit into a pocket of my handbag. So essentially, this means no scissors, no extremely heavy or bulky things, I can’t stuff too much in there and yet I need it to include all the essentials of what I would need while knitting on the go. It’s a work in progress, but I think I’ve got it fine tuned to a good set of items.


Inside, we have:

*Tape measure (for obvious reasons)

*A needle gauge pendant (I only just remembered I had this – an extra from a few gift items purchased last winter from Robyn – it’s meant to be worn as jewelry but since I hadn’t integrated it into my everyday jewelery for some reason, I decided it would probably get more work inside my knitting kit, so here it resides now)

*Safety pins (I’d actually forgotten I had a few in there. Good to know)

*Travel size dental floss (for the cutter – can’t bring scissors on flights)

*Stitch markers (mostly hand made, and more numerous than what I really need, but I like the variety of colour and style)

*Point protectors (I rarely use them…but when you need them you reaaaaaaalllly need them)

*Small cable needle (most useful for sock cabling – and I do often knit socks on flights

*Darning needles

*Waste yarn

It makes me inexplicably happy and prepared and DIY knowing I can cart all this around in a tiny little 3×2″ tin. I haven’t yet figured out how this method is going to help knitters to take over the world…but I’m sure it’s there somewhere.

So…what’s in your Altoids tin?
Happy Friday!


  1. That needle gauge is so cool! I’m trying to find it a a LYS. Adding postage to the $16 price tag would make it very expensive. Then I’m off to my local big box retailer for a tin of Altoids.

  2. I only put pennies in my Altoids tins! Your idea is brilliant! I will put together a knitting kit and reclaim my purse for other things.

  3. I don’t use Altoids tins, but I have several similar small boxes/pouches for accessories. In the US, you can now take small scissors on flights, with blades shorter than (I think) 3 inches, but a few years ago I got a great little cutter in France. It’s a small, vaguely “S” shaped piece of plastic, with a tiny sliver of razor blade embedded in it. There is no way anyone could ever get cut with it, because the blade is so small and the opening around it is too small even for an infant’s finger, but it cuts any weight yarn really easily. It also has a handy magnet on the back that darning needles adhere to – which makes it easier to find the darned things 🙂 I do admit to lusting after a KnitKit, though – check out the Lime and Violet’s Daily Chum archives if you haven’t seen it yet!

    By the way, a friend in MA told me that she’d seen something similar to my French doodad in Canada, where she said they are used to open milk !?! Makes no sense to me, but maybe you understand it?

  4. ladyoctavia · ·

    The floss container as cutter is the coolest idea ever. I keep one in my kit, but for using the floss as life lines in lace…

    I need to put more (as in longer) waste yarn in my tin (which is not an altoids tin, in fact, I have no idea what it is …)

    Mine has: elastic thread, dental floss, 3 pairs of scissors (obviously I don’t fly much), stitch markers, stitch holders, a USB key (so that’s where that is…), darning needles, …

  5. I have two Altoids Gum tins (one for stitchmarkers and one for darning/cable needles) but now think I need one of the regular sizes, since you can fit your measuring tape in it. An all-in-one kit makes more sense than my multiple kits.

  6. I have stitchmarkers in a very tiny tin that a former secret pal decorated with pretty paper, so I’m not sure if it was an Altoids tin or not, and another secret pal sent me a round tin (I think it was Altoids, not sure now) lined with a magnet for keeping yarn needles in. (Clever!) For a yarn cutter in my small travel knitting kit (held in a zippered pouch sewn by yet another secret pal), I use a little device that came with the plastic window-covering kits we use every fall to stop the drafts from our ancient windows. Similar concept to what Barb described, but a different shape, would certainly pass airport security as the blade is tiny and enclosed. (Do they not have milk in bags in the States?) I do like ladyoctavia’s idea of using the floss not only for the cutter, but for lifelines or even spare yarn for a provisional cast-on, since it certainly wouldn’t snag or leave lint behind.

  7. Man, I use my Altoids tin for my contacts (they’re disposables and I worry that the top will get punctured).

    This idea is brilliant, though! As soon as I get an empty tin, I’m going to set one of my own up. The way my hubby goes through Altoids, I should have an empty tin any day now.

  8. Toothpicks-great in the car-no spills.

  9. I have a letter opener with a magnet that matches the description of Barb’s “s” shaped plastic. It was a freebie from my insurance man.

  10. Altoids Tins ??? I have never had Altoids and so never their tin. Do I feel like a Neanderthal knitter now.

  11. I kind of have a notions holder within a notion holders. For my sock length DPNs, scissors, measuring tape, business cards, I have a small rectangular cosmetic bag. Inside that bag, I have a tube which used to hold seed beads. It now holds a small cable needle, stitch markers, many safety pins, metal sewing needles of various sizes, one plastic darning needle, and a knitpicks options thingy. I’ve found that the tube is a handy way of not constantly poking myself in the fingers with the sewing needles and losing the stitch markers at the bottom of the cosmetic bag.

  12. Pretty much the same stuff except **slaps self on the forehead* the bitty dental floss, must get one in there (you are way clever by far!).
    I’ve ‘traded’ my Altoid tin for a Newman Wintergreen tin, just because I love the polar bear on the front :^) same size, same capacity.

  13. There must be something wrong with me. I have never had an Altoid or a tin of any sort. I use ziploc baggies. The tins are a great idea…

  14. That’s a great idea but we don’t have Altoids here in Australia. I am sure I will be able to find a tin like that. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Ummm… I have Altoids in my tins.

  16. m.annema-luinge · ·

    Nice idea, we have several sorts of small tins in the Netherlands, spearmint or barley sugar drops etc. My favourite tin is a Potter,s tin sold with very small droplets of spiced licorice in it, the kind which does sometimes let,s you get tears in your eyes, that spicey. It was always only in black, but they now have a less sharp licorice in a red tin, just so you don,t buy the wrong taste. In this tin, approx. 1 inch by 2 and a quarter and only 1/4 inch high I have some very small nr. 12 needles, a piece of tricot to keep the needles together, a needlethreader and two sizes woolneedles. Now, after reading your blog I will put in some hairelastic rings for markers, the topbiof my floss with the sharp cutting bit and in a very small zipperbag flossthread for works mentioned by you and your blogreaders. A measuringtape will not fit in, but hey, I have a metric/inch tape, I,ll copy both sides and cellotape them up to 30 cm. together, folded they will still fit in, if that is too big I will tape just a 5 cm/2 inch. copied measure in the lid, maybe I can shorten that broken off bit of a nailvile to just 2 inches or somewhat less, I hate knitting with split nails, they hook on everything. Oh, I used that needleaseholder/tin just for cardembroidery at the Cristmascard making circle, kept needles nicely sharp, now I will use another one for that purpose. I just love using all sorts of things for purposes they were not intended for in the first place. The lady with the Altoids loving husband now knows how to compose small gifts of friendship. Just visited a small woolfair friday, it was fun, I came home with some lacebooks and a spinningteaching book, so yesterday I bought a dowel andsome nice circular wooden wheels, I will try to make me a dropspindle, as I had forgotten to order one beforehand, there was not a spindle sold (except one I did not like at all, wrong color, yak).

  17. Whoa, now there’s a superb idea. I don’t have an on-the-go knitting essentials tin. Must find someone who eats altoids and steal the tin after they’re finished… then I need to get some knitting essentials to put in it!

  18. Great kit! (Must go get me an Altoid tin now!)

  19. The dental floss packaging is genius. I would never have thought of that, but even now I’ve got one sitting out waiting to be repurposed. I think I might have to make one of these tins.

  20. I now can’t wait for my next trip to the US to get myself a tin.

    The travel dental floss for the cutter is a BRILLIANT idea.

  21. harriett · ·

    My Cigarette butts instead of tossing them on the ground.

  22. Justine · ·

    I haven’t read thru all the replies, so I apologize in advance if this has already been suggested, but whatcha really NEED in a travel knitting kit is a crochet hook! I bought a mini one on a keyring at a LYS. It’s really just a standard aluminum hook cut in half, and is WAY useful for picking up stitches (especially the “dropped” kind…) I have a friend who’s handy with tools and he made me several more, so I have three sizes now. They take up no space at all and have saved my patience many times!

  23. I love the idea of the travel kit. I never thought of the floss as the cutter. I do have a pencil case (plastic) with verything for knitting plus more. the pendent needle gauge is also lovely. I would like to find me one of those too.

  24. Tyler Banks B · ·

    i keep my; Pipe, Kush, Zig-Zags, Lighter, Matches, mini siscors and my listerine strips in my Altoids tin 😀

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