The Other Knitter

On the Friday before Thanksgiving, I’m on a plane flying north for 10 days of family fun and I’m not in my usual traveling groove.  I’ve flown a great deal in the last four years, usually alone but also with my husband, and I have habits.  Whenever possible, I pack in a carry on only.  I have Global Entry which gives me automatic TSA Pre-check so I arrive at the airport about 1.5 hours before my flight, sail through security, and once I’m in my terminal eat a meal if it’s mealtime.  I have a short wait before boarding and I sit in an aisle seat as close to the front of the plane as possible.  While I’m waiting to board and while I’m on the plane, I listen to podcasts and knit.  I do not make small talk with my seat mates.  When the plane lands, I’m out of there as quickly as possible and don’t have to go to baggage claim since I’m packed only in a carry on.

These habits are all part of a personal defense mechanism.  I’m an introverted person and have a difficult time filtering out noise.  All the stimuli of random conversations and interactions with strangers is exhausting.  Since I fly in and out of Orlando, my flights are always full of families with small children on their way to and from the theme parks.  As a result, there’s higher levels of noise than might be the case if I was flying in and out of any other airport in the country.  In addition, when I started flying so much it was because I was flying to New Jersey every other week, helping my mother-in-law with the details of life after several deaths in the family.  I was hanging on by an emotional thread and would randomly burst into tears.  I was terrified that this might happen on a flight, where I had no means of escape from scrutiny.  I had no bandwidth for handling even inane conversations.  And so I didn’t engage.  I popped in my headphones and focused on my knitting.  It was the only way I made it through those trips, putting on a fa├žade of normalcy and shutting out everyone around me.  And now, it’s a habit.

But on this flight, I’m traveling with my parents.  My father likes to get to the airport super early.  They have bags to check and might not get to go through the shorter TSA Pre-check line.  We’re flying on Southwest and my father has status since he flies on that airline every week for work, so they do end up with Pre-check, but we didn’t know that was going to happen.  We get their bags dropped off, sail through security, get breakfast at Au Bon Pain and are still at the gate 2 hours before our flight is scheduled to depart.

My project for this trip is a new scarf for charity.  I worked out a design a couple of days before we left and cast on while waiting to board.  I knit about 3 inches and realize I don’t like how wide it is, so rip it all out and start again.  I knit 3 inches and this time it’s too narrow.  I rip it out again.  Finally it’s time to board.  My father boards before either my mother or I, thanks to his status, and saves us a row close to the front of the plane.  I’m in the window seat.  My mom is chatty, so I only have one ear bud in, on the side by the window, so I can halfway listen to a podcast and still hear my mom when she starts talking.  I cast on again, rearranging the order of the cables, and knit another 3 inches.  This time, I’m happy with the width.  I put the knitting down for a minute and stretch out my fingers and wrist, looking around the plane for the first time since we took off.  And that’s when I see The Other Knitter.

Suddenly, it strikes me that I’ve never seen another knitter or crocheter on any of my flights.  Why is this?  Years ago, on a flight home from Boston, I was sitting in front of a high school classmate.  There was only 13 people in my high school graduating class; there are millions of knitters in the United States and many knit on planes.  It’s far more likely that I might run into a knitter than into a high school classmate.  But I’ve never seen another knitter.

The Other Knitter is sitting one row in front of me, on the opposite side of the plane, in the middle seat.  I realize that I’d vaguely heard the woman directly in front of me telling her son he could sit with Nana.  The three seats in front of me contain a husband and wife and a son about 10 or 11.  Across the aisle is another boy of similar age, Nana (The Other Knitter), and a gentleman I take to be Nana’s husband.

I find myself fascinated by The Other Knitter.  I strain my neck to see if I can figure out what she’s knitting.  Her pattern is on the tray in front of her and she’s working with royal blue yarn.  She’s on the second page of the pattern, and there’s a picture of the finished object, but I can’t quite see it.  At first, I think she’s making a sweater.  But the pattern’s only two pages long and when The Other Knitter puts her knitting back into her clear plastic bag and gets up to use the restroom, I can see she only has two skeins of yarn with her, including the one she’s knitting now.  Perhaps a sweater for one of the grandkids?  I can’t tell.

Throughout the flight, I keep looking at The Other Knitter.  I want to talk to her, to find out what she’s knitting and for whom.  Does she like her yarn and pattern?  Is she heading home after a family vacation at the parks or is she leaving home for Thanksgiving at another relative’s home?    Is she on Ravelry?  I feel like a stalker or paparazzi or a fan girl.  I want to take her picture, but stop myself.  It’s a step too far.  What’s the matter with me?  I didn’t get like this on the few occasions when I’ve been around celebrities!

We’re starting our descent into Hartford, Connecticut when my mother notices The Other Knitter.  She nudges me.  “There’s another knitter over there.”

“I know,” I say, casually, like my heart didn’t start beating a little faster when I first saw those needles working the royal blue yarn a couple of hours ago.

When our flight lands, we all gather up our things and head to the baggage claim.  I don’t see The Other Knitter there, but I can’t stop thinking about her.  I’m sorry I was too far away and boxed in the corner by the window to talk to her, too afraid to get up and ask her what she was making.  I’ve missed the opportunity to meet someone new and perhaps make a friend.  Maybe next time.

KCBW6, Day 5: Something Different

Today’s prompt is to publish something different than you usually publish.  The ways in which this particular post is different for me has more to do with process than content.  I always write posts from my desktop at home.  If I’m not home, I don’t write.  I no longer carry a laptop with me and my iPad can be a bit annoying to use for blogging.

Despite this usual practice, I am writing this post on my iPad, while sitting in the West Hartford, CT library, 1500+ miles from my home in Florida.  I wanted to share my past week with you!  Last Friday, May 8, I left Florida and flew to Hartford, then drove up to Burlington, Vermont.  I’ve wandered around New England, visiting family, friends, and yarn stores.  I’ve limited myself to one picture for each day of the trip — also a departure from my usual wordy posts.  Don’t worry, there will be more posts on the yarny portions of the trip!

After I arrived in Vermont, I had to cut the ends off the Dr. Who Scarf.
On Saturday, I attended my cousin's college graduation.
On Saturday, I attended my cousin’s college graduation.
On Sunday, I visited a dairy farm and a cow tried to eat me. Seriously! She wasn’t just licking — she wrapped her tongue around my wrist and tried to drag my hand into her mouth.
On Monday, I check out the Burlington, Vermont area.  This included a tour of the Ben & Jerry's factory.
On Monday, I checked out the Burlington, Vermont area. This included a tour of the Ben & Jerry’s factory.
On Tuesday, I yarn crawled my way from Burlington, Vermont to Northampton, Massachusetts.
On Wednesday, I visited WEBS!! (For the uninitiated, that’s the largest yarn store in the U.S.) I had them ship my yarn because cones don’t compress well in luggage.
On Thursday, I visited The Book Barn.  This is my favorite used bookstore and it is located in Niantic and East Lyme, Connecticut.
On Thursday, I visited The Book Barn. This is my favorite used bookstore and it is located in Niantic and East Lyme, Connecticut.

Today, I’m flying home.  I have so much yarny wonderfulness to share with you from this week.  I can’t wait to get home and start writing!

WIP Wednesday: March 25, 2015

I thought I hadn’t done much crafting in the last week, since I’ve been working with my husband on making tools for weaving.  Then I took the pictures for this post and discovered that I’d done more than I remembered!

Dishcloth Tree

I finished all the leaf-shaped dishcloths.  I thought I had woven in all the ends, but when I was assembling them for this picture, I found one end that I’d missed.  Usually woven in ends = finished for dishcloths.  However, these leaves come out a little bit concave in the center and the designer recommends blocking them.  I’m going to run them through the washer and dryer to see how they come out.  If they don’t flatten out in that process, I’ll block them properly.  Since these are part of a present, I think they are worth the extra attention!


Slytherin Houndstooth Scarf

I got quite a bit of weaving done on this scarf.  I’m just about finished with it.


It’s so hard to show progress on woven projects because the working surface always looks the same.  I tried taking a picture of the finished cloth wound onto the cloth beam.  I still think it’s hard to see the progress!

I didn’t notice until I posted the picture that you can see both my spinning wheel and my floor loom in the background of this picture. Yes, my world is made of fiber!

Liquid Silver

This continues to be the project I work on at Wednesday knit nights.  I only got through 1/2 of a repeat tonight because I was chatting so much.  I discovered that I was doing something wrong on the double yarn overs.  Turns out I’ve been wrapping my yarn overs the wrong direction around the needle.  I did it right before.  I’m not sure when or why I changed my wrapping direction.  You can clearly see the difference in this picture.  I was going to keep on knitting, but looking at this picture, the obvious difference is bothering me.  I do believe I’m going to frog several inches of this project and reknit it correctly.


Travel Planning

Last week, we found out that my husband has to go to India in April for work.  And I’m going with him!  In the last week, we’ve renewed his passport, made our plane reservations and hotel reservations.  I’ve filled out paperwork to participate in the TSA Pre-check (I’ve been meaning to do that anyway) and Global Entry (this allows for faster processing when coming through customs upon our return).  Both programs require in-person interviews.  I’ve booked the TSA Pre-check interview and am waiting for preliminary approval on Global Entry before I can book the interview.  I’ve researched visa requirements, done some online research to see what is in the area where we will be visiting, and through Ravelry I’ve made contacts with local knitters.  I seriously love the internet.

We’ll be in India for two weeks, home for one, then in Chicago for a week.  Chris comes home from Chicago, but I’m flying from Chicago to New England to attend my cousin’s college graduation and visit friends and family.  Since I only have a week at home between trips, I’ve got to have everything arranged for those trips also.  I still need to book flights from Chicago to New England and New England back to Orlando.  I’ve got to weave the Dr. Who scarf for my cousin’s graduation gift.  And do taxes.  And get immunized for Hepatitis A  and Dengue Fever.  And so much more.  Most importantly of all, I need to plan my travel knitting!  It’s 25 hours of travel from Orlando to India and 31 hours of travel from India to get back home.  That’s enough time to knit a couple pairs of socks (although I guess I’ll have to sleep some in there).

The trip to India is scheduled at the same time I was planning to be in Indiana for The Fiber Event.  I already had a plane ticket for Indiana, and I’m still planning to go at some point.  I need to change that ticket once we figure out new dates.  Oh, and I registered to attend the TKGA Conference in July.  I haven’t made travel arrangements for that trip yet, and need to do so ASAP.  The first room block already sold out and there’s a limited number of rooms in the second block.  It’s going to be a whirlwind around here for the next few months!

2015 Goals and Plans

I do not set crafting resolutions.  To me, the word “resolution” implies doing something drastically different than you had been doing before.  I’ve been a fiber crafter for a long time and that is not going to change.  Instead, I set goals and make plans.  Goals differ from resolutions in that goals are smaller, concrete, and incremental.  I already have a base of fiber crafting skills and I want to build on those skills.  There’s many things I have never done, especially with crochet, spinning, weaving, and dyeing as these are the skills that I have only acquired in the last two years.  Although I’ve been knitting for 20+ years, I spent many of those years knitting the kinds of projects where gauge is nearly irrelevant and so the list of things I have never done with knitting is longer than you might expect. I’m starting out the year by picking one or two skills to work on for each of the fiber crafts.

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Fibery Adventures in San Francisco & Berkeley

Chris and I were in San Francisco from September 8 to 13.  Chris had to attend a conference for work starting the evening of the 8th and ending at noon on the 11th.  I tagged along for a vacation.  Whenever I travel, I always try to incorporate local fiber into my vacation.  At a bare minimum, I visit a Local Yarn Store (LYS).  I try to buy a yarn that is local, either because it is spun from locally raised fiber animal, it is hand-dyed locally, or it is manufactured by a small local business.  I also look for textile museums or other points of fibery interest that I can visit.  I rarely drag Chris to these places, as he generally finds them boring, but I take any opportunity to go on my own and bring Chris when the fiber can be combined with something he finds interesting.  Since Chris was in the conference, I had two entire days on my own in San Francisco, and I used part of that time in fibery pursuits.  On Friday, I did bring Chris along to one fibery exhibit.  My fibery adventures barely scratched the surface of everything that is available in greater-San Francisco!

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