Saturday, January 6, 2007


Tomorrow I'm flying to Bangor. Travel plans always seem more attractive from the distance of several months, but when they draw closer, the true dimensions of what travel entails come into focus. This flight leaves LA at 7 am. Ok, 7 am, that's a normal hour, right? Well, let's backtrack--they want you at the airport 2 hours ahead. Hmmm, 5 am. And I have to allow a half hour to drive there--4:30 am, and it takes a half hour to get dressed and finish the last minute packing--well that puts us at a 4 am wake-up call! No longer such a reasonable hour! I am planning not to check any luggage and just go with what I can fit into my wheeled back-pack bag, so I probably don't actually need 2 hours to get to the gate. I just have to go through security, and how crowded will that be at half-past dark on a Sunday morning after all the holidays are over? But can I actually bring myself to leave the house at 5 am, which is within the time frame during which I should be there? Suppose I got a flat tire on the way? Aw, screw it, I'll leave at 4:45 am.

And then there's the combination of waiting and hurrying. If I actually arrive at the airport at 5 am, there's a mad scurry through security. (Put coat and shoes and purse in a bin or two, put bag on the conveyor belt, walk though the x-ray thingy, make sure you grab everything out of the x-ray machine quickly, make sure you don't leave anything behind, and then find a place to sit down and put your shoes back on. And hope to God they don't decide to hand-inspect your stuff! Everyone moves as quickly as possible through security, knowing that there are people behind you who need to make their flight. So it feels frantic. And then--ok, now wait. Wander around the terminal, buy Starbucks, eat some breakfast, wait some more. Get in line at your gate. Wait some more. Finally, it's time to board the plane, scurry to get into your seat quickly so as not to hold up other passengers or the flight, and then sit there, all seat-belted in, and wait.

Then there's the flight--should be peaceful enough, we hope. 4 hours and 8 minutes non-stop to Cincinnati. Time to read and/or knit. But then there's only a 47 minutes connecting time between that flight and the final flight to Bangor. Suppose the first flight is a bit delayed? Suppose the gates aren't near-by? (Suppose there's a long terminal corridor, or worse yet, a different terminal or different part of the terminal altogether? Suppose it's one of those things where they put you on a shuttle bus! Surely they know this stuff and wouldn't sell the ticket this way if the connection was that bad. Right? Surely!) I seem to recall a shuttle bus at Cincinnati two years ago. That must have been a bad dream, though. That can't be right.

Anyhow, that particular anxiety attack is why I plan not to check any luggage. If they don't have my luggage, they can't lose it. If I make the flight, my luggage makes the flight. If not, then I have all my stuff with me for any contingency. (I have had contingencies!) But that means that I have to be sure that whatever I'm carrying will pass inspection. When Kristen flew to Chicago, she had a circular knitting needle with a precious cashmerino mitten on it, and I was concerned that there might be a problem with that. But there was not. The needles are nylon and bamboo, so presumably the x-rays go right through them. And the information website from the NSA says that knitting and crocheting supplies are allowed on planes. But some knitting needles could certainly look like (and be used as) weapons! But not mild-mannered bamboo, right? They wouldn't take that away, would they? I cast this onto circular needles specifically so that it would be easy to take through security and easy to work on in a terminal or a plane. No needle to drop!

And how about my precious folding scissors? Should I chance that? I'm sure they length of the blade is well under the published limits. And besides it's folded into a neat and ambiguous shape, in its perfect leather case (this pair of scissors is the only worthwhile thing I got from 18 months of employment at an insurance company in Salem Massachusetts in 1975! I've almost lost them in the bowels of a couch more than once, but I still have them and would die if they were taken away by security. Maybe I'd better just leave them home.)

So what am I knitting? Well the octopus-wrestling incident with the hat kind of scarred/scared me, and I wanted something simple. So I started the Windy-City Scarf from Stitch 'N Bitch. But perhaps it's too simple. It's just a 1 x 1 rib (which is nice looking) for 40 inches, a change of color half-way through, and a slit. The slit is a bit of a mystery. Since it needs to be vertical, you can't just bind off some stitches and then add them back in. You have to attach a separate ball of yarn and knit one ball for 15 stitches and then the other ball for 15 stitches until the slit is the right length, and then drop the second one and knit across again. And all the directions say is: attach second skein. Ok, but how? Attach where, to what? I knit a small sample to try this out, and I attached the second ball with a slip knot onto the needle, as if to start casting on. And then I made sure to skip that "stitch" as I knit, and then I figured I could untie it and weave the end in firmly. Is that right? Is there a better way? In my practice sample, I changed yarn color, but in the real one, you continue with the same color at this point. Well, we'll see. This is really a small and mindless project, and worse-case scenario, I could just rip it out and not feel like I was tearing out my heart. The colors I've chosen are two shades of aubergine. (a heathery purple and a blackish purple) (Someone else's Windy-City Scarf, which confirms my fear that the real-life one won't be as cool looking as the one in the book. Her purple is very similar to mine, but even I am not lame enough to pair it with grey. I'll have a deeper shade of purple.)

Somehow I think this project might have been a mistake, since I don't feel any real enthusiasm/passion for it. There's very little to learn from it, the yarn is not particularly sensuous or luscious in color, and when it's done, do I need a 40" scarf with a keyhole to keep it from blowing away? Not particularly. Maybe I will give it to my mother. That's a good plan! I don't even think it's a long enough project to keep me occupied for 2 weeks in Maine (along with 2 cross-country flights.) Then what? I'll be stranded in the wilds of Central Maine with no yarn and nothing but a Wal-Mart to shop in. All they'll have will be cheesy acrylic yarns. Should I also throw another skein of yarn into my suitcase? (Shove in. Squeeze in!) Should I order a kit of something and have it delivered to Hartland? I would like to make a vest. I had my heart set on a Celtic Vest that crosses over and fastens with a long pin. But I'm not sure about the sizing. It seems to come in only one size, which is something like 37" bust. That doesn't sound very roomy....Could it work? Sound it be adapted? Could they add an extra skein of yarn?

Where is the line between relaxation and boredom in knitting? (in life?) Why is it that a challenge can so quickly slide into a pain in the butt? What is the perfect balance of learning new and interesting things and getting stressed out over something that is supposed to be enjoyable?

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