Friday, August 10, 2007

International Sock (Near)Tragedy

Beware readers. THIS COULD BE YOU. What follows is a tale of near-tragedy, with a happy ending and a warning to all would be knitting travelers. (Or traveling knitters.)
This tale begins many months ago in a quaint little (snort) yarn shop in Western Massachusetts. A pair of school teachers – let's call them Liz and Rebecca – determined to undertake a mammoth task. They would paint Rebecca’s house and learn to knit socks all at the same time. Anyone who’s had the privilege to teach teachers of small children may know what I speak of when I refer to the. . err. . behavior of these two ladies. Both elementary school teachers, I found it very interesting that their behavior often resembled that of their students, and on more than one occasion it was necessary (for the good of the group) to threaten to separate them if they could not use their quite voices, please. It was a class to be remembered. I left every day in fits of giggles. It was as if they were channeling their charges, and I had two giddy 6-year-old girls on my hands. Both ended up with, as I recall, anklets when time ran thin and legs were not getting long enough fast enough. House painting and sock knitting may not be compatible activities after all. Although I think I’ve only seen Liz once or twice since that class ended – sad because I love her energy – Rebecca is an occasional Thursday night drop-in knitter. Most recently she came in a little flummoxed over Anouk. We sorted it right quick, and she went off with her usual big grin. This was the last time I saw her – a cheery “Goodbye, Melissa, thanks!!” and a big smile. Imagine my horror when I received this email, titled simply and a little desperately (really, you could feel the pain) ‘knitting help’:

I'm writing to you from Antigua, Guatemala with a knitting problem! My mother was reading out loud to me from your sock class directions. I was feeling really great about the sock and couldn't wait to get back to our hotel to carry on. However, imagine my disappointment when I discovered that I left your directions on the bus. We've searched and searched but to no avail.

This is a long shot and feel free to tell me to go jump in a you, by any chance, have your directions on your computer in an emailable form?

Hope you are well and that you don't find this request to terribly bizarre!
Rebecca ...of Rebecca and Liz sock class fame

(As if she needed to reminds me who Rebecca and Liz are? As if they have not become sock class legends, right next to Candace who made 28 pair between a class in October and Christmas??) My horror manifested itself in a fit of intense giggling and squeals of “Oh, noo!” that pushed me right off of my chair. Rebecca stranded in Guatemala, with no sock pattern. Could anything be worse? She had 12 days of knitting time ahead of her between projects (she’s there for a Habitat build), and NO PATTERN. I emailed her the instructions from Socks from Measurements as soon as I stopped giggling. Relieving knitters in distress is my life’s joy and labor. Long distance relief can be the most challenging, but in this case it was pretty straightforward. She needed the class pattern. I had that. I then received this note with more details, an update, and a warning to knitting travelers (or traveling knitters):

My mother and I were riding in a van type shuttle returning from a trip to Panajachel on Lago de Atitlan in Sololá, Guatemala when I convinced her to read the directions aloud so that I could turn the heel of the sock without falling out of my seat. The ride was quite bumpy as the road had lots of potholes and our shuttle driver was driving like a maniac around the switchback dense fog. I didn't think I could manage reading and knitting at the same time and my mom was glad to help out because it took her mind off of thinking about whether we were going to crash and die or not! Darkness was falling just as I got to the necessary 18 stitches and I put the sock away without thinking twice about where the pattern was. I guess we must have dropped it or managed to get it stuck in our seat because when we got back to our hotel later in the evening, it was no place to be found. You emailed the directions and set the world right again! I'll photograph the sock again tomorrow to show you the good progress I have made. I am going to be making another sock next week with worsted weight yarn as I will be doing a Habitat for Humanity building trip in Quetzaltenango. Maybe something interesting will happen with that one too!

Smart travelers like me always Xerox their passports and stash the copies in various places in their luggage in case of loss or theft. I guess this sock story speaks to the need to also Xerox or scan any needed knitting patterns in order to avoid disappointment due to loss, theft, or incompetence! And really smart knitter-travelers probably email their patterns to themselves before traveling so that they can go to an internet cafe and access the pattern when and if it is needed. Here is a case in point...two months ago I was on my way to Maine and the pattern I was using - Kate Gilbert Anouk Pinafore that you helped me with - flew out of the car window! Luckily, in that case, I was able to reprint the pattern from

The moral of this tale is clear – if you’re traveling in a part of the world where yarn and yarn shops are scarce, make copies of your patterns and stash them with the other valuables (passport, smassport. it's the knitting that matters) in your luggage. All’s well that ends well, but better safe then sorry. I can't wait now for Rebecca to return
and share the rest of her travel story with us at Drop-In on a Thursday night. I hope she brings the International Sock Indicent Socks along. I leave you with happy images of Rebecca and her safely in progress sock in Guatemala, enjoying what is probably nauseatingly tropical humidity that would leave me in my room, flat on my back, under a large fan. See how happy she is, smiling? Learn from her near-tragic tale. And never forget.


sophanne said...

I have always said that classroom teachers do indeed (when gathered in groups) exhibit the behavior of their respective grades. As the music teacher and faculty senate chair, I've seen it in action. I think it works for me because I teach all of the grades and can adjust myself accordingly!

Cirilia said...

Hi! Did you get my email about the Williamstown vest? We need whatever info you can spare, I know that might not be reasonable but whatever you can give me helps (a name, description, yarn amounts, needle size, size range). Sorry to harass you with work stuff on your blog =/

MelissaKnits said...

CiRiLiA. Don't you check your email? I moved. Melissa does not live there anymore. What vest? There is no Williamstown vest. I am too confused. Am I making a vest? It looks so much like a pullover...this is too confusing. I must shop now.

Try Silly young person.

Yarnhog said...

The security people in several airports were flummoxed by the many, many balls of yarn (and very little else) in my carry-on. But you know, if my luggage is lost, I can do without underwear. The loss of my yarn would be catastrophic!

Gammy aka Peggy said...

That is a hair raising story. I'm glad it all turn out well. After being to Haiti myself and riding on the type roads she is talking about. I find myself somewhat nauseated right now thinkin about all the bumps and turns. Mental notes made so I can be a safe traveling knitter in the future.