Monday, October 17, 2005

Scenes from Rhinebeck III: In-Flight Stitch 'n' Bitch

In Which a Fellow Knitter Saves Me from a Complete Meltdown

So, we pushed back from the gate twenty minutes late and then sat on the runway for another twenty. As we sat on the tarmac, I dug into the Orenburg "cat's paw" pattern.

There was the usual buzz of conversation around me. Bzzz bzzz bzzz delayed again bzzzz bzzzz miss my connection bzzzz bzzzzzzzz grandchildren in Florida bzzzzz bzzzzzzzzz bzzzz yarn bzzzz bzzzz...


I was seated on the aisle, in the second-to-last row of the plane. Turning around, I saw behind me the tell-tale tote bag with a strand of blue bulky snaking out the top. Upon further investigation, I found that one of the flight attendants was passing the time by knitting an afghan.

It was a pretty big afghan, a Christmas present for her daughter, which she told me she works on during odd moments in her day. All garter stitch, her first piece, and very nicely done. Good straight edges. She seemed to enjoy having another knitter pet and admire it. She asked about the lace stole, so I showed her the patterns and told her it's not nearly so complicated as it looks.

We chatted for a good ten minutes about knitting stuff and then the captain announced it was time for take-off. Oh boy! Off to Philadelphia!

* * * * *

Flash forward about an hour and a half. We're approaching Philadelphia and the plane is bucking and rearing like a bull at a Texas rodeo. Me, I would rather be sitting on the bull. Instead, I am clutching the tray table and waiting for the moment, surely imminent, when the plane will fall out of the sky.

(I see the funeral in breathtaking Cinemascope. My pulverized remains are displayed in an extremely small urn, over which is draped the Seneca sweater. It has miraculously survived the crash. "He never even got to wear it," everyone is saying. The organist launches into "Aloha O'e" in a vain attempt to muffle the sobs.)

Meanwhile, the four-year-old in the next seat continues to hum "Jesus Loves Me" and color Barney the wrong shade of purple.

The Knitting Flight Attendant, passing by with empty drink cups, notices that I've got my eyes screwed shut and am breathing like a Soviet-made vacuum cleaner.

"Is something wrong?" she asks.

"I don't really like flying," I say, perhaps setting a new record for understatement.

"Keep breathing," she says, "I'll right back."

And she does come back. She perches on the edge of a nearby, empty seat. "Show me your lace again," she says. "And tell me about the patterns."

I know what she's doing, but can't believe she is taking the time.

I pull out the stole and start from the bottom. "This is called 'Peacock'–it's Estonian, very easy to knit because it's symmetrical and has short repeats..."

By the time I get to the end of the stole, we are in our final approach and my stomach has left my shoes and returned to its accustomed location.

"You think you can make it the rest of the way?" she asks, kindly.

"I'm much better, thank you." I slip the stole back into my bag.

We land. No balls of fire. I am not pulverized.

And Ms. Flight Attendant, let me tell you something–I hope your daughter loves that afghan.


Sister Sue said...

What a sweet, sweet woman! There is hope for humanity after all.

(And my word verification is too funny not to share: rocfnky, as in, "get down and rocfnky," I'm guessing.)

knitnthings said...

Wow - it's a rare thing that someone takes the time to be that nice. You knew it had to be a knitter, no one else would have done that.

I looked for your sweater all day saturday, but I didn't see it - or you. Maybe it was to warm to wear it?

~how come I never get cool verification words?! rjrqj blah!

Sean said...

I just finished catching up since the posting of the finished Rhinebeck Sweater. I hope to be able to see picture, although I do know sometimes we just don't capture them...

I think knitters tend to be drawn to one another...hence the "connection".

Also, I often wondered if they would make me demonstrate "knitting" when I next take a flight.

Can't wait to hear more of your delightful stories.


My word verification yruacsp...or Why are you a CSP...what's a CSP??

Marilyn said...

That attendant should rent out her soothing services. Because I fly like you do--scared shitless.

Didn't we have the best time? Already I miss everyone, sitting here all sad and lonely at my laptop, gazing upon my two huge bags of fabulous fiber, aching to be spinning everything I bought, simultaneously.

My verification word is "phkei" as in "I thought his Elton John glittersuit was awfully phkei."

Marcia said...

Hmmm... CSP

dragon knitter said...

as i said before, knitters are amazingly generous, and flight attendants rock. i made aponcho on the way to oregon last summer, and they all oohed and ahhed over it, particularly when i walked off the last plane with it on. it's a great feeling, isn't it?

goblinbox said...

There's a right shade of purple for Barney?

Linda said...

What a darling, but are we surprised, as knitters?

Marcy said...

Aren't you glad you didn't get The Yarn Harlot's flight attendant?

Kate said...

That's a really cool story. :-)