Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Rural Knitter Travels

I never really considered knitting a dangerous hobby. Well, to be honest, I never really considered knitting at all before this year, but I digress. Knitting to me was a hobby enacted and completed at home, from the comfort of my very oversized couch. It allowed me room to throw my needles around in exasperation and to lose all those pesky place holders with the ability to one day find them again in the abyss that is "under the couch cushions". What I'm trying to say is that for me, and most likely some of you, knitting = home. 

But suddenly, I was no longer home; I was at my sister's place repacking an oddly shaped piece of luggage. I held in my hand my current project, a beautiful deep purple hat that I had started a few days prior, and it hit me: can I even take this on a plane? When I normally looked at this hat, I saw hours of garter stitch and elaborate cables littered with place holders. A soon-to-be garment hanging from size 8 needles. But for that brief moment, I was a passenger on a flight watching an elderly old woman lose her marbles and take an entire plane hostage by holding a knitting needle to another man's jugular. Despite my very vivid and violent imagination (I love to watch crime/detective dramas on tv whilst knitting), I think I had a valid point. My hat would get past security but my needles might not. 

What ever would I do? No security man or woman would ever make me frog the project and hand over my needles. It was 7am in the morning and I had no stitch holder in sight. And most importantly, those needles belonged to an interchangeable set. Be damned if the imaginary security guard stole my 8s and the 20" cable! (Side note: Where did this passion for knitting come from?! That's a completely different blog post, but it warms the cockles of my heart to know that me and knitting have become so close that I would fight imaginary security guards for it.) And I couldn't repack again. The thought of my precious hat crunched up in my already too full checked-luggage gave me heart palpitations, not to mention the question of what I would keep myself busy with on the plane. So it was in this anxiety-driven stupor that I carefully place the hat in my carry-on and pledged to do what was needed. 

Upon arrival at the check-in desk, I was pleased to notice that the attendant ignored my carry-on. I guess I didn't really expect her to demand to see its contents, but I was in full soldier mode at this point. Guard knitting at all costs. The young lady smiled at me brightly and handed me my boarding pass. "Please head through security as soon as you're ready, Miss. This plane normally boards early." I accepted it graciously and thought to myself, Oh, I will. The showdown will not be delayed. 

As I walked towards the escalator I considered my reactions to them telling me I couldn't take the needles past security. There was genuine shock and awe (aka plead ignorance), the puppy dog eyes, irritated customer or just plain crying. I also considered practical reasoning, but that seemed like something they would expect. So I decided to play it by ear. It would come to me. 

And then it was time. I had bagged up my seven lip gloss containers in the appropriate see-thru baggy and was mentally prepared. I put all my belongings into two grey plastic trays and watched them make their way along the conveyor and through the x-ray. The whole time I pleaded with life. Please don't take my knitting. Please! And then nothing happened. Both trays came out the other end of the xray and as the technician pushed them closer to me, he said "Have a nice flight." What?! There wasn't even a backtrack of the conveyor belt. No second look. I had won! But I needed verbal confirmation. Them simply handing me back my bag wasn't enough. "So my knitting is ok then? I can bring it on board?"

The technician smirked a little at my question. "Yes. That's completely fine. We have knitters through here all the time. There are currently no restrictions on knitting needles and yarn. If you had scissors and a sewing needle, however, those would be taken." For some reason, my subconscious knitter had thought things through enough to pack my notions bag in my checked luggage. Thankfully. Ah. I was so relieved. I wanted to high-five the x-ray technician, but I decided to take my bag and skedaddle in case he changed his mind. 

So there I was, sitting at the gate prior to boarding with my knitting in hand. And out of the corner of my eye I spied a ball of yarn on the floor. There was another knitter on my flight! She too had passed through the gates a victor! I admired her work and she smiled at me and gave me a little nod. That's my people, I thought. Kindred folk. Should we come up with a secret handshake even? Ok. That's a bit much. I'll take the smile and nod. Probably for the best. But I still wanted to talk to her. To ask her about her experiences travelling while knitting as she seemed like a pro (to me, anyone who can knit a sweater on a plane is a pro), however I never got the chance. The boarding call rang out and I was up like a flash because I have some odd, innate need to be the first person on a plane. Why? I'll never know.

My first knitting travel experience was nothing but eventful, admittedly, in my own head. But I've grown as a knitter because of it. I will never have to imaginary fight security guards trying to take my needles ever again (unless I start travelling outside of Canada and then it's anyone's game)! 

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