Monday, November 30, 2009

Just another day in Seattle.

Note 1: With the holidays approaching, many of my current projects will not appear on the pages of the blog until after they’re delivered to their intended recipients. If you’re looking for finished objects, please check back after the holidays. In the interim, I’ll continue to blog about knitting and life in general.

Note 2: This post is based on an interaction I previously described on Ravelry. Should you feel you’ve read this story before, you’re probably not imagining it.

A few weeks back, I found myself having a difficult morning at the office. As occasionally happens, everything I touched seemed quickly to turn bad - kind of like the mythical Midas touch, except that instead of gold everything turns to excrement. The kind of affliction that one suspects may have fallen upon George Lucas when you consider that he remade the original Star Wars Trilogy. Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney were perhaps similarly infected when they went individually from recording Sir Duke and Her Majesty to - collectively - Ebony and Ivory.

Rather than see just how wretched things could turn out, I decided to take a break at lunch and remove myself from my office and the pile of things on my desk, and go find a place to knit. But where to go?

As readers will note from my last post, I’m not yet fully out of the closet with my knitting. There are a few folks at work who know, but most do not. I couldn’t very well just go to our lunch room, and the coffee shop downstairs didn’t seem like a good option either.

After a bit of thinking, I settled on the Seattle Public Library. As knitting Seattleites know, the library was designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, and its architecture was the inspiration for Jared Flood’s Koolhaas Hat. Getting a chance to relax and knit in that kind of environment – what could possibly go wrong?

I walked the three or floor blocks from my office to the library, and made my way up to the 10th floor. This is the highest point in the library that is open to the general public, and the floor has an expansive sitting/reading room. The place was largely deserted, except for a few people sitting on the other side of the room. I picked a chair, put my headphones in my ears, and pulled my knitting from my bag.

Less than five minutes in, it happened. While holding a skein GGH Kid Melange and studying the pattern I was starting, I saw her approach. Appearing slightly over five feet tall and in her mid-50s, she didn’t look particularly menacing. She was carrying a backpack, and wearing a long floral dress with the kind of nondescript white sneakers you might expect of someone working as an orderly in an institution. Although I’d seen her initial approach, I focused on my knitting.
She got to within about 2 feet of me, and bent down in order to eliminate any possibility that we might not make eye contact.

“Are you really knitting?” she asked.

“Yes,” I responded.

“Are you British?” she asks.

At this point, many thoughts poured into my consciousness. Several of them were pleasant. Polite even. Unfortunately, however, most of these thoughts were not.

“No,” I said.

“So you’re American, and you’re knitting. Wow. I thought you were British because they’re so into knitwear. I’m reading this book by this British author and they talk about … … .” she frothed.

This continued on for some time. I tried desperately to be courteous. I tried to push from my brain thoughts of using my circular needles as some kind of craft garotte.

Then, unbelievably, things took a turn for the worse. She sat down in the chair next to me. She told me that she likes to make hats. She explained that she doesn’t knit of course, because knitting is too tedious, but she loves to crochet. And of course she complained that she doesn’t use wool because she was forced to wear wool sweaters as a child and all wool is far too itchy. No, she said, she only uses nylon.

I’d seen her hat when she first sat down. It was a tangled mess of novelty yarn, with slubs here and there, in an unremarkable blue color. The window pane design provided innumerable open spaces for her long, stringy and noticeably greasy hair to escape. By the looks of it, whole sections of her hair were attempting to make a break for it.

She opened her backpack and brought out more hats. Lots and lots more hats. Actually, lots and lots of the same hat over and over again, each in a slightly different color scheme. Each was individually and lovingly wrapped in a plastic grocery bag. With each one, she waived it in front of me and then put it on her head to model it. A few times, she told me that a particular hat was more attractive when under or over another hat, and the two would be paired with her unfortunate coiffure in a kind of ménage a crap for my viewing pleasure. Each time, she asked me what I thought of the finished product.

What I thought? I thought I want to put my earbuds back in and try to concentrate on my knitting before I need to head back to the office. That’s what I thought. But of course it isn’t what I said. I was raised right, and attempt to be courteous at all times – even when confronted with a very sweet lady with questionable sanity and reprehensible hygiene who is wielding hats on my lunch break.

Next, she told me of all the other hats she’s made, where she was when she made them, how long they took to make, and who had each one. There were 42 in all (including the ones she showed me). Apparently more than a few went to massage therapists in payment for services rendered.
This lasted for between 25 and 30 minutes. Then, without so much as a word in parting, she sauntered off. I quickly gathered up my belongings, and left the library to return to my office, wondering if there was a cure for my Ebony and Ivory Touch.



  1. I'm sorry, I thought things like that only happened in airplanes.

  2. As I said on Rav - I think it was very kind of you, and I hope the karma accrued by you at this point helped your day get better. :)