Monday, May 9, 2011

A World of Yarn and Tight Pants

As you may recall, I was recently abducted and taken to an alien world.  Well, I have now returned to tell the tale.  But I must warn you.  It is not for the faint of heart. 

The ship snatched me from all that I know and find comfortable early Friday morning.  I was not alone.  There were many other abductees on board.  In fact, we seemed to outnumber our captors.  For reasons I cannot explain, however, we could not muster the collective will to overthrow these creatures.  Many will wonder about this failure, and its causes, for years to come.  For myself, I blame the distraction of something called "duty-free spirits".  It being barely 8:00 a.m. my time, I didn't partake of this obviously nefarious activity.  But many of my fellow passengers seemed incapable of resistance.

When the ship finally landed, all was quiet.  Almost too quiet.  I'd been abducted along with the TSMKmobile (similar to the Pope-mobile but with more headroom), and was simply allowed to wander this strange land for several time intervals.  In between these intervals, I was unfortunately subjected to the vilest torture of all: torture in the form of forced attendance at sessions of some form of brainwashing or other indoctrination.  But I will not speak of those horrors here.

So, wander I did.  And my wanderings immediately led me to a startling conclusion - a conclusion that all my years of watching Star Trek, Star Wars and other sci-fi programming could never have prepared me for: apparently, these aliens suffer physical harm if their pants are too loose.  Everywhere I looked, pants were skin tight, or nearly so.  Every alien female I saw wore this outfit - most sporting a highly reflective (and highly stylized) Omega.  Interesting.

Every alien male I saw wore a similar outfit, although not quite so snug.  No, the males seemed exclusively to wear trousers made from something akin to denim, but with fabric so tightly constraining their lower appendages that it appeared they might be unable to comfortably sit.   From these two observations, I surmised that fabric must be extremely difficult to acquire in this alien land. Why else would they use it so sparingly?
After much wandering, I found myself standing in front of an imposing building with additional alien symbols on the side.

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The signs I could read said "Beehive Wool Shop".   You read that right, gentle reader.  In this world yarn comes from bees.  This, of course led me to wonder briefly whether, in this world, you might put something from a sheep into your tea.  I quickly dismissed this thought as being too horrible to have merit.

The HIVE was extraordinary.  Clearly, these bees make wool in many different forms, textures and weights.  These are no ordinary bees.  And the shopkeepers were friendly.  Almost too friendly.  Oh, sure, they chatted along nicely enough.  And if you engaged them in conversation they were quite happy to play along.  But they knew I wasn't of their kind.  If I had to guess, I'd say that their first clue may have been the many extra yards of fabric surrounding my legs.

While there, I happened to inquire whether there was anything that I might acquire in the shop which was available only there. 

"You mean, nowhere else in the universe?" came the reply.

I nodded.  And after a brief conversation the aliens indicated that they did not.  But they referred me to another local shop, some two blocks away.  And so, having procured some of this new bee-spun-yarn to take home and study, I sauntered out of the shop.

I was unable to visit the second destination that day, for I had a busy schedule of dreadful meetings to attend.  But I ventured out into the alien landscape a second time the following day, and found my way to the recommended shop.  In candor, I found myself confused by the name: Naughty by Nature

I have always known this to be the moniker for a particularly dreadful hip-hop band.  But, seeing as how I was a stranger in a strange land, I decided to pretend that I was, indeed, down with O.P.P. and cautiously made my way inside the establishment.  Fahshizzle.

I was greatly relieved to learn that my ear had simply been tricked by the strange speech of these alien creatures.  For the shop was actually named Knotty by Nature - a name which surely better befits its wares if not its clientele.

And that, ladies and gentlemen (but mainly ladies) is when my world came crashing down upon me. 

Occasionally, when you enter a LYS you feel inspired to make something.  Occasionally, you feel nothing.  And, upon occasion, I have felt the urge to use the restroom (note - I don't actually attribute this last one to the shop itself, although you never know).  This was the first time I have entered an LYS and felt absolutely humbled by its contents.  While the HIVE contained many excellent yarns, KbK contained many excellent handspun or hand-dyed (or handspun and hand-dyed) yarns.  And, what's more, the shop was stuffed to the rafters with examples of O.P.P. - that is to say other people's pieces (of work).  Amazing things.  Things that a knitter, or weaver, or felter or spinner might aspire one day to almost approach in terms of quality.  This was not a shop for the faint of heart.  This was a shop for someone who was ready to quit his day job and spend the next 50 years learning how to properly operate one of the stacks of Book Charkhas in the corner, or one of the selection of hand-turned drop spindles with marble weights.  These aliens are serious about their crafting.

I wandered the shop for perhaps an hour.  Which is, by itself, remarkable given that the shop is very small.  Ultimately, I elected to purchase only one item.  A skein of hand dyed 50/50 merino/silk blend.  When I approached the register, I was informed by my cashier that it had been dyed by her husband.  She eyed me with some slight suspicion - as if to question whether my skills were worthy of such a fine length of yarn.  Candidly, I'm not sure that they are.  But no matter.  For I was able to escape the shop, yarn in satchel, and have since returned to my planet, where I am turning the yarn into a scarf for myself.  Something to remind me of my abduction.