Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Chopsticks, Pens, but No Needles?!?! Crazy Insane on the Plane!

Very last minute I traveled to the Philippines to meet my sister and brother-in-law on the last leg of their two-year round-the-world adventure. (Their incredible, beautifully photographed travel blog.) Now, I over-packed, bringing all my scuba gear including my heavy BCD, plus their two sets of snorkel gear, about twice as much clothing as I needed, a full bottle of conditioner (diving hair) and shampoo (I used them all up), and a bag of Reeses Peanut Butter Cups as a gift for them (we ate these all up quickly as well). And two knitting projects: Baby Yours sweater with 3 balls of yarn, and Rogue Roses sock, with one skein of yarn, along with bamboo straights for the baby sweater and knitpicks 2 metal circs in 2.5mm size, 2 metal stitch holders, small scissors, and assorted small tools.
Plane tickets to and from were bought with frequent flier miles, which means I had more stops than usual: Kona to Honolulu to Narita to Manilla for 17 hours or so, then 36 hours of travel from Cebu City-Manilla (13 hour wait in the crappy Manilla airport)-Guam-Honolulu-Kona. So did I bring enough knitting?
Oh, and then I got the flu and was in bed for a week.
And then: They tried to take my knitting needles away in Manilla, and I almost flipped the f**k out! After knitting, lugging my heavy gear all over the country, getting the flu, and waiting for 13 HOURS in the airport I was not... patient, nor nice, nor even very sane. This tiny little Filipino security woman dug all through my carry-on, took away my dangerous mini-yoghurt, opened all my glasses cases and my diving logbook, and then held up my sock in progress and asked, "What is this for?"
"Knitting", I replied. She gave me a blank stare (which I had gotten the whole trip. Knitting is apparently pretty rare in the Philippines, as is trying on a sock in progress in public, apparently). She then sat there with all 4 needle tips in her hand, slowly attempting to prick her hand with them and judging their, and apparently my, ability and potential for stabbing the crew, hijacking the plane, and flying to somewhere with wool. She asked if I had checked luggage, apparently weighing the PITA action of finding said bag, ripping the needles out of my sock in progress, and putting them in the bag.
"No", I LIED to the security agent, then went on to desperately claim that these were allowed, and even TSA approved (which is funny now, since TSA doesn't matter in a foreign country), and then insisted they were less dangerous than chopsticks and pens.
She stared at me.
I stared back, evaluating whether I would get in more trouble for attacking her, or boarding a plane with needle-less knitting for 20 more hours of travel at which time insanity may cause me to hijack the plane with a pen and some chopsticks to fly somewhere with wool.
She finally caved, returning the sock to its bag and closing up my carry-on and allowing me onwards for the shoe check and body pat-down.

So did I bring enough knitting?
Sure! It helped that I did not actually knit constantly, and while I had the flu I was actually too dizzy to knit for long. (That sucked, but apparently was NOT the swine flu, because I did get better. But it was fun to have the flu, in a foreign country, with the constant CNN swine flu feed going on.)
So I ended up using all three balls of Rowan Silk Wool for the baby sweater (and did not finish it, since I need another ball of yarn) and hardly got one sock done.
Rogue Roses is a great pattern, but I am altering it for a toe-up sock to use up all the yarn, and to make the rosebuds point upwards. Altering it was fun, since I had no reference materials and kind of had to invent the heel. Also missed the Rosebud video so my roses look a little knotty.

Yes, I know I took two Stephanie Pearl-McPhee patterns! Coincidence! And yet inspiring in my time of need: She has written a ton about traveling on book tours with knitting, and hijacking the plane, or knitting, with sharp pencils and chopsticks may have been her idea. Yeah, next time I will remember to tell that to my defense attorney.
Aha: Here it is!
So today I'm sitting there, knitting away and as the flight attendant walks by my seat she looks over, sees the knitting and advises me that I will have to put it away for take-off and landing and only knit when there is no turbulence and the seat belt sign is off because - get this....

Things could be bumpy and I could let go of a needle and it could go flying through the air and hurt someone.

I put the knitting away like she asked me to (of course, I'm not going to argue on a plane, Twitch a little maybe, but argue? Never)...but as I put them away I commented that this was the first time I'd been asked to do this, and she told me that technically, I should be asked every time. (That would mean that there are a lot of slacker flight attendants out there, but I digress.) I harumphed and looked out the window, hoping for a smooth flight so I could pick up my sock, but I couldn't help but notice that the guy next to me had a very pointy metal pen that he was using to fill in the airlines "sudoko" in the in-flight magazine, and that pen could totally have gone flying through the air too, and being about 100% heavier than my needle and since according to the laws of physics impact force equals mass times velocity...his pen was far, far more dangerous.

All I ask for is a little common sense and consistency. I hope I get that flight attendant again. I'll be the lady knitting with pens.