Is Starshower the new Honey Cowl? Only time will tell (but it looks good).

A Very Sorry Tale

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Dear Kay,
I’m not going to lie: I have been avoiding writing you, because for the past two weeks I have been in the deepest knitting mourning.
I haven’t knitted since I got back from our family trip to Greece and Turkey. August 5. It’s not because there hasn’t been knitting available around the house. You know that there are drifts of it amid the wreckage of this neglected place. Entire sweaters, scarves, baby garments, bales of yarn–all piled up like so much insulation.
The reason I haven’t knitted anything is because I have been bereft without the project I had lovingly, carefully, tenderly cooked up as my Aegean Trip Souvenir.
It was the yarn that made this project so special. It involved the handspun yarn given to you by Juliet Bernard, the one-woman dynamo who edited The Knitter during our tenure as columnists.
Handspun alpaca. Three dense little skeins I stole from you, with no apology. I realize this was sort of tacky, but I also knew that handspun alpaca was something that I could nudge along to a fine destiny.
That destiny was to be a bit of vacation knitting using Veera Välimäki‘s Different Lines, surely one of the greatest recent patterns that hits the sweet spot of simple and cool. If you haven’t made one of these yet, I don’t know what is wrong with you. Garter stitch, short rows, a peculiar sail-shaped scarf. It’s so great.
I wound the first skein of Juliet’s Unique and Special Yarn in the Nashville airport. By the time we left Toronto, I was knitting away, delighted at the way these two very different alpaca yarns were complementing each other. Blue Sky Alpaca Silk–the silkiest twine you ever saw, in the most beautiful buff color, alongside Juliet’s rustic, natural-colored alpaca.
Wheels Up
We arrived in Athens, on time and under budget, ready to give Greece a big economic HUG and wishes for a speedy recovery from whatever economic bad meal they’ve been served.
We had dinner while gazing at the Acropolis. We devoured our allotment of Greek cheese. We saw signs that looked like sorority names. There is something great that happens when you first walk around a new city: the combination of jet lag and cultural disorientation left me feeling like the Curiosity rover, plopped down. So conspicuous, so illiterate.
That night, we hunkered down to watch the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics in the country of the ORIGINAL Olympics. I had my Different Lines right there with me in Clif’s bed, even though Athens is two hours later than London which meant the first glimpse of the Opening Ceremonies came at 11 pm. I knitted through a complete mental delirium. The boys puzzled over the green hills erupting in the middle of the stadium. I began to think I was hallucinating, what with Kenneth Branagh turning up in Victorian garb, and smokestacks sprouting from the hillsides, all of it so dreamy and weird that I concluded that jet lag had got the best of me. I konked out, glad to be so far from home, glad to have Juliet’s alpaca yarn in tow.
The Nashville of the Aegean
The next day we met Jon’s Athenian friend Georgios, who honest to God can match Jon for conversation on any topic under the sun. I’m happy that, at long last, after twenty-two years of marriage, I have found someone who can do this. We had breakfast while gazing upon the Acropolis, got within a foot of the Parthenon, felt blissed out to breathe this dusty air, so great. A swim in the rooftop pool, snipsnap packed it all up, and off to the ship for our trip to Istanbul.
Anchor Aweigh
It was only the next day when I realized that Kenneth Branagh had somehow led me to leave behind my Different Lines scarf. And Juliet’s Unique and Special Yarn. My last moment with that knitting was in Clif’s bed. I tore apart my luggage, searching even in the lining as if I had been trying to SMUGGLE MY KNITTING ONTO THE SHIP. Nowhere to be found. Not in the boys’ luggage. Gone.
I contacted the hotel. Supergracious reply, but regrets that that no knitting had been found in the room. I tried to play it cool, but I spent most of the day feeling very, very low.
I figured that somebody had scooped up Clif’s bedsheets containing my knitting, chucked the whole pile into the hotel laundry, and the felted, ruined mess was dumped in the trash after coming out of the spin cycle. Not everybody can recognize handspun alpaca, never mind a clever Finnish knitting pattern.
An eleven-day trip with no knitting is something I have not experienced in more than a decade. I read two and a half books. I lolled. We saw many superfamous things. We have a new collection of Shaynes Squinting In Front of Landmarks. I ate so much that I gained five pounds in one week. It was great. But every day, I was haunted by the fact that Juliet’s yarn was lost in such a profound and irretrievable way. Most of all, it made me genuinely queasy to think that the one time I took truly irreplaceable yarn on a trip, it disappeared.
The only reason I am able to confess this hideous tale is that yesterday, the doorbell rang, and the mail guy handed me this:
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I don’t think I have ever literally hugged a package before. I took the package as if it were a baby. It was so . . . hellenic. The “a” in Shayne was written as an alpha.
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Basic rule of travel: never take yarn on a trip when it has a label that looks like this:
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Greece, you are the greatest country ever. I love your beautiful statues and buildings and cheese and postage stamps with jellyfish on them. And to CHRISTINA AIVALIKLI, EXECUTIVE HOUSEKEEPER, I send profound thanks for whatever archaeological excavation was required to find that yarn.
Love,
Ann

74 Comments

74 Comments

  1. I have had trips where I’ve left items in a hotel by accident, and boy am I ever grateful to the housekeeping staff on those occassions! I’ve left: knitting, books, shoes, and my iPod, and all have been delivered safely back to me. What a relief!!!

  2. So glad this story has a happy ending! I know how that feels and it is not good…

  3. So glad this story has a happy ending! I know how that feels and it is not good…

  4. Happy ending to a “Very Sorry Tale”. The yarns and the pattern look delightful.

  5. i have tears in my eyes! knitters’ tears and gratitude for the wonderful Ms. Aivaliki.

  6. My first thought: You went on a holiday with only one knitting project? How audacious!
    I am glad your story has a happy ending. (But you must always have a back-up project, even if it’s but a humble dishcloth.)

  7. I was feeling queasy inside thinking about you losing the yarn. Not having knitting for a couple of weeks feels like a breeze compared to losing something priceless and rare.
    I’m glad that you got it back. It’s wonderful that there are good people everywhere in the world that can make things like this happen.

  8. WONDERFUL! I’m so glad that story had a happy ending.

  9. THAT is customer service.
    So pleased it all worked out.
    (I also agree with Kathy above – always have a back-up project)

  10. This is excellent! So happy you had a great trip, even with no knitting for eleven days. My mother-in-law recently received a package from a police station in San Francisco, addressed to her son, my brother-in-law (aged 23). It contained a book, with a post-it note: “You left this in the fingerprint room.” Luckily, my brother-in-law was able to explain that he went to the police station to get fingerprinted for his security check for his new job! Hahahaha – that package was a bit of a shocker!

  11. Whew!! I lost my childhood beloved object in the sheets at a hotel when I was small. I think the relief and love for the housekeeper upon recovery must be the same.

  12. I was SURE the last photo was going to be a felted alpaca blob! What a happy ending!

  13. Oh, Ann, what a happy story in the end! I hope you wrote a heartfelt letter of thanks, adding that you would send all your knitting friends to that hotel whenever they travel to Athens.
    And I love your phrase: “like the Curiosity rover, plopped down. So conspicuous, so illiterate.” Exactly!

  14. I love stories like this…I bet she knits…

  15. I love stories like this…I bet she knits…

  16. Best story I’ve heard all summer. I was reading this and thinking of how utterly devastated I would have been, and how I would not have been able to let go of the fact that I lost that yarn. So, so happy it made its way back to you. Meant to be!

  17. Best story I’ve heard all summer. I was reading this and thinking of how utterly devastated I would have been, and how I would not have been able to let go of the fact that I lost that yarn. So, so happy it made its way back to you. Meant to be!

  18. Ah, there’s an equally bad way for a story to end: I left a hat in a bar in Dublin, Ireland that matched a scarf.
    It was one of those sets that is simply perfect, and then I only had the scarf and not the hat. Called the restaurant from America and got someone who said they had, and I sent Euros along by mail to get the hat, but nothing ever came of it.
    So glad your story ended differently!

  19. woo. I am glad I kept on reading through to the end. I almost had to stop, I was so overcome by grief.
    Instead, I am filled with a profound sense of thankfulness for the Good People in our world.

  20. woo. I am glad I kept on reading through to the end. I almost had to stop, I was so overcome by grief.
    Instead, I am filled with a profound sense of thankfulness for the Good People in our world.

  21. woo. I am glad I kept on reading through to the end. I almost had to stop, I was so overcome by grief.
    Instead, I am filled with a profound sense of thankfulness for the Good People in our world.

  22. What a happy ending to your sad, sad story. (((HUGS)))

  23. So glad they found it, and how amazing they sent it back to you! That’s wonderful service.

  24. I cried at the thought of the pain you must have felt and the joy to see that unexpected package.
    Years ago, my young daughter left her favorite little stuffed woobie under the bed in a hotel in England and was inconsolable. It was so kindly mailed back to us in California, along with one of her dirty, balled-up socks (which wasn’t missed at all!) and the world was right again. I have never forgotten that kindness although it was some 22 year ago. Glad your story had a happy ending! Can’t wait to see the posting when it’s finished…

  25. Fantastic! I am glad your project found it’s way back to you! I have to say ladies, your fans, friends, readers, fellow knitters, need more back and forth between the two of you. Pick up your needles but please get back to the keyboard on a regular basis!!!

  26. Good gracious, what a thrillingly happy ending to a tragic-trending tale!
    I’ve left very few things in hotel rooms over the years, but what I have left behind has not been returned, despite a plea within hours.
    Maybe Christina would enjoy a nice handknit?
    I enjoyed your travel notes; that’s a part of the world I would love to visit. Meanwhile, I’m going out to sit on my screenporch and gaze at my goat shed. (Working with the materials at hand, here.)

  27. What a cliffhanger! Gotta LOVE a happy ending.

  28. I have some of that handspun. I was all ready to post it to you, but hey! No need. Unless you want to knit another scarf. It’s looking at me guiltily saying ‘knit me, knit me’ but I have no idea what to do with it, which is BAD, as it deserves knitting. B x x x

  29. Yay! That was a surprise ending! I was not so lucky on a train to Chicago last spring. I left my knitting bag in my seat. I miss the bag more than the yarn.

  30. Boy-oh-boy, your story brought back some lost and found (or not found) stories from yesteryear. I had a beloved doll named Boothbay (for the town in Maine) which I left in that little hammocky thing that Pullman trains used to have alongside the bed. Never got her back. My daughter left a favorite outfit ON TOP OF THE CAR! We drove back the way we came, and recovered the various bits along the roadside, somewhat the worse for exposure. Knitting content? I purchased two beaded, felted balls to sew to the ends of my triangular scarf which were the perfect size and color. I took my knitting bag to a theater to knit during intermission and apparently dropped the two little balls in their plastic sandwich bag – never got those back, either. That’ll teach me. The LYS doesn’t have them anymore, and to get two more, I’d have to buy a bag of, like, 500 of them.

  31. So happy for you! I hope you were able to enjoy your trip despite missing your knitting. Maybe you can make some ex post attitude adjustments.

  32. and a truly heroic tale – epic, in fact.

  33. Wow! This was worth the wait: a story that started out as a Greek Tragedy, but ended as a Romantic Comedy.

  34. Thoughts wot have occurred to me while reading this:
    1. If we were organized about our 9-year-old blog, we’d have a category tag called LOST & FOUND.
    2. I don’t know how this happened to you in the absence of a bona fide distraction, such as JACK WHITE ON YOUR AIRPLANE. Ken Branagh, much as I adore him, would not cause me to lose my knitting.
    3. I was looking through my stash the other day (easy to do as it is spread across the bedroom floor), and wondered what had happened to Juliet’s handspun. Felt guilty. Wondered if I’d lost it. NO RECOLLECTION OF GIVING IT TO YOU.
    4. Which doesn’t mean you stole it. But did you steal it? Because if you did, and stealing is a new Thing that we can do, I am going to steal that little painting I like, the one in your kitchen with all the snapshots. Or maybe something else. You have a lot of stuff I like.
    Yours larcenously,
    Kay

  35. And the other thing I thought of:
    ALL THOSE FISH BUMPER STICKERS ARE REALLY ALPHA BUMPER STICKERS. Totally makes sense. The New Testament was written in Greek, no? I am the ALPHA and the Omega! Not the I am the FISH BUMPER STICKER and the Omega!
    xoxo Kay

  36. A great story, particularly with its happy ending. Thanks,

  37. At least your realized you lost something. My husband came home from a business trip missing three shirts but didn’t even realize it for about 3 weeks. Apparently he did not check the closet before he checked out of the hotel. (And, no, I’m not the sort of wife who notices these things since he buys his own clothes and packs his own bags.) Oh well, generic men’s button up shirts are nothing compared to handspun!

  38. (Sniffle) That is just such a beautiful story! I love a happy ending.

  39. So sad to hear about the lost knitting time on your vacation. I brought only a pair of socks to knit and was so very annoyed to see that the needles had bounced out of my bike under-seat bag on our day 1 bike ride up the path. Had to content myself with reading the knitting mag for the rest of the trip. Green needles on a forest trail are invisible.

  40. Wow!!! Such a great tale! You should write a book – oh yah – never mind;)

  41. Your Very Sorry Tale has me in tears–seriously. So glad you got your yarn back. It restores faith in humankind. Thanks for telling the tale. Blessings…

  42. Your Very Sorry Tale has me in tears–seriously. So glad you got your yarn back. It restores faith in humankind. Thanks for telling the tale. Blessings…

  43. Your Very Sorry Tale has me in tears–seriously. So glad you got your yarn back. It restores faith in humankind. Thanks for telling the tale. Blessings…

  44. Sorry for three posts. Computer running slow and got a message to try posting again. Didn’t know it would repost.

  45. I wish I had had such good luck with the skirt I left behind in a hotel in Dallas and the nearly-new trench coat I left on a plane. But I am glad (and immensely impressed!) that you got that irreplaceable yarn back.

  46. My country of heritage did me proud. Βιβα Ελλάς!!!

  47. So glad you got that back! What wonderful staff that hotel has. Btw – I love the colors!

  48. So glad you got that back! What wonderful staff that hotel has. Btw – I love the colors!

  49. Please tell us what hotel that was so that when we (all?) win the lottery and take our dream trip to Athens, we can stay there and thank Ms. Aivalaki in person on your behalf.

  50. BEST POST E V E R!!!
    love your writing style and of course your knitting

  51. Such a wuss I am; I’m sitting here crying tears of joy for you. Hooray!

  52. I love a Greek tragedy with a happy ending. So awesome to see that package!
    pS did you really not buy any Turkish yarn? Really?

  53. I bet there is a crafter in her family. Because Christina valued it enough to see it safely home!

  54. Yay Christina!!! If nothing else, write a very, very, VERY nice letter to her boss.

  55. Yasoo! LoveDiane

  56. I have to confess I took SIX projects on my holiday –
    the ‘I must finish this’ project
    the ‘this is embarrassing, I started this 3 years ago’ project
    the ‘ever so fine lace that will take ages and won’t frog’ project
    the ‘yay, garter stitch’ project
    the ‘enough different colours of yarn to design a project
    and the ‘ i promised I would knit something for a friend’ project.
    xxxxx

  57. Wow! That is one of the happiest happy endings EVER.

  58. I love a happy ending!
    So, what colors are you knitting your “thank-you” Ball Band dishcloth in to send to Christina?

  59. Gotta love a happy ending!

  60. Great story. Years ago, on tour with my high school glee club, I left my concert outfit in a hotel closet in Romania. Talk about impossible to get back–Communist tourist hotels didn’t run to a lot of extra guest services. I still dream about that outfit sometimes–one of those 80s Gunne Sax Victorian dresses with frills and flounces and dozens of buttons . . .Sang the rest of the tour in a black polyester skirt, the height of Romanian fashion. Never quite got over it. As you can see.
    Glad you had a happier ending!

  61. This made me smile. If this story hadn’t had such a good ending, I would have spun up that alpaca that I just happened to have sitting in the spinning stash and sent it your way.
    Glad I didn’t have to do that though. This scarf is going to be one of your favorites I can tell. (It would be anyway though, I mean HANDSPUN ALPACA!)
    Also, haven’t you knit this before? Doesn’t that violate the “never knit the same pattern twice” rule that you used to have?

  62. Great story!
    And thanks for the tip. I won’t be taking any local handspun with me to Ireland. And I already know where the yarn shops are in Ireland just in case.
    Aren’t there any yarn shops in Athens? I’ve been known to buy a skein and a circular needle in strange cities. And the I can say “withdrawal made me do it!”

  63. Great story!
    And thanks for the tip. I won’t be taking any local handspun with me to Ireland. And I already know where the yarn shops are in Ireland just in case.
    Aren’t there any yarn shops in Athens? I’ve been known to buy a skein and a circular needle in strange cities. And the I can say “withdrawal made me do it!”

  64. Great story!
    And thanks for the tip. I won’t be taking any local handspun with me to Ireland. And I already know where the yarn shops are in Ireland just in case.
    Aren’t there any yarn shops in Athens? I’ve been known to buy a skein and a circular needle in strange cities. And the I can say “withdrawal made me do it!”

  65. Great story!
    And thanks for the tip. I won’t be taking any local handspun with me to Ireland. And I already know where the yarn shops are in Ireland just in case.
    Aren’t there any yarn shops in Athens? I’ve been known to buy a skein and a circular needle in strange cities. And the I can say “withdrawal made me do it!”

  66. Thank goodness for lovely people, all over the world (and why can’t we all just get along?). As a spinner and knitter, I could feel your pain and was so glad for the happy ending. Many important reminders for all of us in this event!

  67. Last time I heard someone speak of Greece and travel the description of service received in no way matched yours. Hurray for fine people everywhere that truly want to extend hospitality to all they meet. Now, get knitting, girl.

  68. Glad your knitting was returned! Hope you had a great trip. Don’t know if you have read “The Pillars of Hercules” by Paul Theroux about his voyage around the shores of the Mediterannean, but it’s a great read, especially his observations of Greece and Turkey.

  69. Oh, what a wonderful story, complete with a happy ending. There truly are nice caring people in the world!

  70. I felt a thrill of joy when I read your lovely knitting had been returned! That is the most beautiful yarn I’ve ever seen.

  71. Oh, Ann, how sad, then how happy! Yay Christina!

  72. Kind of restores your faith in mankind, doesn’t it?! What a gift to get this yarn back. Happy for you.

  73. love the ribbed sweater! And so glad to hear your lost work was returned. It restores faith in humanity!

  74. that is an amazing story.
    I’m so glad you got your knitting back!