Need a holiday handknit? Time for a Schmatta!

London: People

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Dear Kay,
We’ll start with the tragedy of our fambly trip to London.
The guy at Heathrow took my needles. I should have expected it, given the generally freaked-out state of transatlantic air travel these days. But after flying with needles for five years without a problem, I was crabby. “Listen, mister, I hope you realize that by taking this pair of size 6 needles you are WRECKING MY TIDY LITTLE SET OF KNITPICKS OPTIONS NEEDLES.”
OK, so I didn’t really say anything except “WOULD A TERRORIST BE USING BLUE SKY ALPACA SILK FOR A PAIR OF SOCKS? AREN’T TERRORISTS MORE PRACTICAL THAN THAT?”
OK, so I mostly muttered “These things aren’t CHEAP, ya know” as I yanked them out of my knitting.
Mr. Security also took two pairs of size 2 Addi Turbos, which had been involved in a sock I had started and re-started three times at Liberty on Thursday night. The sock? Not such a loss. The needles? That was a sad little parting. Those were the historic needles. I learned how to make socks with those needles. With a few more decades of use, they could have ended up in the Victoria and Albert Museum in their “Used Knitting Implements of the Early 21st Century” collection.
I Saw with Mine Own Eyes the Wallpaper of Liberty
Speaking of which, did you notice my use of the phrase “at Liberty on Thursday night”? I finally got to visit Liberty of London. I got to knit with Polly and Yvonne and Brigid and Belinda and Sue and Jacinta and Shea and Johanne and Jill, for heaven’s sake–Jill whose immortal words “I never regret my luxuries, only my economies” I will someday needlepoint onto a pillow. It was a lovely interlude, such fun. I forgot to take enough photos, of course.
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Yvonne and Brigid. Note please Brigid’s corrugated ribbing on the cuff of that crazycomplicated glove. Brigid is on a Latvian mitten binge, apparently.
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Jacinta and Jill. It cracks me up that Jacinta and I have met before, in Alexandria, Virginia, during the book tour last April. The knitting world is, like, tiny. You can knit with a southern accent or a British accent and it’s still knitting. It’s the Esperanto of crafts, you know?
I still can’t get that store out of my head. Such a perfect curiosity shoppe, with floor after floor of divine clothes, furniture, pillows, yarn, fabric–with creaky stairs and dim lighting and treasures in every corner. We left only when they were turning out the lights, and I did think for a minute that a person could hide behind that sofa and spend the night there.
Fotos
Remember when travel meant you ended up with a couple of rolls of film, which you ceremoniously took to the Barbara Mandrell One Hour Photo to be developed? Digital photography means that I have drifts, pallets, buckets of photos. One travel tip: do not give your camera to your seven-year-old son and say “Here! You take some photos!” Clif added fifty photos which included at least four pictures of his hindquarters, three of him pretending to pick his nose, and many self-portraits.
I’ve finally digested the photos enough to show you a few of the things indelibly stamped on my memory. Today the focus is on People:
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Here are Belinda and Neil having lunch with us at the Serpentine in Hyde Park. If there were a kiosk selling medals of valor, I’d have given them each a decoration for surviving a morning with the Shayne family. They showed unflappable poise in the face of a seriously underfed boy. I loved spending time with these Londoners who turned me into a monarchist, just like that.
The only weird thing about Belinda and Neil was how normal they looked. I don’t mean to be critical or anything, but people in London dress very oddly:
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As close to Monty Python as we have ever come.
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Man who has his picture taken 400 times a day.
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So friendly, this guy. The boys were totally knocked out by Blue Man Group.
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I want this guy’s job: senior medieval sausage roaster.
Love,
Ann
PS Middle Tennesseans: Knitting at the Downtown Nashville Public Library this Monday, Jan. 8, noon to 2 pm. It’s Elvis’ birthday, so you know what that means: Elvis poetry readings.

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56 Comments

56 Comments

  1. So glad you didn’t get turned into a newt!

  2. I don’t think I have EVER seen both your boys together in the same picture! Glad to know they are both real little boys and you do not have an imaginary son. Still jealous of your adventure, cannot wait to hear more.

  3. So sorry to hear about the confiscation of your needles…that’s very unfortunate.
    At least you had a wonderful trip, it looks like the whole family enjoyed the vacation :)

  4. Total bummer about the needles.

  5. Sounds like a great trip. I loved England but the weather was pretty rainy in London when I went.
    Now, about your needles. Did they let you mail them home to yourself or did they throw them in that bin to nowhere (someone will have them by the end of the shift)?

  6. Thanks for the heads up on knitting needle problems…I am heading to London next week and will only bring the grungy ones I can stand to part with. What a bummer. Your trip looks great and so glad you got to Liberty’s. I think the British version of the TSA should donate all those confiscated knitting needles to some knitting group who can redistribute them or auction them off!

  7. Mebbe the next time I go to London I’ll happen to sit and knit with you and Jacinta.
    Alternatively, you could come back to Alexandria. I’d let you sleep in my stash room. ;-)

  8. Sorry to hear about your needles! I always carry a pre-addressed (to me) FedEx padded envelope in case the Needle Police get me. They are usually very nice about agreeing to drop the pack in the nearest FedEx drop box so my beloved needles and I can be reunited when I get home.
    Just a thought.
    I do love London! Wish I could have signed on to carry your bags or something!
    Lucinda

  9. Here’s one of those annoying after the fact tips. Always carry a pre-addressed, pre-paid envelope large enough to hold your needles in. Then when some unsympathetic non-knitter takes your needles at security, you can tell them that the needles cost a pretty penny and would they please consider dropping them in the post for you instead of throwing them out?
    Sounds and looks like Londoners are quite fun.

  10. Liberty has yarn?!?! I went with my daughter 6 years ago, in our pre-knitting days, and thought it was awesome. And now I find out they have yarn? Must get her into the UK for her study abroad…

  11. Welcome home! London is Expensive! 1 set of KP Options and 1 Addi? Pricey…

  12. I agree w/Lucinda and Dorothy, always carry the preaddressed, stamped, padded, envelope incase something is confiscated at security. and what i have done is call ahead to the airline i’m traveling on to ask if it’s ok to bring them on board. also, what’s up w/the fact that you can take a metal crochet hook w/you? can you imagine at the damage a small one would do!

  13. Sorry to hear about your needles, have you tried pencils for knitting? You could certainly argue that those aren’t on the confiscated list. Just saying…

  14. they let me through at heathrow with bamboo dpns… maybe you caught them on a bad day. was so charmed to meet you – you’ll have to come back for another, more leisurely, visit.

  15. I too had trouble in October with foreign security. The US security had no problem with my size 1 circulars but on the way home, Mexican security made me pack it in my checked luggage. Thank goodness they check your stuff BEFORE you check your luggage!

  16. your handsome boys almost look identical in that pic!

  17. You obviously looked like you were going to do some damage to someone with those needles…. it’s because we Brits are dangerous, you know. It might have been catching. Those people in Liberty didn’t like us, now did they? Your needles looked dangerous, that’s what it was. You looked dangerous! (It was starting and re-starting that sock).
    And hey, it was a pleasure spending a morning with you and the men. Come back soon….

  18. Horrors about the needles! I’ve never had a problem in the US.

  19. I had needles confiscated in the airport in Rome, after they let me IN to the country with them, just wouldn’t let me OUT of the country and onto a 5 hour (needle less) flight. I was very grouchy and not gracious at all to the woman who kept telling me, “In Rome, it is different.” My hubby had to guide me muttering furiously to myself onto the plane.

  20. Elvis poetry readings? If you throw in Fluffernutter sandwiches I’m totally road-tripping!

  21. Wow, and you weren’t even flying British Air? Harsh! Maybe KnitPicks has some kind of fund set up for victims like you.
    I’ve got to run commit some kind of ritual act of grief that YOU’VE MET JILL. Jill is always off on some exotic voyage when I’M in town.
    What a fab pic of Neil & Belinda. They should be the monarchs. xox Kay

  22. Great pics of London. It’s a shame I can’t join you for the Elvis poetry – it’s my birthday too!

  23. Note on Heathrow management: In early December, I got through with two Addi Turbo circulars (size 2, 24 inches) and an almost-finished pair of socks. I shoved them in my handbag, packed 10 other pairs of needs in my luggage, and ditched all extraneous items, including round children’s scissors and any liquids. I think it’s all pretty random — heck, we did manage to bring a puppy through, but she got special treatment.

  24. We missed you at Liberty’s last night!
    The waiters expressed the hope that the people at the next table wouldn’t put you off coming back sometime soon…
    Such a shame about the needles

  25. Oh, I’ve thrown a fit or two in international airports over knitting needles. It is completely out of my character to come so unglued, but several times (mainly South Africa and Bolivia) I have screamed at airport workers and just been lucky they haven’t arrested me for felony bitchiness and thrown my American ass in jail.
    Both times they took my needles leaving me with hours upon hours of flying without a darn thing to keep me busy. And apparently, “They allow these in my country! You know, the USA! Where we actually have terrorism!” doesn’t work when screamed at an airport worker. In fact, it only makes them laugh when they throw your little project away.

  26. Should I bring a CD player and some Elvis CDs to the library? Because I will!

  27. Wow it’s a bummer you had to give up the needles you learned to knit socks with. That would have thrown me over the edge.

  28. Did they give you any idea about what damage you could do with the needles? As justification????

  29. I came across the ocean knitting on wooden chopsticks! Just coz I was too chicken to try to get the real needles past those guys. What did you eat with your tea at Liberty?

  30. i visited the castle this past august. lovely, isn’t it?

  31. Ann, it was lovely to meet you! You look just like your photos – I am always hoping I don’t look a bit like mine….
    So pleased you all enjoyed your visit, please come again and stay longer, and we will fill Libertys with only nice people……
    What a shame about the needles. I read somewhere that the security staff employed are rejects from McDonalds….
    And tell Kay to please come over again, we haven’t got anything exotic booked this year (so far!).

  32. What a terrible needle story: here is Australia there is no knitting on planes. They confiscate all needles and hooks. I don’t know why, a plastic fork or a sharp pencil can do a lot of damage. I’m glad I don’t fly!! Love the barbie photo!!!

  33. Just pondering what it would take to knit someone to death…
    Perhaps the security personal had just read “Tale of Two Cities.” But, if they had, they would surely know what a bad idea it would be to deprive you of your knitting!

  34. So sorry your needles were confiscated! That sucks.
    Also, in addition to 7-year-old sons, one shouldn’t give one’s camera to their father. Middle of the giant family Christmas gathering I handed my dad my camera to hold while I went and scavanged for cookies. There are now about 20 really odd and out of focus pictures in the middle of the decent ones. The man knows how to take pictures! I have no idea how he managed to take such horrid ones!

  35. LOVE Liberty! Didn’t you feel like you were in some sort of fabulous fairyland of madder and fabrics and the most beautiful needlepoints ever?

  36. Glad you enjoyed the Blue Man Group – a winner with boys of any age I would think. It was lovely meeting you. Sorry about the needles, though. Just think of all the normal things we could damage people with on planes: tights, belts, biros, forks…

  37. I want to go to London too. Boo hoo. :( I was there once oh, 17 years ago this month.
    Is the Knight wearing Knitted Chain Mail??? And was he recruiting you to seek the Holy Grail??

  38. Sorry to hear that the nasty security folks took your needles. I could never even contemplate a transAtlantic flight without my knitting. Take away my book, too, and I may have to consider violence (or a large amount of alcohol). But that is why I travel with a self-addressed padded envelope in my carry-on. Not that I have ever had my needles confiscated or needed to mail my needles home. But I like to think of the envelope as a talisman against needle confiscation.

  39. Don’t you wish they would just be consistent about the knitting needels? Big bummer! Looks like the rest of your trip was marvelous though. Glad you are home safe and sound.

  40. Sorry to hear about the needles. What really amazes me is that these people confiscate knitting needles…what about pens and pencils?

  41. Snort. Loved the comment about not letting your child have the digital camera. We handed our camera over to our ten year old son while traveling in Bangkok and ended up with lots of fabulous photos of the buttocks of statues and the nether regions of unsuspecting Thai dogs. Thanks, kid.

  42. My husband says to tell you that this is a another example of gender discrimination- they allow belt buckles (which as a police officer I was taught that that could be a weapon), along with pens and pencils – all of which men use.

  43. Such a shame about the needles, and I feel your pain, having had heirloom-ish needles taken away going from Toronto to Minneapolis, for Pete’s sake!
    And the son-with-camera also struck a note, as every family gathering of late is documents by my two boys, who also include a wide variety of self-portraits with their coverage… maybe it’s a phase??

  44. Such a shame about the needles, and I feel your pain, having had heirloom-ish needles taken away going from Toronto to Minneapolis, for Pete’s sake!
    And the son-with-camera also struck a note, as every family gathering of late is documents by my two boys, who also include a wide variety of self-portraits with their coverage… maybe it’s a phase??

  45. I have heard “chatter” about knitting needles and women traveling with children.
    Terrorists, all!
    Pullleeeaaase.

  46. word of the holiday season :’unflappable.’ and situation of the holiday season: barfing children. xoxo, happy new year to the shaynes, and boy you have the most adorable boys (my own aside, natch…)

  47. My sense is that if there was some way to add little, teeny tiny motors or engines to knitting needles — something that cranks or whirs or hums or is shiny and makes noise — the menfolk at security would feel much more comfortable with them and would declare them a necessity that could never be confiscated. Let’s work on this!

  48. Everytime you post about knitting at the Library I look at my calendar to see if I am free…and then I remember that I live in Los Angeles and you…do not. So sad!

  49. TWO sets a Addis and KnitPicks Options?!? Nooooo! That is aweful! If only they knew the scope of what they had done!

  50. i was at gatwick in november and they searched my bag, but didnt take my metal circs. however, the woman sitting across the aisle from me on the plane had her needles taken. i guess i was lucky.

  51. Sooo sad about the knitpicks needles, they really are great needles. Just FYI for other travelers- I recently flew to Australia and had no problems with bamboo needles in the US or there. It’s so unfair though, seems like you could do just as much damage with a PEN as you could with a wee sock needle.

  52. Yay! My hubby got us Blue Man Group tickets for Christmas. And the HISTORY – it goes back more than a few hundred years over there. I’m so jealous! Glad you had a good trip.

  53. What weirded me out is that I had no trouble taking them TO London from Texas – not even a second glance. But when returning FROM London, it was a different story.
    I traveled just 2 weeks after the no-liquids/etc ban was put into place. So in London, they had the obligatory list of contraband at the luggage check-in. But AFTER we checked in, and arrived at the metal detectors, there was the different list – the one that included at least 20 other items, including knitting needles. By some divine intervention I wasn’t feeling well and didn’t plan to knit, so I’d stored my knitting in my checked bag. But it could have been a disaster like yours. Why can’t they put the more detailed list at check-in, before it’s too late? Why can’t you buy envelopes to send stuff home?

  54. I’m a shifty little whatnot: I tend to travel with 2.5mm bamboo dpns tucked into my pencil case and a ball of yarn, ready to cast on after security. So far, I’ve successfully gotten them through Heathrow and Luton (JFK and Geneva are far more laid back, so it’s not an acheivement).
    Really sucks to lose Addis
    ~x~

  55. Do you think TSA guys would be more likely to pass light up needles with their cute little battery packs or confiscate them to play with later? I just came across a scrap of gray cobwebby knitting on the cheapest pair of tiny plastic circs, emergency knitting for last spring’s trip to D.C. I took one look at it and instantly thought of a weightless scribble scarf, the gray paired with an icy blue. Guess what I’m casting on tonight?

  56. Wonderful pictures! I’m excited about returning to London after the World Pipe Band Championships this August. Of course my research is focussed on wool shops and London knitters.