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.
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.
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:
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.
Basic rule of travel: never take yarn on a trip when it has a label that looks like this:
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.