Crafte's Inferno: Crafting on the Fly and Under Pressure

comments (6) September 30th, 2008     

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MichaelaMurphy Michaela Murphy, contributor
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It looks so innocent, but this simple hand-knit name tag landed me inside of the fourth circle of craft hell.
Three more of the original 12 crafty identifiers that I made for the CraftStylish launch.
It looks so innocent, but this simple hand-knit name tag landed me inside of the fourth circle of craft hell.

It looks so innocent, but this simple hand-knit name tag landed me inside of the fourth circle of craft hell.

Photo: Michaela Murphy

A year ago, I took a red-eye from Seattle to Orlando. Throughout the entire flight, a desperate mother walked up and down the center aisle of the plane with an absolutely inconsolable and screaming child in her arms. In the early morning hours, some of the unseen passengers up in the front of the cabin cried out for her to "shut that kid up!" while the disturbed travelers who were visible just threw her withering looks. I sat mid-plane and tried to focus on thoughts of the treat-others-as-you-would-like-them-to-treat-you variety. I smiled sympathetically at this woman, rationalizing that the good karma I was depositing into the bank would protect me from any future ear-splitting travel. With each scream, I beamed goodwill and imagined a "cha-ching" into my growing account. I waltzed off of that plane, thinking that, yes, it had been a rough eight hours, but it was over and now I could look forward to nothing but a future of peaceful air travel experiences.

If I was stunned that my return flight featured not one, but two screaming infants, it was nothing compared with the astonishing lung capacity, vocal strength, and physical endurance of a several-months-old human baby. "Wow," I marveled, "that really is something." Oh, but I had no idea. Because truly, what is really something is sitting right next to a screaming child, a two-year-old who is crying not because of the pain in his ears but because he wants what you have. He wants your knitting needle.

Last January, the CraftStylish team was headed out to Anaheim, California, for the Craft and Hobby Association (CHA) Winter 2008 show. We were all especially excited because it was at CHA that we were going to launch the CraftStylish website. The day before we left, we came up with the great idea that it would be cool if we all had handmade "crafty" name tags. One thing led to another and it wasn't long before I had willingly agreed to make all of the name tags, all twelve of them.

I came up the idea that I would knit tags with everyone's name on them. I made up a prototype, and it took about an hour and a half. So I figured that I could make up half of them before we left and then the remaining six on the plane.

By the time I boarded the plane at LaGuardia, I was already three-quarters finished with the one I had started in the taxi, so I was feeling good about completing them in time for the party the next day. I was stitching along in my seat when the passengers who were to sit beside me showed up: a couple and their two-year-old boy. I eyed him warily between stitches. He looked happy enough, but we were still on the ground. Immediately after take-off, he began to cry. His parents tried to soothe him, but the higher we went the louder he screamed. We were 20 minutes into a six-hour flight across the country, and I could already sense a renewed debt of gratitude to my grandmother who taught me to knit.

Knitting under the best circumstances is a relaxing and meditative activity. However, knitting under the circumstance of a two-year-old's in-flight tantrum, I found myself trying to force a fixation on the intricacies of the purl stitch to keep myself from musing on the sedative properties and practicalities of slipping a certain someone a Benadryl capsule. I devoted myself toward the execution of a perfectly stitched row. A deafening screech and I'd think: "Stitch one (...Why do people travel with children?), STITCH TWO (...Why don't airlines offer child-only flights?)," another ear-splitting shriek, "STITCH...???...THREE (Oh, Lord, we are only over Pittsburgh!)," and then suddenly...silence.

Fearing the manifestation of my latest child-meets-with-mysterious-in-flight-sleeping-syndrome fantasy, I glanced sideways and saw my rowmate with the bionic lungs staring at my knitting. No, not just staring...reaching for my knitting. He grabbed onto my slender number two needle with the kind of vise grip that makes you wonder about babies. "Oh...uh..." I tried to pry his tiny hands off of it but at the same time make affirming and reassuring sounds so that he wouldn't think that I was actually trying to take something from him. He wasn't buying it. The excruciating wail (followed by that weird dead silence that happens when children are just getting a good lung full of air before they really let it rip) put the entire plane on notice that the screams and cries of the previous hour and a half were absolutely nothing, a warmup at best, of what we were now in for.

Some people looked at me beseechingly, "For the love of Pete, Lady, give him what he wants!" His father held him back while his mother finally shoved a bottle into his mouth. After the initial choking and convulsing, he sucked down a few big gulps, and then apparently restored, pushed the bottle away and let out an operatic bellow of despair. I decided to go and use the lavatory.

When I came out of the restroom, it was as if I were on a different plane. It was quiet, peaceful even. I thought, "Wow, he must have knocked himself out." I went back to my row and the little boy was sucking quietly on his bottle. I picked up the knitting that I had left on my seat and discovered that one of knitting needles was missing. I looked under, in, and around the seat but no needle. I sat back down. I was reluctant to bother the people next to me, but I still had four more name tags to make. I apologetically held up my knitting and asked the dad if he had seen my needle. He immediately shook his head "no" and closed his eyes. Again, I stood up and looked around. I looked in the aisle, under the seats around me, and retraced my steps to the restroom: no needle. I stood there and looked around helplessly. The guy directly across the aisle from me looked at me (meaningfully?) and then at the dad with his eyes closed. Did they take my needle?

It was absurd. I was on a plane—the knitting needle had to be somewhere within the cabin. The only logical solution to the mystery-of-the-missing-needle was for my rowmates to have taken it—but that was just weird. But, a screaming child can make you do weird things. Whatever the case, I needed the needle in order to finish the name tags. If I asked again, it would sound accusatory (which it was) and in any event, the little boy and his parents were sleeping or at least trying to make it look like they were sleeping.

I tried to let it go, to convince myself that I had done the best that I could, that I wasn't letting everyone down—they were only name tags. But then, I would revisit the whole scenario and the bizarre quality of my plight would take over and I'd start to consider things like looking through their bags while they slept (I didn't—but I thought about it).

For four and a half hours, I considered a lot of crazy things: knitting with a deliberately broken ballpoint pen (didn't have one), inciting the entire plane to revolt with me (possible arrest). Until I finally realized that I was, after all, headed to CHA, a craft and hobby show. A place where knitting needle manufacturers would be in great supply.

Once at CHA, the lovely folks over at Coats and Clark gave me several packs of needles, and I knit in my hotel room into the wee hours as I wondered exactly where I went wrong? Exactly how did I find myself knitting a dozen name tags in Anaheim, California, at 2 a.m.? I also imagined that for years to come a mother and father would try in vain to get their son to give up his security knitting needle. But no, he would hold fast onto it until he was well into high school.

Next up on Crafte's Inferno, The Fifth Circle of Craft Hell: Happy Shalloween: Scary Crafty Excesses!

Catch-up on Craft Hell here:

The First Circle of Craft Hell: Working for a Crafting Website

The Second Circle of Craft Hell: Heavenly Ambitions Meet Hellish Skills

The Third Circle of Craft Hell: Crafting for the Family

posted in: craftes inferno, part four

Comments (6)

TarheelCraftyGirl writes: ....One may always hope that the knitting needle ended up in the side of the parent's head?

I'd love to have seen the annoying little varmint(and I like kids, but not that much)use the pilfered needle as a weapon against dear Mum or Dad.
Posted: 3:14 pm on December 11th
shannon_P writes: Michaela, you should have checked the diaper bag. Have I taught you nothing?
Posted: 9:10 pm on October 13th
Asia_Tatiana writes: I LOVE reading these, so funny and so true. Next time I am on a plane with a screaming child, I'll think of this:) You should write a book about your crafty exploits. I am looking forward to the next...
Posted: 2:29 pm on October 2nd
Jen_W writes: Oh my, can I relate! I think some people on flights think I am indulging in performance art and wanting to start a dialogue about knitting or what I'm doing. Leave me be. The last flight I was on with a screaming baby had massive delays. The pilot came on and said, "We want to get to the gate just as much as you." I said really loudly, "I really don't think that's true." I refrained from punctuating my remarks with my knitting needle.
Posted: 2:30 pm on October 1st
TROLLBYrm writes: That is not how I would have used the knitting needles on that flight. That couple was lucky to have you next to them.
Posted: 6:56 pm on September 30th
MaeveQ writes: Ha, ha, ha! This story cracks me up! You're a riot and the name tags are wonderful!
Posted: 3:38 pm on September 30th
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