Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The waiting game

According to his Twitter feed, Noel spent the afternoon in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport being shuffled on and off planes that always seemed to have something wrong with them (to cumulatively hilarious effect).  He's finally in the air on his way to Salt Lake City now, but his experience provoked sympathetic memories of all the times I've cooled my heels in airports.  My most common reaction is "Thank goodness the kids aren't with me."

As a knitter, waiting often presents itself as an opportunity, within reason.  Even outside the bounds of reason, the sense that productive and enjoyable labor is getting done can make the agony of open-ended waiting marginally bearable.

The problem is the project.  As you may remember, I usually travel with an easy, repetitive project, one that I can pull out in day-long committee meetings and work from memory.  But for waiting, those projects are far less desirable.  If nothing interesting is going on in your surroundings, you want your project to be interesting -- to engage your mind and attention.  That means a complex project, something with lots of counting, shaping, changes, charts, lace, etc.

I haven't traveled with a sock project in a long time, since I find the sock patterns to which I'm drawn too complicated for mindless knitting.  But I'll never forget a cross-country flight back in 2007, where I used an unusually constructed sock pattern as an exercise in increasing my Continental knitting speed.  The lengthy flying time made the perfect laboratory for my experiment, and the pattern held my interest for hours.  I finished the pair soon after landing.

In April I'll be flying cross-country again, and I think I'll find a pair of socks to knit, along with my usual endless lace scarf for meetings.  For involuntary layovers and long flights, I don't want to just be held captive.  I want to be captivated.

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