A Knitters Trip Abroad

This time last week I was on a plane somewhere over the Atlantic.  Actually, its possible that I was running around the airport in Dublin.  All the flights and all the time changes made the timeline go a bit fuzzy.  Either way, I was traveling, and I was not at all happy about it.

Jason and I spent 10 days overseas, visiting Dublin (and its surrounding countryside) and Rome.  It was a grand adventure, and the sort of vacation I never expected to be able to have, and a week later I am still a little bitter about having left the Roman sunshine and dry heat and chaos and ruins and three hour dinners.  (Also, I need a scooter.)

If you’ve come from Ravelry and you’re just here for the knitting, this post is for you.  I’m sure that more will follow that don’t talk about knitting at all, so if you’re not from Rav and you don’t care about the wool, your time will come.

I cast on for a sock (Cotty, in Waterlilies on 3IG Kells Sport merino) sitting on the runway at Dulles.  There are always questions about knitting on airplanes.  Within the US, on multiple airlines, I have never had an issue.  I had heard that Irish airlines and the airport in particular had a different way of seeing things, but Aer Lingus attendants, at least, seemed to not have any objections to my knitting on any of their flights the whole trip.  Its the airport in Dublin that’s a problem, but I’ll get in to that later.

I didn’t get terribly far before I decided that I should try to sleep on the plane.  It was only 9 or 10:00 my time, but we were going to be landing at something like 9 a.m. Irish time, and wouldn’t be able to check in to our hotel right away.  It seemed to be in my best interest to get a little sleep before I tromped all over the city.

By the time the hotel called at 1:00 (my body thought it was about 8 a.m. and it was going on about two hours of broken sleep), we had already had breakfast (who knew black pudding was actually good), walked to and around Merrion Square, discovered the Dublin drivers’ habit of parallel parking with their car facing any direction they fancied, found Trinity College and seen the Book of Kells (which was nothing compared to the Long Room in the library).

After a nap and further urban exploration, Jason, the sock and I shared a Guinness at The Brazen Head.

Guinness in Dublin is really, really good.  All of the things you hear about how its just better in Ireland are absolutely true.

I worked on the sock on the bus trip to Newgrange, which was spectactuar.

A group of about fifteen of us crammed inside, and even surrounded by strangers, the energy in the old passages gave me chills.  I could have sat and stared at the stones all afternoon, even in the rain and chill.  (I knew Ireland wasn’t going to be warm, but I underestimated how cool it actually was.)

I finished the leg of the sock on the way back to the city, where we saw sheep (who I wanted to play with):

And stopped at Monasterboice, a monastery founded in 521 AD that was home to some of the countries most highly regarded High Crosses.

After that, the sock was mostly put away until we got to Rome.  I brought it along for our Ghost Bus tour of the city, but was too engaged by what wa sgoing on to want to work on it (and that’s saying something).  I would have liked to have knit on the flight to Rome, but the security signs at the ticket desks very clearly said, “No Knitting Needles” right under the bits about how small bottles of liquids and gels must be in a quart sized Ziploc, and that guns and knives are not welcome  on board.  Clearly,  Irish airline security isn’t aware that a knitter without their knitting is more dangerous than the tiny sock needles they are forced to check in their luggage.

At any rate, I had a book with me, and the plane have televisions at each seat (unlike the plane we took from DC to Dublin), and I survived.

It was good that I survived because Rome was really, really wonderful and I am deeply committed to figuring out how I can live there.  Or at least live someplace that has the same energy as Rome (which I’m not sure is possible) since Jason tells me that its “really not his kind of place.”  (I will grant him that it is warm, and that it is difficult to get water at a restaurant without having to pay at least 3 euro for it.  Other than that, I really just can’t see what’s not to love.)

Very little knitting happened in Rome.  We did a lot of walking and a lot of exploring, and there wasn’t very much time to sit still.  The really wild part, though, was that when we had occasion to sit still, I was okay with it.  I didn’t feel like I had to be doing something with my hands, and I didn’t have that nagging feeling that sitting and waiting or standing in line was lost time.

The sock was in my bag the whole time, though, and it did visit the Colosseum:

The majority of that picture is of the area under the arena, where animals and slaves and Gladiators were held between matches.  The wooden floor at the top is a reconstruction of what the arena floor would have looked like, except that it would have been covered in sand.  The whole place completely blew my mind.

Rome had no qualms about my knitting needles, and in fact, I brought three sets on the plane.  One with the Cotty socks, one attached to a pair of plain vanilla socks that could easily worked on in lines, and a third set for a fresh cake of yarn in case I finished a project on the long trip home and felt compelled to start something new.

That all felt like a very good plan until we landed in Dublin to meet our connecting flight.  We had to pick up tickets at a customer service desk, clear customs, and then go back into the main departures area to get to our gate.  That meant clearing security all over again (the second of three times that day).  I was not a happy camper.  Not only did I face seven hours confined on an airplane without my knitting and with only half a book to finish, but I had all three sets of my favorite needles on my person, and I was just sure that security was going to take them away.  It was too late to find an envelope and postage and try to mail them home if that happened.  I started mentally taking stock of where things were.  The loose dpns were in my purse, and they were long and thin in a pouch with pens and all sorts of random things, and besides, they were bamboo and maybe they wouldn’t turn up.  The needles in the Cotty socks were in the socks, in my purse, and they were thicker, and there probably wasn’t much hope for those, except that again, they were bamboo and I’ve heard rumors (that I’m pretty sure aren’t true) that airport x-ray machines can’t pick those up.  The other needles were short circs, and they were in my backpack and were metal, and I was just positive those were going to be taken.

Except that they weren’t.  Everything went right on through without so much as a second glance.  Security was more alarmed by Jason’s umbrella than my contraband needles.  I knit on an off on the flight between Dublin and JFK, where our flight to Dulles was delayed.  I finished the sock waiting there, but by then my body thought it was 4 a.m. and that I had been awake since 7 a.m. and there was just no hope of casting on for the second.

I still don’t have pictures of the finished product (though I have started its mate), mostly because its been muggy and grey here since we got home so the light is bad, and I’ve been busy uploading trip photos to Flickr, and anyway, I can’t find my camera.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. pdxknitterati
    Jul 31, 2009 @ 15:08:53

    What a great trip! Your pictures make me want to go there. Especially cool Ireland when we’ve been baking hot in the Pacific NW.

    Glad you got to knit on your way home! I hardly knit on our vacation, and my Addi Lace needles got the extra look-see from Vietnam airport security, so I started checking those. Ishbel was not coming off the needles until it was done.


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