Oct 18, 2005

Saving the Mittens*

First FO

I'm a self-taught knitter and my first project was hard-won; even until last year I wrapped my knit stitches in the wrong direction. I remember going to the local yarn store with my friend Maggie around Thanksgiving to buy yarn because we were stressed with upcoming finals. The owner convinced me that mittens were a perfectly easy first project, and I bought a skein of Lamb's Pride in 'Brite Blue' and went home.

I picked up the project on and off for the next few months, frogging all the way, and just. not. getting it, despite consulting the all-knowing Vogue Knitting book. Bwah. Finally, I looked at a small knitting magazine from the 1950s that I'd bought on eBay and everything fell together. I was knitting. It was June by now and I quickly finished the mittens, even though my seams were not too beautiful. I was so excited to finish that I seriously considered wearing them to Ellen's Fourth of July party.

Fast forward a few years and I'm in Colorado at field camp. We're camping on a ranch for 9 days and mapping. The TAs dug a very luxurious pit toilet behind one of the abandoned buildings (no sarcasm here. There was a real toilet over the hole, a sink with a water jug attached to it, and even a little mirror in which to reflect on your crusty self. Plus the view was outstanding).

Mornings are hard for me. This is nothing new, but it takes on a certain urgency at field camp, because everyone has to be in the vehicles - ready to go - at a certain time. I hate being the rate-limiting factor. So one morning, half-awake, I'm doing my business and appreciating the very brisk desert morning. I was excited to put on my mittens after washing my hands in the f r e e z i n g water and wait! what's that? I only have one?....

I think you can see where this is going. I thought "oh, shit", looked in the toilet, and there it was. My Brite Blue First FO, perched on the side of the hole, not in the most juicy part. I thought it could be saved, but... there was this deadline! and I hadn't had any caffeine yet! This being an abandoned ranch, there was all kinds of metal detritus around and I found a little stick, tried stabbing it, but to no avail.

My friend Jovi was next in line and was sympathetic. We scrambled for bigger and stronger impalers. Nothing worked and the line was growing. I gave up the ghost and returned to camp telling my sad story of the Lost First FO and my now Freezing Hand.

and then... another camper said "well, where are we supposed to go to the bathroom now?!" This indicated to me that she didn't want to further defile the mitten that I'd given up on and that there was hope!, so with renewed vigor I found a hooked and spiky metal thing and finally rescued the mitten by knocking it further into the hole and stabbing it (thanks, fellow UNM field campers for holding it).

I marched proudly across camp, holding the mitten at arm-and-spiky-pole's length, with everyone cheering. And we even made it into the vans on time.

*or, "Why I Am Known as 'Poo Diver' Among a Certain Subset of People West of the Mississippi"

Postscript: Because I am a BIG GIANT germphobe, the mitten underwent several cleansing ceremonies. Every morning of the next week, I took the mitten (still on the pole) to the creek, dunked it, and placed it in the sun outside my tent to dry and hopefully sterilize in the UV. When I got back to a laundromat in Los Alamos, I washed it several times with other outerwear - nothing that touched my skin. They felted a little, but I still wear them to this day. Just not in the field.


Blogger Ashley said...

And that, my friend, is DEDICATION. You are committed to your knits. I think that should earn you some kind of official knitter's badge, or at least a sidebar button.

Blogger amandamonkey said...

I've been thinking about posting this for a while, because NO ONE else at the camp was a knitter. They really just didn't get it, which made for much hilarity.

I *should* make some sort of 'what have you done for (your knits) lately?' button. Only the most deserving will get to post it!

Anonymous Mary Jo said...

Last year, I was using a public restroom at a geology conference in San Francisco, and noticed while "doing my thing" that there were some unusual brown stains on the floor, right under my shoes. So, I scooted my feet to the right, where they ended up on top of another, similar smear on the floor. Upon further examination, I noticed some solids near by. Oh -- it was awful. (How does this happen?) As I came out of the stall to wash my hands, and preferably the memory of what my shoes were just in from my mind -- who did I see reflected in the mirror next to me, but Amanda. My fellow germophobe in life -- who I had not seen in the flesh for at least 3 years! (We were actually scheduled to meet up later that day.) I explained what had just happen, and couldn't have been in better company. Amanda understood my immediate need to return to my hotel room, and change my shoes (and pants, and socks).

I tried to get over it, and just wear the shoes anyway. But, I couldn't do it. I tried to tell myself that the X-ray machine in the airport on the way home would kill the germs. Didn't work. I wiped the shoes down with SEVERAL Clorox wipes. Still not enough. I left them out on my porch all winter....and still couldn't get myself to put them on for more than 30 seconds. So, I threw them out.

I still own the pants and socks I wore that day, but I just couldn't move past it with the shoes.

I was told by a lot of non-germophobes that they would have tossed the shoes -- immediately... What do you think -- should I have been able to get over it??

Blogger Kiri said...

Oh, thank GAWD I'm not the only one..I was working at the Dept. of Transportation and stopped to go to the bathroom at a maintenance area. Stuffed my gloves in my back pocket, like I always did. When I reached around to grab my gloves and put them on before I went back outside and I realized I only had one. Yep, the other one was in the toilet. After all the guys had been on their lunch break and relieved themselves. I was debating not plucking it out, but then I realized that my name was on the inside of it *groan* That meant I had no choice but to fish it out. I couldn't bring myself to tell anybody what really happened to my gloves, so I just said I lost them and got a new pair. Oh, the shame...

We should start a Poo Divers Anonymous group :(

Blogger Catherine Kerth said...

I absolutely love that story amanda!!!! you know any other knitter would have done the same thing....well, maybe not any knitter... i would have rescued the beloved first FO too!!!!


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