Thursday, May 25, 2017

The ridealong sock

I can't believe I ever took a trip without throwing some knitting in my suitcase, and I am never taking a trip without some again.  Not only did the sock yarn and needles I brought to Germany help me feel productive while stuck sitting on a bus, I got a pair of socks for a souvenir.  Yay!

Here is the sock partway through the first week we were away, as we drove to Bonn from Cologne for a tour of the house Beethoven was born in.  I like Beethoven's music and the brief tour we had of his home was interesting of course, but I am what I am and my takeaways were really only two.

1/ further confirmation of the shorter height of average person back then and

2/ new realization that I would not like to live in a house that old unless it was made of stone, because I would develop a bizarre creeping tic after a day or so of gingerly stepping across such fragile-sounding floors and stairs.

Okay I'm going to be honest here: Bonn was my second-least favourite city on the tour, after Munich, which I did not enjoy (apart from an hour or so in a park area) even though I learned the most there.  I mean no disrespect to Bonn - I mean, I was just passing through and can't judge.  It was rainy, we weren't there long enough to relax and explore, I am not a big gummi or licorice consumer (Haribo candies originated in Bonn and there is a flagship store there which might otherwise have redeemed the day) and my toe hurt a lot.

BUT there was one thing that makes Bonn stand out in my memory, which is that is is where I almost bought something I really wanted.

Here is the long long story, complete with pictures.

I have a cousin who lived in Berlin for two years, so when I had a chance that day, I e-mailed her to ask where I could get aid for my bad toe.  She lives in England now so the time difference was negligible.  Her advice was to look for a Rossmann store, as they have everything.  Thanks to the beauty of the map function on my phone, we discovered we were three minutes away from one.

Yes, I know, I am lame - I took this pic to wordlessly e-mail her in response.

And yes, they had good stuff for my toe, which we purchased very affordably.  But it is such a cool store we explored the whole thing and in the basement, we found some very cool stationery items, and a nice pair of scissors which I bought because I had forgotten to pack any.

Yeah, Bonn is also where I found a knitting store that sold unspun wool for stuffing into shoes to prevent blisters (not pictured), and a block away, a sewing store where I treated myself to some new darning needles and a sewing kit.  I think I took this picture to illustrate a possible post on Souvenirs Knitters Buy.

BUT as we were leaving the basement of Rossmann, I found an entire bin of half price Things I Wanted.  Here is a pic I took the day I first became aware of the Things, a couple of summers ago here in Toronto while browsing through a gift shop in the Distillery District:

These plush toys are called 'Worry Eaters'.  The idea is that a nervous child with some sort of crippling fear or worry can write it down, unzip the Thing's mouth, stuff it in, and sleep peacefully knowing the Worry Eater is taking it away.  Ooookay then.

Let's look at the Thing another way, shall we?

For a start, they are made with THE SOFTEST FABRIC EVER. Completely touchable velvet.  Plus, stripes!!!!  Straightaway, I was sold.  But also, you can open up the pocket on the front and keep stuff in there like the ring you don't want knocking around, or a candy bar for later, or a tiny stuffed mouse that would look funny hanging halfway out and placed cleverly in a chair so you have something to giggle over when you come into the room. Maybe that idea leaves you as unmoved as the worry note idea leaves me, but in my opinion the entertainment value alone is huge.  Sadly, so is the price tag, so I never did buy one here at home.

However, the moment I saw the bin of sale priced Worry Eaters I realized two things.

Not only could I finally afford one, but the supersoft fabric would be an excellent Flying Home In A Plane aid, because the trip over was a bit dicey and I knew I needed more support for the one back.

Not to mention that I could keep my takeoff and landing gum in the zip pocket, thereby keeping it close in case of extended turbulence.

So I was especially excited to pick up one with long bunny ears - I love rabbits for some reason - and saw that its tag said MARY.

I am serious.  Half price.  Favourite animal.  My own name.

And I did not buy it, because Pete went, Meh, do you really need that?

aieeeeee why do I listen??? I couldn't be sure of my answer until the next day, when it was Yes, yes I really need that.  So for the rest of the trip, as we moved from city to city, we went into every Rossmann within walking distance, which I deemed to be one hour or less.  Pete generously went along with the plan but I did not find a single other bin of Worry Eaters in any of them.  Eventually in Munich we found displays of full-price Marys but I couldn't justify that, so I came home with no stuffed friends. SIGH.

Okay, back to the real topic of this post, which is Sock.

I was careful to pack the two sock bags one inside the other and then sort of wedged at the top of my suitcase so that once I was through security in Frankfurt I could unzip enough of my checked luggage to reach in and grab a sock bag to transfer to my purse, and then knit on the bus to Cologne.  This strategy worked out very well, as demonstrated by the stripes on that first sock picture.  By the time we headed out for Bonn, I'd made use of around three hours of unproductive time.

This is the sock after we drove back from Bonn, in the evening when I was trying to keep my hands warm during a concert in Cologne Cathedral. 

The Cathedral, and the concerts generally, are going to get their own post, because Wow.

The next morning we left Cologne to go stay in Regensburg for a few days, and that day was more or less All Bus All The Time. 

We took a brief break to spend about 45 minutes in medieval Nuremberg (you need more than 45 minutes, it's gorgeous there) and a bit longer in the museum of the Nazi Parade Grounds (not being able to figure out the audio guides made it easier to limit the emotionally difficult content to exactly what you could take... we ended up focusing on personal accounts of the rallies by elderly people who had been children at the time, neatly co-opted by the propaganda and sense of inclusion.)  Then we had supper at a beergarden which was very pretty and garden-idyllic, just across the lake from the oh so disturbing museum.

Still, it was an excellent day for knitting, even though I did get a bit antsy after so much time on the bus, and had to stop a few times to play with the sock.

Chompy sock!!

Baby chicken sock!

We got to spend the weekend in Regensburg, and Pete and I really enjoyed our time there.  Everything we wanted or had to do was walkable from our hotel, it's an incredibly beautiful and intact medieval town, and the rain we'd had since we arrived - stopped. I think that was where I figured out that I could keep my knitting in the giant pocket of the smock I'd brought, allowing me to take out my knitting whenever I wanted, even while strolling over cobbles.  So even though I was not on a bus a lot, I still made progress.

Didn't graft the toe though, even though I'd bought darning needles; I just got going on sock number two:

The wooden square needles I bought to take on the trip worked out just fine, but I still prefer metal; I notice the difference in the tips, which feel more accurate that way.  But I would take wooden ones for traveling again, as they seem less threatening, security-wise, and do a good enough job for this girl.

And there you have the story of my trip knitting.  Yay!


Debbie said...

Mary, the worry eaters remind me of the Sew Fearless pyjama eaters It would be easy to modify the pyjama eaters pattern.

Mary Keenan said...

Omigosh Debbie, those are adorable - thanks for the link!! And you can make interesting eyes (my one Meh with the Worry Eaters is their mass-produced eye styles.) I will be so happy when we get back home and I have space to put everything where it goes, so my sewing machine is not blocked by a million non essential items. Meanwhile: must find irresistibly soft stripy fabric...

Laurinda said...

ACK-I can't believe Pete didn't know how you needed a soft stuffie! However, Debbie's right, & you're likely to love one you made yourself even more
Nice socks, too. Are those the Knitter's Pride Cubics? They also carry a metal version, called Platina, but I'm not sure how they stack up to the Kollages

Mary Keenan said...

I know, Laurinda - Crazy!! He said something about all the stuffed animals we have at home and then mentioned the three small ones I'd brought along on the trip. I stand by my opinion though: the stripey zip-mouthed Mary was much more practical for hugging in moments of terror like when the plane hit a massive air pocket during takeoff. Next time I will just solve it all by bringing a big rabbit with me ;^)

Yes, those are the cubics! I bought a single set of the metal ones to try and thank you SO MUCH for reminding me because we are still living in post-trip chaos and I forgot they were sitting under a stack of knitting bags. I feel like I'm short a set, starting a new pair of socks, and now I can use them, heh