Okay, maybe I'm overstating it. There I was, in my hotel room in New Orleans, which is busy rebuilding itself after Hurricane Katrina swept through and killed 1,577 people in Louisiana alone, and I realised I had packed three knitting projects, all the associated needles and paraphernalia, and one crochet project, but no crochet hook. I was forced to wait until the next morning (when the LYS opened) before I could crochet. Compared to dying in a hurricane (or its aftermath), not so bad.
This was not actually a lesson I needed to learn, as (here come hurricanes again), I'd already mastered this one. Picture this: it's 2012, and Hurricane Sandy is coming. I've moved my flight up a day (as Air Canada warned me to do), and have just checked in to my flight, and am taking a taxi from Manhattan to the Newark airport in nearby New Jersey. When I arrive at the airport, it's closed.
I'm understandably irritated--I could have stayed in Manhattan! Instead, I end up stuck at some dull Airport Hotel out in the middle of nowhere (I'm an urbanite, I want to stroll the streets and window shop) with nothing to do but read a book, watch TV, or play on my iPad. Grr!
But the next day, when the power is out, and it's dark from 5:00pm to 8:00am (and I don't go to bed until 2:00am), and I can't read a book, watch TV, play on my iPad, surf the internet, eat a hot meal, make tea, have a shower, call my loved ones, etc., etc., I realised how lucky I'd been 24 hours early and how I'd so foolishly scorned it. Watch TV? Bah, humbug, boring. But now I'd have given (almost) anything for the chance.
Two days after the hurricane I went for a stroll along the highway and discovered that one (and only one, and it would stay that way for a week) of the hotels had somehow got its power back. It was like Heaven. Angels sang, a glorious aura of light and happiness bathed it all. It was a Wyndham Garden Inn. I was able to recharge my iPad. I bought candles and a lighter at the convenience shop. I ate a real meal in their restaurant and had coffee, actual hot coffee! (Compare to my hotel, where lunch that day was 3 tortilla chips and a half tsp. of salsa). And I'm no dummy--I immediately booked a room for the next day (the first they had available).
(And of course, back then, I didn't knit. Nowadays it wouldn't be quite as dreadful, 'cause I could likely pull out some easy project and proceed by the light of the moon.)
So when I arrived in New Orleans and took note of my personal missing-crochet-hook disaster, there was no panic, no angst, I was fine, life was good, I had a zillion other things I could do, and at the earliest opportunity I acquired a new one. And I love it! It's got a metal tip and a plastic handle, and ordinarily I would have scoffed (since Uncle Stashley is a fancy man who wants only burnished driftwood tools, or supposedly eco-friendly bamboo, etc.), but my God it slips into (and out of) my crochet stitches like butter! It's Clover Amour, and I got it at The Quarter Stitch, conveniently six blocks from my hotel:
Sadly, this particular shop didn't carry any exciting artisan-spun, hand-dyed, local skeins ... so I picked up one lone but interesting skein with some fun colours, as a memento, and saved a bit of money. (Not sure why a crochet hook can't be a memento, but it can't!)
If you're interested in New Orleans, proceed. There will be very little knitting from this point on. I did visit one other LYS, but it's closed, permanently (too bad--I liked their window!)
New Orleans was lovely (for the most part--some areas are a little dodgy, apparently, and I'm not a fan of the Bourbon Street bar scene, since I'm not a fan of the bar scene anywhere), but every neighbourhood that I visited was charming and/or interesting and/or beautiful and/or historic. I found myself weighing up the pros and cons of different areas, house sizes, local amenities, etc., mentally moving myself in. Here, in ascending order, some of the options:
I browsed the local bookstores and dined on local food (lots of crab!) and even indulged in beignets: $3.99 for three, at Café Beignet, and since I'm on my own I ate all three. Yum!
I walked, and walked, and walked some more--51,000 steps the first day (39 kilometres), then increasingly less so on subsequent days as I tried to recover from that first day! I visited the Museum of Art, the Botanical Garden, and a home tour of the historic Beauregard-Keyes house where they let me play the 19th Century square grand piano. (The house was briefly home to General Beauregard, but I was more excited that Frances Parkinson Keyes had purchased it mid-20th Century, restored it, and lived for years in it. I read <i>Steamboat Gothic</i> when I was a kid, and it was great!)
Super fun time had by all (i.e. me).
On and Off the Needles In One Week
Gentleman's Fancy Hat by A.M. Hook (which I consistently misremember as a Fancy Gentleman's Hat, which is not quite the same thing. All of Uncle Stashley's hats are the hat of a fancy gentleman, of course).
It was the softest thing, knit from Katia Concept Atmosfera. I found the yarn at one of my LYS, Wet Coast Wools. It is so very very light and fluffy because the yarn isn't spun and plied, it's actually a miniscule net tube stuffed with yarn fibres (mostly alpaca, then a minority of wool and manmade). It feels like knitting with cotton candy. Not ideal for showing structure (e.g. I wouldn't cable with it), but it's just a soft, light, feathery, cloudlike dream of a yarn--if you've got a project that calls for that, this is the yarn for you!
On the Needles
Sophie's Universe crochet project #2 (Part 4: Round 29)
Sophie's Universe crochet project #1 (Part 14: Round 96, continuing the butterflies section--the yarn I needed just arrived this morning!)
Sea Grass Scarf by Janina Kallio (for my niece, in shades of grey to go with everything. I'm in part two, stripes).
GGN Norwegian Ski Sweater (finished the torso, currently well above the cuffs of Arms One and Two (I'm knitting both at once--but on separate needles, I'm not that clever yet))
a linen dishcloth, Eloominator's Diagonal Knit dishcloth by Jana Trent.
Persian Dreams Blanket (finished the fourth hexagon, yet to cast-on the fifth)
The second Double-Knit Vice Versa Scarf (still about 3/4 of the way through)