Hancock Plaza, Chicago, 2003
Like the little bridesmaid above, snapped as she floated up the stairs behind her mama, I progress.
I have finished knitting all the components of Jack the Teddy Bear. Glory Hallelujah. After spending a month turning out four arm pieces, four leg pieces, two body pieces, four ear pieces, three head pieces, and two soles, my stamina is an established fact. I don't think I need ever worry about Second Sock Syndrome.
That is, of course, if I ever actually get around to knitting socks.
The World Is Out of Joint
There will now be a slight pause as I await the arrival by mail of the joints for the head and limbs. I had to order them from Canada. (Canada's got it all these days, it seems. Gay marriage. Yarn Harlot. Reasonably-priced medicines. And teddy bear joints.)
There is no place in Chicago that sells them. We haven't got a Michael's anywhere I can get to, and the few remaining sewing shops have cut back to the basics. The Brain Surgeon who answered the phone at the only Joann Fabrics in the city not only said they didn't have them, but asked why I would want to make a teddy bear when I could buy one.
That seemed an odd thing for a woman working at a fabric store to say.
I thought I might find them at this quite large craft shop near my office, an honest-to-God family-owned, non-chain establishment that's been there for years and has some of everything. Unfortunately, finding out meant playing the usual game of "Who's On First?".
I'll spare you the rest. After Miss Congeniality left me alone, I did take a look at the kits to see if I could scavenge joints from them, but they were the sort of thing you give to untalented kids to play with on rainy days. You know - pipe cleaners, chenille bumps, and styrofoam balls. Beautiful.
Me (to well-meaning Polish saleswoman): Can you tell me please, do you sell safety joints for dolls or teddy bears?
Saleswoman: Teddy bears? Oh. Let me show you, we have kits.
Me: No, I don't need a kit. I only need the safety joints. I'm knitting the teddy bear.
Saleswoman: Knitting? No, you don't want to knit a teddy bear, let me show you kit, it come with everything.
Me (very slowly): No, you don't understand, I have already knitted the teddy bear. I just need the joints in order to assemble it. To put it together.
Saleswoman: I don't think this is possible, to knit a teddy bear. Maybe you would like to make with kit?
Me: I have already knitted it. See? (Showing her leg piece from my knitting bag.)
Saleswoman: This does not look to me like teddy bear. You are sure you know how to knit? Why your girlfriend is not doing for you? She would like the kit maybe?
On the other hand, said store has jumped on the knitting bandwagon since my last visit (when I was buying gold-leafing supplies) and now has a rather impressive selection of lower-end stuff. Aluminum needles, cheapo yarn, and so forth.
I picked up two gigantic skeins of "baby yarn" (for babies, I presume - not made from babies) and am humming along with presents for Liz and David's twin baby girls. Two hats: one, the pink bunny hat from Stitch 'n' Bitch Nation; the other, a white adaptation of the same made to look like a bear.
I was a picture, I'm sure: sitting at the coffeeshop near my apartment on Saturday morning in old shorts, combat boots, and a red tank top with Caligula on it, knitting a bunny out of fluffy pink yarn.
This was such a small thing, but it made me feel good, and I'm writing it down so I won't forget it. I was riding the train home on Friday evening and making speedy progress to the end of the teddy bear's last leg piece.
Before she left the car, a Chinese lady of a Certain Age who had been sitting nearby stood up, came over to me and said, "Young man, you handle those needles very well."
I remember how the Chinese grandmas in Hawaii could knit. I was on a cloud for hours.