Monday, June 06, 2005


Hancock Plaza, Chicago, 2003
Hancock Plaza, Chicago, 2003

Like the little bridesmaid above, snapped as she floated up the stairs behind her mama, I progress.

Teddy Bits

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?".

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?
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.

So Butch

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.

And Finally

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.


markknitz said...

that is really great. congratulations! and good luck w/ the bear!

Anonymous said...

You could give your bear a cross eyed look and name it 'Gladly', as in gladly the cross-eyed bear.

MarQ1 said...

That last dear woman, may she live to be a hundred and prosperous and happy.
Please don't listen to me b!!ch about socks. They have their rewards--just keep the ribbing to a minimum. After a bear they should fly off the needles.

Joe said...

Did you explain to the good Polish woman why your girlfriend didn't do this for you? I would have loved to hear that response.

As for the Chinese woman, her comment was very reminiscent of what your grandmother said about my hand sewing in a zipper. I was more impressed with that comment than practically any other about my knitting.

birdfarm said...

I absolutely love the mental image of you in your combat boots, etc., knitting a fluffy pink thing. Love it, love it, love it. Can you recreate this scene at home, perhaps, so that I could have a photo of it?

Oh, and congratulations on getting a compliment from a Chinese grandmother. Not to generalize or anything, but my general impression is that Chinese people (of earlier generations at least) are chary with their compliments.

In Singapore, they had to have a national campaign just to get the Chinese clerks and shopkeepers to start saying "have a nice day" and "thank you" to the tourists.

Strictly business, that bunch, at least in regard to strangers.

Of course in Japan people will compliment you to the point of ludicrous-ness on anything & everything. But I'm assuming you can tell a Chinese grandmother from a Japanese grandmother after all those years in Hawaii.

hen hao for you!

TrickyTricot said...

Hmmmmm. Combat Boots. :)

Wow - I can't believe you're doing joints and all - that's just, um - crazy. I'm doing a bobbi bear - but it's all one piece... you know more of the squishy teady bear than the moveable kind. Looking forward to seeing the finished product.

Sean said...

Cute stories! I was on the T on the way to work at the LYS on Saturday and an Asian couple were laughing at me while I was knitting. Something like that would have really bothered me 5 or so years ago...but I just laughed along with the ignorant fucks! LOL

Jon said...

Awright! You go boy! I can't wait to see the finished bear. I'd like mine in heather gray, please. LOL

Colleen said...

Thanks for the giggle, today. I needed it. Can't wait to see your teddy. Or you in a teddy. Or . . . wait . . . did I just say that?

Felicia said...

Dissed by the Polish lady, then you get total affirmation from the Chinese lady! No wonder the PRC is leading the world in largest ecomonies! (Don't get me started on the PRC, politics, and why I'll be emigrating to China!)

Ahh. The assumptions people make. I like the one where I'm in the yarn store, in a heavy man's coat, not too long after cutting off all my hair. The saleslady came up to me, and goes--

"Can I help you with some yarn for your wife?"

When I turned around, she about died. I guess I make a sorta cute guy. Sorta.

That Polish lady didn't hear one single word you said to her. Let's look at what you were actually saying to her--

I need teddy bear joints for a bear I am knitting.

What she heard:

Please sell me a teddy bear kit and squeeze my butt. (Wait. That last part is me. I'm always wanting to squeeze male butt. Dog butt, too. I'm non-discrimatory-- I'll squeeze cat butt, chinchilla butt. . .alien butt, whatever.)

I ramble on. May your teddy bear hardware arrive quickly from Canada. Do send the Polish shoppe maid a picture of your knitted teddy bear.

goblinbox said...

I totally have Second Sock Syndrome. I've only ever knitted one sock. A beauty it is, too. But so lonely.


Let's all move to Canada.

Sorka said...

You soooo have to get a picture of yourself knitting in public with those boots on and submit it to one of the Knit in public picture contests that are out there right now!!! Oh the mental image is hilarious!
Can't wait to see the bear!

terri said...

You, in a Caligula shirt and combat boots, knitting a pinky fluffy bunny hat? If I weren't married I would so hit on you...