Friday, June 27, 2008

Oh Horror, Oh Woe, Oh Grief! Some Of My Stash Is Missing!

I'd better warn the faint of heart right from the beginning that the end of this blog is truly terrifying. Cocooned in your sheltered safe little knitting world, you may not know that there are threats and risks out there which could endanger the very heart of your home - that is, your closely-guarded and treasured stash. Free-floating, entirely random threats which could strike at any moment, when you least expect it. For you, gentle ones, read on if you will, but only to the 'BUT'. For the serenity of your own minds, I don't recommend that you discover the fate of my beloved yarns and projects. It's better you don't know.

The more hardened among you, of course, can take it on the chin, and may even be able to rally round with words of comfort and good advice. Experience may, perhaps, be able to soften the crushing blow under which Celtic Memory currently lies writhing in mental agony. Perhaps.

But the happier portion first. Lots to tell you about of gift packages received from lovely friends, new ideas tried out, projects progressing. They, however, will have to wait for the next posting. You know how it is, when one major idea is possessing your mind, heart, soul, that's what you have to write about, or die in the attempt. So here goes with the Tale of the Trip To Northernmost Europe.

DH had long yearned to visit the natural home of the white-tailed sea-eagle. Well you do, don't you. Recently Ireland has been experimenting with their re-introduction here (they feature in our ancient poems and literature and we know jolly well they used to inhabit our sea cliffs and mountains, but they died out over the centuries). We have one or two pairs gifted from Norway who are currently trying to adjust to the Kerry climate and learn the language. But in the meantime, DH thought it would be wonderful to see them in their normal habitat. Which is the fjords and northern coastline of Norway. Very far north. We had to fly (by degrees) to Ivalo, the northernmost airport in Finland, and then drive on, on, on, over the border into Norway and up to the remote region of Varangerfjord, where you can peek at Russia just across the narrow strait of the Barent Sea.

Do you know what the most wonderful thing is about blogging and Ravelry? It's arriving in a strange northern town in the freezing wind and rain late in the afternoon and finding a friend running towards you with open arms for a warm hug.

Magaki had come to welcome us to her home town of Vadsoe. We'd been messaging briefly since I had known about the northern trip, and one text on arrival brought her right out to show me where the yarn shops were! Howzabout that for Ravelry comradeship?

I think I like Norway a lot. A small town like Vadsoe boasts not just one but two superb yarn shops. You can probably see pictures of one of them at least on Magaki's blog, since she goes to SnB there every week. Oh the yarns! Tons of gorgeous Norwegian labels, and also - and ALSO - some rare finds in the shape of Estonian hand-dyed laceweight (steady there at the back, no heart-attacks), and sockweight or worsted, I'm not sure which (you'll find out why later). Had a wonderful time. DH in the meantime was having the time of his life around the harbour, photographing eider duck with all their little furballs, rising and falling on the icy waves.

Eider very sensibly care for their offspring in creches, some parents going off to feed while others guard the little ones from predatory gulls and skuas.

Varangerfjord is a world all its own, a world of dramatic indented coastlines and craggy cliffs, tiny battered fishing villages and wild limitless skies. Often you can see echoes of a busier past, of whaling, fishing, people who lived and worked and survived in this demanding climate all year round not just on summer weekends.

There are echoes of far earlier times too: this area has been inhabited for thousands of years, and each millennium has left its records, even if we haven't learned to read them correctly as yet.

This is Ekkeroy, on a day when the clouds cleared and the sun made everything sparkle. It's so remote up there, so far away from cities and crowds and hurry and bustle and industry that you feel calmer just for breathing that tangy sea air. That just might be the Russian coastline across the bay but probably not - I think you have to be up high on a really really clear day to see it.

And this is one of my new favourite places in the whole world, Hamningberg, right at the end of the road. The end of Northern Europe. No more roads beyond this. The narrow track stops here. And it's only open May or June to September, when the snow has melted sufficiently. In winter, forget it. Those little windswept houses hunkering down there have sod roofs to aid with insulation, and weathered grey clapboard sides. The wind was so cold up here it took your breath away. Thought I'd planned ahead with silk thermals but this nor-easter just chuckled and went right through me, not bothering to turn aside for something as pathetic as Irish skin and bone.

Fortunately there was a cafe. A lovely snug little cafe, warm with the scent of fresh baking. Lovely practical people the Norwegians. I could work on my red Koigu socks while waiting for the apple pie to come out of the oven. They had little vases of herbs on the counter rather than flowers (most of those weren't out yet, come on, it's only late June after all), among which I saw nettles and another called (I think) sea cabbage, both of which are, I was told, excellent herbs. I knew about nettles of course, but not the sea cabbage. Never saw nettles as a display before, but how nice they looked.

Reindeer were everywhere, whether individuals crossing the road

herds wandering the seashore or sunning themselves on the shoreline (very strange to see reindeer by the sea, somehow)

or mothers and babies crossing the snowy slopes of the mountains.

How about the knitting, you ask? Well of course there was knitting. Knitting with warm wool really REALLY comes into its own in these chilly places. Suddenly I could see the need for thick cabled sweaters, hats, luxuriously long scarves. But, since I have joined Summer of Socks, socks it was.

Socks were knitted by raging torrents, fed by melting snow -

on weatherbeaten wharves by old warehouses -

and perhaps best of all, on the old straight track, probably the original route out along this fjord, which runs close to the main road. Wandering here on a sunny morning, warm enough to shed one layer of jackets (but not quite balmy enough to doff the woolly hat), with the scent of new heather and the song of newly-arrived birds all around was one of those moments in time that stay with you forever. You know the kind, when for that little while absolutely every worry disappears and you are completely happy just to be there.

All good things come to an end and we had to turn for home. One more quick meeting with Magaki in Vadsoe where she and her DH brought a picnic basket and gave us wonderful coffee and utterly delectable cake out on the headland from where many Polar expeditions set off.

Here we are performing the ritual comparison of socks - mine on the left are a fairly pedestrian pair of cabled in Claudia's Handpaint, and Magaki's on the right are a beautiful pair of Dominos - you can see them on her blog.

On our way south, a brief stop at Tana Bru gave the chance for a happy meeting with Aurora, another lovely Norwegian blogger and Raveler, who lives up at Batsfjord, a good drive from Tana Bru, but she took the trouble to come and meet me.

Here we are comparing socks -she's working on the current pattern from Six Sox Knitalong (hey, I'm in that too, better get going) in dramatic black and white, while I am showing her DH's grey socks in progress. And she even brought me a big ball of Norwegian sock wool too, in a lovely dark blue. How nice was that? AND she and her DH bought us coffee. What a warm generous people they are up in this part of the world.

BUT (and here is the point where the faint of heart should quit reading and return to their knitting - sometimes innocence is the best protection), the tale does not end happily. Or at least (trying to force an optimism I don't feel) it hasn't yet. We drove the long road back to Ivalo. We packed, emptied the car. We took the flight next morning (to the tiny airport of Kittila, to the big HUGE airport of Helsinki, on to Amsterdam. Where we stood at the carousel and waited for one bright yellow hard-shell suitcase to arrive. Which it didn't. And where I stood in queue for an hour with many many other stressed travellers to report its loss. (Dear heaven there are times when you are very very grateful for at least one sock to knit on - the single grey on an inoffensive lightweight circular that could get through security. If I hadn't had that sock to knit on, there would have been a riot at Amsterdam and I'd be in a Dutch jail right now, where you probably don't even have Internet access.) And where we had, perforce, to board our flight for Cork later that night, minus said bright yellow suitcase.

WHICH HAD IN IT ALL MY TRIP STASH PLUS THREE IN-PROGRESS SOCKS. (DH can be heard faintly in the background here, pointing out that it also contained his much-loved tripod plus numerous electronic accessories dear to the heart of any professional photographer, but we'll ignore that as irrelevant. Oh it also contained clothes, but who cares about clothes when yarn is involved?) That exquisite handpainted Estonian laceweight. Those skeins of ditto ditto worsted or sockweight I can't remember which and I would be only too delighted to be able to lay my hands on them to TELL you. Just as bad, and maybe worse because it's more personal, two lovely red Koigu socks in progress and one grey Norwegian cabled sock in progress. All on Addi Turbo Laceweight circulars! (I think three exclamation marks would not be overdoing it here, but academic training dies hard.)

We came home. Cork Airport reassured us that the second the bag arrived they'd ring. 'Don't worry at all now, sure 'twill be here before ye've woken up tomorrow morning.'

Rang next morning. No bag. Rang Amsterdam. 'Yes, it has been sent.' Oh good. So why isn't it here then? A pregnant pause while they checked, and Celtic Memory's heart tried to slow down. 'Ah yes, I have the record here. It went to London Heathrow (WHERE? WHY, FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE?) and will come on to you with American Airlines. '

Oh-oh! That sounds pretty bad. For one thing, London Heathrow is the Black Hole of Calcutta where lost luggage is concerned. (If you don't believe me, check out the disaster they had on the opening of Terminal 5) And secondly, and rather more worryingly, just how do they imagine that American Airlines might be thinking of flying into Cork?

I mean - let's put it this way. Cork is an adorable airport. I love it to bits. It is the most welcoming, the most relaxed, the friendliest one I know. Everybody from passport-checker to marketing manager is a friend. It has a huge heart. But it doesn't exactly have a body to match. It's - do you say spatially challenged? Vertically challenged? Look, it's a TINY AIRPORT, right? You can see the full length of the runway in all its glory in the picture below (thanks Richard, that was short notice but you came up with the goods from your files, what a gem!)The thought of a transatlantic jumbo trying to fit itself onto the tarmac there is daft.

(Mind you there was one occasion when a transatlantic jumbo jet did just that. Land at Cork Airport, I mean. There was a crisis at Shannon, and it had to come to Cork. The runway was emptied, the emergency services were on full alert, and every viewing point was jammed with eager Corkonians who had heard about this on the radio and had come rushing up to see the once-in-a-lifetime event. The huge plane was heard in the distance. It approached. It made a gigantic and ponderous circle, presumably while the pilot looked down and said 'You mean there? You want me to land there? That's not a runway, that's a garden path for heaven's sake!' Then it began its approach. Tentatively, cautiously, as slowly as it could. It came lower and lower and at last touched down at the very first possible inch of tarmac. Rolling forward, you could hear every possible braking option being applied. One imagines the pilot was muttering, 'Get me out of this and so help me I'll never fly the Irish route again.' At last, heartstoppingly, it came to a standstill, one and three quarter inches from the end of the runway, a weed-choked rusty iron gate, and the inquiring eyes of Paddy Murphy's prize cow looking calmly into those of the pilot. A great day indeed, and one to remember.)

That digression was by way of demonstrating that Amsterdam might well have thought American Airlines could dump off my yellow suitcase en route to more exciting destinations, but it thought wrong. Oh heck! (That was not exactly the phrase used, but it will serve for the delicate ears of readers.)

That was on Tuesday. This is Friday. Somewhere out there, a forlorn yellow suitcase is waiting, wondering what has happened, why it isn't home telling of its adventures. Inside are (OK, OK, DH, your tripod and electronic bitsies, OK), that rare Estonian yarn, my poor socks, my Addi Turbos, and Aurora's gift yarn. Where, oh where is it? In the bowels of Heathrow, never to be seen again, like the Ark of the Covenant at the end of the Indiana Jones movie? Still in northern Finland? Gone boating on the canals in Amsterdam?

WHERE IS MY YARN? Don't they know what traumas like this can do? I WANT MY ESTONIAN YARN! I WANT MY ADDI TURBOS! I WANT MY SOCKS!

Oh yes. DH did get to see the sea eagles.


Anonymous said...

OMG you poor poor thing. I will pray to everything that is holy to return your lost yellow case. I can't even imagine what you are going through. Chin up, I know that it will be returned in good time.

Brendaknits said...

I love how the world of knitting makes the world a smaller place. You - an IRISH lady - were knitting socks of Koigu - a yarn prepared by a Mother daughter team of ladies originally from ESTONIA who now live in CANADA - not too far from where I live, actually. And knitting the socks in NORWAY. Estonia, Canada Ireland, Norway. It's heartwarming.

Unknown said...

Oh, I am so sorry. You have every right to be heartbroken. I do hope that little yellow suitcase finds its way to you. Poor you....

Anonymous said...

Wondered where you were...knew you had to be roaming the world. Thanks for sharing your trip with us.

Best wishes for a speedy return of the missing yellow bag. Do let us know when the prodigal returns.

Anonymous said...

Oh no, keeping my fingers crossed here for your luggage to arrive soon and safe!

I just love reading your blog!

Norway is one of my favorite places in the world---clean, cozy, and the beauty is breath taking. Of course the yarns oh so wonderful!

Anonymous said...

That is horrible. Absolutely horrible.

Ruth said...

Oh, Jo! That's just not fair! Someone out there in airportland has your yarn. Forget the tripod. It's the Estonian lace that counts!

There's only one solution: You'll have to go back. Take a copious purse, and put in all the yarn that you've bought. And you'll have to buy more yarn to feel better about this. And, here's the best part, CHARGE the trip to the airline that lost the bag. Any airline will do!

Do you want me to send you a skein of sock yarn to make you feel better?

Anonymous said...

I can't believe it!! Not only to lose all the yarn and your hard work, but multiple addi turbos. Aaack.

Perhaps you should place all knitting related materials in carry-on luggage only. I know with a small airport and tiny flights that may not be feasible.

Your trip sounds magical. I have always wanted to travel to Norway. Since it is unlikely I shall ever get there, please continue to post pictures of all your travels!

Sally said...

Oh, my gosh...poor you (ok and poor DH). Here's hoping the airlines, whoever gets the gig, deliver that poor, but highly anticipated, yellow suitcase today. I love hearing about your sure do have a way with words, Jo.

Anonymous said...

Delurking to say how much I love reading your blog. I do hope the yellow suitcase finds its way back - how awful for you!

Anonymous said...

Oh my! Hopefully when your yellow case gets tired of a life as a world traveller it will come home again. You must be frantic. Best wishes for the return of the run-away bag.
This could be the reason I don't fly. O.K., maybe it's the claustrophobia and fear of heights but yarn loss has got to be up there too.

Vicki in So. Cal.

pacalaga said...

I read the bit about the jumbo jet to my coworker, who is also now in love with your writing.
Deep breaths, Jo! That much exotic yarn can't be expected to hole up in a suitcase and wait patiently - it wants to see the world! Those little skeins got to chatting and wished they could see where the others were born. They just needed a bit more holiday. Soon they'll come home, tired, happy, with great tales you'll hear them whisper to the other socks in the sock drawer late at night.

Else said...

I loved your writing Jo and most of all having the pleasure to meet you in person a week ago. I can`t believe your suitcase is still missing. Don`t worry I`ll send you another skein of that yarn I gave you, but I really, really hope you will have the yellow bag safe in your home very soon.

Anonymous said...

In the midst of your understandable pain, and I am sending good thoughts your way and calling upon Brigid for you, I am grateful for your delightful story of the the jet landing at Cork airport. Made my morning, it did.

Ronni said...

Your story about the jumbo jet landing was priceless Jo. For that alone the universe should reward you with the return of your suitcase. As for how American might accomplish that, by way of (I hope) reassurance I will mention that they (AA) often call a flight theirs that is actually flown by a partner. I have been on an (ostensibly) AA flight that was a 24 seater.

I'll keep my fingers crossed for you even though that will considerably slow my knitting speed.

LizKnits said...

Eeeks! That is a nightmare! I'll be sending good homing instincts to your bag and best wishes to you.

SueJ said...

Loved the details of your trip -even got DH to have a peek at a 'kniting blog' as he has a very fond part of his heart reserved for Norway but the bag tale OMG!!! I really hope it arrives. We have luggage that has been to mor countries than we have but it never had YARN in it!!!!!

Angeluna said...

I so love "travelling" with you. Thank you Richard for the superb photographs. Those are standing stones, right?

It was the mental picture of Paddy Murphy's prize cow that set off the giggles.

That yellow case is going to show up. Perhaps American will just drop it over your garden on their way to the New World.

MmmYarn said...

I have confidence your yellow case will find its way back to you. My husband's suitcase, full of his clothes and MY KNITTING (including new yarn and fancy lace shawl on my lace Addi Turbos), went on an adventurous side journey without us out of Heathrow last fall but came back to us less than 24 hours later, despite my being gifted with bad travel luck. I will send good thoughts your way that AA gets it right, and swiftly so.

Anonymous said...

That is heartbreaking!

Don't hate me but at the end of your post I had to laugh becuase the picture of the eagle looked like it was yelling out your last paragraph.

LaurieM said...

Oh whaaahh!! I'd just want to have a good cry in the corner...

KathyR said...

Oh how I feel for you, Jo! Earlier this year, a couple of weeks before the said 'Black Hole of Calcutta' opened at Heathrow, my daughter landed at heathrow on an American Airlines flight. She, and over 20 fellow passengers from the same flight, waited in vain for their luggage to appear. But, joy of joys, miracle upon miracles, her luggage found its way back to her some 12 days later (minus two make up bags from inside her luggage).
So, Jo, fingers crossed your patience may soon be rewarded.

Anonymous said...

Please let us know the instant your yellow suitcase shows its shell! As Sharon said, you really should carry your yarn on the plane (just teasing), but your loss is no joke. I have faith that it will appear (but not when). Can you make American give you free trips for the next ten years in reparations, if need be? Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Have you called American Airlines at Shannon? Perhaps another intermediate stop. . . .

And, amid all this, how are your Godmothers coming? Did ya hear: I've got my Ravelry shop up now.

HPNY KNITS said...

oh Jo! what a tale of our modern times! on the one hand, meeting blogging friends in far away lands, on the other, stash lost by incompetent airport crew.but your narrative is wonderful, and dare I say hilarious at times!
(I am sorry, but the thought of the AA flight parachuting your yellow suitcase over the Irish landscape had me in stitches!)
if it does not come back, you should demand from the airlines a duplicate trip to be able to get the exact stash back...

Anonymous said...

Rhetorical question - Perhaps someone could please explain how a YELLOW suitcase could go astray, especially in a sea of black and navy suitcases.

First, we are all sending you good wishes for the contents safe recovery.

Second, thank you for the warning up front. I was fearing worse and was saddened but did not faint. :)

Your blog is always a joy, but I too enjoyed the story of the jumbo-jet landing at the Cork airport and agree with the angeluna that the image of Paddy Murphy's cow set off the giggles.

Like Brenda mentioned: Ireland, Norway, Estonia, and Canada - what a great demonstration of the wide world we knitters embrace. Now if we could just take over the rules that guide the airlines - just kidding.

Unknown said...

Oh my. I can truly feel your pain and worry. Your poor yellow suitcase. I hope it finds it way home soon. Hugs!

Dez Crawford said...

American Airlines has it? You are SO screwed.

If you visit my blog and scroll through the archives to June 17, 2005 you will witnessonly one of my many adventures with American Airlines' luggage division.

I will keep everything except my eyes crossed so your luggage finds its way home.

And, thank you once again for the lovely travelogue. And tell Richard I'd be beside myself if all my camera thingies were missing, too.

Linda B said...

I am green with envy about the trip to Norway, which I have always wanted to visit.
But meanwhile, don't get discouraged yet. I have had a lost suitcase take five or six days to reach me--and I don't live as far off the beaten path as you do.

Shari said...

I should have stopped when you warned me. Off to lie down now.

Anonymous said...

What, they hire color blind baggage handlers at international airports? I hope it quickly returns home safely cradling all yarns, needles and camera gear.

Another trip that had me opening new window tabs and devouring maps, tourist info, and pictures, seeking to catch a glimmer of the light on the waters,a whiff of the air, and the sound of bird calls in such a faraway wondrous place.

Ambermoggie, a fragrant soul said...

Oh Jo:( It will turn up I am sure, its just a test my dear to see how you cope. It WILL turn up, if we all say this 3 times the magic will bring it home complete with your important stuff.
Oh and Mr CMs bits and bobs of course:)

Jean said...

Your journey was so delightful, what memories you will have from this wonderful trip, I love the photo of the two of you comparing socks. The baggage may show up some day, one nevers knows.

Anonymous said...

ohhh the yarn, the yarn (and the other stuff)!!! I'm absolutly sick about that!
By the way, everywhere you went, I want to go, I especially loved the 'knitting in the wild'

Anonymous said...

Jo -

having had a family member participate in BAs Lose you luggage fun at T5, you have all my sympathies. This case is bright red and block. Not easy to miss. They have still not found it.

Having said all of that - keep bugging them. I will be through Heathrow on Monday. If it is there - have them kept the flipping thing, I will pick it up and Parcel Force it to you. By far better to do that than trust it to American Airlines (who will subcontract to Ryan Air which doesn't do cargo, waiting forever
for you to check in.

I hurt just as badly for your husband's electronics - it takes receipts to get any amount of reimbursement out of the airlines.


bea's blog said...

Hello again...
do you sell any yarn on ebay right now? Would like to have a look at it!
I have some new beautiful trims again; just love them - have a look in my blog...
Happy weekend,