Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Stitch & Bi-otch: Brenda's Pregnancy Rage vs. The Girl at the Yarn Shop

I think I've mentioned before that one day a week I attend a local knitting group, a "stitch & bitch," if you will. It's something to look forward to. And it sure beats getting advice from the knitting videos at youtube.com (which are all kinda freaky sounding) when I can't figure out what I've done to end up with three arms on my sweater.

I especially like my knitting group (despite being the youngest, least experienced, and least knitting obsessed person there) because it is what I would call "low-key." British old ladies tend to be very mild in their manners (even when they're insulting you) and that does excitable, little old me a lot of good. The other perk about the knitting group is that it is held at a local yarn shop. Literally down the street from me, the place is tiny and run by two American women who also tend to be (surprisingly) mellow. Too bad I can't say the same for their staff. Moving on...

I'm not particularly productive at the knitting group; neither is anyone else as far as I can tell. We all get caught up gossiping and chatting and end up having to unravel whatever we've done by the end of the session anyway. But it's good company and good fun. And the conversation topics in and of themselves provide amusement

Common Discussion Topics at the Knitting Group Sessions
some of the few occasions in life when Brenda is actually silent

These really cracked me up.

1. The cafe down the street and its selection for "soup of the day": nobody (except me) at the group likes anything "spicy." The other day there was complaint of "the strange soup with coconut in it" (read: Thai coconut prawn soup - yum!) and why the owner couldn't just keep making that nice "potato and leek" or "broccoli and Stilton" instead.

2. Recent surgeries or health ailments of the present company or other not-present members of the group: someone had a hip surgery recently and we get updated on that in minute detail. Somebody else had a nasty fall and has to go back for an x-ray to make sure her solicitor can get her the correct compensation.

3. The most recent / most exciting Knitting or Yarn or Craft fairs members have been to: people travel literally across the country to go to yarn fairs. I was pretty shocked to hear about this (and the crazy things they will go through to get there - 3 different trains, a walk through a forest in the dead of the night...), but when you listen to how much they know and enjoy them, I guess it isn't really ALL that surprising.

4. The size of one's 'stash' & how much husbands hate them: I guess 'stash' refers to the extra yarn you keep laying around the house in case the occasion strikes you. My stash literally consists of about 6 balls of yarn I have picked up when on sale at Wal-Mart. Last week I learned that one of the ladies at the group knows someone who actually rents a separate garage for her stash. Others regaled me with stories of stuffing parts of their stash into Moroccan Pouffs (like the one in our living room...hmmm) or hidden compartments in their attics to avoid hubby finding the extra fine
cashmere they'd splurged on. Oh the cunning!

a lovely Moroccan Pouffe, not unlike ours

5. London's Yarn & Haberdashery establishments & how well they rate compared to each other: There is one lady in the group who can literally tell you the brand, type and colors of almost any yarn available at any yarn or haberdashery shop in London. She also seems to know all the owners, their stories, their partners (in the UK that doesn't necessarily mean you're gay), and why they stock what they stock. She provides a full and supposedly unbiased account of each and how they rate compared to the shop we're presently located at. Makes for fun knitting gossip.

6. Ravelry: Little did I know, but there is a huge, not-so-underground (wool doesn't keep well in the damp) subculture devoted entirely to knitting and crocheting. Ravelry is Facebook for knitters. I have to admit, I actually joined. It's pretty cool but I hardly use it, despite the fact that they are so hardcore that they actually have a waitlist for you to receive your "you can now join ravelry" invitation. People conduct entire lives on this community. The ladies at my group all have at least a couple of blogs they follow devotedly, and discuss the personnages and their projects as if they were intimate friends. Wait, maybe they are?!

* * *

Anyway, last week I went to the knitting group as usual (though I had been absent for a couple of weeks and therefore probably looked more heavily pregnant than previously). As I am planning to start my next knitting project soon, I needed to buy the appropriate knitting needles to go with.

For those of you unfamiliar, the US and the UK use different sizing methods for the needles (surprise, surprise). The US uses a by-number size (1,2,3,4 etc.) and the UK does it by millimeters (1mm, 1.5 mm etc.). This can sometimes cause confusion when said conversation takes place between - ENTIRELY HYPOTHETICALLY - a heavily pregnant, naturally feisty American ex-pat requesting needles and a British Colonial Singaporean Ex-Pat, who seems to fancy herself entirely British due to historical occurrences beyond her control, selling needles.

I said size 8. She said 4mm. I said, sure. She said, great. I paid (after not being allowed to use my Amex card - pet peeve #27,000.39 about the UK) with a tenner and went upstairs to the knitting group where the new packet of needles sat on the table unused and unopened for the duration of the group.

At the end, entirely by chance, I thought - hey, I should get rid of the packaging before putting away my new needles! Because they are nice needles, they come encased in a plastic sheath - a vagina if you will permit me the use of a bizarre Latin word - which is closed only by the barcode sticker. Generally speaking, I would carefully peel the barcode sticker and take my needles out (yes, I am that anal), but I was in somewhat of a rush so I just took my scissors and chopped the top of the sheath off. That's when I looked at the needles carefully for the first time and realized that size 4mm needles are actually size 6 needles in the US, not 8, like I'd requested. Then, in slow motion, I threw my fists to the sky and cursed the Gods, all the while shocking and scaring the nice old ladies around me.

"Oh, just pop downstairs and exchange them," said one of the nice ladies, having regained her composure. It sounded so simple.

Problematic Pregnancy-Rage Filled Encounter
you've been warned

I had the best intentions. Really, I did. Matt will attest to the fact that since being pregnant my patience (which is pathetic at the best, non-pregnant of times) has basically ceased to exist. I go from fine to completely-utterly-incapacitatedly-rage-filled in under two seconds (it used to take at least 2 minutes). Clearly Singaporean-British-wanna-be yarn girl has not had much experience with pregnant ladies because she did not make any effort to tone down her "I'm British and therefore offer you ZERO customer service" attitude, even after seeing the belly and hearing my American accent. Come on, she was just asking for it.

When I nicely (I really was nice at first) explained the situation and asked if we could just exchange the needles as clearly the error had not been mine and she had just misread the size chart, she stared at me, horrified and twitching in an "I made a mistake?!" short-circuit kind of way that only people who are extremely uptight and therefore never imagine they could be wrong do. Then, she basically said "No."

This all happened in under two seconds. Coincidence, really, the timing.

My face turned red. I gripped the needles tightly.

"Well, I'm not paying for another set. I asked for size 8 needles."

"You damaged the packaging. I can't exchange them."

"Can't we just peel the barcode off of the other package and then carefully place this one on it with the needles I have? They have never been used and I used scissors to cut the barcode so it isn't damaged."

*heavy, gruffy sigh / annoyed breathing noise combined with eye-roll from the yarn girl*

*seriously dangerous eyebrow raise from silently-raging pregnant lady*

She walked over to the drawer and pulled out the right needles, still breathing heavily. After trying - half-heartedly, might I add - to pull off the barcode, she suddenly slammed them down in frustration and said "No, we can't do it. It just won't work."

I yanked the needles away and said "Yes, we can. I WILL DO IT."

I then proceeded to replace the barcode and needles and exchange them for the right size ones. All the while, the girl is rolling her eyes, continuing to twitch and breath heavily in an "I can't believe you did this" kind of way.

Correct needles now in hand, in a last-ditch effort to be amenable, I said (and believe me, this took ALL the restraint in the world), "Well, thank you so much for doing this. I appreciate it."

No answer.

"I hope that's ok?"

She looked up at me, angry, "Well I guess it's gonna HAVE to be now isn't it?"

*fireworks - fireworks - fireworks*
(that's the only way I can accurately describe what went on in my brain at this point)

Suddenly alarmed, "I mean, it was my fault for getting the wrong needles."

It's a good thing, a very good thing she added that last mea culpa. I honestly cannot say that I know what I would have done if she hadn't. And because I'm a brat, and pregnant to boot, I would have maintained the entire time that none of it was an overreaction. Ah the perks. :)

* * *

PS: The thing is, she really was wrong. She WAS.

If only she'd used one of these.

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1 comment:

  1. Do not mess with a mama, yarn-store lady.

    I have to say that "Son of a Stitch & Bitch" is my favorite.