Maybe You Don’t Want This Flight

It’s 1:30 in the afternoon, and I’m sitting in the airport lounge, boggling at that fact that four hours from now I’ll be headed to the dinner that marks the beginning of Yarnover,  and about five hours from now, I’ll be up on a stage, talking about knitting the way that I do. A whole other country, a whole other place, a whole other job, four hours away. Fifteen minutes from now I’ll have done my final edit on the speech (a different, whole new one) for Sunday night, and then I have the whole flight to cast on Afterlight, and enjoy a nice little knit. (By the way, I think this link for Sunday is better, if you’re into it.)

Before I go off and do that though, I want to tell you about the conversation I had at the customs desk on the way into the airport.  There was a long line (customs here is run by the US government, and is effected by the furlough/ sequestration thing) so when I finally got up to the harried US Customs Officer, he looked like he’d really had enough of his day.  "Why are you going to Minneapolis?" he barked.
"I’m going to a knitting conference." I explain, smiling brightly. This is usually the point where they don’t ask me any more questions.  They don’t want to talk about knitting.  They don’t want to hear about how interesting knitting is. I say I’m going to a knitting thing, then they shrug in this "it takes all kinds" sort of way, and wave me into the country.   Not today.
"A knitting conference?" he glares at me.
"Yup." I say. Smiling even more brightly. He’s armed. I want him to be having a good day, and to like me.
"That’s over." He says this to me like this is absolutely true, and cannot be argued with.  I wonder for a minute what he knows, or what he thinks he knows, and I take a stab.
"I don’t think so, I think it’s this weekend.  In Minneapolis.  I’m really sure it’s not over.’
"No" he says, the hand holding the stamp over my passport just hovering there, like maybe he’s not going to stamp it, and maybe I’m not going to go to the knitting conference he thinks doesn’t exist.  "It was last week, or maybe the week before, and definitely not in Minneapolis. A lady went through here. She was going.  I think you missed it."
"Oh!" I say this fairly confidently.  "You’re totally right. There was a knitting conference a few weeks ago. Stitches – in Atlanta. That’s what you’re thinking of."
"No." he replies, becoming quite terse. "It was NOT in ATLANTA, and it is absolutely over by now."
"Okay" I say, wondering if I’m going to be allowed to go to the US if I can’t figure this out.  "There was another one.  Vogue Knitting, in Seattle? That was in early April?"  He looks at me like I am starting to make sense.  My hopes soar. 
"YES." He exclaims, and as punctuation, he stamps my passport. "It WAS SEATTLE!"  We are both relieved to have worked this out. I can tell.  He continues "Any way you slice it, I’m pretty sure you missed it." 
"It’s okay" I say, trying to sound reassuring. "There’s another one. In Minneapolis."

"Three in a month?" he says, making it clear that this is not possible,  and then he realizes that we’re talking about knitting.
"Just go." He says,  and with that, he gave me a look that said that he hoped I had fun at the knitting conference that was over and I was totally not going to, and turned to the next person in line. 
I can’t tell you how much I hope they’re going to Unwind.

143 thoughts on “Maybe You Don’t Want This Flight

  1. Wow! Welcome to The Land of the Free!
    You’re going to be a ten hour drive from me in South Dakota, but unfortunately knitting conferences were not in the budget this year. Have fun!

  2. Too, TOO funny. But is shows that these people actually are listening and perhaps even concerned…even if they remember incorrectly.

  3. It delights me that knitters travel frequently enough that customs people are starting to get used to us.
    I once came back to the US from New Zealand with a chocolate Corriedale fleece, and the customs guy was all “Are you sure this is sheep? I think it’s Alpaca; they have colors.”
    He believed me after we opened the bag and he got a good sniff, but I was just so happy he knew what Alpaca was…

  4. So, maybe in another decade the people running customs will get it. I mean, he is obviously learning and remembering. Or at least remembering.

  5. I love the idea that unsavoury types might be using knitting conferences as a cover.
    Nobody suspects knitters?

  6. I had a lovely surprise about a month ago… my seven year old nephew corrected his dad… “That’s not wool, that’s yarn!” He was right. It was bright yellow acrylic yarn. When asked, he said he’d been to a pioneer farm demo with school and had learned the difference. I love that kid.

  7. This is reminiscent of the kinds of conversations I have with customs and immigration officials as I make my way through the world as a professional medieval historian.

  8. Weeping silent tears of mirth at my desk. And I can’t wait to hear you speak tonight! Most likely, that is! If it isn’t over!

  9. I don’t know whether to laugh or gasp in horror…it’s funny, but also a little disconcerting to hear that Customs is letting someone into the country for an event that they don’t think exists, given what’s been going on in the good ol’ US of A lately.
    I use to travel back and forth across the Can/US border a lot as a child, and it was always so stressful–my mom was absolutely freaked out that we’d be detained or something EVERY. TIME. It was my brother’s and my job to sit absolutely still in the backseat, smiling happily (but not forcibly…) with our hands tucked politely in our laps and to answer any questions with “Yes Ma’am” or “Yes Sir.”
    I still get nervous whenever I approach the border, despite having very detailed print-outs of our itinerary and all our official documents protected by plastic sleeves in a 3-ring binder labeled with the name of our trip.
    Nope, not like my mother at all…*sigh*

  10. Ditto on the silent tears (and laughing a little out loud, too). But kind of sad, too, that must have been one seriously bad day he was having….

  11. A few years ago I was going in to Canda to attend a Make 1 retreat and was held up in customs by the officer trying to figure out why a knitting retreat was business. Cookie A patiently waited for me then told me not to ever say that again. “Just say it’s a business trip.”

  12. Too, too funny. Have a grand time in Minneapolis and Yarn Over and Steven B’s! Safe journey.

  13. So far my sister and I have been lucky. Last year we went to Cat Bordhi’s retreat and this year to Vogue knitting in Seattle. Both times the customs officers looked at us as if we were demented but harmless and waved us thro’.

  14. Wow, that was funny. And sad. But mostly funny! It’s a good thing you knew about the other two events!

  15. Which reminds me of the time I was coming through customs to enter Canada. I was living in the UK at the time, and they asked the usual questions. We got to “do you have any alcohol with you?”
    “Just a couple of bottles of beer for my sisters’ boyfriends.”
    Customs agent looks baffled. “Boyfriends? Plural?”
    “Two sisters, one boyfriend each.”
    She looked relieved at my sisters lack of ‘cheating’ and let me through.

  16. Poor confused Muggle! I had to read this one to my husband and he had a laugh with me! Thanks Steph and hope the rest of your trip is smooth and easy!!

  17. It is funny that some PEOPLE (usually MEN) just do not understand the creative world that many WOMEN live in! Thank goodness you were not wearing a t-shirt with one of the funny phrases on it! You could have told him that you were a guest speaker…he would have been speachless!

  18. I got held up at the border coming back from Vancouver where I saw Women’s Hockey at the Winter Olympics. The US Customs agent a) didn’t believe there WAS such a thing as Women’s Hockey and b) didn’t think anyone would go SEE it even if it did exist and c) therefore I was a threat.

  19. As my boyfriend always says…”they WILL be assimulated”. I went to Canada many years ago for an anniversary party, and even though I had the requisite papers, the customs officer got all upset when he asked where I was born and I said England (I’m a US Citizen however). We were held up for half an hour while I was quizzed on my intentions! I guess blonde 5’4″ women with knitting are very dangerous, LOL. Thank goodness you made it through!!

  20. Poor guy. I’m sure 20 other people had yelled at him already. He probably remembered the other conference because it was unusal (for him). Think of all the other people with “non-mainstream” hobbies that go through the same conversation. My father used to attend model railroad conventions (yep, toy trains, but don’t say it that way to them!), including some in Canada when I was a kid. I don’t remember the border conversations, but I bet they were interesting!

  21. Ha ha you could have had a lot more fun with that guy. You could have thrown a tantrum and created more of a scene over missing it. Or you could have invited him to come along, as it sounds like he needed a bit of rest & relaxation and we all know how relaxing it is to knit. Or you could have poked him with your needles and gotten “all up in his face” about it. Ha ha (Or maybe that’s just a NY thing.) I hope the seminar goes well. One day I hope you come to NY to something I might be able to attend. I’d love to sit in on a class.

  22. Whew! It takes all kinds indeed! Glad you managed to convince him…what a weirdo! (By the way, if you want to get along easier in America, you MUST learn not to be so polite, when dealing with idiots who don’t deserve it anyway! hmph!)

  23. If it makes you feel any better, the guard at the border between the US and Canada almost didn’t let us in, the first time we came. We were on a long road trip, and decided to cap it off with a visit to Butchart Gardens. He didn’t believe we would have driven from Los Angeles to Canada for a one-night stay. As we had caught the last ferry of the day, if he had decided not to let us in, we would have had to spend the night in the ferry building.

  24. That is sooooooo funny! I wonder if it would have helped if you had told him that you were sure you hadn’t missed it because you were the guest speaker and someone would have called and yelled at you if it had been last weekend.

  25. Just be grateful the Customs officer hadn’t read any of the knitting assassin books on his Kindle. You probably would have been sent to the “special room” until your threat level could be determined.

  26. If only he knew — there was another one in Dallas, and one in Ft Collins in that same time period — just the ones I know about. Hope you don’t have any problems getting to Arkansas next week!

  27. I visited Germany in 2011 and managed to work in a trip to the Wollmeise shop near Munich. The US immigration officer did a double-take at my customs slip declaring $200 of yarn. My explanation “It’s very good yarn!” seemed to mollify him somewhat.
    Next week I will be going to visit family, and my suitcase will contain several pairs of scissors, a quilting cutting mat & a bunch of seam rippers. Even though it will all be safely stowed in my checked suitcase, I am thinking of throwing in the quilt plans or a quilting book to explain the hardware collection.
    Just imagine how it’ll look when I come back into the country with all that gear, a partially completed quilt top… and my trumpet.

  28. Wow, freaky guy. But I think they’re that belligerent when they want to provoke and see what pops, “cmon, make my day” kindof thing and then they get to use the Tazer. Evidently you look like you’re up to something. 🙂
    Reminds me of my entry from US into Canada to visit Niagara. My friends mom was almost yelling instructions to us as she pulled up, we were in the back seat, a little scared, and the lady at the booth looked at the car once, boredly asked a few questions (I swear I think she was filing her nails). We got in. Niagara has got to be one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen and I will never forget the ride on the Maid O’ the Mist.
    Have a great time at Yarnover! Can’t wait to hear how it went.

  29. Customs is totally random. My partner and I travelled since 09 on a boat in the south. I popped back to Kingston frequently during the time from 09 to 12′ just to make an appearance. But in jan 12 when heading back to our boat in jan. they kicked me out. They let me back long enough to close up our boat. My mate has dual citizenship. But they argued I had been there too long and they said I was trying to work there. In my mind I said, I don’t even want to work in my own country but you dare not get cheeky with these people. Anyway making me exit was a gift because within two months Al, my man was diagnosed with a huge brain tumour and he stroked during surgery, now we are in full usage of our very good health care system. Our neurosurgeon has reassured us had we not returned when we Did Alistair would have suffered a fatal stroke. Anyway boating is over and the boat sold last week. The boat was called. Close Knit. And we sure had a blast for three years. Have fun at your knitting conference that may or may not be happening. In a fun twist I am going to Knitters Frolic

  30. Hey, it just shows that, even if they don’t believe it, the knitters are starting to take over and people are starting to notice.
    Continue onward with the plans to takeover the world with yarn!!
    Katie =^..^=

  31. Ah, brings back memories. Several years ago I crossed by car from the US to Canada for a conference on machine knitting. When I told the Canadian customs official I was attending a knitting conference (as I held up my partially completed socks), his next question was whether I was carrying a pistol!! Good thing I was not working on a sweater – no arms…

  32. Take the edge off…get a NEXUS card! You’ll never stress about the wait at Customs again!

  33. Thanks for the chuckle at your expense. Poor dude. You blew his mind. Three knitting conferences in a MONTH!

  34. A US customs officer once gave me a hard time for buying Canadian maple leaf mittens and bringing them back into the US. He was disgusted that I was bringing back something so unstylish in his opinion. In the opposite direction, the Canadian customs lady chatted happily with me about how her daughter is a scientist, too, and then made me throw away my apple. What is it about customs that makes us feel the need to spread sunshine? It’s like a mini version of Ellis Island at the turn of the century. If you aren’t eager and perky enough, they’ll boot you right back out!

  35. Three Knitting Conferences a month seems about right to me. Better yet, I get to go to all of them!

  36. Hey, remember the weekend Rams and I came to hang out? We had to explain to the customs officer why we were bringing spanakopita, yarn, and a squirrel-proof anti-theft fleece-drying apparatus into Canada.

  37. Thank you so much for that story! Six of my last ten days have involved New York State ELA and Math Testing, so I am more than fried. My students never believe it when I tell them that there is a Facebook for knitters aka Ravelry, and that we have over 3 million members. They usually say “Okay Mrs. M-P, and slowly walk away.”

  38. That was so funny!! I cross the border every week at least once. Last week the border guard asked me where he knew me from. I said, “here, I cross here every week”. No, he says that wasn’t it, he knows me from somewhere. So I just agreed that we probably met in a bar somewhere. And he laughed and waved me through. I have to cross again today and I’m kind of hoping for my “bar buddy” just to see if he remembers me. And I agree with whomever said it: Get NEXUS!

  39. My friend Elizabeth and I went last week to a `knitting conference` (the Loopy Ewe Spring Fling), and when we reached customs in Toronto, the customs officer asked where we were going, gave us a big smile when we said a knitting conference in Colorado, and asked if we could knit him a sweater! He was awfully upbeat about the whole thing. I wonder if it was the same guy. He was a 20 something middle eastern guy ( very good looking I might add) If it was him, I can see why he may have been confused 🙂

  40. 🙂 Great story! At least he remembered that there had been some knitting conferences, even if the details were fuzzy. For the average man that’s good going. 🙂

  41. This is hilarious. Not that my saying so makes it so, but I could not cope with not commenting on how hilarious this is. /s/ a U.S. Citizen With a Sense of Humor.

  42. Presbytera’s too modest. I had a skein of cable-plied sock yarn hanging from the hanger-hook to dry, and we only got through because when he asked if we were bringing in any food she said “Homemade spanikopita and baklava — want some?” and he smiled and waved us through.

  43. I think Presbytera wins.
    When I was a grad student, one of my fellow students talked his way into the no-cars-allowed part of campus by claiming he needed to take his car in because to pick up a “mycotrap.” He explained that it was BIG and HEAVY. The gate guard let him in.
    (There’s no such thing as a mycotrap. If it existed, it would be a trap to capture mushrooms. The real reason he wanted to bring his car onto campus was to pick up several people, with lunches, equipment etc. for a field trip.)

  44. Silly muggles. I’m imagining that man wandering around for the rest of the day, shaking his head in confusion.

  45. Thank you for sharing that, at the end of a somewhat annoying week and giving me a nice laugh at the “inside world of knitters” joke. Enjoy the conference that you probably missed!

  46. Amazingly tough when they just don’t get it, right? Have fun at whichever conference you find, ha ha!

  47. Now I want to go to a knitting conference in another country just so I can tell the customs people about it.
    And for the knitting, of course.

  48. It is at this point that I usually get out my itinerary (with event registration) and silently slide it across the desk to him. Sometimes, they can get very pedantic. Sigh.

  49. Wow, a knitter’s conference in Minneapolis, where I could stay with my brother. Of course, if I came, he’d wonder how I could afford to fly to Minneapolis for a knitter’s conference, but couldn’t afford to just come visit. (Not that I can afford it right now either way.)
    Wouldn’t it be great if the same guy was around when you come back through customs, with one of your books handy for you to autograph (having investigated you, you dangerous person – dangerously funny, anyway)?

  50. You gotta hand it to the guy, he has a good memory to recall one person a week ago going to a knitting thing. I love how certain he is that you missed it. Confidence! ha,ha

  51. First time I went to Shetland I came back with 2 suitcases bursting with yarn. When the US customs guy asked me to open one, I just unzipped a corner. Then he launched into how his dear old grandmother used to knit for him and happily waved me through. And he was an older man. You just never know.

  52. Poor, poor border guard. I hope he had lots of cheerful knitters, some of whom talked knit at him. Guards eyes glaze over, suddenly finds self starting to Want yarn.

  53. OK – I thought you would know the Customs folks by their first names by now… 🙂 Hope to bump into you tomorrow at Yarnover! Sorry to have missed your speech tonight.

  54. I would totally make him a scarf or socks or something and remember to say hi to him on the way home. But, I’ll bet these guys have heard almost everything.

  55. I thought that was funny – at least to read. I wouldn’t think it was funny if I’d been in your shoes! He sounded a little, you know, that word that begins with A and the 2nd part is retentive…

  56. Did you not hear? On Patriot’s Day we had a terrorist attack in Boston followed by a major manhunt and shootout in a Boston suburb. Customs and all law enforcement charged with protecting us are very hyper-wired. Sure, you can turn your experience into a funny story, but these men and women are really, really stressed. His reaction is a prime example of just how stressed they are. I found this story quite sad, frankly. It has been an awful, awful time here.

  57. I came up to Toronto years ago with an accordion and top hat in tow. They were very suspicious because they hate when American musicians come up to “steal jobs”, so they asked if I was a musician.
    “Certainly not!” I said indignantly. “I’m a librarian!” And they waved us thru.

  58. This is another example of the bizarre conversations that we get into with non-knitters who nonetheless claim to know something about this topic! I keep thinking about that funny story you told in your last book about the observer whom you encountered in public while you we’re knitting. If I can recall, she was trying to lecture you about spending your time on knitting rather than worthwhile stuff. I still laugh at your description of her as doing a great imitation of a rock as she sat there doing nothing. The customs guy needs to get a life.

  59. I LOVE crossing the border from Quebec into New York State for a knitting event. Those boys either crochet (‘cuz their granny taught ’em, but they don’t do it much at work ‘cuz the other guys–and gals–kinda stare) or they knit and have to get into a discussion of what fibers are in the Silk Garden Swirl Jacket I am wearing that day. When asked if there was a quiet knitting revolution going on with all these border guards, the reply was simply “no ma’am, we’re North Country boys.” Well those North Country boys just rock!!!!!

  60. I have gone to Canada several times with the rest of the string quartet. 4 women. Two violins, a viola and a cello. Lots of questions and the print out of the curriculum has worked for us. We always hold our breath. Getting back in to the US takes a little longer. Same air of disbelief in both directions…it must be a job requirement.

  61. @Ruth F in PGH 8:38pm…I think what YH means to say, is that when flying out of Canada into the US, one clears US Customs before you get to board the plane for departure. As opposed to clearing Customs when you get to the US destination. For non-US based International travel, you would clear customs at the destination. Canadian Customs officials clear everyone entering Canada from US or International flights.

  62. My laugh for the day. Stephanie, you always come through. Just had a thought: too bad you couldn’t ask him to hold a sock.

  63. “It is funny that some PEOPLE (usually MEN) just do not understand the creative world that many WOMEN live in!”
    What an amazing thing to say. What does this have to do with man vs woman?
    The customs agent was simply ignorant and an ass — and that comes in all genders.
    Your comment is basically, “Wow, men are so dumb!” — imagined if the roles were reversed… I doubt you’d find such generalities about women acceptable.

  64. a) Presbytera wins, and she made me howl with the anti-theft squirrel-repelling yarn drying thingy.
    b) We understand terrorism, both domestic and internationsl, and we deeply sympathize, especially with harried people whose job it is to protect all of us.
    c) I think he was pretty awesome, really, even to enter into a discussion about a knitting conference and with all the crap that has been coming down over the last few weeks, actually to remember there had been a knitting conference at all.
    d) Many men lead deeply creative lives although admittedly they may not be all about the yarn.
    e) Reactions I’ve encountered over the years have ranged from “You knit? What are you, somebody’s grandma?” to “Oh my God, you’re brilliant! How did you do that? can you teach me?”
    So it was funny and I thought it was a good sign, overall.

  65. Reminds me of encountering US Customs on my return from my first trip to London. The agent, seeing I was a long-haired male traveling alone, was obviously certain I had illegal goods in my luggage.
    He came upon a heavy, square, flattish box in a Harrod’s shopping bag, and asked me what was in it. I honestly replied that it was a heavy, stoneware cat dish in its box, with used underwear and socks stuffed in to help cushion it.
    He tipped the box out of the bag, to be confronted with something easily confused as the gift box for ladies’ loose, scented, dusting powder. “A cat dish, huh?”
    With a major look of skepticism, he opened the end of the box and shook it so the contents would slide out onto his palm.
    I wish I had had my camera out and ready to capture the look on his face when he realized I had told the truth. As the credit-card ads say, “Priceless!”

  66. When I was a child we lived in northeastern Ohio, with relatives in Buffalo. Back in those days crossing the border to go see the lights on Niagra Falls was incredibly easy. All customs did was look in the car, count the number of people, and ask where we were born. Unfortunately, I had trouble remembering where I was born since we moved from Illinois to Ohio before I was two.
    I’m encouraged that while this official was sure you had missed your conference, at least he wasn’t giving you grief about knitting needles as weapons of mass destruction.

  67. Did you hear me gasp? WOW. Glad you were able to talk him through it. Knitters infiltrating and they’re everywhere! Too funny, after the fact and the safe getaway. Have a great trip!

  68. Hey Steph, just discovered the cutest freakin baby socks that would look great on Louis, see Ravelry Baby Clog-N-Soc and Moc-N-Soc too. Seriously, too stinkin cute.

  69. Oh. My. Goodness. I completely lost it at the first “I think you missed it.” I’m so glad the two of you were able to figure it out. Apparently he thought there could only be ONE knitting conference down here, and that he had had the only knitter going to it. Doesn’t he know we’re taking over the world? He’d better smarten up or he may be out of a job. 😛

  70. That is absolutely hilarious! I found myself reading this and wondering if you were going to be allowed to fly before I read you were thinking the same thing. Glad to know the custom agents pay attention though lol

  71. On my last visit to the US I was questioned for some time as to why my hair was more grey than the photo in my passport. Im a middle aged woman traveling on a 8year old passport… durr. I would have minded less if the official hadnt been a grey haired older man.

  72. Hi. I’ve dealt with Customs and the related departments/agencies in Canada and US for quite some time. This is the Customs Regulations site for the US and CA I wonder how they have any humour, at all as they are responsible for all of this, but generally, they are and can be a little goofy if you speak to them in the wee hours of the day. Also, to answer Ruth’s question as to why US is running Toronto, US customs is at the airport to check the people LEAVING the country of Canada/pays du Canada. These people are enroute to US.

  73. Yes, Boston might have been a great deal to do with it. But this reminds me of 40 years ago, having married in midwinter in the Netherlands, we postponed our honeymoon vacation to august races in England. By then it was not a big deal for us to take a friend of my husband on tow too. At customs they asked us what our plans were, we said the races, he asked, why two men and one girl and we said it was our honeymoon, We were with two motorbikes and it took all of our schoolEnglish and showing him we really had two tents to sleep in to get him to understand we were not a weird trio, only a married couple and a bachelor friend. I guess we should not have mentioned the honeymoon?

  74. I can do better than that. In Atlanta, any airport, I have to do the lines to get through security. First the ticket/id checkpoint, then the longer line (it’s like Disney) to pass the luggage/carryon to the plane. They scan my carry on (knitting), and it takes 4 people to look at the xray, then they pull the bag off the conveyor belt, and I hear “m’am, we’re going to need to go through your bags”. This is typical. I’m NOT checking my bag, and losing my needles. So I tell them to just empty the bag into one of the buckets, and that I will repack. “But if one of you starts knitting on that scarf, you’re going to have to finish it”. And then I quietly sit down and tie my shoes, while they finish up. And yes, they do know what knitting needles are. I’m sure this happens more often than we think.

  75. I know that was probably meant to be humorous, but it was actually rather disturbing. Good for you for continuing to smile brightly.

  76. One time I was coming into the US through the old Calais, Maine, customs where you sat in a long line down main street in St. Stephen, NB, to get to the border station. The young, male, US customs guy asked me what the purpose of my five week stay in Canada had been. Whe I replied “learning to spin,” he said, “like, yarn???” After asking what I was bring back (yarn, obviously, and books), he just shook his head and waved me through.

  77. I think some of these folks are just sick of hassling people, 99.9% of whom they know are perfectly fine. Returning from out sons wedding at Lake Powell AZ last well, we took the puddle jumper from Flagstaff to Phoenix. Guy asked me if that was a Bible in my bag. I always carry a small one. I said yes, is that still legal? His answerWA well know who to call on if someone needs last rites. He didn’t ask about my knitting. I sways put that on bamboo meddles when I fly so I look harmless.

  78. Dear Stephanie:
    On behalf of my fellow Americans, please accept my apologies on the buffoonery(not sure if this is a word) you experienced while attempting a LEGAL entry into our fine country. Due to the lack of progress within our legislative body (aka Congress,)travelers such as you are now being unnecessarily stressed out. I am happy to report that Congress seems to be making a bit of progress, so hopefully you won’t have to go through this again. Your friend in Virginia,

  79. I am glad there is an endless supply of foolish people to provide material for your writing!

  80. to RosemaryRiveter @ 2:51: it’s all in your perspective,isn’t it? When I read your comment I thought, “Only $200? Was she on a really tight budget?”

  81. Your description of the customs guy was hilarious, Steph! Thanks for a good laugh.

  82. As if everything that could be said or learned about knitting would definitely have already been said or learned in the first two conferences! Silly man!

  83. That reminds me of our trip to Rhinebeck last fall. We got to customs in Cornwall, and the customs officer said where are you headed. We answered together (3 of us) a wool festival. She was totally interested! Asked some questions about what one does at a wool festival and so on. She let us through with a happy have fun ladies! Canadian customs coming back were totally bewildered and asked is to pull over. They sent us on our way when they saw the spinning wheels! 😉

  84. When my elderly aunt gifted me with her loom, she also gave me her stash. When I tried to check the LARGE box onto the airplane, the security lady asked what was inside. After I told her “yarn” three times, she looked confused and said, “We’re not responsible if it gets broken.”

  85. If you automate customes..paying someone with money that is not really there, is no longer an issue and knitters can come and go at will…as long as the chip inside your passport is not invalid. (I know because mine has one)

  86. Poor man! But at least he was paying attention to hearing something out of the ordinary. And it didn’t sound like he was trying to rub it in that you’d missed the (other) conference. Thank you for being your usual, polite, Canadian self and not jumping all over him. Maybe, because of his interaction with you, he’ll be even kinder to the next knitter who comes through.

  87. Scene : a atarbucks in a trendy part of indy, 6:05 am on an early-fall saturday.
    Sleepy-but-corporate-cheerful barista: where are you headed so early?
    Me: a fiber Festival.
    B, looking puzzled: what do you do at one of THOSE?
    Me: oh, take knitting or crochet or spinning classes, buy yarn, pet the alpacas and angora bunnies . . .
    B, with sudden look of comprehension: oh! I thought you meant fiber like in BRAN muffins!

  88. Thanks, pbear and Marilyn, for your customs answers. I don’t travel much any more, and so airports have become a “strange new land” for me.

  89. best laugh I’ve had all weekend. I’ll have to remember this the next time I’m standing in line at US immigration trying to keep my sense of humour (and therefore sanity) intact.

  90. I have only been through USA customs twice, en route to and from somewhere else. It was a nightmare both times.
    Having queued for over two hours the customs official was very snarky that we weren’t visiting USA! Then because we were so lateour luggage was just dumped unlocked (you are not allowed to lock it) in an unsecured area and no-one knew where it was, we had to wander around searching. We nearly
    missed our onward flight.
    A couple of more experienced travellers in our group went via Madrid in order to avoid a USA changeover. They thought it was worth it and I now agree with them.
    I have told my husband I never want to go anywhere that involves getting off in America.
    There are notices all about their mission is to ensure everyone is treated with respect and dignity and so on. What a joke that is.

  91. Funnily enough my daughter, who is travelling around “the world” on a very limited budget (well Ecuador, USA & Canada), nearly got refused entry to Canada yesterday becuase when her asked her reason said that she thought that it
    “Seemed like a nice place”. The lady (who apparantly had full police gear & a stab vest &, my daughter assumed, a gun) kept saying
    “I repeat “What are your motives for comming into Canada?””
    When she explained that she was volunteering in return for board & lodge the lady refused to believe her, & when she asked her how much money she had laughed in her face as she said it was no where near enough (although she had considerable exagerated her actual bank balance). Eventually they let her in (when she implied that Mum & Dad would bail her out in an emergency), although the rest of the passengers on the greyhound bus were less than happy with her as they had had to wait a long time!

  92. That is hilarious 🙂 I’ve had border guards look askance at me when I say I’m going to Stitches, or Rhinebeck or Maryland… but I get more trouble when I tell them I’m going to visit my boyfriend in Chicago 😉

  93. Perhaps it’s time for an evening in Toronto; TTC Employees are well accustomed to knitters, (guaranteed full-house, also)

  94. At Canadian customs in Toronto airport, last
    Customs Agent: Why are you visiting Canada?
    Me: A group of friends are getting together (no mention of Ravelry or knitting).
    CA: Who is coming? Where do they live?
    Me: Alex lives here. Sue and Iryth are driving from New York State. Sherrie is coming from CA. I’m from Washington DC.
    CA: Come here often, do you?
    Me: No, this is my first visit.
    CA: When are you going back?
    Me: This coming Sunday.
    CA: Go through.
    Return trip, US Customs at TO airport:
    CA: What was the purpose of your trip?
    Me: To see some friends?
    CA:What did you buy?
    Me:: Just some yarn and postcards.
    CA: Really?
    Me: Opening luggage: See, I’ll show it to you.
    CA: That’s OK. Have a nice flight.
    There is no moral to this story. You just never know.

  95. Love those Customs officers! Got pulled over for a quota search at the truck crossing into Washington once with a van stuffed full for vacation. Fella took my keys, marched to the overstuffed mini-van, scanned the mountain and reached all the way into the middle of the pile to pull out the contraband surely hidden there. As he pulled out his chosen bag my daughter started laughing and said “Oh no, Mom! He’s gonna dig through your knitting bag!” Poor fella opened the bag, took a cursory feel-about, stuffed the bag back in and returned my keys, wordlessly.
    BTW, your last sentence had me thrown until my brain lit up that Unwind was a noun, not a verb :)Thanks for including the link, I enjoyed the good laugh on myself.

  96. Try the Border Control checkpoints on I 10 even when you are nowhere near the border (they are looking for illegal migrants there.) it is worse if you are someone of Hispanic descent… Like i am.. Last ime I drove through was with my nephew, who is blond and blue eyed (and I am seriously dark in contrast.)
    Border agent “name, and are you and American citizen?” I reply yes, and he asks me who the white kid next to me was– I said my nephew. He stares at him and tells me to pop the trunk. They search my trunk and haul out a huge flat of exotic cacti I had bought in Texas for my dad— he’s a collector. Well I knew that would be an issue because of the trade in illegal cacti in the Southwest (no joke) so I pulled out the reciepts and paperwork to show they were from legit growers. All the same all the cacti got pulled out of their pots, prodded and poked (except the Texas fishhook and if you know cacti, you know why). Once satisfied with the cacti, they pretty much ransacked the rest of the trunk and came back and kept asking me questions, where I worked, why I was driving to California, and oh yes, who was that little white kid with me? I answered them all calmly even though my poor nephew (he was 15 at the time) was freaked out– “reall, really, that lady is my auntie!” he protested. After a while they let us go… And that was all while traveling in my own country….

  97. I have family in Norway, and on one trip though the customs agent asked my Mum where she would be staying. “With my cousin.”
    “But where will you be staying?”
    “In Kristiansand, with my cousin.”
    “And where will you be staying?”
    “Um, with my cousin in Kristiansand?”
    “But what HOTEL will you be staying at?!”
    “Oh, none – I stay with my cousin in her house.”
    “Oh, OK. Go through.”

  98. Maybe ‘knitting conference’ is code for something else and he was trying to figure out if you were going to a real conference or running drugs or something. Afterall, a sports torrent/streaming site my DF used to frequent called their sports cast ‘the yarn show’ in order not to be detected 😉

  99. Oooh, Homeland Security makes me feel so safe! Not only can airport customs spot a radical knitter, they also know the complete schedule of those dens of iniquity masquerading as knitting conferences.
    I read in the Maine Sunday Telegram a few years back about a Canadian woman living on the Maine border who had to make a couple mile loop to go through customs to get to her garden at the back of her lot. half her property was in Maine half in Canada. I’m sure she became quite subversive. I’m also pretty confidant that she is a knitter.

  100. I am so very glad he let you through. I was at that dinner and you were Awesome. I haven’t laughed that hard in years. Wonderful way to kick-off Yarnover and I do hope that you will come back again soon.

  101. We had a similar thing last Friday. We’d gone to Canada to get some special grass shears for a neighbor (no longer carried in US, long odd story). After lunch, we returned to the US, customs asked what/where/what did we buy. He seemed a bit perplexed, but went along. Then he asked if we were related to someone in the next town over. We’re not, but have been asked that before…maybe we should look them up?

  102. I really enjoyed your presentation ast night. Funny as always and thought-provoking. For instance, I thought that the comparison between golf and knitting was on target. On the way home, however, I thought about how much land and water golf courses consume. They are not environmentally sustainable. As opposed to knitting by comparison. You give a sheep grass and water, they grow wool that is made into yarn and 20,000 stitches by hand later you have a sock. Thanks for encouraging us all to take our kniiting seriously
    while being good stewards of our planet. Thank
    you for making the time to take your hours with your students and admirers seriously. It was a lot of fun.

  103. LOVE this! Laughed out loud in office, others asked me what was so funny, I explained, and got much the same response you did from customs agent. Ha! Thank you for the delightful laugh.

  104. Do you think the Customs guy is related to the woman on the subway who KNEW that you were crocheting and not knitting?

  105. I bet that was the same guy when I was going to Sock Summit. He asked me what I was looking forward to the most at this “knitting conference”. He stopped asking when I told him it was Japanese sock knitting!

  106. A friend and I are going to Maryland this weekend to visit another friend of ours for a full-on knitting weekend. We’re also going to the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival. I was telling this to someone on Saturday, trying to explain why I won’t be at church next weekend and her response: “You’re a little strange. Interesting, but strange.” I’ll take that as a complement, thank you very much! Non-knitters just don’t get it, do they?

  107. Where’s the picture of the customs guy holding up one of Stephanie’s half finished socks and wearing a foolish grin? >:-)

  108. I was in the middle of that sequester-related travel last week. 5-hour delay at Midway for outbound to New York City, then 1.5 hour delay inbound two days later. It was good for some knitting and meeting women who knit (as well an as older gent who said, “What’s that you’re crocheting?” I resisted thwopping him with my circs, instead did an impromptu demo, pulling out a crochet hook from purse, to show him the difference between crochet hooks and knitting needles. Not sure if demo made sense. Anyway, all sequester knitting was for naught, because I unraveled it all last night!!!!

  109. Bwhahaha! I love that at least he KNEW there were knitting conferences!
    Having just been to three in a row (DFW Fiber Fest, Stitches in Atlanta, and Yellow Rose Fiber Fiesta) I had to explain to numerous people at hotels and restaurants that we were in town for a fiber festival/knitting conference when they asked if we were in town for business or pleasure. The explanation always gobsmacks them.

  110. You get a stamp in your passport flying out of TOronto? I haven’t 🙁 The customs lines were long even before the new cutbacks. Hope you cheered that guy up.

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