Airport Writer

I feel like I only write in airports now. I actually feel a little like my world is big and small at the same time.  I move from place to place, and the geography is big and I know it’s a new place because the weather changes, and the people change, and the bookstore changes – but mostly it’s a blur of airports, hotels and bookstores, and I’ve started rating the hotel by how comfortable the bed is.  (I’ve noticed a correlation between how much I want to stay in a bed, and how long I’m able to do so.  Last night’s bed was the nicest of the tour so far. It was perfect, totally perfect. Fluffy pillows – but not too fluffy, soft bed, crisp sheets, and I lay down in that glorious thing and slept in it for five hours. I just about wept when I had to climb out of it.) I’m in the Saint Louis airport, headed for Boston. (Can’t wait to see some of you at Brookline Booksmith tonight.)  I’m sitting near the gate under a sign that says “Lambert Airport – like no place else” and I have to tell you, I’m having trouble seeing the unique nature of the place.  Airports really don’t have a lot of personality, if you know what I mean. Sometimes I can only tell where I am by what the tee-shirts in the gift shop say. (These ones say Saint Louis Est. 1764.)

I can tell you, that while I can only tell the hotels apart by the beds and the airports by the tee-shirts, the bookstores are another matter. While it might look like just a group of readers to you, I can tell them apart by the flavour of weird that shows up.  Everybody’s weird in their own way, and I’m flattered that so much weird shows up at the signings. I figure it means you’re all comfortable – and likely that you’ve decided I’m weird enough to handle it, which I totally think I am. The Saint Louis weird?

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Teams. Knitters in groups. Doing things together.  First up, let me show you these guys.  That’s Heather and Peter, and Rachel and Josh.

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They’re all knitters, the whole lot of them, and their planning a double wedding in a while that is going to be super heavy on the handknits, and is just about the cutest thing I’ve ever heard of.  Four knitters – one wedding.  Imagine that. (I hope some sort of prenuptial agreement has been made for the stash. I always wonder how that works when both spouses are knitters.)

Then, just when I’d gotten my head around the idea of an all knitter double wedding (and sort of planned their centrepieces in my head – double knitting figured largely, because how could it not…) up turned this lot.

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That’s Mason, Megan and Carrie, and yup. They’re all knitting the same blanket, but here’s the thing.  They’re representatives of a larger group. EIGHT of them are knitting this blanket.  Eight of them. I’m pretty sure it’s Shelly’s Sock yarn blanket (do you remember when Shelly first showed up on the blog?)  It’s like there was a viral outbreak of blanket and it’s running unchecked through Saint Louis. I don’t know whether to clap my hands out of sheer joy or call the CDC.  (Mason had a baggie of mini-skeins in his bag that was just labeled “blankie food”.  I desperately want security somewhere to search him just so he has to explain.)

Ok.  I’m off. They’re calling my flight, and if I can stay awake on it, this will be the one where I finish one pair of socks and start the next. Very exciting.  See you in Boston.

As Fast As I Can

This post comes to you from my gate at the Denver airport, as I try to pound it out before getting on a flight to Saint Louis. (Left Bank Books my friends! See you there.) The next few days are particularly challenging, so I’m hoping that I can do this now because man, I don’t think there’s time to do it later.  (Although I do have a burning concern that I’m underyarned for this flight, I could blog instead of knit.) I’m sad to leave Denver, but happy to move to a lower altitude, the people who live here look ordinary, but they are gods. All gods.  Behold. The miracle people of Denver.

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Also you will note that my sock is bigger. I like the way these shots are like stop motion progress of knitting, with just the background shifting.  Who did I see in Denver my pretties? Who? Well for starters, you’re going to love this.  Does everyone remember Jacob? This is him way back in 2007, when as a young knitter he wore this shirt to a signing and charmed us all.

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I’ve seen Jacob a few times since then, but this time he wasn’t there, because Jacob is in the Navy, and he’s far away on a ship – just like a grownup, I thought, and then his mum asked if we could have a picture to send to him, because (get this) IT IS HIS 25TH BIRTHDAY.

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I know. The picture is blurry. I’m so sorry – I didn’t take it but I can still tell it’s my fault.  I feel super blurry the last few days.

Also leading a charge down memory lane – you might remember Meredith? She’s from the same era- and back then she was (we think) the first person to bring her first socks. She pretty much started the whole first sock thing. Meredith then:

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and Meredith now… modelling her wedding veil. She knit it herself, and she’s been married a week.

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Janna followed in the footsteps of greatness.  She brought her first socks and….

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Demonstrated what happens when you knit the first and second a little ways apart.  (Hint. Those are not the same.)

Barbara brought me a really cool present.

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It’s yarn she dyed to match my book cover.  I thought that was pretty freakin’ cool.

(Man they are boarding in a minute and I’m still not done.)

Finally, last but certainly not least, my buddy Sally and company. They were the last ones there, and I jokingly re-took the crowd pictures and said I was going to send it to my publisher – with a note that said “the group in Denver was more of an intimate gathering, but I still think it was good.”

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Today’s Sally’s birthday, and I hope she has a wonderful one.

Bam! Look at that.  Their calling my flight, and I think I just have time to hit send on this. (Definitely no time to proof-read, so forgive me.)

See you in Saint Louis.


Greetings From On High

I arrived in Denver last night  (see you all later at the Tattered Cover – although to be fair, Dave Barry is also speaking at the Tattered Cover in Denver tonight, and I’d totally get it if you were going to see him.  I sort of want to go see him instead of speak myself.) Trips to Denver for me are marked by a wild fatigue, a headache, swollen hands and feet and the knowledge that whatever twist of fate made me five feet tall… that’s as far off the ground as I’m meant to be. The altitude simply doesn’t agree with me.  I know that you’re not supposed to experience altitude sickness until about 8000 feet, but my particular body didn’t get that memo, and I woke up this morning and winded myself trying to get a glass of water and an ibuprofen, and I went straight back to bed. I’m feeling better now, but this afternoon I have wicked big plans for a nap just to make sure I’m on my game for tonight. If I am ever the Queen of Denver, I’m going to get the whole state a little of that air we all enjoy so much other places.   The last few days have been marked by being out of my element, geographically, since yesterday I was in Phoenix.

Phoenix (although Changing Hands in Tempe was where I gave the reading, and I can tell you with a great deal of confidence that it’s pronounced “Tem-pee” not “Tem-Peh”) is an amazing place if you’re from Canada. First, you don’t need a coat. Yay verily, they look upon the coats and do not know what they are. Similarly, the landscape looks like something right out of a Wile E. Coyote cartoon.  Dig this –

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It’s a cactus, and they were everywhere, acting like it was no big deal to be a cactus. (It is totally a big deal. I couldn’t stop looking at them, and there was a totally dodgy moment in the shuttle on the way to the airport where I would have got the guy to stop, except there were about five other people on the shuttle who didn’t seem to know cactus were a  really big deal, so I curbed my enthusiasm and quietly Kinneared  the thing.)

The bookstore was wonderful too, and as usual only the coolest people came out to play.

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(I don’t know why that middle one is blurry.  I blame the briefest of coffee shortages. Also, Canadians? Note the absence of coats.)  As usual, everyone is amazing, but let me show you two knitters in particular. (Actually, I can only show you two, but let me direct you to a lovely blog post about the event by Antiquotidian. I love it, and not just because she failed to notice my height.) First, Hazel –

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Hazel gets mad first project props from me.  I think she did more than well, for someone at the beginning of her journey.  Ten years from now her skill is going to be scary.  Ten years from now… she’s going to be Hannah.

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That there is Hannah and her Chuppah. She knit it for her wedding, and it took a year, and it’s amazing. Nothing short of amazing.  The best part though was that while she was holding it up like that, and we were all falling all over it, I heard someone behind me say “That shawl really got out of control” and I just about laughed out loud. Out of control indeed.

It was a grand evening, and I was so thrilled to be there, and Phoenix, thanks for the sunshine and the good time.  It was hard to leave – but leave, I did.  For now, I’m off to knit a little (and take that nap)

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I’m unravelling Adrian and knitting it into Adriana, and it’s not too bad, as long as you don’t like to feel any kind of a sense of progress.



Some Small Surprises

Hello Poppets.  I know it’s Sunday, and I don’t usually post on the weekend, but book tours wipe away all the days of the week.  (Although I was trying really, really hard to keep track of Sunday on account the time change but then I realized I was flying to Arizona, and that means there’s no time change until I fly out of Arizona.)  I’m in Phoenix (Tempe, technically) and last night there was a really great event at Changing Hands that I’ll tell you about tomorrow, but for now, San Francisco?

A short list of Surprising Things that happened in San Francisco.

Surprise #1.  This book signing

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What a wickedly good time I had.  You can’t tell in that picture but some of the most fun people ever are in that crowd.  I loved them.  (It was at Books Inc., and I left behind some signed books, if you had your heart set on getting one, and I’m not coming near your home.) Hidden in there are some people who’ve been hanging with this blog (and their own) for a long time, like the lovely Alison H, and Carrie, of Irish Girlie Fame.)  Lingering around in the back though, is Julie, from Cocoknits.

When I was done talking and signing, she came up to me and gave me a little present.  She gave me a hard copy of one of her patterns that I’d bought online.  That “linen vest thing” that I’ve been going on about for the last few weeks, the one that I’d said I was going to finish on the tour?  It’s Adrian – one of Julie’s patterns.  Debbi and I both tried it on at the Habu booth at Madrona, and we both loved the shape, the flow, how it fit… Killer. So we each bought our three skeins of linen, and we’ve been cranking it out since.

It hasn’t been without incident, both Debbi and I thought something wasn’t right, something just wasn’t looking the way it should, and we checked and double checked the pattern, had conversations about how it really didn’t look right, but all the conversations ended with affirming that we had tried it on, we had loved it, we were getting gauge, and there was no errata.  It would come together, we said.  Come together it did – sort of.  I finished it on Thursday night, but I had lots of yarn left, and a niggling feeling that it wasn’t long enough, so that evening I ripped out the cast on,  picked up a million stitches around the bottom, and spent the flight to San Francisco adding a few inches to the bottom.

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When I got there, I gave it a wash in the sink…

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and blocked it, convinced that it would be fine after that.

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It didn’t look anything like I was hoping.  I was actually disappointed, but I tried to think it would look better dry – which wasn’t very logical.

Surprise #2 Off I went, with my sad little Adrian on the floor, and at the end of the night Julie comes up to me and says something vague like “Oh, you’re knitting this pattern, I thought you might like to have a hard copy” and she hands me this.

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Notice anything? I did. Straight away.  Then we had a conversation like this:

Me: Oh, no – that’s not the one I’m knitting.  I’m knitting Adrian. Wait, is that the name? Hold on…

Julie: No, you’re knitting the one from Habu, right? That’s ADRIANA. You’ve got the name wrong. The only one at Habu is Adriana. That’s what you’re making.

Me: (Heart starting to pound – world a little black at the edges) Oh. No.

I’ve not got the name wrong, I’ve knit the wrong one. Debbi’s knit the wrong one. It doesn’t look right because it’s not right, it’s not the vest thing we meant to knit at all. We have knit a different pattern.  I texted Debbi almost straight away.

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We went on.

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I felt bad that Debbi was alone when this was going to come over her.

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What the f**k did we knit indeed. I can’t tell you what Debbi said after that, or what I said to her, because it was language unbecoming knitters, let me tell you. That thread represents the most civil part of the discourse that followed, and there’s no way I could make it public.  We have knit the wrong thing by accident and it was miles of stockinette, and… man.  The worst part is that it takes 3 skeins of linen to knit Adrian, and 4 to knit Adriana. I didn’t even have enough to knit the right one.  I did know that Verb carried Habu, so I took a wander over there the next day. I didn’t know if I was hoping they had it or not.

Surprise #3

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Later today, when I think I can face it, I’m going to start over.


And then it was Seattle

I left Portland in a cab, with my bag and my coat and my scarf, except it wasn’t really a scarf, it was my birch.  I knit birch way back in 2005, that’s nine and a half years ago, and I have loved it to death ever since.  I knit it out of three balls Rowan’s Crack Silk Haze in a colour called “Jelly” and let me tell you, that yarn is good stuff.  I don’t decide a yarn is good because it’s pretty, or because it’s soft – I decide a yarn is good when it stays good for a long, long time, and I’ve been jamming that shawl in pockets and bags for almost a decade. Winding it around my face in the winter, draping it over my shoulders on planes, wearing it over dresses when I wanted to pretend I was elegant.  It’s been washed many times, and it’s been through the washer, once by accident, and it still looked new. Totally new.  Not a speck of wear, and man, has it been worn.  I loved the colour, I loved the texture, I loved (with a passion that knew no bounds) the way it looked with my orange coat.  So yesterday, when I left the hotel in the morning, I tucked it in the sleeve of my coat (like I always do) so that it wouldn’t get lost, but that didn’t work, because when I arrived in Seattle, it was gone.  I stepped out of the cab and went into the lobby of the hotel, tossed my coat on my bag and saw it wasn’t peeking out of the sleeve. I snatched up the coat, ran my arm quickly down both sleeves to see where it was, and then almost burst into tears right there.  I left my purse and bag in the lobby and ran back outside to the cab, and he was still there, but my birch wasn’t, and then I knew.

Somewhere between Portland and Seattle, there’s my birch.  I’m pretty sure I had it when I got on the plane, so I don’t think it was PDX. I’m pretty sure I put it around my neck when I stood up to board the flight too, and I think I remember putting it down the sleeve of my coat again before I stuffed it in the overhead bin.  I even think (but maybe I am just dreaming it now) that I saw it in the sleeve when I left the plane, and I think that means that somewhere between the plane and the cab – it slipped free of the sleeve and my possession, fell to the floor, and I, rather unbelievably, walked away from it.

I went up to my hotel room without it, and the sense of loss was really something.  I know it’s just an object and objects don’t matter that much, it’s not like someone was hurt or died or anything, but it does feel sad, and I’ve done everything reasonable I can to get it back, but I just think it’s gone.  (I’ve called everyone important, and I went to the lost and found at the Seattle airport when I went back this morning, and I’m going to call all those people again tomorrow too.) It was funny, because when I put on my coat to go to the event, I realized that I might not love my orange coat the way I thought I did.  I think I love my orange coat with the lime birch, and I think I might have not bought myself a coat, but rather – I may have unbelievably accessorized an accessory.  A wardrobe for birch.

I put it right out of my mind when I got to Third Place books though, because look what it looked like to be me.

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I can’t believe how many of those people I knew, which is really, just about the only way to make that number of people looking at you less terrifying. Seattle, you know how to show an author a good time, let me tell you that.  You were all charming, totally charming, but let me show you just one person.

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That’s Nikolis, and he was there to get a book for his Fiancé Jessika, because she couldn’t make it.  He dutifully sat through the event, waited in line, delivered a little something that Jessika told him to bring me, got the book signed, and then asked if he could have a picture with me and the book.  I looked at him for a second, and then I got it.

“Proof?” I asked.

“Yup.” he said, and I got up and we took the picture, but then I thought blogging him might be even better. Jessika? He seems nice.

See you all tomorrow.  I’ve got an event tonight in San Francisco.

(PS, if you follow that link, it looks like Books Inc. would be happy to send you a signed book, but you might have to ask them before I get there which is super soon.  (7pm, San Francisco time.)

Hello Portland

I’m on my way out the door from Portland as I type this, but as usual, Portland brought it last night, in it’s own wonderfully funky way.  (Where else can you get gifts of coffee, beer, fabulous wool underpants, yarn and blackberry jam?

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That says Portland all over it, if you ask me.)

I don’t have much time to talk with you, but I can tell you a few things.

1. One of the coolest things about being on a book tour is seeing repeat offenders, people that I haven’t seen in years, especially if they’re kids, on account of most grown-ups aren’t changing fast enough to be really exciting that way.  Last night I had a bunch of returning readers, but I loved these especially.

That’s Katie, a little knitter who played “Mary had a little lamb” for me back in 2011.

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This is her last night.

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I love the teenager that’s come over her, and that she’s trying to shove her photobombing mum out of the picture with one hand.  She’s still a knitter.

This was Ira, Libby and Gertie, back in 2011

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And this was them last night.

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Still all knitters.  Crazy, eh? It’s like a time warp. (I like the way Libby’s hair is exactly the same. Very grounding.)

2. I still like seeing first socks, but there’s a kind I like especially.  Terrible ones.  You’re supposed to be terrible at something when you start, and I love the knitters who bring me first socks that look like they were recombined out of a malfunctioning teleporter. Such was the case last night when Tara brought me these to see:

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They’ve got heels that don’t match, the toes square and on sideways, and the best part? They’re well worn and loved.   Gotta love knitters man.  You gotta love them.

3. I can tell you that so far, so good.  Last night on the way to the event I was so nervous, so worried,  and then I got there, and it was great. Really great.  The reading was scary, like it always is, and especially scary because it was the first time I was reading from the new book, and until last night, really the only person who had really read it was my mum. (This probably helped a lot, now that I think of it, because I don’t have the lying kind of mum. If the book was bad there’s no way my mother would have let me leave on tour without telling me.) People seemed to like it though, and I think it’s going to be okay. The biggest mistakes I made yesterday were getting lost in the PDX airport (did you know there are tunnels under it? Don’t go down there.) and the fact that I’m the idiot dragging a wool coat,  scarf and mittens all over Portland, where it’s 16C and raining.  The winter is so entrenched at home that it didn’t even occur to me that it wasn’t like that everywhere, which is so ….

I’m going to look like a moron in Arizona.

(PS. Debbi and I have opened registration for the April Strung Along Retreat at Port Ludlow.  Just drop us a line at if you want a little more info.)

Day One (Really, we’re at .5)

So far so good.  I’m out of the house and in Vancouver, waiting for my connection to Portland, and I feel pretty positive. Today isn’t just the first day of the tour, it’s the day that The Amazing Thing About the Way It Goes is released and people are starting to get their copies and nobody has told me that it sucks yet – in fact there have been some very nice compliments.  All my clothes are clean, I had enough sleep, I’m not too nervous now that I’m moving, and today I did two things that are very nice.

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I wrote “Author Copy” inside the cover of my copy of the book, so that at the bookstores it doesn’t get mixed in. (On account of one time, I lost/misplaced my book, and I had to buy another one, and buying your own book is super weird.)  Writing the word “Author” doesn’t get old.

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Then I knit almost the whole five hour flight (except for the part where I accidentally fell asleep) and I read 81% of Rachael Herron’s new book Pack Up the Moon which I got on my ipad this morning because her release date was the same as mine, and I’m delighted to report that it’s a great book, and I’m not going to have to think of anything delicate to say to her. So far, I’m pro book tour. (The tour page is here, and the links for where I’ll be when are over there.  ——->>>)

PS. I know that Amazon is sold out, but don’t forget that your local independent might have it, or could order it, and Barnes and Noble has it too.

PPS. Thanks for caring.

Notes From The Edge

The tour starts tomorrow, and I’m more than a little nervous. I actually think that it’s more like straight up fear, that borders on terror. I’m determined to have the habu vest thing to wear on the tour (I actually hope I’m wearing it tomorrow) but it’s not finished yet, and every time I sit down to knit, the butterflies in my stomach start acting up and I end up leaping up to clean something, or organize something or do something else that doesn’t really need doing.

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I think I’m just about packed.  I have enough clothes for 12 days (really I don’t, but I have a little bottle of Soak wash, and I think I can get through) and now I’m down to adding the good stuff. Book tours present a certain challenge to the human spirit. There’s a lot about them that’s good – the publisher’s support of the book is good, being with all of you is more than good, and as silly as it sounds, I know that at some point in the next 12 days, I will eat at least two breakfast burritos, and I like those a lot.

The biggest challenge is in the actual living of the thing. The planes, the cars, the hotels, eating in airports – I’m a homebody, and while I’m getting really, really good at travel now (you should get behind me in an airport security line if you ever get the chance, and I can bug out of a hotel room faster than a MASH unit, let me tell you) I still find myself a little nervous when I think about not being home with my stuff and my people for so many days in a row.  So, here I am, adding the icing to my packing cake. The things that I bring along to make it just a little bit better, a little bit nicer.  Here’s what I’ve got.

– good coffee beans, a tiny handcrank grinder and an AeroPress

– a mug from home, because nothing says despair like hotel coffee in a paper cup at 5:10am.

– a candle. (I’ve never lit it, but somehow it makes me feel prepared.)

-a present from my friend Jen, designed to solve part of the food problem on tours.

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It’s a mason jar, a ziplock of large flake oatmeal, and a little box full of containers with goodies like coconut, nuts, seeds and dried berries. Add hot water and whatever fruit I manage to buy at that day’s airport, wait five minutes and I’ve got a hot, delicious, wholesome dinner. (Dinner’s the hard one. My day is travel and events, and by the time I get back to the hotel room, room service – if the hotel has it, is closed. The only thing worse than being tired in a strange place is being tired and hungry in a strange place.) Jen’s a genius.

-a knife, for cutting up fruit, or slicing a hard boiled egg, or whatever.

– a tiny little box of gourmet salt.  It can turn the aforementioned egg into something a little special.

– tea bags. The brands that I like.

-Slippery elm lozenges, because I know for a fact my voice is going to try and quit on me somewhere in there.

– A bartender’s corkscrew, mostly for the beer opener on it. Every once in a while somebody gives me a great bottle of beer. (I love you guys) and carrying an opener means that I don’t have to use my keys to get into it, which I totally know how to do, and indeed, there is a key on there that I use just for that, in a pinch, but the opener makes me feel classy.

– Big ziplocks. For clothes I washed that didn’t dry before the next flight, and anything else I want to bag up.

That’s it. I feel pretty good about it, but I’m sure that there’s other frills I could get in there.  Anybody got a genius idea that I should be tucking in there?

(PS. Don’t say yarn. That was first in.)

(PPS. Don’t say books. That was second.)