Thursday, June 07, 2007

Damp but Done

We're not sure how, but we're always getting ourselves into ... situations. This one was all about a flamingo. (And a hedgehog.) (And Cynthia.)

Here is their story.

It started with an email from "Whad’Ya Know?" The NPR program was coming to Penn State (it will be here this Saturday at 11:00), and they asked us to donate "quirky prizes." We thought hard and decided that to a national audience, a 6-pack of fat quarters and a Yarn Buddy might sound quirky.

Then they looked at our website. Apparently when they saw that, they thought we were even quirkier, and so they asked us if we also wanted to have some quirky props on stage as well. It was impossible to turn down that offer.

We thought and thought. It was hard to think of a quirky quilt, but we chose Kim's rainbow-bright block of the month quilt, which is at least very pretty and showy.

We already had a felted purple-and-pink hedgehog. But the hedgehog was kind of small for Eisenhower Auditorium. We believed we needed something more. Something like... "Hey, would you like me to make you a felted flamingo?" Cynthia offered to Sarah, the show's coordinator.

Sarah (who is way smarter than Cynthia) hesitated. "That would be great--actually, our program's theme is flamingos--but wouldn't it be hard to make one in a week?"

Cynthia, who is a terminal optimist, who thinks that every task takes only half the time it actually takes, assured her that it would be no trouble--no trouble at all.

The deal was sealed. There was no turning back, no room for national public humiliation. And so Cynthia began to knit. She made the legs first, since they were easy back-and-forth knitting. These were done during our drive together to Columbus, Ohio. Don't worry--Kim did the driving while Cynthia knit.

The other leg and tail were made in the hotel room.

And then there was a little hitch. The novelty yarn for the body was back in State College, and we were in Columbus.

Now, at Columbus, we were at a huge wholesale yarn market. We were buying yarn for all of next year. We were surrounded by more yarn than you could possibly imagine, miles and piles and mountains of yarn--and yet we had no yarn we could use for the flamingo. We thought of Fed Ex, but the yarn wouldn't arrive till the day we left.

"Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink."
--Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner."

So the rest of the flamingo was put on hold until we returned.

Home late Monday night. We needed to prepare for our store's 4th anniversary celebration. There was no time during the day on Tuesday for knitting, as we worked getting the store ready. Cynthia began knitting Tuesday night.

And continued Wednesday night. (Cynthia's Kevin, who could see that the flamingo still needed quite a bit of work by bedtime Wednesday, wondered aloud if Cynthia was knitting an albatross instead of a flamingo.)

Thursday began, and we were ready for our anniversary sale. The flamingo had no head.

It was anniversary day and Cynthia really couldn't stay home. So she stayed in the store in case it got too busy, but she hid in the closet behind the counter. All day long, she knitted relentlessly. She emerged to eat lunch and use the bathroom, and, once, to help Kim. Her arms were aching, her shoulders were aching, and even the muscles in her temples were sore. The words and numbers for the pattern blurred on the page, and as she worked she chanted over and over the counts for the short-rows that would shape the head: "Knit 47, wrap and turn, knit 43, wrap and turn, knit 41, wrap and turn"--and she kept knitting.

She devised her own short rows that made the flamingo's bill more anatomically correct than the bill on the original pattern. (Kim said she had one chance to modify the bill, and if it didn't work, she was to follow the pattern. This was motivating.)

By 4:30, the flamingo was completely knitted and ready to have its seams sewn. Cynthia sewed for an hour till closing, went to a knitting-guild picnic and sewed there a little, and then finished up the sewing and felted it at home.

It was just about done. Overnight, it dried in the coordinating pink bathtub, with a fan pointed at it.

Friday morning, it was not dry, but it was as done as it was going to be, so she stuffed it. She used little plastic pellets to weight it down. (They scattered everywhere. She will be finding little plastic pellets in her house for months to come.) Oops--let's not forget to sew on the eyes!

And then the flamingo was ready for its delivery at Eisenhower auditorium at 11:42--minutes and minutes before the deadline of noon on Friday. She grabbed the Rainbow Bright quilt, gathered her animal friends, and ran to Eisenhower. It was fun to watch the set up:

And the flamingo and the hedgehog were excited to be on stage, waiting for the program to begin:

And Cynthia went home, relieved.

Now that you know about our flamingo story, please be sure to listen to the radio, station 91.5, this Saturday at 11:00. You should hear our store being mentioned, and you will personally know the flamingo who is on national radio!

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