a pen, a plane, and a near-tragedy

(Ok, the story might be a bit less dramatic than the title suggests if you’re not a knitter. If you are, you’ll understand me.)

This might look to you like just an ordinary a work-in-progress. It’s not. There’s a story behind it.

I was coming back from a short trip yesterday, on a plane. As usual, I took some convenient, not-too-complicated knitting with me. (When I fly, I take care to choose needles that are least likely to be confiscated by security, such as wooden ones or very light circulars. I haven’t had a problem so far. Though, to be fair, I’ve only flown within Europe with my knitting, they might be stricter on longer flights.) I was quite enjoying my knitting and looking forward to two hours of flight-time during which I could make a good deal of progress. I was thinking about how I’d tell the recipient that her item had been knit at an altitude of 7,000 meters and how she would like that little fact. And then I took my Uni-ball pen out to mark that I had finished another pattern repeat. This kind.

- click image for source -

A second later, I had ink all over my seat (luckily the seat next to me was empty), all over the plane wall, all over my brand new jeans, and all over my project.

What ensued was panic, anger, frustration, running to the toilet (several times) to try to wash some of it off (of course, it had to be in the middle of the food being served), and wanting to bang my head against something really hard. An older gentleman who sat across the isle from me, and who had been looking at my knitting interestedly earlier, offered compassion with his glances now. When I finally regained some semblance of calm, I remembered that I had had the same experience with the same type of pen a few months earlier, when I tried to use it on a plane to make notes on my course reading. So here’s a lesson I will never again forget: for some reason, Uniball pens leak (in an exploding fashion, if I may add) on planes.

All that said, there is a happy ending. I managed to refrain myself from throwing the whole project in the trash (as I felt inclined to do in my frustration), and dunked it into warm water with detergent instead (with the needles and everything). Honestly, I didn’t take before photos because I was convinced that they would be exactly the same as the after photos. And then, magically, after just a few minutes, the ink blotches had disappeared! The project is now drying, and I’m still kind of incredulous that what seemed like such a huge problem was resolved so easily, but unless my eyes deceive me… my lesson will have been a little less painful than I imagined at first.

And I will definitely have a story to tell when I hand over this item.

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