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A yarn shop mystery adventure

December 28, 2007

I was going to the yarn shop with a list of things to buy. I brought my sweater-in-progress with me to select buttons. My knitting was all on one needle, but I had both needles in the bag and brought the bag with everything in it.

Since I know that I am easily overstimulated in yarn shops, and that I had a list and would want to get everything at once, I consciously reminded myself to slow down and be attentive and proceed in the best order the shop’s small layout presented.

As soon as I walked into the shop, two people noticed my Trader Joe’s tote. Dorothy, who has the plum job of working at the yarn shop, was in awe of the tote; the customer was new in town and wanted to know where the local Trader Joe’s was. I gave the customer directions to Trader Joe’s, and broke the news to Dorothy that the tote I have was just discontinued. I remembered my list and rattled off the things I had come to see.

Buttons and sock yarn were close together, so we went there first. Everything in this shop is close together; accessibility is a matter of whether or not shelves barricade the way between you and the object of your desire.

I found square buttons that match the color of my sweater. They are lightweight and will not clobber my hands when the cardigan is hanging open–I have gone through life learning this is an important feature for sweater buttons.

I squeezed several balls of sock yarn and decided on a self-striping Regia wool.  Dorothy was fairly effervescent over the new corn and bamboo fiber sock yarns, and they did come in appealing colors, but I stuck to my idea of choosing wool for my first socks.

I took my trove to the counter and stowed it there, stashing my tote there as well, and was about to head over to the mohair, the final thing on my list. Dorothy was chatting with a customer who was happy to find some “jazzy” yarns. She said so many shops she encounters in her travels are going to the natural look, and it’s hard, she said, to find anything with any pizzazz. She looked to me, and I said I agreed, at our age we need a little pizzazz; we’ve had our share of nature.

A customer behind me was with a man with huge eyebrows like Anglican Bishop Rowan Williams’s. It came out in conversation that he was her dad, visiting from England, and how nice it was that her dad would come with her to the yarn shop. The dad looked quizzically at me, and I thought perhaps I might have offended him with my comment about how we’d had our share of nature. Then I realized I might have been staring at his eyebrows. I notice eyebrows because mine are falling out, a casualty of Addison’s disease.

For some reason the nice dad with the eyebrows began talking about acupuncture, and I jested that I had acuphobia.

“No, see, people always associate acupuncture with needles,” the man said.

“Well, ‘acu’ does mean needle,” I pointed out.

“No, no….you just need the right mantra,” he corrected. At that point, I decided I really needed to go see the mohair, immediately. The shop’s owner joined me at the mohair and we selected something for a gift I wanted to make. The man with the eyebrows and his daughter left the shop amid warm bids for his safe return to the UK.

I returned to the counter and unfurled my sweater-in-progress and showed the shop owner the buttons I’d selected for it.  I rolled my work back up on its needle, and then noticed that my other needle was missing.

First, of course, I removed my sweater again from the plastic bag it was in within my tote, and shook out the bag. I then removed everything from my tote and shook it out and ran my finger along the seams. No needle. I did what ADD kids and adults have done all their lives: I took off my coat and shook it out. We always lose things in our clothes somehow. No needle.

The shop owner, Dorothy, and I looked everywhere I had been. No needle. Happily, the shop had another pair of Clover #6 bamboo needles in stock, and they were inexpensive. I wouldn’t let her give them to me, because I felt responsible for keeping my own property in order. Perhaps, she suggested, it had fallen out in my car or been left at home; if I found it, of course I could return the ones I bought. She assured me that she would comb through the shop as soon as it was empty of customers, and asked me to call her if I found my needle.

The needle was not in my car or at home. I have not heard back from the shop, which is, after all, very small. I now have three #6 bamboo needles. The new ones lack the patina of use, and their tips will not slide off one another as smoothly as my old ones for some time.

Rachel called when I’d been home a few minutes; I thought it might be the yarn shop calling. I downloaded the adventure to her, saying at least I noticed the missing needle before I left the shop and was able to get a new pair; otherwise, I would be unable to work on my sweater over the holiday weekend–a most frustrating prospect. 

“Lauren,” said Rachel, “The guy with the eyebrows totally took your needle.”

“I can’t allege that; I mean, intuitively, like, maybe the guy has some kind of needle fetish and he didn’t like my attitude toward acupuncture, but I can’t just say he nipped my needle. I’d rather buy new ones than say that.”

“But you know he did.”

“I don’t know, Rach. I never know how these things happen.”

  1. December 28, 2007 5:14 pm


    The eyebrow man didn’t happen to go by the name of Col. Mustard, did he?

  2. December 28, 2007 5:15 pm

    I don’t have a Clue.

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