Knitter Drives Passenger Nuts

November 3, 2010

in Passenger Stories

OK.  We all have had told or heard of classic airplane/airport stories.  I know when I traveled as an auditor in the early 90s I had experienced many; specifically, when a guy next to me tried to stuff his bag under my feet because he “wanted to stretch his legs during the long two hour flight.”  I know, the best was the person who wrote the airline because they were next to the restroom in the back of the plane (and had to endure smell plus the large butts in the face deal as they waited in queue) – it later hit the internet.  Yes, once I accidentally put my pinky in a guy’s drink as I grabbed mine (in that small little first class pull-out drink holder).

My story, and believe me I hate to write but feel I have to, occurred last Friday night on Frontier Airlines out of Denver.  Great airline, TVs in the seats, etc.  After an exhausting work week in the Springs (OK, it did include a great steak with my great former boss Gary), I just wanted to relax on my three+ hour direct flight.

So, I board the plane and sit in my prized right aisle seat.  Two young college girls are near each other and talking over me, so they ask if I can move to the aisle seat to the left – no big deal.

We are given the green light to take off.  BRUSH… no big deal, the lady to my left (center seat) brushed my arm.  BRUSH; hmm… this was not a bump; it was a brush.

If you don’t know, I really hate to be touched… no offense; don’t hug me!  And no guy hugs, honestly.  Just shake my damn hand.

Wheels up.  I think I’ll stretch out.  BRUSH… her right arm hit me low and DRAGS up three inches of arm.  WHAT?  I look over slightly but lean towards the middle (the classic aisle seat move for more room).  BRRUUUUUUUSSSSSH.

Brush.  Brush.  Brush.

She is KNITTTTIIIINNNNNNG yarn?  What?  OMG – does anyone actually do that; I thought it died after Rosie Greer left the NFL in the what, 1970s?

Brush.  Brush.  Brush.  WTF?

So I lean to the right more.  Seems to help.  WAIT.  This lady has two 6 inch long steel, pointed, sharp knitting needles.  Holy Crap, these are points… steel; do knitting needles (wait, NEEDLES) look like this?  They are POINTED… this be a weapon – yes.  What if everyone on the plane had these?  How could this get through security?  In any case – BRRRRRUUUUUUSH!!!!

OK.  A half hour into the flight I decided to analyze this.  Every one and 1/2 seconds I got the over, touch and up brush.  I started to run the math… this was a big number I would have to endure.  BRUSH.  Please don’t touch me.  This lady was wearing a blouse with a lot of “armage;” if you don’t know, armage is when the triceps have never been worked and flap a little; OK, so I have some too.  Thank God she was wearing full protection – no skin hitting me.

An hour into my three+ hour hell, I realized she also had two more moves; the first was the “CLEAR” move.  For those that don’t know knitting (I feel like I am an expert now), the CLEAR is when you run out of direct yarn in your queue so you have to drag up some more slack from “somewhere.”  The clear involved a violent lift of the RIGHT ARM never minding the pointed steel needle about 2 feet or closer to my head.

The second move is the full “RELEASE” – a move that was even more dangerous.  This involved her moving her right arm fully to the right toward me; this was needed when she stopped a bit while she wrote something on her notes.  Wait, what do you write?  “Made awesome clear move; cadence is down to 1 and 1/4 seconds; irritating the shit out of guy next me on plane.”

The lady’s husband ain’t no dummy; he had the window seat to her LEFT relaxing… I honestly once thought I saw him lean a little, glance past his wife, and grin ever so slightly as he saw my plight.  I bet he made the “LEFT SIDE OF PLANE” reservations.  You see, I realized a right-handed knitter doesn’t move her left arm much at all.  He was safe.

BRUUUUSSHHHHHHH.  Bam.  Bam.  Bam.  Do I tell her to stop?  And, WTF, is anyone even doing this knitting… it was the most monotonous, and stupid, thing I have ever seen; over, up, around, twist… W-THE-Faaaaaaaaaaaaaaak.   Never, ever get me anything knitted for XMAS… I Don’t Want It.

OK.  So you think I am totally nuts to even write this…Well, I went from a somewhat sane person last Friday afternoon to a person who honestly could have been committed.  I almost lost it… I honestly mean it.  But, I just could not tell a 65 year old woman with those DAMN HALF GLASSES to stop this nonsense.  She was probably knitting this for her granddaughter.  What if this flight was to London?

BRUSH.  BRUSH.  BRUSH.  The cadence seems to be even faster.  Good for her, wait, sorry – no.  BRUSH.  Lean to the right more, Paul – LEAN.  OMG, wait, she seems to be searching for me; yes, she got me – BRUSH.  This reminds me of my sister Gail’s crossed leg search under the dinner table… swing the foot ever so slightly and SEARCH until you finally catch Paul’s leg (preferably wearing dress slacks of a light color so they have to go to the dry cleaners) and then tap, tap, tap, er kick, kick, kick.  DO NOT TOUCH ME.

Three F****ing hours.  BRUSH.  And yes, the college girls to my right laughed and talked the whole way; I am SO GLAD they enjoyed themselves catching up; I am so glad I changed seats for them.  BRUSH.

You may ask: “Did she EVER stop?”  So she finally did stop.  All is good.  15 minutes to go in the flight; I was watching Sponge Bob (yes, that is a $5 investment I can’t run through my expense report) and actually was laughing.  I did it; I made it.  I did it!!!   I remained calm for three horrible hours.  I DID IT.  I… DID… IT.

WAIT – I just realized something.  She was LEANING OVER (almost touching me) and watching my TV with me – yes, with the nose down, lean, look over those half glasses deal.

– Paul

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Jody November 3, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Why didn't you ask her to stop "brushing" you with the yarn/needles/whatever? Seems like you needed to grow a backbone here.


paul November 3, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Gosh, why didn't I think of that? Thanks for the advice. Brilliant idea.


Jet November 3, 2010 at 5:46 pm

I'd say that this seems like such a small thing that it doesn't matter, but I have my own pet peeves that I can't stand as well. For example: I just can't stand the sound of someone chewing loudly. It makes me cringe. But what do you do? Can't tell someone to stop chewing their food.

So in regards to not liking to be touched I can understand why those three hours must have been painful. Glad you made it through the flight without making a scene. lol


Amy Lynn November 4, 2010 at 2:40 am

Dude, you need to freaking relax. You didn't have the balls to stand up for your own personal space, but you expected her to be a mind reader?


Clare November 4, 2010 at 8:25 am

This, exactly. Don't be so passive-aggressive. Next time, say something. Not in a nasty tone or anything like that, but just politely make her aware that her knitting needles are brushing you. She might not have been aware that she was constantly touching you either.


Good King Herod November 4, 2010 at 3:01 am

Sounds to me you don't like people.

Why don't you just fucking drive to your destination next time?

That way, it is only YOU in the car. That is if you can stand yourself.


DSD November 4, 2010 at 7:23 am

400 miles an hour for 3 hours = 1200 miles.

75 miles an hour for 16 hours = 1200 miles.


ElegantErica November 4, 2010 at 3:52 am

I'll admit first off that I'm a knitter… and that I knit on planes. I've found that the repetitive nature of knitting relaxes me, which is something I *highly* recommend to anyone experiencing the stress of travel lately.

Second, I have little sympathy to being "brushed" and annoyed. I was once with my knitting, and the woman next to me kept giving me "the eye" and making "humph" noises when my needles tapped her or even came near her. She finally said, "You're needles are touching me."

I gave what I hoped was a slight apologetic smile and responded, "I promise that they won't snag your clothing."

She continued with "the eye" and I started getting nervous as she turned it more into a glare… or maybe she was trying to face off with me. I am confident that she was trying to intimidate me.

For a few moments neither one of us said anything, then in the sweetest voice I could muster up I said, "Maybe if you weren't spilling over the armrest into my seat then this wouldn't be a problem for you."

Might not have been the most polite or even responsible thing to say. I had the distinct feeling that the thought of yelling or even slapping me crossed her mind. If I could have read her mind then I’m sure I would have heard growling.

She finally looked away from me, and I continued my knitting.

So my question to this original poster is… was she encroaching on your space or were you encroaching on her’s?


Stephanie November 22, 2010 at 8:08 am

I found your reply to her to be rather passive-aggressive and in poor taste.


ElegantErica November 22, 2010 at 10:46 am

You of course have every right to think so.

In my opinion, I tried to be kind and courteous. Had she not continued with intimidation tactics, had she not been a rather large woman, and if I had not been able to stand up for myself then there would have not been anything to talk about.


naj November 4, 2010 at 4:02 am


Where's all this hate coming from. I can TOTALLY UNDERSTAND this persons plight. As a former pilot, and therefore having flown a whole lot over the past few years, I can understand and empathize with this story 100%. I laud you for having the patience to sit through this, and allowing an old woman a few hours of enjoyment. Even though it came at the expense of your own personal comfort.


paul November 4, 2010 at 4:31 am

OK. Let me explain myself, and sorry for being rude to the first poster…I honestly never expected such a dialogue on this. First off, this trip took place a couple years ago…just got around to posting the email I sent to friends. Part of the reason I like aisle seats is that I can lean away from heavier folks. This was indeed the case but she was respectful and tried to stay in her seat. What happened was she would reach out with each stroke and BRUSH me…ever so gently.. not forceful. I realize some think I should suck it up but they may also not be bothered when folks kick their chair… the point is that there was no way I was going to ask this nice old lady to stop her knitting on a multiple hour flight. The fact someone said I hate people is odd—-if I hated them I would have told her to stop (very rude by me). I actually wrote this to be kinda funny…but it is very true. Bottom line: if you don't mind someone brushing you for four hours…then you are a better person than me. The good news, as I pointed out in the story, was the arm-age (fat) was covered with clothes; I would have put my foot down if she was going bare-back on that arm 😉 I hope everyone enjoyed my story…it really was more for humor than bashing folks' personal preferences for rudeness or pet peeves. But, like in the classic bill murray STRIPES, "if you touch me, I kill ya".

One parting shot: on a SWA flight from vegas to tampa, a lady in front me laid down on the seat saying she had friends she was saving it for…. then, with EVERY OTHER SEAT taken we took off and she enjoyed the full row the whole way—good stuff u just can't make up!!


Barb November 4, 2010 at 8:07 am

I thought your story was hillarious!


Dina November 4, 2010 at 11:10 am

>>I honestly never expected such a dialogue on this.>>

Have you seen this website? 😉


Ron November 7, 2010 at 9:25 am

If you'd meant this seriously, I would say you probably need to seek therapy. Otherwise, I thought it was pretty funny… 😉


Jaci November 4, 2010 at 5:50 am

Just an FYI, Rosie Greer was known for his needlepoint, not his knitting.


JB November 4, 2010 at 6:30 am

Wow you (the OP) are SOOO ANNOYING!! I am sad that I just wasted a couple minutes of my day reading your post. Grow up! You could have asked her to stop or just moved your arms away from her. You are in an airplane and space is tight, get over it.


paul November 4, 2010 at 7:20 am

JB. Maybe I missed the scope of this website. Btw, did you know that FARGO was a dark comedy? I apologize for wasting your time' please go back to reading about broken plane air conditioning.


JB November 4, 2010 at 7:25 am

I'm sorry, but reading your post made me feel like I was listening to a 5 year old complaining… but clearly you are not close to the age using Fargo as a reference. Maybe you should hire the writers of Fargo to write your next posting so everyone can find the "dark humor" in it.


paul November 4, 2010 at 7:38 am

This was supposed to be funny…guess you all didn't get my writing style….. I am finding it funny to read these responses… everyone is way too serious.


Gregg - admin November 4, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Thanks for sharing your experience Paul!


DSD November 4, 2010 at 7:36 am

I totally understand your prediciment. Nice old lady, minding her own business and just happens to be hitting on one of your pet peaves. Thats a delima. I think if it was me I would have quietly and politely explaned the situation to her; that being touched is an annoyance going back to childhood and your sister. That she may not even know it but with each "knit 2, pearl 1" she is brushing against you, and driving you crazy.

You are a better person than I. My mother is a knitter (thats how I know knit 2, pearl 1) and I think if it was my own mother doing it to me, eventually I would have grabbed one of her needles and used it on her.

The reason she was making notes is to keep track of stitches and so she can keep up with where she is in the pattern.


jonasgal February 23, 2016 at 5:28 pm

Well, why doesn't she KNOW "where she is" in her pattern and "keep UP" w/it?!!?


Jim November 4, 2010 at 8:30 am

I total get it. And, it would have bothered me too.

It is really rude to touch someone else over and over again, if she was coming into "your space". A couple of times by accident, I can understand….but, over and over and not caring that she is touching you….is quite rude on her part. But, I bet she thought nothing of it…she was probably oblivious to the fact that she was even touching you.

Loved your story…and, would have been exactly like you, counting down the minutes until I could get off the plane and away from the bad experience. However, unlike you, I am a hugger…to people I know and love….but, really do not want to have any kind of physical contact with those I do not know.


paul November 4, 2010 at 10:50 am

thx Jim; give us a big hug.


Louise November 4, 2010 at 8:43 am

Thanks Paul for my laugh of the morning. Maybe others didn't get the humor of your story but I certainly did. Unfortunately for me there are those who still knit…..I get an oddly proportioned (only orangutans have arms this long) sweater from a dear sweet aunt every Christmas.


Applekornkid November 4, 2010 at 9:37 am

Great story, it's got a good beat and you can dance to it. Would have been better if it ended with you sticking the knitting needles in her head.


paul November 4, 2010 at 12:58 pm

The movie version ends this way… pretty cool scene; the funny part is the lady's husband seems happy.


rerere November 4, 2010 at 11:22 am

I blame TSA for letting her through with those needles. THEY ARE AGAINST BOX CUTTERS BUT NOT NEEDLES!?!?


ElegantErica November 5, 2010 at 5:27 am


It doesn't make a distinction, but I bring my cheap plastic needles on board just in case there is an issue.


TacoDave November 4, 2010 at 11:22 am

I feel for you. I have OCD and hate hate hate having anything up against my left side. It drives me nuts. Outwardly, I seem to be normal, but inside, my brain is screaming.

I try to get right-side aisle seats for that reason, but it doesn't always work out. I hate those flights…


paul November 4, 2010 at 11:22 am

Just for the record I'm the original "Paul"…so when I decide to post again, please don't bring up this knitting subject as I had nothing to do with it.

Paul…. if I were you I would of just asked her to move to the left so she could be closer to her husband.


Julie and Lisa November 4, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Oh my gosh, Paul, that story was so damned funny! But nowhere near as entertaining as the comments by those convinced you can't stand up for yourself. I guess if you'd gotten up and beaten the crap out of the senior citizen you'd have written a completely different story.

We have questions: How far into the aisle were you leaning? 3 inches? 6 inches? 8 inches? We need to know!! Did you at any point consider your pinky-in-the-drink move as retaliation? Have you been able to watch Sponge Bob since then without unconsciously leaning to the right? And finally, if by some small chance we may have already knitted you a Christmas gift (not telling what!), can we still send it to you?


paul November 4, 2010 at 1:05 pm

I could not lean too much as there was a guy Stewardess walking up and down the aisles. All us "aisle guys" know you can't lean too much when you might get bumped incorrectly by a gentleman.

The key point I want you all to know about the "pinky thing" is that I have perfect etiquette–with pinkys AWAY from the glass when you are wearing a collared shirt.

When I see Sponge Bob and Squidward, I think of "tight triceps" undersea – zero flapping. Be sure to ask Gail about the professional photo opp where I gave her the heads-up to tuck in the "armage".


Gail November 4, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Yes, I remember that photo opp. You were holding Pierson and needed help to tuck your armage in (I believe you mentioned your armage in the story). Hey…good thing our cousins haven't read this yet (nothing to do with armage of course)!


Gail November 4, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Man, oh man! Julie and Lisa, you've let it out of the bag what we're getting him for Christmas! And yes, I'm the sister in the story that happens to have very long legs. Okay, I like annoying Paul also…


D-Money November 4, 2010 at 2:05 pm

You should have suggested that she use "travel-size" needles. Short needles so you don't bump neighbors and a cable connecting them so your project doesn't get away. 😛


Hanna November 8, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Hilarious!!! So funny and clever way of writing the story as well. My mom used to knit but I'm not sure if she ever knitted in an airplane. Probably! 😀 Hopefully she did not annoy too many people.


George March 15, 2014 at 10:28 am

Funny story… similar thing happened to me a couple decades ago.


Wool and Knitting Yarn April 3, 2014 at 3:44 am

This is the funniest story I ever read today. What surprising is this happen in one of my friend. This really made my day.


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