all thanks to jury duty

I spent this past Friday holed up in large uncomfortable rooms performing my civic responsibility: I was at jury duty! Lucky me, I did not get chosen for a jury, but the day was not a total waste—I used it to make not one, but two, pairs of fingerless mitts!

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The night before, I raced around the apartment gathering things to occupy me during the day. I have this intense fear of being bored—it’s why I always overpack my carry-on when I’m on long flights—so I was in a bit of a panic trying to decide what to bring along.

I had half-hoped that my friend would decide on her wedding shawl so that I could start that, but she didn’t reply to my email. Then I decided I’d grab some sock yarn and just do a stockinette sock, but I didn’t have any sock yarn already wound up and didn’t feel like getting out the swift. Plus I didn’t know where my appropriately sized needles were. Then I got it in my head that, oh, it’ll be easier to just photocopy the page out of The Opinionated Knitter and get started on a Baby Surprise Jacket for a friend. And for some reason winding the yarn for that was a totally logical option (nevermind that this was not an option for a sock), but—because clearly this was the next logical step—I’d wind it up by hand, because, you know, getting the swift and ball winder out is such a pain. I got Jason into position to hold the skein, started winding—and the yarn broke. I shrugged and spit-felted it back together. Then it broke again. I started to sweat. The yarn got weirdly tangled up on itself. Jason gave me a long look and told me this was not going to happen—just bring a book and be done.

So I found an extra book—because the 300-pager I had obviously wasn’t enough—and I headed to bed. And on the floor next to my side I saw the fingerless mitts I’d started a few weeks ago. They’re the Cabled Mitts from the soon-to-be-on-newsstands November/December issue of Crochet Today, and the pattern is really simple but also really elegant (photos to go up on Ravelry this week). And here I had my answer. So the next morning I tucked hook, pattern, and two balls of yarn into my bag. (Along with the two books and, uh, three food magazines.)

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It was a good thing I did, too, because jury duty? STRESSFUL. It was grand jury duty, too, so it was a lot more scary. You sit in that room with all the other people and listen to them call out names—the process is slow and boring but you have to pay attention in case your name is called, because that’s it, there’s no going back, you’re in it and deep if you get called (the minimum length of service was 10 days. days!! and we were lucky, cause sometimes they call for 3-MONTH or 6-MONTH grand juries). So you can’t concentrate enough to read. You can’t listen to an ipod, since you need to hear what’s being said. You can’t knit anything complicated, like lace, because you will definitely screw it up. You need something simple, mindless, and basic. Something you can get mildly lost in but not forget where you are (although how could you?!). You need these mitts.

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The pattern is so deceptively simple. It’s just rows of ribbing, really, with a two-row decorative lace panel made up of trebles and double trebles up the back. You slip stitch the first and last rows together at the end, leaving you with just two ends to weave in. When you use the yarn I used (Debbie Stoller’s Full o’ Sheep), you can easily get both mitts out of a single skein.

And your fellow jurors sitting nearby will exclaim when they see them, sparking conversation in an otherwise dull room. Sadly, Maggie Gyllenhaal, who is sitting behind you, won’t notice what you’re doing, leaving you with no opening to ask if she’s going to Rhinebeck this year (she’s a knitter, and has been to NYS&W in the past—or so I hear). But still! You end up with more than one finished mitt at the end of the day. (In truth, you will chat with Ms. Gyllenhaal while being led from the grand jury holding room (from which you’ve been released!) to the civil court jury duty (from which you will later be released too!), but you won’t be able to think of a way to nonchalantly mention knitting, so instead you’ll just talk about jury duty itself.)

fingerless mitts

So in the end, I came out of jury duty with 4 mitts, a good celebrity sighting, and the promise that I will not have to serve again for 8 years. Not a bad deal.

12 Responses to all thanks to jury duty

  1. JanieB says:

    Wow what a result, my husband did Jury duty in London UK this yr – big case – equates to big responsibilities. Had it not been that way I so would have envied knitting possibilities…

    mitts x2, plus celebrity & kineering opportunties are a good result in this equation.

  2. leo says:

    Oh I like these! The definition on that yarn is perfect for them, too. And good Lord do I ever need some mitt-photographing help from you because these shots are all so clearly focused on the mitts in perfectly natural non-awkward scenes. Sigh.

  3. marissa says:

    I wish I ‘d been a knitter when I was called for jury duty 6TIMES!! while living in Boston. Apparently, next to my name was the title ‘perfect potential juror’, on some list somewhere. And would you believe, not once was I ever put on an actual jury (would have liked the experience the first time I was called; I was too bitter and tired beyond that). Perhaps due to the fact that I worked nights, was not allowed any time off, and so slept/snored/drooled the day away while waiting for my name to be called? The last time I was called, I brought a travel pillow and airplane blanket, and stretched out on two chairs. They were not impressed, but they wouldn’t let me leave, either.
    Today, I would love the chance to sit and knit the hours away.
    Lovely mitts- but I’m not waiting to be called for jury duty to knit them…I want a pair now!

  4. beth says:

    Mitts are adorable! and you are SO SO lucky not to have gotten chosen for grand jury duty. I was on it for 2 years! yes, started out 4 months every day then every other friday then every other month for a day- so disheartening.
    Did not know Maggie G was a knitter! Will look for her- and you- at Rhinebeck!

  5. em says:

    hah, i love your description of the Fear of Boredom. i do the same thing: long car ride? plane trip? waiting room? all = knapsack STUFFED with projects I will never get to (preceded by panic that i don’t have enough projects).

    love the mitts!

  6. dclulu says:

    They’re lovely!

    Here in DC, you get called for jury duty literally every two years — lots of crime and not very many residents. So I’ve done a lot of knitting on jury duty, too.

    Fortunately, I’ve never been called for grand jury. I have a former colleague who got impaneled for a federal grand jury and was on duty three days a week for EIGHTEEN MONTHS. Fortunately, it was really interesting, he said. But can you imagine?

  7. Oiyi says:

    The mitts are pretty! I can’t wait to get my issue of Crochet Today. I am a subscriber.
    Definitely a very cool celebrity sighting! Too bad you couldn’t work knitting into the convo.

    I remember the last time I had to go for jury duty. I went for 2 days and didn’t get picked. I was also in a panic of what to pack to keep myself occupied. Sounds like you were well packed!

  8. Meghann says:

    Glad you didn’t get called! Those mitts are adorable….if only I was capable of crocheting. I pack tons every time we go to my parent’s house, thinking I will need something to keep me from getting bored, and then hardly ever use any of it.

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