Owen Sound is where?

Owen Sound is where I spend the weekend, signing books and celebrating knitters at “Knitterday” at The Ginger Press.

(I also spent much of the weekend obsessing about having said “arse” during the Knitcast Interview with Marie. I did. There’s just no controlling myself. You can hear it for yourself, on the off chance that you wonder what I sound like. There’s a spot or two on the podcast where I sound quite odd to myself, due mostly to a weird echo I could hear while Marie was recording. It turns out that the only thing that can shut me up is…well. Me.)


Beside me in the picture is Ted. Ted is worth mentioning because he is knitting a lace shawl from his own handspun. The handspun is so fine that I feel like a serious slacker just sitting near it. (Psst…Sally in California? I’m signing your book in that picture. Say thank you to Vicki.) If you’re still looking for a signed book and are convinced I’n not coming near you… The Ginger Press has a few and is happy to do mail order.


The sock enjoyed the view, Owen Sound sits (not surprisingly) in a Sound that looks onto Georgian Bay in Ontario, (Map here, for the curious.) and really couldn’t be a prettier spot.

Owen Sound has tons of Waterfalls and the sock felt that it would be remiss if it didn’t see local colour. There were warning signs, but luckily…


They said nothing about socks.


The sock was swung leapt to a brilliant vantage point to see Inglis Falls. (Really, the best part about this was that there were two guys walking the Bruce Trail behind me as Emma and I tried to get the sock to a photogenic spot. They were trying not to stare, but really….two women swinging a half knit sock around a cliff edge while photographing the entire thing with an air of seriousness? I would have liked to hear them try to explain what they had seen back at home.)


Once we had already established our insanity, there was no reason to hold anything back, so the sock went rock climbing.


From the perspective of a textile worker, one of the most interesting things about Owen Sound is this Black History Cairn.


Owen Sound was the last stop on the Underground Railroad, and the cairn symbolizes much about the trip from the States to Canada and freedom. The ground of the cairn is tiles made by a local artist, each representing part of the Quilt Code. Slaves could not read or write (it was illegal to teach them) so instructions and information about escape needed to be passed on in other ways. The quilts could be hung out to “air” thus providing a signpost for travellers.

A “Log cabin” square could indicate a safe house, or “Wagon Wheel” could indicate that a wagon with hidden compartments for slaves to hide in would be leaving soon. Extremely interesting.


The sock was gripped. Owen Sound also has a neat Mini-Mill…more about that (and, er…the yarn they sell) tomorrow.

66 thoughts on “Owen Sound is where?

  1. The Quilt Cairn looks really interesting. I’d heard about the quilt code, but I like that there is a monument dedicated to it.
    How did the sock feel about being dangled? Or was it a stunt sock? Does a sock get danger pay, or was this a particularly daring sock one of those adrenalin junky socks?

  2. I was at Inglis falls last year this time taking photos for a contest DH’s company runs. What a gorgeous spot. I thought I had fun but you, clearly, had a blast. I wonder what the sock thought….

  3. Unfortunately, the quilt code is bunk. 😛
    It’s such a cool idea, you (or at least I) really *want* it to be true…but it isn’t. No two quilt code “experts” seem to agree on what a particular block or color meant, for example.
    Which is too bad, because it’d be really great steganography (secret message sent by obscuring the fact that a message even exists).

  4. Always love to see what adventures that socks has been on – and your previous post was really beautiful as well. Brought tears to my eyes actually. *wipe wipe, sniffle*

  5. Always love to see what adventures that sock has been on – and your previous post was really beautiful as well. Brought tears to my eyes actually. *wipe wipe, sniffle*

  6. Unfortunately, the quilt code is bunk. 😛
    It’s such a cool idea, you (or at least I) really *want* it to be true…but it isn’t. No two quilt code “experts” seem to agree on what a particular block or color meant, for example.
    Which is too bad, because it’d be really great steganography (secret message sent by obscuring the fact that a message even exists).

  7. Ah, I wouldn’t have worried so much about the arse, darlin’ – at least you weren’t “bleeped,” as I’m sure most of us would have been in your place =)

  8. Rock climbing? Or impaling the heart/armpit (it’s a little unclear)of a slightly eroded hill-troll? Look closely. (For charity’s sake we’re going to assume that’s Koigu #2, there. Having cast on two more socks this weekend, I find such charity easy to come by.)

  9. Yea, Carrie! I was too much of a coward to say it, but true, true, true. Bunk, but so colorful it’s working its way into folk/faux history.

  10. Yea, Carrie! I was too much of a coward to say it, but true, true, true (that the story’s false, false, false.) Bunk, but so colorful it’s working its way into folk/faux history.

  11. And excuse me? You’ve been ALL over the US, have you? Did my section of the country suddenly become excised from the Union and put in storage? I don’t remember you coming anywhere near Chicago, Des Moines, Omaha or St. Louis. Just sayin’…

  12. Chicago? That place that’s only two hours from Kalamazoo? Girl, we had people who were on the home stretch by the time they got that close (right, Erin?) We practically handed you Harlot on a Platter. Chicago, forsooth…

  13. Note where the sock’s ball of yarn is in each of the pictures. Showing the sock a good time (while still maintaining an element of safety) is a two-person job…so not only were we wandering around the falls taking pictures of a sock…but we also ended up with one person carrying the sock and the other carrying the ball of yarn.
    I’m a little disappointed in those who are saying the quilt code is “bunk.” I guess I just have a different perspective of what it means to make it through the underground railroad.

  14. Yes, sadly, the quilt code is legend only. The log cabin quilt wasn’t popular until after Abraham Lincoln became president – and the underground railroad was pretty much done by then.
    Sounds like the sock had a lovely time, though!

  15. Personally, it makes no difference to me that Kalamazoo is only 2 hours away from Chicago. I want Stephanie to come back to the midwest! Chicago would be absolutely fine with me!

  16. Did the sock know that it was only a short drive from its birthplace at Koigu? Did it even think for one second, while it enjoyed its fame and travel, to drop in on its siblings back on the farm?
    Just wondering,

  17. My socks are jealous…they only seem to go to Target and the like to have their pictures taken. On the other hand, the sock-of-the-moment WILL be seeing Mt. Rushmore later this summer. Can’t wait to let it hobnob with the dead presidents!

  18. Ah, that sock has seen some derring-do! But it sounds like it had an incredible outing, what fun!
    Do please come to Utah someday. I promise we have sheep and llamas and maybe alpacas. They are all very friendly and love knitters.

  19. OK, its kind of odd to hear you but see only a small gray computer tower. Odd in a nice way.
    Now you’ll have the whole world saying “arse”.

  20. Stephanie,
    I accidently taught my 2 year old niece “arse” this weekend.
    Well, there is a host of other “worse” words I could have taught her, right?
    😉 Someday my sister-in-law will find the amusement (I SWEAR it was an unintentional lesson)

  21. Right on, swing that sock! Looks like that little devil had a great time seeing the sights. I, of course, could never send my socks soaring to such heights. Afraid to dislodge a double-pointed. My sock, unlike yours, would be history if I had to start picking up all those unravelled stitches, dontcha know.

  22. I really liked listening to your interview, indeed your voice is very different to how I imagined it. The scenery in your pictureds is amazing =c).

  23. Fascinating stuff! I knew that quilts were used for the underground railroad but I did not ever actually SEE the blocks. Now my curiosity is peeked. Peaked? Picqued? Hmm.
    Nice sock rapelling up the mountain. Looks like a blast! As usual!

  24. First, we have the Harlot taking the U.S. by storm. Now, Miss Universe is a Canadian from Toronto. mere coincidence, I think not. Your quest for world domination continues. I wonder if she knits?

  25. Oh, yeah, listened to the Knitcast – very cool to finally hear the YH’s voice! I hate to admit it, but it was a bit of a shocker for me to hear that you are indeed a Canadian (“aboot”), and do not speak in a New York/New Jersey accent. A complete shocker!

  26. Loved the Knitcast interview-you’re “arse” was hardly showing. And how is it possible for me to be so damn jealous of a sock? It gets to go to the coolest places. As far as all the Quilt Code hub-bub? Never say something is bunk, unless you were there and saw it happen. As a historian, some things are subjective, and will never be “known”. If slaves could use code in song, why not quilts? If anything, it at least causes a person to learn a little (or a lot) more about the UGRR, and that is a good thing. Thank’s for sharing-it is someplace I will certainly visit one day!

  27. I tried to explain to M why one’s fiber project should appear in traveling pictures but he just did not get it. Some people just don’t have a sense of weird humor. Others of us read your blog expectantly to live vicariously thru the sock’s adventures. Okay, “the” sock should be “your” sock.

  28. that is one adventurous sox.
    today i called mylocal BOM ant asked if your one last remaining book was still on their shelf.
    the poor little sales clerk had to walk over and look; she came back to the phone and said ‘yeah you’re correct there is only one left and i’ll hold it for ya”
    when i got there they had four more out on the shelf so i’m glad they are moving out fast.
    marie in florida

  29. Wow – that is one Extreme Sock!
    Looks like I’ll be putting Owen Sound on my list of places to visit one day, when I visit Canada (despite my govt’s warnings that it may be unsafe to do so cos you know it SNOWS there and ices up in winter and BC has VOLCANOES and someone might snatch my bag if I visit the wrong parts of town….)

  30. rams. phooey. you were lucky enough to get her in Kalamazoo, what the hell is wrong with the great plains & prairie states, I ask you? We don’t knit? We don’t spin? (and no, I’m not suffering from geographical envy, you naughty wench… I know that’s what you’re thinking.)

  31. Stephanie – I have a sock that travelled with me to China. We should get our socks together sometime so that they can compare notes.
    Unfortunately, my sock is shy and would not allow itself to be photographed.
    Knitting is the international language though – all I had to do was whip out my knitting and I was chatting up the locals – even though I don’t speak a word of Cantonese. (They were amazed that I was knitting a sock on one long circular a’la Magic Loop – 90% of the knitting I saw over there was being done on very long, extremely small in size steel double-points.)

  32. Many thanks for putting the arrow in the picture.
    I was reading that the sock went rock climbing, while looking at the picture above the comment … and trying to figure out how you tossed the sock from *above* the waterfall (there’s a lttle white blob in the picture – above the waterfall – which I took to be you) and had it land on the rock beside the waterfall … without it getting wet.
    My eyes finally focused in on the arrow and I realized that what it was pointing to was REALLY a stump.
    My heart has settled down now. You did NOT wantonly expose the sock to surely fatal damage.

  33. Oh– the views are breathtaking– so glad the sock didn’t totally take the plunge. As for “arse”– life’s too short to spend precious energy editing one’s vocabulary when one could be expending it on knitting.

  34. I just wanted to thank Stephanie a ‘skein’ of gratitude for coming to Owen Sound, and having Knitterday at the Ginger Press! You are indeed an amazing young Harlot, and I know you and your sock are destined for great things yet to come!
    Way to go!

  35. Wow. lucky sock. Mine only gets to go to soccer games, swimming lessons and basketball games. But he (do socks have gender??) does get a lot of interest…

  36. My socks don’t have nearly as much fun as yours, that has to change. I for one am really enjoying your geography and history reports. Thanks!

  37. I loved the Knitcast interview! You sound just like Sarah McLachlan. I’ve watched her DVD about a hundred times. I wonder if she knits?
    About the American Rock Star thing – when you get to San Francisco, could you look up Pat Monahan from the rock group Train (“Meet Virginia”, “Drops of Jupiter”, etc.)? I would LOVE to see a picture of Pat and you with the sock on your blog…..
    Just think about it.

  38. I listened to the podcast and it was swell. I don’t think anyone will take exception to your having said “arse” (I found it quite charming, actually).
    The sock sure does lead an exciting life! You’re lucky it’s not afraid of heights.

  39. I love the part about the Bruce Trail hikers watching your sock-swinging.
    We live on a part of the Bruce Trail, and see lots of dedicated hikers. Last weekend, my DH admitted that he has been placing small yellow feathers from his Macaw, on the hiking path. He his hoping the hikers will be baffled as to the type of bird they have “discovered”. Naughty, Naughty.

  40. Emmajane: The quilt code being a fabrication has nothing whatsoever to do with “make[ing] it through the Underground Railroad”, and I rather seriously resent your implication that I cannot understand “what it means” to escape from slavery because of a lack of melanin. (Which lack, I’ll note, you have absolutely no evidence for on either side unless you’re claiming you can tell a person’s race by her grammar or something.)
    Try http://www.hartcottagequilts.com/railroad.htm for someone who’s actually done some research into the subject, and then consider that the heroism of the folks who ran and took the UGRR is not diminished but enhanced by a lack of any such messaging system.
    I’ll note that I found the page by Googling “quilt code” “Underground Railroad”, so it’s not as if it’s obscure; next time you want to defend something, do a little research first. There are good reasons for calling the quilt code bunk, and they have no connection to denying African traditions–they’re more like the reasons that I as a Wiccan have for rolling my eyes at the absurd claims that 9 million witches were burned in Europe in the Middle Ages.
    And no, I will not be apologizing for the tone of this comment. If Stephanie wants to ban me, that’s her privledge, but I’m not going to sit still for willful ignorance and kneejerk racism. Claims of mealy-mouthed pious “disappointment” to the contrary, you’re claiming moral superiority on the grounds of race, and I *will not* let that slide.

  41. Heard your interview; you sounded fab & funny (which is more unfortunately than can be said for the interviewer). I love the word ‘arse’ & I think you’re doing the world a great service by using it whenever possible.
    I discovered your blog about a month ago & I’m really enjoying it. I now love you even more, having learned that you’re a breastfeeding counsellor/birth attendant. I’m an IBCLC out on the West Coast.
    Cheers & best of luck with the book(s)! And come out to BC please!

  42. During my second stay at DePaul University in Chicago, i had the delight in taking a class offered by Professor Marta Caminero-Santangelo(http://www.ku.edu/wcb/schools/CLAS/engl/msantang/msantang.html)& (http://www.ku.edu/~ahaa/), a wondefully spirited instructor. Loved her class so much i took two. The first was titled, “African Americans Slaves and their Legacy”. Being a woman who was a Department Chair at that time, i would certainly hope that any research she did for her classes was complete. During the 10 week course we read 10 books as well as sections of poetry and snippets from biographies of former slaves as translated on to someone who could read and write. I took those bits of biography and the things we discussed in class to be of historical value and not “bunk”…we did in fact discuss at great length, the Quilt Codes along with the Song Codes sung by slaves.
    In addition, there was also at one time a Quilting show aired on our local PBS Station out of Chicago, WTTW Channel 11…in which the guest was a notable Historian on Quilting and specifically on Quilt Code. I’ve not known PBS to ever deliver “bunk”.
    Just my experiences and 2cents.

  43. Children, we’ve been instructed to play nice. This could conceivably include not poking at those who disagree with you with what you regard as evidence, however respectfully; it’s possible they are being quiet in order to comply with our host’s instructions, not because they are incapable of answering. Blood On The Chin Awards all round for everyone on both sides who has bitten her/his tongue.
    Anyone cast on anything interesting lately?

  44. Lucky sock!
    As to the previous comment “Anyone cast on anything interesting lately? by Rams”
    I read the bookbookbook and after finishing I just wanted to make a sock. I had never before even considered making anything wearable other than a scarf. Didn’t think I could do it, I am only a newbie. But I decided to anyway. I had the SnB Handbook and thought I would do the Pippi Kneestockings. I know, that was an awful big first sock project, but I was so inspired I tought I would give it a try. Thanks Stephanie! I have pics of it on my blog. Please come visit.

  45. Children, we’ve been instructed to play nice. This could conceivably include not poking at those who disagree with you with what you regard as evidence, however respectfully; it’s possible those who disagree are being quiet in order to comply with our host’s instructions, not because they are incapable of answering. Blood On The Chin Awards all round for everyone on both sides who has bitten her/his tongue.
    Anyone cast on anything interesting lately?

  46. …as silenced as those witches, women and children burned…so are the stories of the many that escaped north to Canada. It always saddens me to learn that some would deny even the whispers of oral tradition, messages and codes that were breathed in low tones for fear of sure death. If these stories find the light of day and are brave enough to be the only witness to the fact that somehow, some slaves made it north to Canada and Owen Sound being one of the most northen settlements…then, let’s listened to them. Some things in life can not be written down and kept for others to study, research and then approve and sanctioned as truth. Oral history has it’s own science and it’s own code. As the designer of the Black History Cairn Monument…I am well aware of the arguments that a claim such as this has made. Will fear keep these stories from surfacing because they can’t be proven? Our stories will be cultivated by any thread or yard given to us by our grandparents and greatgrandparents…then ones that heard the stories and for years kept them guarded for fear of being made invisible, worthless and expendable once again.
    The monument is made up of more then the quilt stones…surrounding the quilt stones are two walls made of rocks that have come from Africa, used as ballast in the slave ships…rocks from slave markets in the south and rocks from the free states and on upward to Canada…come and see this and open your minds to all that has been lost due to a “superior” way of “knowing”

  47. Your blog is addicting. Your sox are an inspiration. When I get home from work tonight I’m going to get out my needles and teach myself how to make sox.
    As for the quilt code argument, let me add something one of my Native American friends asserts in her dissertation:
    Storytelling is a valid form of historical production.

  48. I’ve never spoken with anyone who had family ties to the UGR. I have spoken to the mother of a dear friend who out ran the Nazis, left Poland, pretended to be a Catholic nurse, lived in Russia for a while and then fled to Israel where the actually managed to re-hook up with her boyfriend. All this before she was 22.
    And people say the Holocaust didn’t happen, too.
    When it comes to believing, we pretty much believe what we want to.

  49. Wanted to let the sock know that it has inspired me and I begin a sock class tonight at the local yarn shop!
    I am so excited!! (Is this a sign of some sort of mental deficiency?)

  50. I just love it that you let your sock out rock climbing… one of my fave summer activities… hope the tour continues to be as much fun for the sock.

  51. I’m just wondering if people READ the comments here before adding their own comment to the bunch. . .seems not.

  52. Re: Quilt Code – I saw my name in your blog (reference to “Broken Shackles” and the discussion regarding the quilt code. There is a new book out on the Underground Railroad, “Bound for Canaan” that helps to explain the methods, routes and communications that were used to help people escape slavery. My personal view is that it is likely that quilts were used for cummunication, but it would have had to been on a local or individual basis. The following website provides information on “Bound for Canaan”: http://www.fergusbordewich.com
    Peter Meyler

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