Where oh where…

I’m home, I’m happy…and I’m catching up. Prepare yourself for a wicked long post. (You know…since I’m usually so brief and pithy.)

Thursday started with a wicked drive from the lilacs of Amherst MA,

Lilacs

to Essex Junction VT. The sock enjoyed the drive and the view.

View

Once there, the sock and I went to Kaleidoscope Yarns and met up with the charming Jill and Marc and their exciting yarns customers.

Marcjill

I was with my buddies Norma and Cassie, and was thrilled to meet the charming Margene. (Margene is shorter than I thought.)

Normcassmargene-1

From the shop we went on to dinner. (Margene, a thousand apologies for leaving you in the car. Thanks for guarding the yarn.)

Margenecar

Margene is pictured here with Cassie’s socks in progress, my socks in progress and the sockies that Cassie made for Norma. From dinner, we retreated to the Bat Cave Norma’s office, where the three of us executed the first official triad knitblog simulcast.

Multiblog

Note that my spot is on the floor. This would be a downer, except that I am closest to the bottle of wine. (I am trying to pretend that group blogging is cool…not profoundly dorky. Please don’t burst my bubble.) This confluence of events marked the beginning of the first Annual St. Albans Sheep and Wool Festival. Located in Norma’s scenic basement, and attended by only Cassie, me (and Margene) with only one skein of yarn for sale. (Located, as Norma has mentioned, in the Main Barn.) The skein of yarn was partly spun by Cassie, partly spun by me and overseen by the executive branch of the planning committee for the festival. (That’s Norma.)

The St. Albans Sheep and Wool Festival featured three glasses classes. “How to oil your spinning wheel” subtitled: Why this wheel isn’t working. (Taught by me) ” How to organize your yarn stash” subtitled, “Holy crap you have a lot of closet space” (taught by Cassie) and “The wine is over here” subtitled “How to organize a sheep and wool festival, taught by Norma.

Margene taught nothing. (Slacker).

Not only did Margene not teach a class, she made us late leaving for our date at The Elegant Ewe this afternoon. Norma and Cassie reported to the front gate of the Sheep and Wool festival,

Frontgate

But we had to go looking for Margene. We finally located her (in the front hall…hanging with the yarn.) and rustled her out to the gate.

Margenelate

The astute among you will notice that Cassie is wearing Rhinebeck. Rhinebeck is my sweater (though I have been dealt the cruel injustice of having my self-designed masterpiece look better on her than me) but I am staring to get the feeling that I will be prying it from Cassie’s cold dead hands. Every time that I mention that she’s wearing it I get it back, but the fact that I have to keep saying it means something.

Once we had Margene whipped into shape, we headed out of town, heading for my next book date. I’m not sure what I thought would happen, but I should have been completely unsurprised to discover us in an unplanned yarn shop by lunchtime. (We are helpless. Completely helpless.)

Kstudio

Meet Jill and her lovely yarn. We introduced Margene, and Norma acquired a little mascot for our trip.

Roadtrip

The Mascot has many, many woolly friends. I’m sure Norma will come clean about it any minute. Norma may have gotten a little “loose” in the yarn shop, if you catch my meaning. No other yarn shops were picked up on the road trip radar and we arrived on time to The Elegant Ewe. (Please. Let us not consider that I was completely willing -and had accomplices- in flushing a fledgling career down the drain by not turning up for a signing if we had found more yarn shops. It’s a disease.)

All

Many new friends here. You will note that my fully visible friends Norma, Cassie, Theresa, Julia and Margene (who at least gained some sort of corporeal body in this photo) have been joined by Sandy. (We missed her. It seemed reasonable.) Absent from this photo is Laura..who entertained me to absolutely no end. (Laura has a largish plan involving a pregnancy, a purple mohawk and several photos. I like her.)

Laura

Laura is also a woman of a subtle nature (or a woman with a deeply misguided idea of the size of that pole), as you can tell from this picture where she is holding the sock up to a New Hampshire point of local interest.

New Hampshire sheep and wool the next day was stunning. The weather was ideal, the crowd humane and the fibre stunning. We discovered Mamacate spinning on her new wheel (I loved her new wheel) and listening to the fleece judging and with the exception of one exceedingly loud and hostile sheep with anger management issues, everyone I met, I loved.

Cassiespin

Here’s Cassie, making friends with Cate’s new wheel. (It’s the Hitchhiker.) I loved the wee little guy, but declined Cate’s offer to test drive him. It’s better not to know… Kindly ignore the large bags of stuff.

Stash

Pictured above is the day’s haul, presented by our lovely spokesmodels Margene and Sandy. (They really went nuts on the fibre scene didn’t they? I mean, for bloggers made of cardboard they really know how to shop.)

Foot

This is, well. This is bloggers getting out of hand. I’d say something about what might be wrong with us for posing this picture and forcing Marcy to take the shot…but there is really no defending it.

Onthegrasss

We lay on the grass with stash and beer….

Thatlaurie

Then booted off to dinner with Sandy, Margene and Laurie (Yes. That Laurie.) who were fast friends.

There is more…so much more, along with an update on the state of the home I’ve returned to, but you will need to wait until tomorrow. If I owe you an email…I’m working on it. Due to some cruel twist of fate I was able to receive email while away, but not send any. Bitter.

My warmest thanks, admiration and joy to all who made this trip an incredible jaunt. I’m a lucky and exhausted knitter.

What I know.

Everywhere I go I learn some interesting things. I know that the Mississippi River is at it’s widest in Memphis, that Washington DC has the 2nd tallest escalator in the world, that the bookshop in Mount Vernon has an Opera House (where they never did Operas) on the top floor. I know that New York is glittering and that in Jamaica Plain in Boston “Riverside Drive” goes, most confusingly…by a lake. I know that Rhode Island isn’t an island, but that (astonishingly) Nantucket is. I know now that the South starts in the middle and that Florida (despite being as South as you can go,) is inexplicably not in “the South”. The “Mid-West” goes pretty far into the east, and the only state that you can say “Upstate” in is New York. (I learned this after very cleverly -with the help of my atlas- working out that I was in the top part of Tennessee. I remarked to a fellow traveller that this must be “Upstate Tennessee”. It wasn’t.)

Atlas

I have remarked several times now that (not that I would ever dream of pressuring you) it would be much easier for travellers if you would contemplate dividing your country into geographic regions based on geography, rather than attitude.

It makes the atlas more useful. Note that I have a “stand-in” sock for this shot. In order to make The Sock last for an entire trip I’ve had to stagger it with other socks in progress so it doesn’t get knit up to soon. It’s all about pacing. This one is at the toe.

Here in Massachusetts there is much to learn. The sock and I were astonished to learn that Amherst is the birthplace of the Dewey Decimal System. (I can’t be the only one who thinks that’s seriously impressive…right?) and the sock visited Emily Dickinson’s house.

Emily's-Hous

The sock is reclining on a sign that bans several activities, but inexplicably says nothing about posing a sock atop it.

The sock then trouped it’s wee arse over to Willow Books. Here is what I saw.

Acton1-1

Did I miss anybody? (Here’s the other side)

Acton2-1

I remain astonished. Completely astonished. No, wait…astonished and grateful.

I had a beer with the local lovelies afterwards.

Locals

Check in with Yarn Harpy for the full biz.

From Amherst I was driven (thanks Kelly) to the waiting bosom of Kaleidoscope yarns and the warmth and loving concern of The St. Albans Sheep and Wool Festival. Never heard of it? Stay tuned.

A little help from my friends.

Yesterday, I was a little tiny bit homesick. (Ok. I was really a whole lot homesick but I was trying not to be pathetic on the blog.) I miss Joe and the girls and my own bed and… I miss my yarn and my knitting books. (Have I mentioned that the strangest thing about my new alternate universe is that it only has one book in it?) I miss having my things around me and spending really good intimate time with Mr. Washie, who I am sure is grieving in the basement of my house with a sodden lint filter. My attitude at the beginning of the day was a little bit of a downer. I smiled and drank whacks of coffee and had a really good lunch and then I sat in the hotel room and called Joe, who was not in the studio, and the girls, who were not home. (How dare they go on without me?) Then the sock and I sat on the edge of the bed thinking about home until it was time to go over to The Fiber Art Center. Really, I have to tell you that the pout I had on the bench outside the hotel was practically Shakespearean in it’s lugubrious melancholy. (Being pathetic for decent stretches of time affords one opportunity to think up really descriptive words for this.)

Little did I know, that knitters were going to rise to the occasion again.

Straight off…the Fiber Art Center is seriously cool. There is, right in the lobby, a felted chesterfield couch. It is so completely funky that the minute I saw it I was completely overcome by the realization that I am a Hack. Whatever I may have believed about my ability to make beautiful things was so completely outshone by this thing that one word rang over and over and over in my mind. Hack.

(Note to self. When you see something that cool….take a freaking picture. Hack.)

Then, there were knitters!

Afa

Friendly, lovely, funny knitters. Look closely and you can tell that this whack of knitters was a lot of fun. (Note: The term “whack of knitters” is being used here as an equivalent to “flock of seagulls” or “Knot of toads”. More here, much fun.)

Knitterpated came and brought me a little wee felty Harelot.

Knitterpated

Scroll down on her blog for a better pic of the hysterical bunny. Hysterical.

There was Dharia and Hippygoth, shown here with her book for Geekpixie.

Hippygoth

(You know…it just occurred to me that at least part of the problem with explaining about blog friends might have to do with the names…) I feel that I must tell Amber (Geekpixie) that although we may appear to be laughing and smiling and having a really good time in all of these pictures that without you…it was nothing.

In fact, in this picture

Beerme

Where the afterparty crowd, including Mamacate (who is really as lovely as you would expect…and more) and Adrienne (go congratulate her on finishing her own bookbookbook…even though it’s not about knitting) are all appearing to have fun hoisting a local pint…we are not. We are without Amber, and we are only pretending to have fun, just so the waitress wouldn’t feel bad.

So we’re sitting there, feeling horrible that Amber couldn’t be with us, when suddenly, I hear bells. Jingle bells. Now, I’m the suspicious type and since it’s May, there’s very little chance that Santa Claus is approaching from behind me…so naturally, I figured that I was having a stroke. There were more bells, and then more, and then more…and finally, when the ringing in my ears was deafening and I couldn’t possibly stand the intrigue or the noise….

I asked if anybody else could hear it.

They could (thankfully…since some sort of stroke would really be a bad thing in my life right now.) and it turned out that we (well…the pub) was being beset upon by a largish team of Morris Dancers.

They were delighted to meet the sock.

Morrisdance

Many thanks to Mamacate, who was the bold one who investigated the possibility of the photo above. She wisely asked the accordion player, who surely wields the power.

See you tonight in Acton at Willowbooks (7-9) and tomorrow in Essex Junction in Vermont…where I’ll be hanging with Norma and Cassie at Kaleidoscope yarns from 3-6. Can’t wait.

Finally, please wish Amanda luck. She has a violin solo tomorrow evening. I know not much can make up for me missing it….but maybe your well wishes will take the edge off. Good luck, my little chick.

World of my imagination

I have always said “when I run the world, things will be different.” Debit cards will all swipe in the same direction, there will only be one kind of screwdriver…coffee will be free. There were other things too, but I didn’t know what they were until I woke up on Saturday in an alternate universe.

I know that claiming that I have, in a moment of such profound shift that I didn’t even notice it, had my entire universe changed might seem a little crazy. I know that swearing that This Is Not My Life, might seem a little odd. I know.

The evidence is overwhelming.

1. It was only a year ago that I was pining away, wishing that I was a knitter going to Maryland Sheep and Wool. This Saturday morning I got up at 4:30 in the morning and took planes until I landed in Baltimore. (It took a couple. Wisely, no one attempted conversation with me during this time.) Sarah-the-wonder-publicist had offered me two choices for getting there. I could get up at 4:30am and leave, arriving in time for a whole day of woolie fun, or I could meet my human needs for sleep and restoration and catch a plane later in the day, arriving whole and human, but missing out on some of the Maryland fun.

I can’t believe she even asked which I would prefer.

2. There is more wool, sheep, yarn, alpacas and Llamas at Maryland sheep and wool than exists in my world. There is so much that you run the risk of becoming “wool blind”. For the first while that you are there you can’t even register all the yarn and fleece and wool. You can scarcely breathe. (This may have something to do with the crushing crowds. Crushing.) It is nothing short of dizzying.

3. All my imaginary friends from the internet are real.

Nestofbloggers

(This is a nest of bloggers discovered in their natural habitat.)

This was so comforting that I can’t tell you. (It had crossed my mind that I had invented myself a posse of like minded figments of my imagination to email with. ) I met so many of you that my mind reeled. Every time I looked up it was someone that was astonishing. I met many blog supporters, many blog writers, far too many to name here (My alternate universe does not yet have unlimited on line time.) Check in with the usual suspects for the whole story. Click their links, behold the wonder that is my alternate universe.

4. This sheep knows something is up.

Baa

5. EVERYONE in my new universe knits. They knit, and spin and think that the sheep above is a wonder. They talk about fibre, they buy yarn. They think that “knit too much” is hysterical. In the hotel rooms in my new world, the knitters gather in the evening and show each other their new yarn, and not one person thinks anybody (even people who bought a LOT) are strange. In my new universe…non knitters are people like Eric here,

Eric

People who know the value of a sock and will hold it high during a tasty dinner in Saratoga Springs NY.

6. In Knitterworld, socks travel to far away knitshops and pose in the window for all the world to see.

Sna

Inside, knitters gather to support and enjoy each others company, helping each other to understand that what is normal, is fitting as much yarn as you can possibly freakin get into whatever you call home and then looking for more.

Saeatoga

In the world that I live in now, knitters travel from New Jersey to Saratoga springs for the celebration of knitting.

Judymiranda

I’m not entirely sure how far it is from New Jersey to Saratoga Springs, but people seemed really impressed with Judy and Miranda.

(Note: the new and perfect world showed a minor breach when I noticed (right before my visit with these charming knitters) that I had a largish hole in the crotch of my pants. I suppose some elements of my real world are just to big to beat down. )

7. In my new alternate universe, (and this is really compelling) when Sarah-the-wonder-publicist calls to get a sedan to drive you from Saratoga Springs NY to Amherst MA they show up with a FREAKING SUPER STRECH LIMO because they are all out of sedans.

Sarahrobert

Here we have my sock, Sarah-the-wonder-publicist and Robert MY FREAKING CHAUFFEUR in the parking lot where I was busy having a stroke.

The sock reclined in the inside of the limo,

Inside

A thousand thanks to Robert for putting on all the bells and whistles and giving me an extremely cool 2 hours in my alternate world.

Dude, it was a blast.

For now, I’ll be sewing up the hole in my pants.

Nothing lasts forever.

Notes from a lost blogger

Note 1. Friday May 6th: – Somewhere in the air

I’m sitting in my seat on the plane. I’m starting to think that despite the absolutely crushing weight of concern about changing planes in Cincinnati (further note here: the Cincinnati airport was the first time the inevitable happened. I had 30 minutes to change planes to get to Kalamazoo and as I was whipping through the airport it struck me…I have no idea what state I’m in. It turns out that while Cincinnati itself is in Ohio, the Cincinnati Airport is over the border in North Kentucky. I queried a couple of people nearby and was absolutely charmed when an elderly gentleman told me that this state -the Cincinnati Airport…is the state of Confusion.) I may just learn to enjoy the plane rides. This is my setup.

Onplane

I have a window seat, a cup of coffee, my knitting and Ken’s ipod shuffle, which is loaded with an audiobook of “The secret life of Bees”.

Note 2: To the enthusiastic dude beside me. I’m very sorry, but when I am knitting and drinking coffee and listening with my earphones in my ears and taking digital pictures of my tray table and giving you only monosyllabic grunts for answers, what about this makes you think that you should do your level best to engage me in conversation? Please, oh please, for the love of everything in the world, I beg of you… Shut. Up.

Note 3. I am completely in love with Rams, seen here at her charming and lovely best, suspending the sock above the landscape of Kalamazoo.

Rams

(Her sweater was brilliant. Handspun alpaca. I think she about fainted from the heat.)

Note 4. The sock…

Chandelier

Admiring the handblown glass chandelier in the lobby of the Kalamazoo Institutue of Arts, right before Rams and I beat it out of there at the speed of sound, successfully dodging the overcautious security guard who seemed to feel that we were exhibiting some odd behavior. (You would be surprised to discover that as a whole, security people seem to find the whole “showing the sock a good time” thing a fairly weak defense for climbing around various tourist attractions waving a bit of knitting in attractive locales.)

Note 5. I’m in the backroom at Athena book shop, sitting at a desk as I listen to all the knitters arrive in the other room. (It sounds like a lot. Mind you, depending on your frame of mind and nervous state…it doesn’t take many to *sound* like a lot.) Rams is bustling back and forth, poking her head in from moment to moment. Rams is not nervous. Rams actually enjoys speaking in public, and she is eager and relaxed. I cannot relate to her at all.

I’ve had such a good time in Kalamazoo that I am loathe to open that door when Rams introduces me, in case this is when it stops being wonderful.

Note 6. This is what I saw when I opened the door.

Kzoo1

Kzoo2

If you look closely at the second picture (and not at the first, in which I have managed to capture Rams looking as though she is seeing some sort of vision above her) you can see Susie blogging me while I am blogging her.

Note 7. Here’s her picture.

Blogging

Reciprocal blogging. Who knew? b (Her May 7th entry has more pictures of the knitters.)

Note 8. Two dorky friends, who drove 7 hours to see me.

Dorks

Note 9. I don’t think that’s normal. (But will be forever grateful.)

Note 10. I am in Massachusetts, having just about fried my brain at Maryland Sheep and wool. Updates to follow, just as soon as I can get a hold of myself and find out if my hotel in Amherst has wireless.

I’m in Saratoga Springs (NY) today at Saratoga Needle Arts from 4-6 and at the Fiber Art Center in Amherst on Teusday. Who’s coming?

Finishing

I think (she says, with an air of philosophy) that one of the reasons that I like knitting is because it can be finished. You can knit on something for a while, you can work hard at it, you can make a thousand mistakes and do them all over and in the end, you can finish. You can be done. Knitting is not like all of the other stuff that I can’t finish that drives me insane. Like my children, or the laundry, or the housework or…well, I don’t know if I’m trying to “finish” Joe. (Though he would likely say that I am, but I think we mean two different things.) This week I’ve struggled to get things finished so that I can leave again with the house in good order. It’s not working. The laundry is overwhelming, Mr. Washie is limping along dejectedly, I am weeks behind on my email and I have been playing a rousing and infuriating game of “What’s that smell?” in the kitchen. (I still don’t know what it is, but I’m leaving for Kalamazoo in the morning, so it’s not going to be my problem.) Nothing is getting finished.

I have not, by the way…finished any knitting. Don’t get excited.

The Lotus Blossom Shawl (Harlot version) is coming along, but still looks like an enormous experiment in dental floss.

Lbbody

See? Dental floss knit on toothpicks. I stretched out a little of it for a glamour shot

Lbtaut

and I think it will be fine after blocking. At the very least it will be pretty dental floss.

Many thanks to Ken today, who lent me his old digital camera while I wait for mine to make it’s way from Boston to here.

The sock and I (seen here reclining with the very first periwinkle to bloom in my garden)

Periwinkle

would like to take care of a little business.

Firstly, a reminder that I will be at the Parkdale Library tonight at 7:00 to discuss…well. I don’t know what we’ll discuss, but I’m pretty sure that knitting will come up.

Secondly, many of you have asked where to find me at Maryland (I still giggle when I say that.) I am to be a mostly “free range” knitter at Maryland (again with the giggle) but I’d love to meet you and to that end I’m doing two things. Thanks to Claudia (who knows the lay of the land) I’ve picked a hook-up point. I’ll be beside the stage on the side of the “Main Exhibition Hall” at 1:00 on Saturday. (Not the side with the restrooms) Claudia says it’s a grassy area, perfectly appropriate for plunking oneself down with a coffee and some knitting. That’s what I’ll be doing. (If this isn’t clear enough, let me know and I’ll try to pump somebody for further details.)

On Sunday, I am again roaming the mecca of Maryland in search of a perfect peacock coloured laceweight, but Story Publishing has arranged (check this) to host a breakfast for any and all parties who would like a little chat and a coffee. (Or a book signed. Though I respectfully request that nobody asks me to spell my unreasonably long name until I’ve had at least one cup of coffee.)

8-9am (or later, if we’re having fun) @ Homewood Suites

8320 Benson Dr.

Columbia, MD 21045

(410) 872-9200

Someone will be in the lobby to direct you to the suite. Please consider yourself invited.

For the rest of today I will be attempting to finish as much as the laundry as possible and buying new underpants, since every single pair that anyone owns in this house have all simultaneously disintegrated. (I suspect it’s viral.)

Today…underpants and The Parkdale Library: Tomorrow…Kalamazoo!

Gotta tell you

There are some things I learned while I was away. Big things. Important things, things that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

(This is all to distract you from the fact that I left my camera – complete with seriously cool pictures- in Boston. Alison is a sweet pea, and is sending it back to me ASAP, but alas…I am photoless at this time.) Here are some things that I learned on this first leg of the tour.

1. I am a chicken in every possible way you can imagine. I am afraid to get on planes. I am afraid to meet new people.

Every moment of every day that I am out of my element I am scared out of my mind. The only time that I feel ok is when I am talking about knitting with knitters while knitting. Buying yarn also takes the edge right off.

(Mentally insert image of new yarn here. There is less than you would think, but still an engaging amount of yarn. I’m leaving on Friday and I have a new plan. This time, I’m leaving the ball winder and swift at home, and using that space for wool. Almost everywhere I bought yarn had a ball winder and swift anyway. Besides, I think the presence of the many metal pairs of needles, the metal swift and the odd appearance of the ball winder may have had something to do with how often I was selected by Homeland Security for additional screening.)

2. Thank god I wrote a book about knitting. Given the above, if I had written (somehow) a book about carrots, my life would be a whole world of hurt right now.

3. I will not go into a restaurant and eat by myself. I would rather starve to death sitting at the edge of a hotel bed clutching a new skein of sock yarn than go down there and order a stinking bowl of soup all alone. Who knew?

4. If you leave your family for 6 days, when you come back every single surface of your house will be sticky. No one will be able to tell you why, or with what, or why they didn’t do anything when they noticed that the wall by the phone/floor by the tv/stairs/cat/side of the piano was sticky.

5. I am not replaceable. My children need me and I need them.

(this is really interesting, since all I have wanted since they were born was an afternoon off….and now that I am away from them I wish nothing more than to ask Amanda how her day was, tell Meg that online “chat” is out of the question and she can’t pierce anything and sit with Sam while she does her homework and I boogle that she is smarter than me.) Every moment that i was away I itched to call them.

Do not worry about me. Now that I have been home for a couple of days they are driving me straight out of my tree again.

6. I love new places.

7. I love my home.

8. I am a creature of interesting contrasts.

9. I need to arrange some sort of convention and petition to begin supplying vegetarian sandwiches in airports. I cannot possibly let this go for another moment. I’m not being difficult, I’m not even suggesting Vegan. Would it really be so hard to get a stinking cheese sandwich into an airport shop somewhere in

North America without slapping a slice of ham next to it?

10. Toronto weather sucks. EVERYWHERE is warmer than here. It’s down to zero again tonight and I am bummed. Boston and New York are on the same line of latitude and they have flowering trees. Get it Together Toronto. Could we try letting the daffs come up and then not threatening them? I’ve got other places I could be. (Psst…Rams, how’s the weather in Kalamazoo?)

11. I miss talking with Joe when I am away. This is ironic, since he drives me out of my mind when we are at home. I believe that this idiosyncratic opposition is called “love”.

(Mentally insert picture of the flowers Joe gave me when I came home. They are lovely pink tulips. He has never looked gladder to see me. Imagine that..)

12. I was right about two things. Firstly, knitters are interesting and engaging people. It is totally enough to be knitters. You can jet a nervous and decidedly odd Canadian knitter into another country and drop her in the middle of a whack of knitters just about anywhere, no matter how different the politics, the dialect, the food or the yarn they will have something to talk about. They will get along famously and they will be acting like old friends in minutes.

Knitting *is* enough of a starting place.

Secondly, shawl knitting is totally the right thing for planes.

(Mentally insert picture of the shawl I’m knitting here. Imagine that it is sort of looking scrunched on the needle but that you can see that I have finished the vertical “stems” and am ready to begin the “blossoms”. While you are at it, you can mentally insert an image of my cherry tree flowering. It’s a huge honking lie…but if I’ve been reduced to mental images, they might as well be good ones. Make me taller while you are at it.)