The speaking sky

(Sorry this post is so late guys, I’m about to do Ann Arbor, and I’ve already done Texas (Yee haw!) but I opted to sleep instead of post the morning after Albuquerque – rest is in short supply around here, and the internet in my room was not working in Austin and…well. It all sort of fell apart after that.)

This is how many cabs and lineups there are if you travel from Mesa, Arizona to Albuquerque, New Mexico.


This is how long the flight is.


On the plane to Albuquerque I couldn’t get my eyes off the window. I leaned forward the whole time, my nose glued to the glass while for the first time in my life, I watched the true desert under me. These are terrible pictures, taken through the plane window through a little hazy cloud…but I hope you can see what I do.


It is like the moon. There are craters and cliffs and sand and ….


nothing. It is the most incredible absence of humans. Hundreds of square miles, hundreds, and one dirt road running through it.

The monsoon followed me, so it poured the light hours that I was here, and I was cautioned several times about being outside during the storm, since more people are struck by lightning in New Mexico than anywhere else in the US. (I wonder what the odds are if you are holding metal sticks all the time?) I turned then, since I was unlikely to weather the downpour outside, to human entertainment.

Jamie/Scout picked me up and helped me find coffee (Thank you. From the bottom of my heart.) gave me personalized yarn from her shop…and we boogied off to the yarn shop and then to the event. (She also handed me bottles of water at pretty regular intervals, for which I am very grateful. You need to drink lots of water here, not just because it is so dry, but because of the altitude.) She helped me find more cactus…


and got me to the event on time. Here are my pictures of the crowd, though I have to apologize to the lovely knitters who were there last night, as these are the worst crowd pictures I have ever, ever taken. Clearly the strain of remembering to check my shoes for scorpions before I put them on is getting to me. You can click to make these knitters bigger. (What is up with the blur action on my camera? I’m starting to wonder if this particular camera has just been slung around one too many airports…)



Luckily, I have better pictures of some individual knitters. The Albuquerque knitters have personality. I tell you that for sure.

This is Kay and her mother Una.


I thought that they were going to tell me a gentle story of knitting passed from mother to daughter, that Una had taught Kay to knit socks. Wrong-o. This family went the other way, and the daughter taught her mother how to knit them recently. I thought Una’s socks looked pretty sharp.

Noelle, with barry


(He travels, much like my sock.) Check out her socks knit from handspun. Really beautiful.

Jenny with her koigu sock


proving that the Canadian plan to take over the world through yarn continues apace.



Jeannine takes the prize for dedication in the pursuit of hanging out with knitters. This day was her birthday, and her first wedding anniversary, and she told her husband that she had to work so she could come play with knitters. She bailed on dinner, put on her work clothes and beat it out of there. I offered to disguise her.

It’s Brooke,


the genius behind Widdershins (a toe up sock pattern than may solve one of my issues with toe up sock heels).

There was more. There was Mookitty, Adam, Mona, Carole, Beth, Lauren, Penny (Princess of the Dorks.) and Rebecca and I know I missed a bunch. (See previous disclaimer about exhaustion. My brain is no longer running full tilt.)

Here’s representatives from the Albuquerque Stitch ‘n’ bitch,


They meet every Tuesday from 7-9 at the Flying Star on Rio Grand Blvd., and they would love to meet you. I’m here to tell you that they know where the good beer in Albuquerque is. (Trust them.)

After collapsing onto the hotel bed in my clothes, I got up the next morning to begin making my way to Austin, and saw the most incredible thing. The sky.


Now in the city where I live, the sky isn’t something omnipresent. you see it in pieces, and there are buildings and hills and landscape that gets in the way of the sky. I need Sandy to remind me to look up and see it, even in small bits.


This is not true of the desert sky. It is a landscape all on it’s own, and I found myself standing and looking at it often in Albuqueque.


I have never before been in a place where the sky could be a tourist attraction.


The sky against the mountain in the desert has a voice, and it’s big. In the prairies the sky is huge, but in Albuquerque it is a remarkable blue, (is that the altitude?) and the clouds are near and mercurial and change often and with remarkable ability. All of these pictures were taken within an hour and a half. You could watch it all day. It’s endless and magnificent, and it speaks to you. Sadly the sky had one last thing to say to me as I flew out of Albuquerque….


Help me.

This line of human made dirt hanging over this beautiful part of the world, invisible from the beautiful sky below, was a real buzz kill. If the sky could tell you to get out of your car…it would.

106 thoughts on “The speaking sky

  1. Beautiful and stunning photos. Of course, everyone looking very much the happy knitters. So glad you are having a great time, seeing things live and in person, up close, etc., and soon, dear blessed Harlot, you will be back home and hopefully be able to take a nice long rest(perhaps at least a few hours?) We love having you here in the lower 48. As to the last pic, I am very fortunate indeed to not have to drive my car much,leading a relatively quiet life has its’ advantages.

  2. Steph, if I could figure out how to get out of my car and spare my world, I’d do it in a heartbeat… we did buy electric if that helps… (at least my husband’s car…) Lovely pix of the sky btw– the way you look at this country with optimism and wonder makes me long to visit Toronto so I can return the favor… keep traveling happy, and get lots of sleep– and be glad you don’t have to to share a hotel bed with my daughter who kicked me out of bed six times last night… I bet I’m not the only one whose missing home…

  3. Hey! Why didn’t I get a link? Glad you enjoyed your visit to Albuquerque, and the beer. Unfortunately, we are blessed with geography similar to LA, Anchorage, and a few other cities – the mountains create an inversion and trap EVERYTHING.

  4. Thanks for posting those beautiful sky pictures. They really are works of art.
    The pollution haze is worrisome. We need lots more mass transit in some areas, bike trails safe enough to commute on, a 40 m.p.g. mandatory rate for all passenger vehicles,(including SUV’s that now are wrongly categorized as trucks) and some kind of assistance for poor people to help them junk their old gas guzzlers and get a low-cost loan for a new efficient small car.
    Too bad reasonable kind caring people, like knitters and organic gardeners, aren’t in charge of this problem.

  5. Once again, thank you for the hilarity. We had an awesome time, and it was fun having a beer with you, too, and actually talking about things OTHER than knitting! I will look for you if I’m ever in your fair city.

  6. Awesome, awesome pictures. Ain’t it all just so puuuurdy?
    You should see the skies and land in Tennessee (where I grew up) — it’s a scenic paradise.

  7. My husband was in Albequerque a few months ago and came home raving about it. After seeing those amazing pictures, I will be adding it to my list of places to visit. (Right after Toronto. I’m still convinved that Toronto knitters have more fun.)
    And kudos to the woman who skipped out on her birthday/anniversary. I thought I had had an adventure! HA.

  8. Just wanted to say thank you for updating us on your travels. I look forward to your posts every day. 🙂

  9. Kick-a** – (plain) Widdershins is about to be my first sock! One of my Central Houston SnB friends swears by Judy’s Magic Cast-On now, and it’s working for me too.
    Sorry about the Internet – and the spider – in your room in Austin. Hope you enjoyed us anyway!

  10. Wow! That picture really makes air pollution real. We don’t see/smell much up here now that the neighbouring town has had environmental laws clamped down and enforced on the paper mill.
    Love the desert pictures.

  11. The sky is so shockingly blue out there not because of the altitude, but because of the dry climate. Humidity carries funk particles (technical term, don’cha know) in the air, thus muddy-ing up the clarity of the blueness, especially in more condensed regions (like cities & industrial areas). The desert is blessedly free of too many people/industries, too, so that helps.
    I went to school out in the middle of the rez in Arizona many years ago, and one of the things I miss the most is the sky.

  12. You know? I’ve never before had any desire at all to visit the desert, but you’ve converted me. Thanks for the great pics, and for once again portraying the diversity of the US in such an enticing way.

  13. I crossed the “Sea of Cortez” from Agua Verde to Mazatlan (and vice versa actually) in a 32′ sailboat and “sky watching” is what kept me from going insane during my 4 hour shifts at the helm. Although, the morning I say “god/zues’?” shoulder and arm stretching out to grab a little cloud boat that I’d taken to thinking was us? I had to rethink my “keeping me sane” comment.

  14. Glad you got a chance to see ABQ. Most people see only the airport as they head north to Santa Fe … I used to do that too, but have since wised up.

  15. de-lurking to say: I moved from Texas five years ago to go to college, and as much as I love Portland (Oregon), I miss having the sky for a landscape…thanks for bringing it to mind!

  16. Loved your desert photos. I’ve always been pulled to the four corners area but somehow have only visited a few times. Always awed by the immenseness. You think the desert sky is entertaining, drive to a desert place, get out and hear the pulse beating behind your ears. That’s how quiet it is. All those bluffs and cliffs and mesas have sat there for eons, silently enduring the eroding rain and wind while we scurry around like ants at their feet. Awesome. Beyond awesome.

  17. Sounds like this particular trip has introduced you to particular parts of the world (as in sky, cactus, desert, etc.) that you’d never see in Canada. Its a great, diverse country, and slowly being taken over by …. knitters! Heard you met up with another favorite author of mine, Susan Wittig, in Texas. What a great trip you’re having!

  18. Everytime I fly out west, I too am glued to the window – how did people have the perseverance before that little road and maps and 7-11s? From 40K ft in the air you can see where someone on horseback would have gone so very far, just to reach a dead end cliff, and would then have to backtrack hundreds of miles to go further. It totally blows my mind that there were people with that much determination. It makes ripping back 40 rowns of knitting seem so minor and insignificant

  19. Hee! Barry loves the sock. I think he has a crush on it. Thank you for coming way out here and going out for drinks afterwards! It was such fun. I didn’t know that was Kay’s mom! I wish I’d gotten to meet her I’d forgotten she’d moved here.
    About the gorgeous skies: one of the ways they keep the skies clear here, aside from the natural evaporation thing, is in the wintertime a lot of people still have fires and there are designated “burn” and “no burn” days based on how clear the air is. Took me the longest time to figure out what that meant when they said on the news that it was a “no burn” night.

  20. Steph, your skies speak volumes. Every time I have the good fortune to have a conference in the desert, I am in awe of the sky there, both the view of the desert from up IN the sky, and the view from the ground below.
    I hate the dirty line.
    Holding my breath for your next post, which I suspect will be:
    “Harlot Does Austin.”

  21. Stephanie reading your post where you say how the view of sky is broken up by buildings etc. made me think of when I was a child and I would lie on my back under a tree and watch the sky go by. I would tell my Mom stories of the pictures the clouds made. A wonderful memory.
    My first visit to Toronto, I was to meet my now husband downtown near City Hall. I was told when I got off the subway and onto street level to walk towards the Lake and I would be going in the right direction. I saw all the TALL buildings and wondered where was the Lake? For a City, Toronto is wonderful, but the expanse of the West is undeniably unique.
    Glad you’re enjoying you’re travels, but I’ll bet you’re missing home (not the laundry).

  22. Wow is all I can say. Are you taking vitamins with all the water you are dinking? What a pace you are keeping! Uh, I know you are getting Vit. B(eer) but keep up on the C and iron too so you don’t wear yourself out. We love reading your posts and seeing the traveling sock but do try to get rested a bit.
    Scorpions in shoes, I was warned of that too but the only one I found was between me and door leading OUT of the um…..”roadside facility”.
    I love the shawl too what a beautiful colour!

  23. It’s gross, huh? You were in Mesa, though, you know how deeply it sucks to be out in that. Coupled with ridiculous, desert-sucking sprawl and poor public transportation… Well.

  24. Well, I just wanted to say how wonderful it was to see you. I am the redhead, Jessie, who walked in late for your autograph in Austin. No doubt the last one. Sorry. Kyle, the equally as young man with me, wasn’t pleased with the way I handled the situation.
    I was going to ask for your picture with me, but I forgot, and I was going to tell you what my screen name was, but I forgot. I think I might have forgotten my own real name while standing there, so Kyle probably had to say it for me. Bummer. He wants me to tell you that he had a great time, and so did I. You’re lovely! Hope to see you next year or soon after. Have a great tour, Stephanie.

  25. And in Toronto, there is contraversy about hanging clothes outside on lines!! Wouldn’t want to save any of that electricity, would we! Wouldn’t want to be environmentally conscious, would we! (I have a clothesline. Bylaws be damned.) That pollution line, and it’s implications, is frightening.
    My sock is looking forward to meeting your sock back here in Ontario, on Tuesday. Can’t wait. Just to warn you, the humidity is through the roof!! (I’m not telling you how high, or you may not head home at all)

  26. You are so welcome. And see, I’m not an old man sitting around in his underwear! I exist!
    I’m just glad I didn’t make you miss your flight on Friday. I was so worried I kept you out too late and was going to get a phone call from Jayme yelling at me that I was in big trouble.
    The next time you come you need an extra day so we can have TWO beers. 😉

  27. We lived in Albuquerque for four years. You’re so right about the sky there. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. And you happened to visit during stormy season, when we regularly had waterfront property each afternoon at 4 p.m. for about an hour. I’m glad you didn’t get washed down an arroyo or struck by lightning. We’re back in the Pacific Northwest now, and I am so looking forward to your Seattle stop. Since you can’t make it to Bellingham (maybe next time? We have a great brewery/pub here & we’d love to take you there) we’re renting a couple of big vans & coming down to see you there. Have a great rest of your trip!

  28. The photos of the sky are beautiful.
    Our sky in Tasmania, Australia is very changeable as well.
    Knitters are a very dedicated bunch of people.
    In Australia there is a group of dedicated people who have knitted a room. (Can be found if you Google The Knitted Room).
    Wish you could come to Tassie as we can’t get your books down here (not even in the library).

  29. One of the things I miss the most about growing up in the Rockies is the sky. I miss the majesty and sheer occasional pants-crapping scariness of a really fantastic thunderstorm. (The pants crapping part is all metaphor…I just wanted to clear that up.) I miss the feeling that if I could just stretch *that little bit further*, that I could actually reach out and touch the sky. I miss the smell of dry earth and pine needles and the occasional rattlesnake warning. In short, this post made me miss the land I grew up in.
    This was a great post.

  30. When I moved to Massachusetts for college, my friends made fun of me because I said there were too many trees. What I meant was that there was not enough sky – sometimes I go out to sports fields (in college, it was the rugby pitch) so I could lay down, look up, and ONLY see sky. But that was when I was really, really homesick. Glad you saw the beauty in the sky when others sometimes see no landscape.
    -a Texas daughter living in New England

  31. I had a job in Albuquerque/Santa Fe for 3 months one summer and I *still* can’t get over the sky there. It’s enormous. It’s indescribably huge and reaches from one horizon to the other.

  32. Your description of the sky is just beautiful. I remember my first trip to Chicago, I went up in the Sears tower. It was a big deal for me because I’m terribly afraid of heights and I was okay looking out the window. Anyhow, the sky was uninterrupted from there and the land just kept going.
    Being a gal from a little town in East Tennessee, I felt very small already just being in the Big City. When I saw all that sky, all that land, uninterrupted, I felt even smaller. Maybe one day I will see the desert.
    I am very angry right now about the pace of the sprawl here in Murfreesboro. Today I saw a beautiful house with big trees and a wrap around porch with a For Sale: Commercial sign on it. One by one the beautiful places are being torn down for strip malls and track housing. It makes me physically ill.

  33. The sky is the thing I don’t know if I can ever leave here in the west. If, no make that when, you come to Denver the sky is very much the same. I miss it when I go other places. One reason I love New Mexico is it feels so very much like home.

  34. i saw you speak in Ann Arbor today and want to say thank you for so many giggles, snickers and downright guffaws! you don’t “have to” tour for the bookbookbook(s), but i am one knitter (among many, as evidenced by my seat in the over-flow room today) who is glad you do and who really appreciates that you take the time and energy to do so. thank you! knit on…

  35. Gorgeous photos – that line of filth just hanging in the air is very disturbing!!! The desert is so gorgeous & frightening. I remember being scared to death of encountering a scorpion on the few days of a summer long camping trip that we spent in the desert. I know, logically, that the grenn forests in the mountains are just as harsh & unforgiving to someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing but the desert just FEELS so inimical to me. Incidentally, Florida is the state with the greatest number of people struck by lightening (or maybe it’s the highest number of fatalities from lightening strikes) which makes sense because Florida has a heavy downpour just about every day of the year (not to mention hurricanes with tornados that are spun off) – it is generally a much stormier state than New Mexico. I think that NM is noted for flash floods.

  36. Not to be anti-environmentalist on you — (I’m not) but it’s possible that line of “dirt” in the sky is smoke — that’s the color we get here when there are brush or forest fires somewhere relatively nearish. Though dirty and somehow “wrong” it’s also perfectly natural (pretty much what happens when the lightning that didn’t hit your knitting needles hits somewhere else).
    My “here” is eastern Washington state, which also has an arid climate, but without the altitude.

  37. Stephanie,
    I had the pleasure of laughing through your talk today in Ann Arbor – I was the one with the 15 year old daughter and we are going to be in Toronto from the 9th through the 13th of August. You asked me to drop you a line. To see if you could have a younger group of knitters at Drunken Knitters night.
    Thanks in advance for your help.

  38. What a beautiful place! I can’t wait to go now. I have to travel to Albequerque for work in the coming months and I am very excited to see the desert. I have never been to the desert (except for Vegas and I was in a casino for most of that trip so it doesn’t really count)
    Thanks for keeping us posted on your amazing tour!

  39. I just heard that you will be in Ann Arbor at the library. I’m sad that I’m out of the country and will miss it. Maybe next time…

  40. Wow, I’m glad you got to see Albuquerque. My husband is from there (among other places), and his folks live there, so we get to visit. Beautiful! Did you get to see the Sandia Mountains? (Spanish for watermelon) I’m speaking as a tourist here, mostly, but they were lovely — named after the melon because of the deep, deep pink they turn at sunrise/sunset, or maybe just one…er, oops!
    I missed you this time around in Chicago, but was delighted to meet you last time (and share some dinner and vino with other delightful knitters). Hope you’re keeping up and having fun on this tour!

  41. The sky is beautiful out there. I spent a summer out that way and it was gorgeous. I was there for the geology though, so I spent most of my time hitting rocks. The sky is so calming though.

  42. My friend and her niece go out road running almost every weekend. When their husbands ask where they are going they always say–“Going out to make memories for when we get old” oh oh oh you sure are going to have a lot of mamories for your aging years. ALL GOOD by the sounds of it . Stay safe happy trails to you .

  43. What happened to the post about Austin? My daughter was there and I was looking forward to her picture holding the Texas Snowman she gave to you. You sound like a busy woman! My daughter thoroughly enjoye it! (she knits…I gave it up years ago!)

  44. Those are awesome pics! I don’t live anywhere near Albuquerque, but we do have a lot of open sky. We don’t have desserts just corn and bean fields. Got to love the midwest!

  45. Dear Stephanie,
    Thank you so much for including Michigan on your tour. You were delightful to listen to and such a sport to stay and sign all our books. It was so worth the wait to see the look on Sarah Peasley’s face when you said”I am going to sign Sarah Peasley’s book”. She is still full of herself over it-and rightly so!! Hope you are on your way to cooler Toronto as it will hit at least 97 degrees in Michigan today.
    Again, Thank you! Your books put a smile on our faces and let us know we are not alone in making mistakes and feeling frustration while pursuing Zen with our knitting.
    Pat DeLeeuw

  46. Buzz kill is right.Man oh Man hate that brown s**t in the air. I’m taking the the street car forever, you ride your bike.Now I want to learn how to get pictures off your camara on to my lap top.Must. Have. Sky .Pictures. It has to do with my inner Georgia O’keefe, not to mention “fluffly little clouds” Ricky Lee Jones.I love the big sky, don’t think I could be a tourist there, cause I would never want to leave…. Happy trails,home soon. dennyxoxox

  47. Good Morning Steph!
    Lovely photos. I am still hoping you make it to my neck of the woods. I am so jealous of the other knitters that have seen you on your tour!
    On the other hand, how come knitting socks out of Koigu in the states means Canada is taking over . . . My koigu socks are almost complete (I am using your generic sock pattern). They are beautiful!

  48. The prettiest sight in New Mexico is Las Cruces at night, when you’re coming up to it from the west.
    You’re out there on the highway in the deepest night, and the desert stars filling half the wind shield, and then suddenly you crest a rise, and the stars take over the whole view, and it’s a dizzing few seconds before you realize that you are seeing the lights of Las Cruces. It is astoundingly, heart stoppingly beautiful.
    If you’re a coffee drinker, the best place for coffee in A2 is the Espresso Royale!

  49. Not to be even more of a buzz kill, but the sky might be telling you to get out of the sky, airplanes aren’t exactly zero emission.
    Your pictures of the sky are beautiful.

  50. Those desert pix are amazing. I think they’re going to inspire some socks.
    And you had to end with the dirt line. You keep kicking me in the pants like that, I’m gonna be permanently dented, and how can I ride a bike with a lopsided butt?

  51. You make mention of lighting and metal sticks. Statistically, golfers get hit by lighting in higher percentages than other people. So, if you’re going to knit in a lightning prone area, do it on the golf green (their sticks are bigger) or use bamboo needles.

  52. That photo of Una showing her socks just makes you wanna go give her a hug.
    And since it’s Monday now, Welcome Home.

  53. I’m glad you were out here in AZ during the monsoon. Down here in Tucson we have had more rain in the last few days than in the past year combined. It’s wonderful to see the dry rivers running at near flood level, and last night the news was showing waterfalls in a canyon where waterfalls had never been seen before. But the best part is something you witnessed in NM: the sky. Every direction you look, you see a different color and cloud type. This morning I watched the sun hit some clouds which were hugging the top of the little mountain near my house. By the time I got home, the clouds had burned off and the sky in front of me was bright blue. On the other side of town, all I saw were dark grey rainclouds, and there was white fog in the valley. Pretty darn spectacular. I never tire of it.

  54. Always reading your blog! I am packing today to go on an airplane tomorrow.. to Canada! We are going to stay in St. Catharines where friends and family will be visited, Haven’t been there for 8 years. In my carry-on:yarn, knitting needles and a crochet hook. A flight from Norway to New York should give me some time to knit /crochet. I will look for your books while in Canada!

  55. HI Harlot…Glad you liked NM….Sorry I missed it. Jaime knows why… WHEN you come here in the spring, we will make sure you get a beer in a really unique place..where you can see not only the clouds and fabulous sunrise/sunset but also the STARS..because it is away from the city lights of ALbuq….and this high up..there’s lots of them…stars, that is……..and frogs that sing when it rains……
    Safe travel…

  56. Your photos out the plane window and of the sky made me so homesick. I was born and raised in Albuquerque, but have not lived there for 20 years. When I was in college in North Carolina, a friend had to take me to a spot he knew so I could see the horizon, a little narrow spot up a clear-cut of trees. I felt so claustrophobic with all the trees and no sky. I really missed the sunsets as well. I am now in Idaho and hope to see you in Salt Lake.

  57. New Mexico is truly the ‘land of enchantment’. If there was another place I could choose to live it would be there where the sky is so inspirational.

  58. Sounds like Ann Arbor was a hit. I wish I could have been there.
    I was in Albuquerque once and loved it – the food, the environment, down to the sage brush, the hand dyed wool. Mmmm.

  59. Isn’t the desert the most amazing, bewildering place if you’re from the great green north? Thanks for sharing cacti and desert moonscapes and desert skies. The first time I visited Arizona I seriously thought that I had stepped into a Road Runner cartoon thanks to the endless rows of great suargo cacti.

  60. I had SUCH a wonderful time!! Thanks so much for coming to see us in Albuquerque – hope you enjoyed us as much as we enjoyed you – seems that you did.
    I have 2 things – when you talked about willie warmers – I had just a moment when I thought – ribbing! That might work!!! Can you tell I’ve been thinking about solving this particular problem???
    Also, when you talked about entrelac knitting, I looked down in my lap at the entrelac sock I was furiously knitting on, and had the brief urge to whip it wildly in the air and scream “WOO HOO!!! Rocket scientist here!!!” But managed to contain myself! Thanks for the wonderful time!

  61. I wish you’d come back to St. Louis–we could use a monsoon or two. This is about the fourth day that we expect to be over 100–with the humidity hovering at 99%! Our lawn is beginning to remind me of my aunt’s lawn in Phoenix…beige and sandy!

  62. I also love the desert. I’ve never been there right after a rain, but did see cacti bloom in Tucson one year. Glad you’re having a good trip and thank you to your family for sharing you with all of us not privileged to live in Toronto.

  63. Stephanie, I just wanted to thank you for visiting Mesa, Arizona and my best friend’s due date. I know you shudder to think about the power of your birthing karma, but she had her baby (Ailish) right on time and both are completely healthy. Yay! And because you were there, in the very same town, she was able to have the baby naturally and quickly. You are a gift to all pregnant women your life touches! 🙂

  64. Dear Stephanie…. in August 2004, my family and I spent 11 nights camping/rafting in the Grand Canyon. I have never seen lightning or heard thunder like the glorious storms there! The sky closed in, the canyon walls disappeared, and then were lit up by magnificent slashes of light … simply breathtaking!
    Garrison Keillor does a monologue about the sky in the prairies vs. the sky in NYCity….On the prairie, weather is like a pageant….big and outsize and you can see it rolling in from miles away. In the city, it’s like a puppet show…. way up high, in miniature, you only notice it if you’re really paying attention. I always remember that when I leave New Jersey and head west…. the sky opens up, you can see the horizon and there’s a great sense of spaciousness. Thanks for the photos…they stirred up many memories.

  65. First, for M who commented above about knitting on the golf course. I had to laugh hysterically for about five minutes. Cause that’s what I did last weekend! The guys were golfing (yes, in the thunderstorm, because they’re fools) to settle the argument who was the better golfer. I sat in the golf cart & knit an entire scarf while dispensing my wisdom as to who had the better swing/putt/get out of the *&!%# sandtrap stroke.
    Now, Steph. Could the camera blurriness have something to do with hands shaking due to coffee overdose? Seriously, the pics were wonderful. The whole post reminded me of when I first saw the Grand Canyon. Wow. I mean, you see pictures of the West, but then you see – you know, the WEST – and it’s just jaw-dropping beautiful.
    And the dirt line? Smoke. From California forest fires, according to a friend who’s a meteorologist. It’s reaching all the way to the East Coast. Which does not dimish the environmental impact, cause all that soot is just one huge carbon overdose for the atmosphere.

  66. I think I love your travelogues even more than your knitting….so much wonder in the words.
    How about a worldwide eco-knitting tour? We could get friends and family to sponsor us. Our motto could be “Covering the globe- one skein at a time!”

  67. “Harlot on Tour” has been something of a travel guide, hasn’t it? It feels like you’ve been re-introducing us to our country. These days, when I think about our country, I think about the problems and our federal government and its shenanigans and it depresses me and I want to move to Canada … But your posts remind me that there are decent people everywhere, and beauty everywhere.
    I am originally from Michigan, and I moved to SLC, Utah in 2000. I hadn’t ever been to the desert before then. You are right about the sky, and other commenters are right about everything they say about the desert. In Utah, our desert splendor is “Red Rock Country” down south, where the geology has sculpted itself into the most impossible towers and caverns, and the red of the cliffs against the blue of the expansive sky is saturated and dazzling. It’s so amazing to stand in a basin and feel the blood throbbing in your ears and breathe the sagebrush smell, to feel your own existence. … You get hints of the desert in rural places outside the cities, and even THAT little bit tugs at my heart, making me want to keep driving. If you get a chance, read “Desert Solitude” by Edward Abbey. He writes about the American desert landscape like nobody else.

  68. Sony makes a camera now that is supposed to help stabalize the pictures if you’re shaking. This is the thing from the website: “Super SteadyShot® Optical Image Stabilization. Sony’s Super SteadyShot® system uses sensors to detect camera movement while it sends correcting signals in order to stabilize the lens. This system results in the reduction of image blur and camera shake when shooting in low light.”
    If I ever get rich I’m getting one because I’m always taking blurry pictures.

  69. As a lifelong westerner, minus a few forays southeast, I can say that in my opinion, New Mexico skies come in second only to my current home state, Montana. Known as Big Sky Country, it is a land of sky and valleys, rimmed with mountains…and very few people! However, knitters are here and are great fans of you and your adventures. Thanks for taking the time to share with all of us.

  70. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and have enjoyed each and every entry tremendously. I’ve been content simply to read until now, but those shots of the New Mexico sky just about knocked me out of my sandals and compelled me to add a comment. I used to live in Santa Fe and I’d forgotten how breathtaking the skies can be down there, no matter if the weather is stormy or just full of white scuds. Those skies kind of open up your soul. Thanks so much for sharing! I’m in the Seattle area now and am looking forward to your visit in September. Travel safely!

  71. So. You’re The Harlot. Who has ‘done’ Texas, was about to ‘do’ Ann Arbour, and we now know was discussing willie warmers. Ayup. Could be some interesing Google hits off this one…

  72. Yup; I too had a short-term job in ABQ and fell in love. There’s a reason the locals joke the state motto should be “The Land of Entrapment” instead of Enchantment. The enchantment apparently leads to ‘entrapment’ for many transplants…I’m not an artist, yet I was moved to try drawing the sky there many times.
    It is a shame most folks out there (and in other desert cities0 are really forced to drive due to the distances between things and lack of other options. Folks had it right when they started out in those small, dense frontier towns…but now, alas…sprawling suburbs 🙁

  73. Since you asked….
    The horrible creature you bludgeoned to death in your bathroom in Austin was likely a wolfspider- big and ucky but not deadly. (scroll down to the fifth picture)
    I spent a whole summer as a camp counselor saving them and other “interesting” creatures from the horror known as preteen girl scouts. (I did drawn the line at saving scorpions and anything else that tended to crawl out of the drain as I got in the shower.)
    P.S. About that fiber I gave you- the origional owner liked to take naps under oak trees.

  74. Ironically, it’s the haze in your last photo that has protected the Earth from unbearable radiant heat from the sun. Yes, pollution has increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere contributing to global warming. At the same time, however, particulates that block light have protected us from the sun’s rays that would make Earth hotter faster.
    I saw it on Nova: (

  75. Widdershins – the whole toe-up sock thing. Yep, it was the heel I never took to, so this should do it. Also, learned a great, I mean, absolutely fab-u-lous tip at Knitting Camp from Joyce Williams (of Latvian pattern fame) – that solves another ongoing issue for me. Every once in a while I throw in a short row that goes almost completely across on the bottom side of the foot – maybe 3 times total in a sock and that solves the extra wrinkle on the instep of the top of the sock. Never did like that wrinkle…come to think of it – why not try it on a top down sock? May have to think that thru…
    Or is everyone doing this and I’m just clueless?
    Also – tried the Shiner Bock. Even though earlier I went off on the relative value of Milwaukee’s general superiority in beer production – I will admit that the Shiner was every bit as good as everyone said. It might have had something to do with the upper 90’s and ungodly humidity, but it was ambrosia. I have 11 more in the fridge and don’t intend to share until the heat goes away. Unless a certain knitting blog/bookbookbook author stops in…
    You’re always welcome, Steph!

  76. Wait a minute. Did you go to the Flying Star without me?? Did you have the peach raspberry pie??? I’d go there myself but its a 2600 mile round trip for the best pie in this hemisphere.

  77. I grew up in the southwest- I love the monsoon season- watching the cumulus clouds build up into the anvil shape, dumping rain, and then flattening out. I had many good and scary times in the outdoors in T-storms- wondering when I’d get hit by lightning- racing across a talus slope to the tree line with a full backpack while watching the lightning work its way upslope on the back side of the Four Peaks…we made it.
    Lived in northern New Mexico for a number of years- the skies are incredibly blue and go on forever…
    Thanks for the pictures and the memories.

  78. Hey 🙂 Great pictures of that gorgeous sky!
    I think your problem with the knitter pictures might have happened if you had your camera in video mode accidentally…each video you take also generates a teeny bad quality image as the preview for the thumbnail when you put it on the computer. Mine does this, anyway and it comes out looking much like yours did.

  79. Thanks for coming to ABQ for a visit. You were really cool to listen to and it was a lot of fun to enjoy a beer afterwards…
    Next time, take a trip out of the city lights and check out the stars. If you are impressed with the sky during the daytime, you will love the night sky! My in-laws live just north of Santa Fe. When I first moved down here, I would go out at night just to look at all of the stars. There were stars in the sky that I had never seen before! Light pollution will do that…
    The lightning statistic is off. Actually, the most lightning strikes happen in Florida along the I-4 corridor. After living down there for 13 years, I learned it’s not just the silly people who have metal sticks in their hands and metal spikes on the bottoms of their shoes who get hit by lightning.
    We did find a house outside of Phoenix, it’s a pretty house and has a large enough back yard to have a couple of sheep! An engineer with sheep, sounds a lot like Green Acres! LOL!!!
    Thanks again! I sure hope you come back down and visit!!!

  80. New Mexico is an incredible state — tons of great things to see. Don’t miss Chaco Canyon.
    On lightening — a school girl in Utah was leaving school with her classmates and swung an umbrella over her head. A lightening bolt hit the umbrella with fatal results for the girl. There isn’t much in the way of trees and tall buildings out here to attract the lightening, and too often people are the tallest thing around, with disasterous results.

  81. Go see the movie AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH by Al Gore, you will be glad that you did. will tell you where you can see it in your town. There are all kinds of things changing in this world because of humans and this movie is a great insight to the problems and how we can help.
    I know all this sounds funny coming from a race car driver, being that my sport contributes to the human dirt in the sky. But we are working on it. The pressure for NASCAR to change their ways is coming and I am the first to support the movement towards a cleaner, fossil-fuel free, renewable energy kind of world. I recently talked about this issue here:
    My two cents for what it’s worth!
    Leilani Munter
    Life is short. Race hard.

  82. Awsome pictures, they made me so homesick! I graduated from University of New Mexico, to bad you didn’t get a chance to catch the sunrise over the Sandia’s…

  83. Albuquerque bites. I can say that because I’m from there. High crime rates, high poverty rates, nothing to do…HORRIBLE traffic. Stay home, or check out the sky from Arizona. We call it “The Land of Entrapment”. Trust me on this one.
    I have to tell you though, that I LOL about the hat. I didn’t believe you when you said “phallic”, but your picture was SO bloody funny! Oh, geez. That and your books have had me laughing laughing lately, thanks much.
    BTW, the cowboy hat looks great on you! (in NM we wear them with wider brims, as the sun is worse, even with that nasty brown layer of crud above Albq)

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