Keepin’ Austin Weird

That’s the unofficial slogan for the city of Austin Texas, and I’ve got to tell you, I find cherishing and encouraging weirdness a pretty endearing quality in a city. They’re doing a pretty sharp job too…Austin has all the weird you care to go looking for. I straggled off the plane to Austin, hot, tired (exhausted, to be fair) and I’m sure I was unintentionally contributing to the weirdness…and I stuffed myself into a cab and managed, despite my huge freakin’ hair

and rather frazzled demeanor, to get myself to the hotel, where I staggered through the door (Austin can really, really compete in the heat department) and practically lay down on the floor of the hotel while croaking out my name. “Hey” the guy behind the desk said, “I have something that some shop left here for you….” and from behind the desk, buddy lifts up a frosty, ice cold, fresh for the picking bottle of Shiner Bock Beer.

I opened the beer (yes. Right in the lobby. If you have a problem with that then you must live somewhere where the heat doesn’t inspire that sort of behaviour)…and began a 24 hour love affair with Texas, Austin and Hill Country Weavers.

Me and my beer scorched our way to the hotel room where I found that the ladies were still lookin’ out for me and had graciously provided some beautiful Austin Handspun, some kick-arse ass (when in Rome….) bits and peices of Austin and what was soon to become my beloved Cowboy hat. I’ve got to admit that up until the exact moment that I slapped that sucker on my head in the Austin sun for a walk I didn’t really get cowboy hats. I thought they were sort of a cute fashion statement, but I didn’t really get it. I do now. Now I understand that they are a lifesaving head management technique for Texas. The brim in the front keeps the sun out of your eyes, the long back sheds heat from the back of your neck, and if you are like me, then the whole thing holds your enormous frizzing hair down. I was driven by heat to put it on, but then I looked in the mirror.

I have long been of the opinion that I don’t look good in hats. I’ve tried many, I’ve had an open mind…goodness knows that in a desperate attempt to be both stylish and not frostbitten in my native country I’ve worn them anyway, but the horrible truth is that hats…all hats, up until now, have made me look phallic. My head is too round or something. It’s a bad look. (You know it’s a bad look when even your own mother confirms that you look a little like a penis when you put on hats…which my own lovely mother has done.) Imagine my shock then, when I discovered that the problem this whole time has been that I have a head shape for the wrong climate. It is a horrible thing to discover that, as someone who comes from a city with a 58 day summer, someone who is cursed to wear toques for all of the other days of the year, looks…despite being far to old to lay claim to the word….


pretty cute in a Cowboy hat.

(For those of you who will inevitably ask…Here is how I look in a hat that is more appropriate to surviving the climate of the country in which I live.


Fate is a cruel, cruel mistress.)

Me and my cowboy hat went from the hotel out to dinner with the Hill Country Weavers ladies (Hi Suzanne! Hi Deb!) and went to dinner (Austin has great mexican) and to see the bats.


This is the view from the Congress Avenue bridge, under which lives North America’s largest urban bat colony. (There’s a better picture of the bats on that page.) Come twilight (which we missed by a little) millions of bats stream out from beneath this bridge. There are bats in the picture above, though you can’t see them. To comfort me for missing the best of the bats, the sock found this guy at the local Bat Shop.


Walking back through Austin, this dude was found, doing his best to keep Austin Weird.


He charmed me completely, especially when he not only held the sock without question (unusual response to being accosted with the request) but by kneeling to receive the sock, and then hid his face with his hat when I took the picture. I wondered for some time who he was hiding from. (Ex ? FBI? Bats?)

I collapsed in my hotel then, but got back up in time to take a moment before the event the next morning to pay my respects on Joe’s behalf to Stevie Ray Vaughan.


It felt appropriate, since I was visiting on behalf of my guitar playing mate, to lay the sock at the feet of the statue. Anything less would have been disrespectful.

I went from trying not to disrespect Stevie, to trying not to disrespect anyone else as I spoke at the Baptist Church.


Once I got over the shock that I would be speaking from the pulpit, (likely becoming the first Harlot to do so) I think it went pretty well. Deb introduced me, showing off her Chibi to help me understand that everything really is bigger in Texas.


Yo! Austin!



Since I arsed up the pictures again (this camera is having trouble with low light) I’ll point out that Jo has really great pictures and stories of how it went. (Picture of my big hair too…) Trish has more. From the church we went back next door, where in true Austin style, the ladies had knitters and yarn and cold beer and pralines and all manner of yummy stuff. I met Janna, who trucked it all the way from San Antonio. (Knit buds in tow.)


(You will note that it will appear here that I am signing in a garage. I was. It will stun my fellow Canadians to tell you that this was an Air Conditioned Garage. I swear it.)



It was her birthday. (I did not sing to her. If you have ever heard me try to sing, you know that this is a remarkable kindness.)

This, in a heart stopping moment that stunned me completely, even though I was expecting to find her there somewhere….


Stalker Angie!! (I did note that she’s a pretty crappy stalker, considering how far I had to fly for her to pull it off.) Angie tells the story of our meeting so well that it would be a disservice to try and attempt it here. Go read. I’ll wait. I especially love the part where her mate calls her “Dork Vader” when she told him that he underestimates the power of the blog side. (He does. They all do.)

Christine (Blog here, podcast here.) gave me a texas snowman.


(It’s just water and a hat. I find that hysterical, but I am a simple woman.)

Staci and Julia, who have something in common.


(This is just my kind of crazy by the way. Two women with matching knitting tattoos that I wish I had the nerve to get.)



Nice to meet you eh? (These little islands of Canadian mean the world when you’re away.) Carolyn was another one of those bloggers who really bring home that the people on the other side of emails are real. It was trippy to meet her. (Because you know, meeting a million knitters all over the continent while you truck around a sock talking about knitting isn’t at all trippy.)

(Anybody but me noticing that the stream of knitters into the signing seems endless? 200+ knitters takes a while to get through.)

This is Lianne, Laura and Barbara…


who came all the way from Louisiana. My American geography, while improving, is still quite sketchy, but that sounded like they came really far.

Now, when I was in Oklahoma, in the basket of very nice Oklahoma stuff was a facecloth (knit by a Texan) with the state of OK on it. This amused Susan to no end, so here she presents me with…


A facecloth with the state of Texas on it! (She finished it in line. This is my kind of knitter, right down to the wire.) As if this were not charming enough, in line shortly after her?


The Texan knitter who knit the Oklahoma facecloth. Wild. Totally wild. The world is not as big as we thought.

(This means that I have facecloths for two of the 50 states. I am considering how much touring I would need to do to have a whole set. It’s staggering.)

Here’s Corey,


He came at the end of the signing and produced a book that he had come to get for his girlfriend Reagan (in GA) who couldn’t make it. It’s a fine man that will stand in that heat for a knitterly cause Reagan, be sure and give him some sugar.

Finally, as the icing on the cake (as if the cake needed icing)


David. David is the second man I’ve met not afraid to wear a utilikilt in public, and not coincidentally, the other is Ken, who also knits.

This leads me to hope that all male knitters will take to the practice, which would be fine with me, since utilikilts are HOT. Really hot.

(David was also the guy who sent me a spider identification email when I mentioned (to everyone at the event) that I had killed with my shoe (on the advice of Juno, who was on the phone with me when I discovered it) a brown spider the size of a HUMVEE in my hotel bathroom. According to David it was a brown recluse. It was huge, it scared the crap out of me, and I’m really glad I didn’t know what it was until I left Austin.)

Who else? Dene, Diane S, Sarah, Susan Rachel (who brought her own Ken), Mary, The Central Houston Stitch & Bitch, Kim, Sarah, Amy, Kelly….the knitters went on and on. I had a wonderful time, and as I waited to leave Austin, heading for Ann Arbor, there was one more knitter…


but I didn’t get her name. I just spotted her in the wild at the airport and was too shy to talk to her. I hope she lives in Austin. It’s a good place for knitters.

on to Ann Arbor…