Natural habitat

Last night I freed myself from my self induced tower of isolation (Chained to my desk, writing a book) and headed down to Knit Night at Lettuce Knit. I didn’t get much knitting done, but I remembered why it’s the best S&B in the world.

1. If you are an idiot, who despite having knit about a thousand things in the round over the last 34 years, casts on 200 stitches for your darling mans gansey and then knits three rounds with a stinking twist in the aforementioned cast on, when you realize this and sort of whimper a little, the other Toronto knitters will quickly realize what has happened and immediately call for a cold alcoholic beverage. This will help immensely, as do the gentle mockings and offers of help. Gansey status?

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There you go. First ever gansey picture, actually on the needles. 200 stitches (10% less than the number I’ll have for the chest) and a pathetic amount of knitting that would have been a lot more if I were not an arse who rushes ahead without double checking.

2. I love this picture.

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This is Zoë. She’s a charming newcomer to LK and she looked so engaging sitting there with one sock on the needles and the other on her foot.

3. I’m not the only knitter with delusions of grandeur. Here’s Michelle

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laughing because we are laughing because she held out this wee cuff of a potomato-whatsis sock last night and said “I’m starting to think I might not be able to finish this by Friday”. We all collapsed in a heap. There is nothing quite as entertaining as us knitters “loose” relationship with space and time.

4. Remember Alice and her beautiful shawl knit from one skein of sea silk?

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The pattern is at Lettuce Knit now, instead of just in Alice’s head. (Go Alice Go!) It is also on my table, where I am ignoring it in favour of the book-in-progress, Icarus, a gansey, the shawl (with the open leaves, how can you fight that sort of a consensus) and two pairs of socks. Once again, you may see Rachel and Rams to lay bets on how long I shall continue to be successful. (ONE SKEIN people. Who can resist that?)

5. When I am there? I am closer to the societal normal. This is a far cry from at home where I shall now return myself to the tower of isolation, where eventually I may be rewarded for my hard work with some knitting time and this DVD, the bribe de jour. (Two episodes to go. I can’t stand the suspense. Am I the only one who’s completely pissed that the second half of season two is a separate set of DVDs that aren’t released yet? I’m so tripped out about Sharon. I think she might still have a little too much Cylon in her for any of this to work out.)

Knitting lace, writing books, resisting sea silk, watching geek shows. Totally normal. Right?

Not quite

A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

-Lao Tzu, 600-531 BC

The shropshire laceweight has spoken, and it is talking about an opus. A wonderful big work, an heirloom piece of lace, a real sort of undertaking. Clearly, this is where my knitting heart is right now, as I embark on the gansey and a big shawl all at the same time. My love for things that are challenging and huge has reared it’s head, perhaps as some sort of response to writing so much right now, perhaps as a response to the kids being away and me being able to devote some clear thought to my goals, whatever the reason, the 3000m of Shropshire thread-like yarn suddenly seems like a really good plan. (You may feel free to guess how long this mood lasts. I suspect that Rams and Rachel H. will be running a pool by now.)

(Icarus is fine by the way. Miriam had a look and we exchanged photos and it’s totally fine. I am a simple neurotic. I’ll keep going.)

Windingshshal

I started winding the wool yesterday, and I’m here to tell you that winding 3000m of laceweight takes a good long time. Hours. You can’t go too fast or the wool is stretched as it comes off of the swift and into the ball. I experimented with speed a little and only discovered that winding quickly meant that I had stressed out tight little balls of yarn. That seemed an insult to the fibre, so those fast ones were re-wound. (That took longer than just winding them right the first time.) Wool that has been wound into balls that are too tight is stretched, particularly if it sits around for a while in those tight balls. Since wool has memory, this can mean that if you knit this stretched wool, that when you wash it after it’s knit and the wool returns to it’s original size, that you can have some gauge issues. Since I have enough gauge issues without being sabotaged by my own inferior winding, I decided not to wimp out.

Ballsshshawl

I wound for so long that by the end of it my whole arm ached and I was inventing stories in my head that began with the immortal lines “It was in the days of the winding-time, and the moon rose and set over the whirling swift…”

As I wound I took breaks and consulted the Oracle, and he helped me to find exactly the pattern that I could see in my mind, as well as talking through some technical stuff. (Dude is a walking lace dictionary. Befriend him at your earliest opportunity.)

Shshawlst

On the right is sample one, two sections of a square tablecloth in Marianne Kinzels First Book of Modern Lace Knitting. By only knitting two of the four triangles that make it a square, it’s pretty easily converted into a triangular shawl.

On the left is sample two, same exact pattern, but instead of increasing two stitches in the centre leaf by way of a M3 (Knit into the front, knit into the back, knit into the front again – two stitches increased, which naturally begs the question of why this is called a Make three when it clearly only Makes two.) I’ve increased two by doing a paired set of yarn overs around the increase stitch. (YO, Knit one, YO). It makes it much more open, and I may prefer it. ( I may actually love it with the burning fire of a thousand suns, but the jury is still totally out about which one I’ll choose.

Closed leaves…

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Open leaves…

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When I’ve worked enough of the whole thing to have a shawl, I’ve got a border that I’ve chosen to whack on there, and Bob’s yer uncle, I’ve got a shawl. (I am making this sound unreasonably simple when the issue of how to affix the border to the shawl in the proper mathematical way while still observing the balance of the thing has me a little freaked out. I went to sleep thinking about it last night. When I woke up this morning I decided to have faith. I’ll work it out when I get there.)

Liveshsahst

The astute among you will have noted that both swatches are “live” meaning that all I did was start the shawl twice, then put the live stitches onto a length of yarn (Note to self: cotton or silk would have been better than wool, getting them off of the sticky wool is proving harder than it needs to be.) and wet block them as is. This way, when I choose between them I don’t need to start over again, I’ll just pick up the stitches and keep knitting. Total cheat way around a swatch. I am feeling pretty freaking lucky that I’m loving the gauge and don’t need to change needle size, since choosing the wrong needle is really the only way I’d have to start over again. )

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I love both of them and I am torn.

Frozen

Icarus has one more chart to go, though I’m a little stuck.

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Icarus is a really great knit, but that thing has happened again where I’m really, really emotionally done with a project before it’s technically done. You know the feeling? It’s a lull, and not an unexpected one, but it does mean that the rows are a little bit of a slog at this point, what with there being no love between us. The great thing about knitting lace is that the love comes trotting right back the second that you block it. I’m psyched. Totally.

The only thing is…

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Does this look right to you? I’ve been over it a hundred times, looked at the chart, looked at the pattern, looked at the photo and the three things just don’t match. I think I’ve made a mistake, or maybe not, but for the life of me no matter how many times I look at the chart I can’t see any other way for this to come out. I know that there is no error in the chart (what with a) Miriam being a genius and b) hundreds of knitters before me pinning this sucker down.) so if there is a mistake, it’s mine alone.

Miriam? If you’re lurking around out there…what do you think? I’d rip it back and have a do over, but I honestly can’t think of anything I’d do differently, so ripping back seems like a bit of a waste. Plus,

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I like what I’m getting, even if it isn’t what the pattern intended for me to get, and I think it’s ok to embrace serendipity in your knitting once in a while, and all may become clear in the fullness of time, or when I block it. What say you all? Right or wrong? Stay or go? Rip or carry on?

I’m going to go and contemplate all of this as I dribble coffee down the front of me, since in a triumph of good adult sense over instinct, I went to the dentist this morning and began the process of getting the 25 year old mercury out of my head. (I know, I know. The jury is out on this one.) Since I seem to have some sort of PTSD about my mouth (likely emotional fallout from having had a whole whack of teeth pulled and orthodontics in the 80’s, which, if you had teeth pulled and orthodontics in the 80’s you will completely understand) I am very pleased with myself for only feeling faint once, only calling my very nice dentist a few bad names (and only in my head) and booking an appointment for next week to do it again. Very grown up.

Why isn’t there milk here?

The ladies are away with my Mum at the cottage and it’s just Joe and I alone in the house for a week and the whole deadline writing plus lack of parental responsibility has just turned me into a completely feral human being. The lack of structure on my particular personality type has turned out to be just devastating. I simply don’t do anything civilized. I’m sleeping, eating and writing all on my own internal schedule and I am getting a ton of stuff done, but it’s all very surreal. Not having to make lunch for other people means there is no lunchtime (why cook if it’s just you?) and not needing to get up in the morning means not needing to go to bed at night, and not having to be anywhere at any particular time means not knowing what time it is. This lack of children has revealed several things.

1. Our house is very quiet without three daughters in it. It is even quieter at night, I think I had never realized how much they filled the house up with just their breathing. Without them, I am prompted to wind Gansey wool just to fill up the house with a noise.

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Isn’t it beautiful? My own handspun, sitting there looking like real yarn.

2. I always think that if I didn’t have any children that I would do all this stuff, go all these places… Now that I don’t have any children I can’t remember what those things are or why I wanted to do them. (I imagine that I will remember what they are on Friday, the moment the Ladies roll back into town.)

3. I wonder if the girls are wearing enough sunscreen or eating right or if the Blackflies are bad. I wonder this almost all day. The realization that I can’t unplug from them is tempered with the knowledge that the minute that they walked out the door they stopped thinking about me.

4. I have figured out my writing process. I need to get bored. Really bored. Then I start thinking up stuff to entertain myself, and then I write it down. (This explains a lot about why I don’t get anything at all done when the kids and Joe are around. They are a lot of things, but boring ain’t one of them.)

5. We had been out of milk (and a lot of other stuff) for 4 days before Ken, who was just visiting, went to the store to get some. Joe and I had begun drinking our tea clear rather than disrupt our slothlike child-free state by going to the corner store. We are not ashamed either.

6. If you have no children/teenagers, mostly, when you clean something? It stays clean. (This brings a singular joy to my life that I can scarcely contain.)

7. Romance level is currently sitting at the top of the chart. Turns out that Joe and I will totally still make out in the kitchen if someone 15 years old doesn’t scream “OH GROSS!!!” at us while we do it. Who knew?

8. Left with enough time, I will swatch for the Gansey.

Ganseyswatchstart

(That noise you just heard was Rams and Rachel H smacking their foreheads trying to figure out what their goals in life are if they don’t have a gansey to bug me about.)

I began the swatch with 4mm needles and worked my way up to a 4.5mm, then a 5mm. I was hoping (naturally) that I could work on bigger needles to make it go a little faster, but after much reflection (where I tried to convince myself to like the 5mm part of the swatch) it turns out that the fabric really looks better at 4mm.

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This isn’t really devastating to me (much) though I did do the math. At 5mm I was getting 4 stitches to the inch, Joe’s chest is 48 inches, so my cast on would have been in the neighbourhood of 192 stitches.

At 4mm I’m getting 4.75 stitches to the inch, which means casting on 228 stitches. That’s 36 more per round, or about 252 more per inch of body height, which is about NINE THOUSAND more stitches in the body than it would have been if the 5mm had looked right.

This is a very cruel lesson in gauge, and I assure you that the 4mm looks way, way better than the 5mm, or there would be no stinking way that I would be able to bring myself to accept knitting NINE THOUSAND extra stitches before I got to the sleeves. (Dude has long arms too.) Let this be listed in the big book of proof that I love this man. A lesser woman would be casting on with the 5mm right now. (I am still considering the 4.5)

9. I am contemplating this yarn…

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and waiting for it to speak to me. (3000m of Shropshire laceweight from Habu in NYC. I forgot it was in the stash. My love for it is pure.)

10. I finally have time to write about Aurora, now that so much time has passed that I scarcely remember it. I rememeber that it was hot. Stupid hot. So hot that it is a wonder that anyone came. Susan chauffered me from Toronto to Aurora, and consented to take this photo with the sock before we descended upon our enabler.

The enabler in question here, was Sandra, who opened her home and (her beer fridge) and make veggie quesadillas for me and at one point, as I sat knitting in her kitchen, noshing away I took this picture. There is something so homelike about it.

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Sandra laughing, the Clifford plates, the yarn, the ball winder bolted to the kitchen counter. The casual clothing, the bantying about of “eh?” in it’s proper linguistic context… The butter tarts… that perennially Canadian of deserts. (They were wicked ones too…Thanks Jen!)

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It was all very much a homecoming, despite the 48/118 degree heat that kept us from going anywhere near her beautiful deck. (When I think about it, that excessive heat was very Ontario as well.)

Properly fortified by the York Guild Executive, I ventured to the shop where the guild meets. Now, I’ve spoken to this guild before. They are a very lucky guild, in that they have acess to the upstairs room at Tove’s yarn shop (Needles and Knits) which is one of my favourite yarn shops of all time. We all trucked upstairs, and I spoke to the guild while they did their level best not to faint dead away.

We kept the lights low to prevent the addition of extra heat because man….

Auroraright.-

Cauroraright

there is just no freaking way that any air conditioner installed in Canada has the guts to deal with 48 degree heat and 60 + knitters in the upstairs floor of a yarn shop. Despite air-conditioning and large fans pointed at the knitters, several threatened to melt. (I was one of them, having selfishly – and foolishly, declined a fan out of concern for the audience.) My grandfather used to chastise me when I was little and would say I was “sweaty”. “Stephanie” he would intone, “Horses sweat, men perspire, and ladies merely “glisten”. ”

He would have been very disappointed in all of us in Aurora, let me tell you. The instant I was done talking we all went downstairs where we replenished our fluids, talked, shopped and I signed books while trying not to drip on them. (Sorry again Grampa.)

Here’s Boop!

Boopaurora

Poor Boop had surgery that week, was drugged to within an inch of her life, drove from Fenlan falls and then was baked in a yarn shop. She was charming anyway, which is more than I can say I would be under similar circumstances.

Jo-Anne turned up, wearing what her daughter had informed her (and my daughter had informed me) was very inappropriate footwear.

Flintsontfeet

My foot on left, hers on right. Clearly, great minds think alike. (Our heels are equally matched, by the way…giving you some idea of the freakishly small, wide, square feet I walk around on. My feet do not have a cell of elegance.)

Here’s Sarah.

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Holding a sock and not melting despite her recklessly warm dreads.

And here is my beloved Tove, who has an accent just like Lene and her mum Bea, and always makes me thing the best things about Danish people.

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Tove was fresh back from the Icelandic knitting symposium (Knitting in iceland. I wish I was her.) and cracked me up so bad I couldn’t even speak by trying to teach us all how to pronounce the names of the shawls in this book.

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(This is the one that Hyrna H. is in.) She told me that the problem is that there are 36 letters in the alphabet to wrap your tongue around. I’ll buy that, since there are at least ten that my mouth can’t even get near.

Note to Canadians who don’t want to import the book from the states? Tove has it. She has it, and it’s cheap. She has it, it’s cheap and she has the icelandic laceweight to go with it.

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I actually have some too, since going to Tove’s store always results in just the worse yarn seizure. (I am the only person in the world who didn’t know that Lopi made a laceweight? Stunning news.) Totally worth the drive. Ladies? Keep that beer fridge plugged in. I’ll be back.

Ann Arbour, Aurora, Angst And Apparently, Alliteration

Man-o-man, are the last couple of days kicking my arse. I’m absolutely fine, but writing to a deadline and hitting re-entry off the tour at the same time has just knocked me off my game and left me feeling strange. It’s like all of the exhaustion that you can’t cop to on the tour because if you do you’ll miss a plane or screw up an event or be late for knitters just all lands on you when you stop moving. I keep sitting down to write the blog or the book and finding myself just staring straight ahead. This creates anxiety and angst about staring instead of working which apparently only reinforces the tendency to stare off into the ether. Knitting is slow too…I keep finding myself so tired that I just “hold” my knitting. I think I’m knitting, but my hands aren’t moving. I’ve managed only a few rows on Icarus since I got home, but at least I’m onto the lace part at the bottom edge.

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(The yarn is Alchemy Haiku. Colourway – Chickasaw Ground)

I finished some socks too….

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I actually finished them before I left, but the ends weren’t woven in so it didn’t count. These are plain vanilla socks knit using my basic recipe out of the hand-painted merino/tencel from Mind’s Eye Yarns. The colourway was a one-off accident I happened to snag.

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This pair has joined the others in the Long Range Planning Department Box, a small concession to trying to make Christmas less crazy this year. (It is an homage to either hope or stupidity that this year I think it will work.)

Ann Arbor

This is how much waiting you do to get to Ann Arbor from Texas…

Sockanarbor

And this is how long the flight is.

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(Flights, actually, since to get to Ann Arbor from Texas I had to go to Chigaco first.)

I arrived in Ann Arbor in the wee hours of the morning, and didn’t see a thing. I looked, but it was dark. The next morning I ordered a full pot of coffee to my room and spent a delicious couple of hours just, well. Breathing. (I also watched something on TV about a Brady wedding that was very disheartening if you try to believe in the basic intelligence and sensitivity of humanity…but I digress.) Noonish, the lovely librarian responsible for pulling this shin-dig together fetched me up from the hotel and we went on a hunt. Lucky for me Jackie reads the blog and understands that a sock has needs, and lucky for the sock, she understood that the competition for cool things to show the sock is quite stiff.

Ann Arbor is a quirky, charming place, with loveliness and interest and students up it’s ying-yang. The place is littered with young people doing interesting things and artists and music and no end of interest. Despite being really close to Canada, Michigan in general is a mystery to me, having only been (briefly) in Detroit (where we went to a liquor store where you are separated from the shopkeeper by a large brick and acrylic wall, in which is mounted a drawer that slides from his side to yours. You put your money in, slide the drawer over to him, and he puts the liquor and your change in the drawer and pushes it back. It was like buying wine from Hannibal Lecter in The Silence Of The Lambs or something. I know it’s not an accurate picture of Detroit or Michigan, but other than my brief visit to Kalamazoo last year, it was all I had to go on.) I have a better idea now.

The sock saw the Historic Michigan Theatre

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(I had to walk pretty far back from it to get it to say more than MICHI”)

Nickels Arcade

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The oldest Arcade in America (I think. So I was told. I didn’t look it up to confirm.) Pretty neat, especially since I really thought that an arcade had to do with video games, which, it turns out, is not right at all. (Took me a long time to make the works “Historic” and “Arcade” go together in my head though.)

The best thing?

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Fairy doors. Seriously. See the sock in the picture above, hanging out on the sidewalk? Look closer…

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I love this. I just love it. Something about it appeals to the perennial nine year old girl inside me and (even though I made my Barbie wear pants and go on UN missions) I feel….I dunno. Girlie.

Here’s another, this time inside a dress shop.

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Here’s one more, where the “closed” shade…..

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Matches that of the door of the shop it’s on.

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Little children leave sparkles and pennies and goldfish crackers and crayons and drawings and notes to the fairies at these doors, and there are more…all over Ann Arbor, even in elementary schools. It’s a gripping urban magic, the work of one artist and I love the idea that much of Ann Arbor is marching about their day doing very important grown up things and doesn’t see them at all…while children look for fairies.

Annarobrouc2

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From the Fairy doors to the Ann Arbor Library, where I saw a completely reasonable number of knitters sitting in an Auditorium. I’m used to this number of knitters. I felt ok with it. (As long as we accept the new sort of ok, where standing up in front of any number of knitters is ok, which, despite the cramps I get every single time, it would appear is ok.) I took a deep breath and found out that this camera….

Cameraaa

Was beaming my talk to 200 more knitters…upstairs in the “overflow room” watching me on cctv. (The overflow room? The overflow room? There’s an overflow of knitters?) The cramp was bad. Really bad. How do you talk to people you can’t see? This isn’t just knitters. This is tv knitters. I didn’t like this at all. I was glad to know that the library had figured out a way to avoid turning people away, but to say that I was totally tripped out would be an understatement. A serious one. Despite microphone troubles (we will discuss my angst with microphones another day) I got through. It’s hard sometimes, to do whatever it is that I do at these things with that voice in the back of my head screaming “HOW IS THIS MY LIFE” all the time. I have no idea how we got to the point of an overflow room, but it points to the knitterly plan to take over the world enjoying some success.

Here’s Jillian!

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Jillian’s one half of the genius behind Big Girl Knits

and the editor of KnittySpin, plus she’s really fun.

Here’s Kim

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showing off her little daughter and her sweater

Shelly and Kathy are knitting Dulcimer players…

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and Drew and Larry came to get a book signed for their knitter who was writing the IBCLC exam.

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(My heart goes out to her. The test is long.)

Then there was Theresa, and Laureth, and Rhonda and here’s Dana and her daughter.

Danapet

She is holding the petition for her mate that we all signed. He is knit-blog resistant, and feels that Dana doesn’t need custody of their digital camera because all she does is take pictures of her knitting with it. The petition states that the undersigned demand the immediate return of the camera so that Dana may further persue the noble art of Knitblogging. She tells the story here. 350 knitters set him straight.

Elizabeth (16 years old) brought her snowdrop shawl knit from my pattern over there in the sidebar…

Elizabethsnowshal15

She was 15 when she knit it. She’s got me outclassed.

Then there was Elli (who has a great picture of my terrifying face on the overflow room screen), Melissa, Amby, Trish (who I said yesterday was in Texas but wasn’t. Trish is raising money to fight breast cancer. She wants a dollar from you. I know you can do better than that. ) Tracey, and a whole knitting family,

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Linda, Kate and Molly. (Are you beginning to be a little stunned by the diversity of knitters yet?) then Kendra and Amanda and Mouse.

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\

They knit snowdrop shawls (quickly) when they heard I was coming. Ladies, I’m honoured to know you.

Then came Rae (she makes a wicked knitting messenger bag) and Sandy and Riin (you should see the wee spinning wheel she brought me. It’s beautiful. Her roving is nothing to sneeze at either.)

Riinwhee

Lynn! (who wrote about the afternoon quite eloquently here)

Lynncolorjoy

Be still my beating heart, it’s Sarah Peasley, Hand knitter.

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She had Pat in tow and man, it was nice to meet them.

There was also Teyla, Meg and Kat, Janette, Rachael, Amy, Kelly, Terri, and Vicki and I don’t know who else, (if I missed you, speak up!) except one.

I had the honour my lovelies, of being attended the entire time by Our Lady Rams Of The Comments,

Ramswwfrog

Seen mugging here with a large frog. (I can’t quite explain that, so I shan’t.) I adore Rams, and it’s one of the cruelties of the internet that it lets you make friends that you don’t see much. A day with Rams is a treat.

Aurora… I’m too tired. Aurora tomorrow, even though it’s Saturday.

Somebody get me a coffee, will ya?

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….

Cowboyhat

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.

Phallichat

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.

Batbridge

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.

Batshop

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

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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.

Stevieray

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.

Cowboybible

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.

Bigchibi

Yo! Austin!

Churchoneside

Churchstuff

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.)

Jannasananton

(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.)

Janet…

Janetsbirthday

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….

Stalkerangie

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.

Christinesnowwman

(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.

Matchingtattos

(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.)

Carolyn!

Carosplityarn

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…

Louisianafar

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…

Susantexaswashcloth

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?

Deniseoklahomafacelclo

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,

Coreyreps

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)

Davidsweater

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…

Airprotknitter

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…

Home, home, home.

I’m home, and despite being telling absolutely breathless things about the heat in the desert to anyone would listen, I’ve come home to discover that it is just as hot here as anywhere I’ve travelled. (Today has a humidex of 48 degrees. That’s 118. That’s hot.) That Toronto is steaming away in competition with the American Southwest likely means the world is ending, but I digress.)

I have made the executive decision, as the knitter in charge of this blog, to fall over face down onto my bed (instead of blogging) until it is time for me to get up and go to the event in Aurora tonight. ( 7:30 at the York Region Knitters Guild meeting at Needles & Knits (15040 Yonge Street).

I am imagining that my fine Canadian compatriots will have laid in a supply of beer, yarn and excellent company, which will restore my travel weary self entirely. (I will quietly admit that I wish you were all coming here to my house so I didn’t have to travel to Aurora…but I bet it’s going to be worth it.)

Tomorrow, long juicy blog posts about Austin and Ann Arbor, knitters, glory…and the discovery that I look fabulous in a Cowboy hat. (That last one is something that you just don’t discover living in Toronto.) for now….Bed.