Hometown jitter

I am always, always afraid before I get up to give a talk. Always.

For a while there, I thought that there was something wrong with me. I would be nervous and people say “Still?” or “Really?” or “But you do this all the time!” and I sure do…and I’ve never found a way over it. I am as terrorized today as the first day…perhaps more. As the time to stand up in front of all of those people (even if they are mostly on my side) comes, I start to panic. I organize. I pace. I get out my speech. I print multiple copies. I number the pages and sort of crumple them individually so that two pages can’t stick together while I am up there. I don’t eat. I drink coffee (this may not help) and I reflect deeply on the pain developing in my stomach and try to work out if I actually have appendicitis or if my body is just trying to convince me that I have appendicitis so that I will go to the hospital or die but definitely not get up on that stage. I knit and knit and knit, because it’s really pretty calming (it’s pretty hard to make a career or relationship ending move with a bit of knitting) oh…by the way… here’s the baby sweater from yesterday. Nothing like a little anxiety to light a fire under your knitting….

Babysweaterdicsltogo2505

though this would move fast, even for a relaxed knitter. I’ve got a little bit of sleeve and applied i-cord around the neck left to go, and all the ends to weave in. (That’s why there are some big holes.)

Babydicdet2605

I think maybe I wasn’t clear yesterday. To buy the yarn for this sweater individually would be $160, since you need eight colours and you can only buy whole skeins. I will not (I think, though there have been bigger surprises) pay $160 for a baby sweater that someone is going to barf on, even if there will be many leftovers and it is superwash wool. (Which it is, but that is not the point.) What I was trying to say yesterday, is that Megan (at Lettuce Knit) made up kits for it. She wound off little balls of all the colours that you need so that it doesn’t cost $160. It costs $40 – which is still a little dear for a baby thing, but I count yarn in my entertainment budget. I knit for fun, like some people golf, so if I get a baby gift out of it, that’s a bonus. Now that I’ve cleared that up….

So before I give these talks I’m pacing around and I’m imagining what can go wrong. I could throw up. That would be bad. I could faint, or lose all verbal control and say something terrible…I could have to go to the bathroom right in the middle of the speech or someone could stand up and say “You know, I just drove six hours because I hate you so much that it was worth it to me to burn the gas to tell you in person”. I could have my skirt tucked into my panties, I could sit in something gross right before I go out there. Nobody could come. Hundreds of people could come. On top of the thousands of ways I could screw it up, then I get anxious about the ways the bookstore can screw it up. (Although, when it’s a bookstore that has been laissez faire about the event because they don’t believe in knitters, I sort of enjoy watching them get screwed. Don’t tell anyone.) The whole thing breeds hysteria in me, and the way I see it, there’s no way to relax about it or get used to it, because frankly, the same risks are there every time. I’ve developed some coping strategies though. I have a couple of things that I say to myself before I go out there.

I say:

“This is not important. Not really. There are wars and diseases and big problems and this is not one of them. Try to keep perspective. No matter what goes wrong tonight, your screw up will NOT cost lives.”

I say…

“It is ok to screw up. You are only human, human beings screw up, and most other people find it really comforting to see someone else screw up because they screw up too. Pretending to be perfect is unfair to other people. ”

But the last thing I say? The big one? The thing that bucks me up enough that I stagger out to the podium at all is not going to work tonight. The one thing I always hold in the back of my mind as the jaunty mental liferaft of hope doesn’t work in your hometown as you sit surrounded by your nearest and dearest.

I say:

“Don’t forget, if you humiliate yourself….you don’t ever have to see these people again.”

I’m going to go have a little lie down now. Go wish Lee Ann a happy 40th birthday. See you (If I show up) at 7:00 and I can’t tell you how happy I am going to be when I’m hoisting a pint at the pub after. (PS. for all the Americans who wrote with some serious concerns about what sort of pub I had chosen for the afterparty… Spotted Dick is a dessert. It has currants. Get your mind out of the gutter.)

212 thoughts on “Hometown jitter

  1. Oh, come on, it’s fun to have a mind in the gutter.
    Tomorrow you’ll think so, I bet.
    If I say have fun will you reach through my computer and smack me?

  2. Don’t forget, the crowd in Ottawa is much more forgiving then Toronto’s. You should have started here first! πŸ™‚
    You’ll knock their socks off, nearly literally, as usual. Wish I was there.

  3. i really love that baby sweater stephanie! it’s so bright and cheerful.
    it is hard to imagine you nervous. i think what you need to get over it is a trip down to alabama (i can dream, can’t i?) where we will fill you up with ribs and beer before you talk and you will enjoy yourself so much, you will never be nervous again.

  4. Nervous is normal.
    You will have a blast tonight I’m sure. I wish I could be there!! (but UK to Toronto for a knitting book launch is killer jetlag and difficult to explain)
    The best thing about events like tonight is the gathering of people who have one passion that unites them — but who probably come from really disparate places, backgrounds and experiences. It’s a great leveller, and brings out the humanity in all of us.
    Enjoy!!

  5. “I knit for fun, like some people golf, so if I get a baby gift out of it, that’s a bonus.” My feelings exactly. Which could be why I have so many UFO’s lurking about in corners.

  6. To Steph, with love….
    You can’t mess up.
    1) No one kows what you will say, so we can’t know what we might have missed.
    2) No one drives 600 miles to dis a knitter, esp. with these gas prices. And if they do, a) they clearly need to be on meds, or off of them, and deserve pity and b) the people in the audience with pointy sticks will explain this to them. Pointedly.
    3) Have you ever met a mean knitter? We love you. We come because whoever we are, wherever we are, we are bonded in time and space thru fiber (and similar life experences).
    4) You have promised us beer. Need I say more?
    See you- not tonight, but at WEBS-

  7. After being a teacher for ten years, I still hate and am really nervous before big parent-teacher meetings (I mean the ones where all the parents of my class gather together). No other public speech or situations makes me this nervous.
    I love the colours of the cardigan.

  8. Sheesh, I’m never here this early.
    1) Did anyone suss out Colin and whatshisname? I wanna know how many folks we need to beat them.
    2) Save yourself some anxiety – wear pants….harder to tuck into your underwear.
    3) I’ll bring duct tape to put over the mouth of anyone who dares heckle you. Knitters aren’t THAT passive!
    Feel better now?

  9. Have fun!
    And save that anxiety for when you speak at the Calvin Threater in Northampton, Massachusetts, next week. It’s a real theater, a really fancy theater, with balconies and gilt and a chandelier (I think) and everything. Probably velvet curtains for you to walk through. The kind of place that’s too expensive for me to go see concerts in. The kind of theater that would give me the heeby-jeeby spine-tingling willies to walk out on stage having to speak to the hundreds and hundreds (they’re expecting between 400 and 1000 knitters) of people.
    All of them waving socks, so really, it won’t be too bad.
    Unless the chandelier falls on your head.
    But have fun! I’ll be there!

  10. Have fun!
    And save that anxiety for when you speak at the Calvin Threater in Northampton, Massachusetts, next week. It’s a real theater, a really fancy theater, with balconies and gilt and a chandelier (I think) and everything. Probably velvet curtains for you to walk through. The kind of place that’s too expensive for me to go see concerts in. The kind of theater that would give me the heeby-jeeby spine-tingling willies to walk out on stage having to speak to the hundreds and hundreds (they’re expecting between 400 and 1000 knitters) of people.
    All of them waving socks, so really, it won’t be too bad.
    Unless the chandelier falls on your head.
    But have fun! I’ll be there!

  11. We love you. You could show up dressed like a martian, babble meaninglessly, puke on the stage and we’d still love you. Not what we’d expect, but still you. And the fact that we are from YOUR town (city, I guess) just makes us love you even more unconditionally. Unless you looked at me, called me a fat cow and said my knitting sucked (which it sort of does so that’s a bad example) I’d probably love you through anything.
    P.S. I have corrupted a non-knitting co-worker who now spends valuable work hours reading your blog and LAUGHING.
    See you at 7!

  12. I am thrilled that I will get a chance to see you in person in just a few weeks. Because of you I have started commuting to work via the bus just so I have guaranteed knitting time every day. I just started knitting in January and am wondering why it took me so long.
    Thank you for being such a wonderful inspiration.

  13. You will be wonderful! And being in front of folks you will see again can actually make it better. I think folks that have at least moderate access to you aren’t expecting fireworks, just a nice warm fire. And if not, there’s always Denmark or Iceland.

  14. This is classic stagefright. I had it for years and years while I was a dancer, but now that I’m a knitter, it’s gone. It will not kill you, I swear, even though it feels like it will. Keep knitting, maybe your stagefright will be cured like mine was.

  15. But things are so much more fun in the gutter if you don’t mind getting a little dirty. πŸ˜‰
    1. If you don’t wear a skirt, you don’t have to worry about tucking it into your panties.
    2. On the flip side, forego the panties and you don’t have to worry about a tucking problem either. Hehe πŸ™‚
    3. Just wear jeans. I’m pretty sure a majority of the crowd will be doing so as well. I know I will be when you come to Petaluma.
    Have Renee gag any hecklers with a ball of cheap acrylic yarn (can’t waste the good stuff on those people) rather than waste valuable duct tape and will be easier to explain why it’s in your knitting bag.
    Can’t wait to read how it all turned out.

  16. Funny…I have been checking here for updates all morning, although I was pretty sure you Would Not Be Discussing.
    Have a nice lie down now, raise a few nice ones later.

  17. What a smart knititng store person. Because, you know for the non-Prada/Gucci wearing lot of us, $160 is just way-too-freaking-much to pay for a baby sweater, regardless of massive cuteness factor.

  18. Hey, it’s fun in the gutter!
    My uncle directs youth bands, orchestras, etc. and his advice re: stage fright is to eat a banana before you perform. He insists that it helps. And even if it doesn’t help, they’re yummy and high in potassium, so you still win.

  19. hehe, got here before my ET πŸ˜€ Steph, REMEMBER TO BREATHE. You have simply _got_ to survive until you have visited Santa Barbara! Make it late May, and the world will be gorgeous with jacqueranda trees. Hope to see you here someday.
    I really wanna meet that travelin sock! I always have one on hand to meet it…

  20. Don’t worry about the nerves and anxiety Stephanie, you feel that way because you care. I was a presenter for years and I always got nervous before I spoke, overtime I began to look at it as a sign of good luck. It’s always the engagements that you think will be a piece of cake; that you think you have no reason to sweat about, that everything goes horribly wrong. It’s only when you fret and worry that everything falls beautifully into place and everyone has a good time. Even if things don’t go off perfectly, it all works out the way it’s supposed to, you know that. Besides someday when they make the Stephanie Pearl McFee behind the knitter, you’ll have some great stories to tell.
    Have fun tonight, can’t wait to hear all about it :o)

  21. I saw you speak in MN this spring and you were wonderful! I hope that makes you feel a little better. During that speech, you talked about the terror of a wool blight. I wonder if this wouldn’t be worse:
    Black Sheep
    Plot Outline: An experiment in genetic engineering turns harmless sheep into blood-thirsty killers that terrorize a sprawling New Zealand farm.
    This is movie from New Zealand, a real movie.

  22. Geez, I could give you some of my stress pills – always works like a charm… herbal too! And that Megan is such a smarty pants.
    As for tonight, first: no one would let you up there in front of us with any piece of undies inappropriately on display.
    Second: none of would notice let alone remember as we would be listening to what you had to say anyways.
    And third: anyone that had the inordinate amount of guts to get up in that big bunch of fans with needles to say anything negative would get the living daylights poked out of them.
    No worries.

  23. Love the baby sweater. Beautiful colours.
    Break a leg [in the dramatic sense]!
    And wishing you a cool pint at the afterparty. [Much as it is a British name, I hope the follow the Canadian tradition of cold beer…]

  24. Look at this way – if you make a complete arse out of yourself you have more material for your next book.

  25. You could tell me that it has currants AND chocolate but I’m still not going to try anything with the word “dick” in it’s name. lol
    Kick some knitterly butt tonight, ‘K?

  26. I know as well as you do that there’s nothing in the world I can say that will make you feel better, but I promise, it will be fine. They’re your people. They love you. Even if something goes wrong (it won’t), they love you. We all do. It. Will. Be. OKAY.

  27. I will be finally be getting to see you in Petaluma, California! Three of us are driving over. Now my problem is which sock on needles to bring !!!! I have no concerns you won’t be perfect speaker. The babysweater is beautiful.

  28. I used to do science demonstrations in libraries and schools. Inevitably, I’d get stage fright. I’d worry that the experiment I was going to show (that I had done oh, something around 100 times previously) wouldn’t work, I’d worry that I’d accidentally blow something up or set something on fire, etc. The librarian or teacher would be happily commenting on how big the crowd was (up to 300) and I’d be freaking out.
    The stage fright has never gone away, even though between these demonstrations and the birthday party entertaining I used to do, I must have done over 1000 shows. My husband now thinks its weird, and says helpful things like: nothing will go wrong. My advice: have a planned joke for when one of these things go wrong. If it’s a really funny joke, and you kinda want to use it, then according to Murphy’s law, nothing will go wrong. It worked for me.

  29. This being an irrational fear (in that you have never once failed to kick ass,)rational reassurances are pointless. And you know? I’m going to let you have this one — home towns are special. Go ahead — twitter.
    But have a banana in your bag.
    OH but I wish I were going to be there. Dammit.

  30. Another thing you could say is “Everyone is so busy knitting and concentrating on their knitting that they’re not listening to me anyway” however I think that is highly unlikely. Wish I could be in Tdot with y’all! Have a fantastic night.

  31. As a social worker–who has an anxiety disorder–I’m here to tell you that your self-talk is great. And that I’d bet that many of those gathered tonight love not just your wonderful knitting and writing, but your actual, in-person self. (I’d even guess that this will turn out to be fun…but you may not be ready to believe that yet.)
    One more thing…I finally stopped walking by the yarn on the dining room table and started my first sock, with your ‘Rules’ book next to me on the couch for support. I’m having a blast. (And am also mightily amused by the variegated yarn.)

  32. Americans (at least this american) are born in the gutter. I even knew what spotted dick was and still laugh myself silly everytime you write it – and now again when I typed it.
    I could just type it and laugh all darn day. I may type it up on a sheet of paper and tuck it into my knitting bag for those holy heck I’ve really screwed up now times to lighten my mood.

  33. I second Rams – you’ve done this too many times to think you can suck at it. You haven’t yet, andyou won’t this time. But this is a rational argument, and your brain isn’t ready for rational.
    So go nuts. (not literally – just enjoy.)
    And I so wish I could be there – I don’t even have the distance excuse – just a husband with lousy timing ot be out of town.
    Oh, and the baby sweater? way beyond cute. Way beyond.

  34. Eh, as usual you’ll be fabulous in your knitting happiness and as usual, I’ll be in I-O-W-A being pouty and envious.

  35. Dude. I promise I won’t let you go out there with your skirt in your panties tonight.
    I also don’t believe for a second you’ll choose to wear a skirt tonight so that may be an empty promise, but the sentiment of support? Absolutely real and there for you.

  36. Stephanie, I loved this blog entry. I really wasn’t expecting one today, with the speech tonight, but I am glad that you posted one. As for your fears, I could tell you that they are groundless, but that won’t make you feel any better. So I will tell you, instead, that the worst thing probably won’t happen. In fact, none of the bad things will happen, so you will be fine. I know this from personal experience because I saw you in Montreal last fall.
    I love the Tulip Sweater. Looking at it reminds of EZ’s Baby Surprise. Would you say that they are similar?
    Enjoy tonight, and have a large beer afterwards. Not before. Afterwards.
    Katherine

  37. You’ll be fine. And I say this knowing that you are probably right trying to keep yourself from throwing up on the people around you. I sing solos periodically and have often thought, while singing, I’m going to throw up now, but I never have. I also have to speak in public periodically and after one such episode a lady told me I always seemed so composed when speaking. Little did she know the paper I was reading from was fairly flapping in the wind from my shaky hands. Apparently I had concealed that fact from the greater audience.
    So, you’ll be fine. I saw and met you in Minneapolis and no one could tell you were nervous. And you won’t have your skirt stuck in your pantyhose because we both know you’ll be wearing jeans. If you feel the need to wear a skirt as well at least your underpants won’t be revealed if the skirt gets tucked in the pants. So rock on baby like you know you can.

  38. Thank you for sharing so much of your knitting thoughts. I teach public speaking and have a help to offer that works for me–I get very nervous at the beginning of each quarter. Give yourself a minute at the beginning of your talk to take a deep breath; take ownership of the lectern or podium; and think for a second of someone who really loves you. It could be Joe, or one of your children, or a dear, dear friend. This person’s heart is with you and the love will help you through the hardest part of speaking–the beginning. This pause helps the audience too, to calm down and be quiet and give you the gift of their attention. Try to accept it with grace and go on to build that wonderful connection between knitters! Then ride that energy and enjoy your own triumph. My students are so proud of themselves when they did it, and many have told me how surprised they are that they didn’t die after all, tho I have seen lots of tears. You have lots of company and the audience is on your side–THEY aren’t speaking!

  39. 1. In the wait for you to speak, the knitters in the audience will a) have messed with the minds of the sadly-unwise muggles of the bookstore, who will then retire to hide from all the knitters and b) have discovered any nasty people who don’t like you in the audience and taken care of them.
    2. Those nasty people in the audience won’t get beyond word 5 before there will be an unfortunate incident involving a pointed piece of wood and someone tripping over a skein of yarn on the floor and impaling said wood in the nasty person.
    3. Okay, you may want to have the equivalent of 911 on speed dial, just in case.
    Good luck!

  40. Stage fright sucks, no question. Getting through the fear to the actual fun of doing it, that rocks. And getting to laugh and party afterward with the very folks before whom you were irrationally afraid to speak in the first place, that -almost- makes it all worth while.
    Break a leg!

  41. To settle the jitters, have some potassium (bananas are good). Seriously, it helps. And if that doesn’t work as well as you hope, here’s a happy thought. Your writings and eloquent (my definition of eloquent is different from Websters, I’m sure) descriptions of knitting and knitlife have lit a (very safe) fire in my imagination. I’ve gone from zero knitting to a sizeable stash and many hideous articles of embarrassing clothing to give to my friends. All this in only 6 months.
    And if all this isn’t enough, have a foofy cocktail or 7.
    I’d like to murder my boss in her sleep for making me miss this evening’s fun. Best of luck, breaking legs and merde and all that!

  42. that sweater is georgeous…
    you know what i say to myself before such a thing?
    “it does not matter how long or short, big or small this (THING) is. once it is over, i can make it shorter or longer, bigger or smaller in my head, and then it won’t matter anyways”

    huh. makes me sound a bit touched, doesn’t it? πŸ™‚

  43. Feeling somewhat embarassed that fellow Americans didn’t bother to look up Spotted Dick when they didn’t already know what it was…

  44. Have a BLAST tonight! You’ve gotten great advice and reasons not to stress, but I know it’s still hard.
    Please don’t let the commenter who spoke of chandeliers falling on your head at the Calvin spook you. The Calvin is nice and historic and restored, but not “wear a black tie and evening gown” fancy kind of place by any means! This is Northampton! These are your people. I have already called the House Manager and asked him to double check the bolts on the chandelier (if there even is one. . . . )
    Knock ’em dead tonight!

  45. Public speaking is awful… I totally agree! The second formal speech I ever had to give was in front 2,000 people. Yes, 2,000. They had a projector on me that showed a close up of me speaking on giant screens to either side of the stage. I was so nervous before going up, that I truly thought I would vomit and pass out before ever reaching the podium! When I got up and began to speak, I heard that sort of reverb from the mike, and the voice I heard couldn’t help but make me think, “Is that really me?” Then I glanced to the side and saw the big screen projection of me and put the image with the sound, and I couldn’t believe that I sounded and looked so CALM and professional. I certainly didn’t feel that way at all! Realizing that the calm person was what the audience was seeing, and not the jumbly, nauseous, and just plain scared woman that I was, completely calmed me down. So maybe it would help you to think about that… your audience can’t see how you feel, and you’re probably projecting this warm, witty, fun person that everyone knows you are, and not the ball of nerves you feel like you look like! Good luck, and I hope you have a lot of fun!

  46. I always find the more nervous I am before a public speech, the more elated I feel after it’s over. Like you said, imagine yourself with that beer and how great you’ll feel then. And don’t worry, it’s not like the Jesus thing– we’ll love you more than ever because because you’re from our hometown.

  47. And here I thought all knitters were so calm and collected from all of that knitting πŸ˜€

  48. No worries Stephanie – all of us har-lites will be cheering you on regardless of whether you’re cool or a spaz. I think we’ll be lined up on the stairwell and peering over the balcony, but we’ll be there REPRESENTING!

  49. Imagine the absolute worst thing you could possibly do while speaking. For instance, imagine yourself intentionally blurting out something completely inappropriate. The most inappropriate thing you could possibly say. Imagine the audience’s response. Would they be shocked? Angry? Too polite to acknowlege what you just said?
    Then remind yourself that anything else you may do unintentionally likely pales in comparrison.
    When I was a church organist I used to imagine ending the next hymn with “shave and a haircut, two bits!” I knew I wouldn’t do that, so what’s a little wrong note here and there?

  50. Noooooo! Do not have the hometown jitters! (even though I totally understand, were I in your position I would probably feel similarly)
    We are all just so happy to be able to go to this here thang in our hometown. It’ll be a great party.

  51. Nervous is ok…..if you weren’t nervous and came swaggering across the stage like best thing in knitting since self striping sock yarn, I don’t think anyone would turn up. Be nervous, be ok with being nervous, and then have a great time!

  52. A little anxiety keeps you on your toes for the speech…Just remember, if anyone there could do it better, they’d be in front and you’d be in the audience! I was lucky enough to hear you speak in Seattle last year and you were charming and funny and everyone in the crowd is there because they love you or they wouldn’t be there. Enjoy!

  53. Hi Yarn harlot,
    I’ve been looking at your site for a while and this is my first comment. The site has kept my interest in knitting and how great to see other fellow knitters making a living at it. So, as a public performance expert (I used to be a vocalist and regularly had to stand in front of people that I didn’t know, the band was always the support system). One bit of free advice that I can give you is that the act itself is simple and invloves focus and determination. Like the Nike commercial — Just do it. There is, when you step back, loads of excitement surrounding public presentations, and the key is to maintain the perspective by not getting caught up in that excitement. Keep your work ethic in tact by giving the best of you to the audience. To live is to knit! Check out my knitting site, please.
    take care,
    Rosie Cuffy

  54. Hi Yarn harlot,
    I’ve been looking at your site for a while and this is my first comment. The site has kept my interest in knitting and how great to see other fellow knitters making a living at it. So, as a public performance expert (I used to be a vocalist and regularly had to stand in front of people that I didn’t know, the band was always the support system). One bit of free advice that I can give you is that the act itself is simple and invloves focus and determination. Like the Nike commercial — Just do it. There is, when you step back, loads of excitement surrounding public presentations, and the key is to maintain the perspective by not getting caught up in that excitement. Keep your work ethic in tact by giving the best of you to the audience. To live is to knit! Check out my knitting site, please.
    take care,
    Rosie Cuffy

  55. Hi Yarn harlot,
    I’ve been looking at your site for a while and this is my first comment. The site has kept my interest in knitting and how great to see other fellow knitters making a living at it. So, as a public performance expert (I used to be a vocalist and regularly had to stand in front of people that I didn’t know, the band was always the support system). One bit of free advice that I can give you is that the act itself is simple and invloves focus and determination. Like the Nike commercial — Just do it. There is, when you step back, loads of excitement surrounding public presentations, and the key is to maintain the perspective by not getting caught up in that excitement. Keep your work ethic in tact by giving the best of you to the audience. To live is to knit! Check out my knitting site, please.
    take care,
    Rosie Cuffy

  56. Hi Yarn harlot,
    I’ve been looking at your site for a while and this is my first comment. The site has kept my interest in knitting and how great to see other fellow knitters making a living at it. So, as a public performance expert (I used to be a vocalist and regularly had to stand in front of people that I didn’t know, the band was always the support system). One bit of free advice that I can give you is that the act itself is simple and invloves focus and determination. Like the Nike commercial — Just do it. There is, when you step back, loads of excitement surrounding public presentations, and the key is to maintain the perspective by not getting caught up in that excitement. Keep your work ethic in tact by giving the best of you to the audience. To live is to knit! Check out my knitting site, please.
    take care,
    Rosie Cuffy

  57. “I count yarn in my entertainment budget.” Do you mind if I borrow this line? I think if you can pull that whopper off I should be able to! I mean entertainment = disposable income, right? And so you’re saying yarn isn’t a necessity to your lifestyle, but something that you can take or leave? Yeah, me too. Oh yeah.
    PS – You might want to have a sip of that brewski before the talk (just to calm the nerves). Good luck and have FUN!

  58. Oh Stephanie, you’re going to be great! It’s those of us attendeding who should be nervous: “What if I turn into a babbling fangirl?” “What if I drink to many pints to avoid babbling at the cool knitters?” “What if drink too many pints to avoid babbling and throw up ON the Yarn Harlot herself?!?” Seriously. You have little to fear. (Save drunken knitter fans, but I’m sure it won’t come to that…)

  59. I’ve always found the scent of bergamot essential oil (also found in Earl Grey Tea) to help soothe my nerves before I perform, give a speech or go to the dentist. Calming yet energizing at the same time. Sorry to miss you tonight but a last minute flight out east just doesn’t fit into the family schedule (what? You mean I can’t leave a 10 year old to look after a 4 year old for several hours?).

  60. Kudos to you on doing these speaking engagements. I’d be a total mess. Sorry I have to miss tonight (because I’m 1000 km away), but my daughter-in-law and wee granddaughter will probably be there. Can’t start them knitting too soon.

  61. Have you ever heard of EFT? It called Emotional Freedom Technique. It possibly could help quite a bit with the stage fright. Go to emofree.com for more info. It is a technique where you tap on accupressure points on your face and hands with your fingertips, painless and easy to learn. Works great on fears, phobias, and more serious problems too. I have used it effectively for many things on myself–and I have been able to occasionally stop my son’s seizures (he has epilepsy) if I can get to him during the “aura” and before the seizure really kicks in.
    Gary Craig, who developed the technique, has it as his life mission to spread EFT around the globe and make it open-source. He is truly inspiring in that he is promoting it for very low cost to make it accessible for everyone. Its really a new paradigm for the health care industry. Please, go to emofree.com and see for yourself!!
    Cheers,
    Constance from Whidbey Island

  62. Lovey, yougo right ahead and be antsy about giving your talk tonight.
    You’re not alone.
    Right this moment, I have checked out the street maps, the TTC route map and the Subway map for the ‘leventy zillionth time today, because I’m absolutely terrified that I’ll get lost on my way down from where I work to Indigo. And I’m quite certain that I’ll end up somewhere in Burlington instead of downtown Toronto. I know it’s nearly impossible, but I won’t be believing it until I find myself dumbstruck in your presence later this evening.
    And then I’ll kick myself in the morning for being such a goof.
    *sigh*
    See you tonight!

  63. How cute is that sweater!
    Regarding the other issue, we recently went through a merger and, as a matter of survival (because we all felt like throwing up all the time), we did some research. Maybe you will benefit from it: http://www.sicksaver.com/purchase.htm
    I particularly like the instructional picture on the front of the bag. On one of the pages, it even says you can order them for special occasions, though we weren’t quite sure what that might be. But, hey, maybe this is it! Notice also that you can order them in quantities of 10,000. Might come in handy…

  64. Stephanie… Do not panic! You will do great tonight! You are amongst your own! Knitters love you. Have fun and have a pint for me!
    As for Lynn who acted like a schmuck and attempted to scare you about the Calvin… It’s B.S. The Calvin is not a big deal, it just has more seats for more of your adoring fans. Kathy and the amazing staff at WEBS will make sure everything is great. I hope Lynn doesn’t wear a t-shirt with her name on it… that’s all I have to say. πŸ˜‰ LOL.
    I can’t wait to meet you! I just finished at Knit’s End (which is all dog eared and tear stained from all of my laughing until I cry. It was soooo good!) and started Casts Off…
    Just be yourself.

  65. As someone who reads your blog from the jolly shores of Blighty, I can definitely assure you that a spotted dick is NOT a tattooed winky! It’s a lovely pud (dessert to you). And when I visit Toronto, I bring it over in the tin for family! (Try explaining THAT at customs! “Anything to declare, ma’am?” “Just a spotted dick, thanks.”)

  66. I’m remembering Ann Arbor. (Wasn’t it?) Where the airlines messed you over, and Brad the Heroic Stranger gave you a James Bond ride to the library where the knitters had been waiting for you for hours. They loved you. They were concerned about you. They waited and chatted and knit, and had a grand time.
    Besides, when have knitters turned on their own? I mean, the real knitters . . . the ones that love the things you write, respect you for the courage you have (courage isn’t the absence of fear–it’s the mastery of it), and can’t wait to see you in person. You, Steph. No matter how terribly you may think something has gone, you’ll have handled it in your own style, and everyone will love it.
    I don’t think it’s possible for you to ruin the knitters’s evening.
    And if that doesn’t honestly and truly help, then there’s always Lobelia tincture. 4-10 drops taken orally are great for taking the edge off. I’ve heard that valerian is also a good one, but I’ve never used it myself. Or there’s always Bach’s Rescue Remedy or another good homeopathic remedy. Do they have Hyland’s in Canada?
    And how do I know, never having really met you, or seen you in person, that you’ll do just fine? Because you’re a woman with ethics, a strong sense of integrity, and you’ll do the right thing, even if you do have your shirt tucked into your panties. Which will make an awesome blog post, so it’s really a bonus.
    Wish I could be there . . . you’ll be great.

  67. The sweater is so pretty. Wish I could be there tonight to see you NOT blow it…I gotta sell yarn though. Break a leg!

  68. Well- I’d suggest wearing knitted panties- if you accidently tuck into them…they’ll be a design element. Just turn around n show em off— knitters … you know, a little flash of knit and they’re happy as clams…
    or- you could knit up a barf bag and bring it up with ya—- maybe out of trash bags..a recycling project to boot;) You’d be prepared. (just make sure you line it)
    But hey—- you didn’t complain about your hair at all… that’s progress!
    btw– you know we love you- get over it. (although somehow I think if you were all “mrs cocky, cool and collected” we’d have a harder time loving you so much!:)
    break a leg.
    ts (but not for real…wouldn’t work as an out anyways- they’d wait until you got out of the hospital..)

  69. First! No, not first commenter, that will never happen, but first on the sign-up list to hear you talk in Burlington.
    A couple of weeks ago when Crazy Aunt Purl was freaking out about having to go to BEA in NY I told her that you always get like this and we always tell you, “We love you, you will be brilliant, and afterward there will be drinking.” So I’m telling you. (I didn’t mention Spotted Dick. Who knew?)
    Anyone who stood up after driving six hours to tell you that would be summarily pelted to death with copies of “An Inconvenient Truth.”

  70. Would that Spotted Dick be something to serve with our Rocky Mountain Oysters??? I’d love to see Heinz put some of that in the markets in my area. I thought all they made was ketchup.

  71. Would that Spotted Dick be something to serve with our Rocky Mountain Oysters??? I’d love to see Heinz put some of that in the markets in my area. I thought all they made was ketchup.

  72. You started it yesterday!?!?! Oh my. I think I may need to lay down.
    Kudo’s to Megan for being a genius . . . think of all those beautiful sweaters . . . she a friend to knitters everywhere!

  73. I grew up in Cleveland and know what a Spotted Dick is . . .
    Anyway, think of them all as being naked and you being the only one in the room with clothing on . . . which works really well, as long as you don’t decide that you want to be like everyone else and start stripping . . .
    The baby sweater is totally awesome. I think I have to have it. Who do I know that is expecting?? I do have a co-worker but I don’t like her . . . she wouldn’t appreciate a hand-knit anything anyway, I would have to be a Nordstrom’s tag on it.

  74. You’ll be wonderful.
    The sweater looks great. I can’t believe that you’ve finished it so quickly.
    Knock ’em dead tonight.

  75. I’m with you. Presenting to locals is difficult to do. The butterflies are bigger. But keep in mind that those who know you also want you to succeed and will therefore be a more welcoming audience. At least that’s what I tell myself when I have to present to the salesguys in my local office. It’s much easier for me to stand up in front of the folks from Asia, Japan, or Europe. Go figure.
    You’ll be great, you always are. Even when you’re presented with challenges, the talks are funny and enjoyable. And whatever trials and tribulations might come your way make good blogging fodder for the rest of us.
    Break a leg!

  76. You’ll do fine. You always have. I haven’t read a bad review of your talks ever. Nonetheless, good luck, break a leg (stage talk for good luck), and I’ll be lifting a pint with you afterwards (albeit virtually, being stuck in the lower 48). Have a great weekend!

  77. Woe is me , I won’t be there to see you but my niece and her friend are going to see you and I’m sure you will be GREAT as always. Can hardly wait to hear about it all and see some pictures. That baby sweater is gorgeous and knit so FAST. Someone should light a fire under my knitting . Thanks for posting today when you have so much to do and have a GOOD and FUN time tonight. Remember–ALL the people that are going to be there love you .

  78. Yeah… reason #1 why teaching adolescents sucks… “If I tank tomorrow, if I have a big honkin’ spot on my pants, if I barf on myself, if I say something that makes no sense at all…I have to come back and face these same kids tomorrow…”
    At least, darling, you can all pretend you don’t know each other, you just live in the same city…

  79. 1. I love the baby sweater. It is beautiful.
    B. I am sure you will be great!!! Even if you throw up on yourself, I am sure you will at least get a couple laughs! πŸ™‚
    Have a good weekend.

  80. Stephanie, you are going to do great, just as everyone has said. For next time, you might look into self (or guided) hypnosis. I first encountered it when my dad went to a specialist to learn how to do it to deal with PUBLIC SPEAKING. Did you know more people are afraid of public speaking than of death? Anyway, it worked great for him (and we are talking about a very main stream pharmcist here, not someone normally seeking out altenative anything.)
    I learned how to do it and have since sung and performed in front of thousands of people at a time with no problem at all. I have also taught it to several friends to help them deal with stage fright.
    You might look into it, sorry I don’t have a good resource to share.

  81. Good luck! You’re going to be great! And, if it makes you feel any better, even though I am a professor and have to stand up in front of a class several times a week for my living, I *still* get nervous beforehand. The worst of it is, if I walk in there with toilet paper hanging from the back of my pants, I WILL see them again two days later!! (BTW, I am SO glad to hear that I’m not the only one who worries about having to go to the bathroom halfway through a talk — everyone thinks I’m nuts for insisting on vising a bathroom right before class, but I figure, the audience is allowed to slip out the back to pee, but it’s really noticeable when the person talking leaves the front of the room…) You will be awesome, and you will live to drink your beer. πŸ™‚

  82. I’m certainly glad you explained Spotted Dick. While my mind wasn’t necessarily in the gutter, eating a spotted dick did not appeal to me until you mentioned a dessert with currants.

  83. I’m certainly glad you explained Spotted Dick. While my mind wasn’t necessarily in the gutter, eating a spotted dick did not appeal to me until you mentioned a dessert with currants.

  84. Two words: beta blockers. Ask your doctor. Performers and speakers use them all the time. It doesn’t “do” anything (very very low dose) — and it doesn’t change anything about you or your performance. It just takes the edge off and lets you enjoy performing/speaking.
    Best to you! I’m sure you’ll be fabulous (you just have to make yourself a bit miserable first!).

  85. Ah, anxiety. I feel your…feelings.
    I was interviewed on the radio yesterday about a Contemplative Knitting Circle we have here in Austin. Mind you, it’s a seriously low wattage station – maybe all of 12 people heard it.
    Imagine my joy – oh, wait, you are – as I watched the interviewer’s face scrunch with dismay when I went blank on questions like ‘What is contemplation?’ and ‘what do you get out of it?’
    Ummm, a sweater?
    Boy howdy do I have great answers for those questions TODAY.

  86. I have to start a new job that I’m terrified of today, and I have to say that reading your thought processes is massively comforting. I knew other people had to have the same fears as me, and use the same calming rationales, but it’s wonderful to read right this second.
    Also, we were at Copperfield’s in Petaluma last week because my husband used to work there, and I made sure to tell his old co-workers to expect TONS of knitters, from all over the Bay Area, and not to underestimate the amount of space and signing time you and your loving fans will require. So hopefully one stop at least will be a breeze! πŸ™‚

  87. Spotted dick… that’s Richard with Freckles, isn’t it?
    You’ll be fiiiine. Knock ’em dead.

  88. I had an acting coach years ago who said anyone who didn’t get nervous before they went on stage was a damn fool. The twitters go with the terriotory–you need all that extra adrenaline and energy to do a good job up there. Just try to direct it into your performance instead of, say, letting your head explode. Obviously, you have this down pat, since your head has never exploded. The twitters will always happen, there is nothing wrong with you. And how nice that you’ve found the right things to tell yourself to make it possible to get up there. No, we don’t want to see you screw up (though the hand lotion in the hair was kind of fun), we just want to see you. We read your books, we are addicted to your blog, we knit your patterns. We like you. Really.
    P.S. Thanks for clearing up the baby sweater yarn issue (brilliant thinking Megan). Thanks too, for clearing up–that other issue. (“I’m glad that your spotted dick has cleared up” doesn’t sound quite right).
    P. P.S. I am SO bummed I won’t be there. Can’t wait for June 7! Other Petaluma appearance-goers, anyone for a bite before or a pint after (with knitting, of course)? Where/when should we meet?

  89. As we tell each other in my theater company, “It’s not rocket science, and no babies will die if we screw up.” I think I read somewhere that the #1 fear among humans is speaking in public. Kudos to you for doing it so many times before and continuing!

  90. I used to get terrible gas pains before getting up and giving speeches or going on TV. That part has never gotten any better. Especially since part of my audience always was there cuz they wanted to kill me or somesuch and would get up and say so. But, one thing I discovered – it’s actually easier to face a huge audience than a smallish one. Any group bigger than a few hundred and it really does start to blur. The easiest speech I ever gave was in front of 100,000 people. Nothing but a bunch of little bobbing round spots that were faces. Take off the glasses and, voila! pretty coloured patterns.
    You’ll do great of course. Despite (or maybe because of) your fretting. Can’t wait to see you at Powell’s in Portland next month! I am so jazzed that you’ll be there at the same time I’m passing through the area. Woot!!
    Joy
    Rewalsar, H.P., India

  91. As a therapist who treats anxiety, I have a few tidbits for you:
    1. Past performance is the best predictor of future performance. According to everyone here in the comments (and I agree) your past performance has been fabulous.
    2. A very useful 3-step process is to imagine the worst that could happen (done), evaluate how likely it is that each bad thing will happen, and then think about how you will cope if it does happen. This way you end up thinking about your coping skills instead of unlikely disasters.
    3. Track your anxiety. Rate on a scale from 1-10 how anxious you feel now, how anxious you feel right before your talk, rate your anxiety several times during your talk and then again after your talk is over. Do this every time you give a talk, and see if you notice a pattern. Over time, the pattern you see might help you feel less anxiety about giving talks πŸ™‚

  92. Have a ball. I had a coach (violin) once who reminded me that everyone on the other side of the screen (auditions) had the same love of sound and horse-hair and the magic of making a thing come alive as I did. That sort of helped me. I wld outwait the part where, for about 10 seconds, my muscle memory morphed into a ten year old’s at her first lesson; it always passed. Presenting is such a funny thing; it often feels as if I’m herding all 20 of me to the podium…and then we breath and start!
    I bet Canadians will just holler and yell at having you for themselves…how sweet and what fun. The baby jacket is eye-candy, thank you for sharing it.
    p.s. hope the graduation girls are moving along well.

  93. But of course, Rachel H. has your, ahem, back!
    I love currants so can imagine spotted dick would taste just divine..still sounds terribly strange. I mean….I get it but ‘spotted’? (I know, currants)
    Sending all sorts of soothing energy your way for before, you can let’er rip at the after party. Still wishing I could be there. yeah. wah.

  94. Thank you Stephanie. As someone who is embarking (on June 10th)on my first reading gig I find your post very encouraging. Thank you for the personal insight. And all the best for a fun reading.

  95. whenever my students are getting ready for a recital, I tell them that not only does the audience for the most part, have NO IDEA how to play the violin, cello or piano, but unless any of them are music teachers, they also have no clue about whether the notes are right or not -you just have to say “I meant to play that note”-and they will BELIEVE you. What does this have to do with speech-making and knitting, I have no idea- but it makes little nervous kids feel better, so maybe it will make you feel better too -after all, your audience (at least until this tell-all of yours) had NO IDEA you were nervous (and a perfectionist too-I get that)
    Mary E

  96. I can’t really add much that’s useful to the speaking advice already given, so I’ll satisfy myself with ‘break a leg’.
    Oh – and lookee what a swank place we’re getting to hang out in next Wednesday.
    Will it help if the girls and I show up in just our underthings?

  97. I wish I could give you the magic formula that will soothe your anxiety once and for all. I can’t though.
    But the bit about your skirt tucked into your panties? I can relate. I had just moved to Seattle and was trying to get a generic job to hold me over until I found the Real Job. So I dressed up in a long skirt, nylons, decent shoes, and light sweater and went into all the various coffeeshops and delis downtown to drop off resumes and fill out applications. I’d been doing this for a few hours, and my legs felt a bit chilly but I attributed this to the excessive air conditioning in the buildings and the fact that skirts are less warm than jeans. I was on my way to yet another coffeeshop when I caught my reflection in a store front window…yup, the end of my long skirt was caught in the top of my pantyhose and I had been flashing my bum to everyone in downtown Seattle for the past couple of hours. The sad thing is that the last time I’d used the toilet was at home, so most likely I’d left the house like that too.
    I didn’t get called to an interview for any of the jobs that I’d applied for that day (no surprise), but ever since then, I’ve never been nervous in interviews. I also no longer wear skirts.

  98. Doesn’t matter what we say, stage fright is going to be there. Some things just aren’t rational. I think you should think about how good its going to feel when it is all over. If you didn’t get to feel that bad you would never get the rush of happiness when it was over.
    And as far as the spotted dick I think my favorite comment was the tattooed winkie. Dare you to ask for it that way…

  99. wish I could be there. Understand the nerves but when you let the passion talk what can go wrong?
    You are so special, come on… cheers from Brussels, Belgium and don’t forget to have a beer for me!
    Marie, Brussels, Belgium

  100. wish I could be there. Understand the nerves but when you let the passion talk what can go wrong?
    You are so special, come on… cheers from Brussels, Belgium and don’t forget to have a beer for me!
    Marie, Brussels, Belgium

  101. I saw you in Chicago, early April, and you were WONDERFUL!!! No need to fear!
    You can add this to your “I say” arsenal:
    I am speaking to MY PEOPLE… these are knitters I’m talking to… **knitters**…. (not the general public)… I am one of them… I know them… :0)
    … maybe this will soothe you…
    oh, yeah, cut back a bit on the caffeine… just a little…

  102. It’s probably too late to help you, but I also suffer from nearly paralyzing terror about public speaking. And still I get myself into the situation that I have to do it.
    I once locked up hard during the presentation of an important paper. Hard, like my co-presenter was trying to figure out how to gracefully step in and relieve my blank, stammering self. It was the smile of a hometown face in the out-of-town audience that pulled me through and got me to remember my well-rehearsed speech. After we finished, the people who knew me were really sympathetic. Find someone you know and pretend you’re talking to her.

  103. Honestly, no matter what you do, it’s not screwing up. You could barf, your pants could fall down, you could faint, and it would not be a screw-up. We don’t love you because you screw up, we love you because you’re a knitter, like us, and you know what knitting is, and you’re funny and talented and so what if you have a bad day?
    I’m going to see you next Wednesday at WEBS. Please bring the bohus, because I want to see it very much, but please don’t wear it. It was 100Β°F (38Β°C) today, much too hot for a sweater.

  104. Man, for a little while there I was thinking your story was going to end with you throwing up on the baby sweater… I’m glad that it didn’t!
    Another thing you could tell yourself is, screwing up also makes for good blog posts! πŸ™‚
    Have a wonderful time tonight! I wish I could be there!

  105. hahaha!i don’t know if saying “spotted dick is a dessert” will help get any minds out of the gutter. especially the ones that WANT to be there!

  106. I can’t wait to hear how it goes (which will be great, I’m sure!) – best of luck! Your baby sweater turned out lovely by the way. Baby items are my favorite knits (there is no other time that you can dress another person in whatever suits your fancy). I must admit I was wondering what on earth those pub owners were thinking when they named their establishment – thanks for the explanation.

  107. And how many times have those horrible things happened? Other than hundreds of knitters showing up – I refuse to count that as a bad thing. That’s what I thought.

  108. you know, I was giving myself big pats on the back for not buying yarn yesterday,(don’t ask how much I spent at the plant nursery for new perennials)and for limiting most of my new purchases to sock yarn, and then YOU had to go and show those absolutely darling pics of that rainbow sweater!! Oh man, “only $40” I keep saying to myself and thinking how darling my 2 yr old will look in that. Maybe it doesn’t come in that size. I am a total sucker for lots of color. Just because I already have 2 sweaters planned for her, doesn’t mean I can’t buy yarn for another, does it?

  109. Regarding Petaluma’s chance to REPRESENT (and scare the tar out of the people that run the Copperfield’s).
    A friend and myself are hitting McNear’s for dinner before hand. It’s technically right around the corner and attached to the back of Knitterly (swell yarn shop). And they do have beer for post signing libations – or pre if you’re so inclined.
    Hit my blog if you need.want to contact me regarding it.
    http://pleiaden.blogspot.com

  110. I never thought I’d say this but that baby sweater would look FABULOUS on me…in my size, of course. I wonder how much it would cost to knit one my size?
    I won’t tell you to chill. Freak out, girl. If you can’t do it front of your nearest and dearest, who can you freak out in front of…besides the rest of the whole freaking world? And, honestly, I wish I were there to witness your freak out tonight. Are you ever coming to Richmond? When was the last time you toured the south, anyway?
    As for the Spotted Dick…I rather like Plum Duff better.
    Cheers! Have a great night!

  111. Three thoughts:
    1) Wouldn’t you be less likely to faint if you had something to eat?
    2) Whatever the worst thing that could happen is, no matter how unlikely it is, even if it happened, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. What’s going to happen? The world will end and it will be your fault? Headlines will read “World ends, Stephanie’s fault”? Not even close. I think you’re safe.
    3) People love you. Try to have fun.

  112. The only time you’ll screw up is the time you’re NOT nervous, so go gettum!

  113. Dude, how ’bout a wee bit of ativan? Nervousness is one thing (I still get nervous before I lecture), that’s a sign you care. But full blown hysteria is not a good thing. At all. (I know you know this.) Try to hang in there and keep repeating your mantras.

  114. “You’ll never have to see these people again” is a very effective mantra to reduce jitters (one that cycled through my mind as I contemplated not taking that long walk down the aisle at my wedding). Another common trick public speakers say they find effective is to imagine the audience in their underwear, which is supposed to make them somehow less fearful. However, you probably actually have seen a good number of people in this audience in various states of undress, so I suspect it won’t help. By my clock, it’s moot, anyway. You’ve already either deeply disgraced yourself or done a great job. I suspect the latter.
    Now, don’t disgrace yourself at The Spotted Dick.

  115. I don’t want to gross anyone out but – my husband is 72 next month and has high blood pressure and all the “good things” that sort of medication can do. I wouldn’t mind a spotted dick…..
    there! I made YOU spit coffee into the computer for a change πŸ˜€
    See you in Northampton next Wednesday! And I really wouldn’t change him for anyone else in the world – he’s been my grumpy old man since 1971.

  116. I think the baby sweater is just gorgeous (those colors! together!).
    I can totally understand the nervousness. There is no way I would ever be able to do what you do, but I’m so glad you’re willing to push through the fear and get up there in front of people. Your humor is a wonderful gift you share (and I know it’s well appreciated).
    You will definitely have earned a nice, cold beer!
    P.S. Not to give you the heebee jeebees (I can’t spell that, can I?), or anything, but I’m looking forward to seeing you at Webs next week!

  117. I thought I was the only one who counted yarn money as entertainment. Like you’d spend $8.00 US to go to a 2 hour movie, why not spend $100 on something that is going to take me at least 20 hours to work on (usually more, I’m not that fast)?

  118. Well the obvious solution to this problem is you should do a tour of New Zealand. All this talk about Canadians being the nicest people in the world is incorrect, it it time I let the cat out of the bag, it is really kiwis. Sorry Canada but it is true, yeah yeah you are still pretty nice so don’t worry. We have extremely low standards for our public speakers and just showing up would be enough for us. Please. Besides you would so jetlagged and disorientated that you won’t even remember giving your speeches I am sure. Just give it some thought. Don’t say no right off the bat. Come on, say yes.

  119. As someone who will be at Webs, I think i can say, you could get up, say “arse”, do a sock picture, and we would all leave happy. So RELAX!

  120. I say, embrace screwing up. Give those people something to talk about. If you need to ease into it, stage an Uninhibited Day and say and do any little think your mind desires.
    Whenever I get up to speak in front of a crowd, I ask myself, “Who are you really trying to impress here?” It’s odd–I generally can’t find one person in the bunch.

  121. It was wonderful! Packed to the rafters! I only caught the end, and got so nervous myself that didn’t go up to say hi. (See, talking/reading about being nervous makes me more nervous-er)
    Maybe I won’t be nervous tomorrow.

  122. That is one seriously beautiful sweater. I might even consider popping out another one for the promise of a sweater like that.
    I’m guessing the festivities are already underway, and you’re knockin’ ’em dead. Performance anxiety is super normal. I wish that was *all* I had! I have a full-fledged anxiety disorder with agoraphobia. That means just being in a crowded venue watching you speak is difficult for someone like me. (That’s actually why I took up knitting–it’s a fantastic diversion!) Anyway, none of this is going to stop me from seeing you at the Calvin, and you shouldn’t let your anxiety get the best of you either πŸ™‚ Have you ever noticed, though, how almost 99.9% of the anxiety is anticipatory? As in, once you’re there and actually speaking, the fears begin to subside. Just keep reminding yourself that the pre-anxiety is always 100x worse than the actual event. If you can just get up there, you’re golden. The rest will take care of itself!

  123. That is one seriously beautiful sweater. I might even consider popping out another one for the promise of a sweater like that.
    I’m guessing the festivities are already underway, and you’re knockin’ ’em dead. Performance anxiety is super normal. I wish that was *all* I had! I have a full-fledged anxiety disorder with agoraphobia. That means just being in a crowded venue watching you speak is difficult for someone like me. (That’s actually why I took up knitting–it’s a fantastic diversion!) Anyway, none of this is going to stop me from seeing you at the Calvin, and you shouldn’t let your anxiety get the best of you either πŸ™‚ Have you ever noticed, though, how almost 99.9% of the anxiety is anticipatory? As in, once you’re there and actually speaking, the fears begin to subside. Just keep reminding yourself that the pre-anxiety is always 100x worse than the actual event. If you can just get up there, you’re golden. The rest will take care of itself!

  124. By the time you read this, you are DONE with the talk and raising a pint in celebration. I raise my glass of red (of the grape variety) to you. I am sure you were great (as you were in Denver). As for being nervous, it reminds me of the motherly speech I gave each of my daughters at their Bat Mitzvahs: “Remember, everyone out there knows you and loves you and if you screw up, only you will know. And even if they notice, they are so proud that you will be automatically forgiven.” With that spirit in mind, knock ’em dead on your Canadian coast to coast tour. Liz

  125. Daily reader delurking for the first time to say:
    1. Beautiful baby sweater! Thanks for clearing up the confusion.
    2. I’m sure the talk went great. But next time you’re speaking in Toronto, why not say to yourself, “These are my homies — they love me! There’s no way I can screw up!”

  126. Good thing we have yarn, otherwise we would knit our hair or who knows what else! I do the same thing knit up a storm when I am pre something.

  127. Gorgeous sweater!!! How and where can I purchase the pattern? Many thanks for any assistance that you can give!

  128. Goodness, that sweater went quickly! But it is really too cute to pass up, with all those colors and stripes. Should you have some sort of medical emergency when I’m around, I’m a trained 911 dispatcher and have my CPR/BLS certification!

  129. You were brilliant tonight! It was such a treat to be there and a pleasure to meet you, and to spend time with so many great knitters. You are a real inspiration in so many ways.

  130. I want to say thank you for tonight. I had such a wonderful time. Unfortunately, it was so hot at the Spotted Dick that Ramona and I just couldn’t handle it. If I didn’t have a spin in tomorrow I would have loved to join your yarn crawl. I look forward to possibly doing it sometime in the future. You are amazing.

  131. Sounds like your Launch rocked. Wish I could have been there!
    We’d love to see you in Texas again! πŸ™‚
    -Miss Knotty in Dallas

  132. I heard you were fantastic tonight, and I don’t doubt it one bit! I myself was too nervous to even show up – being a slightly yonger knitter, I’m a bit shy to get out in the city and knit with all those that love it as much as I do. Perhaps next time. Best of luck though, and have fun on the knit crawl tomorrow, if I wasn’t such a chicken i’d be there.

  133. I heard you were fantastic tonight, and I don’t doubt it one bit! I myself was too nervous to even show up – being a slightly yonger knitter, I’m a bit shy to get out in the city and knit with all those that love it as much as I do. Perhaps next time. Best of luck though, and have fun on the knit crawl tomorrow, if I wasn’t such a chicken i’d be there.

  134. I have to speak to groups a lot in my job. That doesn’t bother me.
    Job interviews, on the other hand, make me throw up.

  135. I have to speak to groups a lot in my job. That doesn’t bother me.
    Job interviews, on the other hand, make me throw up.

  136. Girl, you need to give yourself more credit! I met you in December, when you were filming your Knitty Gritty episode. I was a mere Knitster on the show that taped before yours but was able to chat it up with you while eating lunch and in the middle of the night at the hotel. lol
    You were telling me how nervous you were but know this ~ you are smooth as hell when it’s time to turn it on. That’s all that matters! Keep up the good work (and I’m diggin’ that baby sweater).
    Peace. xoxo

  137. you could always think of it this way…for my living, I stick needles INTO people. Occasionally a bit more satisfying, but hellaciously more nervewracking. lol! At any rate, it’s over now and I’m sure you’ve done fine.

  138. oooooh! the baby sweater is absolutely lovely. I have a brand new niece that I’d like to make something like that for – perhaps when she’s a bit older, like 4 or 5, and will actually be able to wear it for a little longer than 10 minutes before its too small.

  139. There is no cure for stage fright, but you seem to do an excellent job anyway. There have been many celebrities and performers who have had terrible cases of the Jitters. Take Rostrapovich…(okay, I’m a cellist, so sue me) He was a world class musian, an incredible cellist, one of the most well attended performers of his time, only ever taken over by Yoyo Ma in that arena, and yet he had to have SEVERAL still drinks before he could ever make himself step out of the wings, and onto the stage to perform. Even into his 80’s. No, I’m not trying to depress you…just to let you know that it’s okay. And you are still terriffic. I would travel all that way just to tell you how much I admire you, and that I think we could be friends. Alas, I have 3 little children who need their mama, and don’t travel well yet. My baby isn’t even 2 yet.
    P.S. I am in awe that you have knit that sweater in just 2 days. It is beautiful!

  140. There is no cure for stage fright, but you seem to do an excellent job anyway. There have been many celebrities and performers who have had terrible cases of the Jitters. Take Rostrapovich…(okay, I’m a cellist, so sue me) He was a world class musian, an incredible cellist, one of the most well attended performers of his time, only ever taken over by Yoyo Ma in that arena, and yet he had to have SEVERAL still drinks before he could ever make himself step out of the wings, and onto the stage to perform. Even into his 80’s. No, I’m not trying to depress you…just to let you know that it’s okay. And you are still terriffic. I would travel all that way just to tell you how much I admire you, and that I think we could be friends. Alas, I have 3 little children who need their mama, and don’t travel well yet. My baby isn’t even 2 yet.
    P.S. I am in awe that you have knit that sweater in just 2 days. It is beautiful!

  141. Stephanie, you had us all in the palm of your hand through the whole thing. Maybe next time tell yourself that the good yarn karma of having a hat drop-off will weigh out anything you might inadvertently do wrong? Either that, or breathe in the yarn fumes from all the knitting in the area and enjoy the ride!
    I have to say in my heart of hearts, it was awesome fun to watch the sales staff (muggles) at the event start to get worried when the knitters kept arriving… and then to watch them as you gave the talk about how the good bookstore staff in the US had patted your head thinking you might be a little delusional about the turnout… I sensed ebarrassment from them in waves.
    A totally memorable night for all the right reasons!

  142. You’ve worn a skirt to these things? I think i’ve only seen blog pictures of you in jeans or slacks. Hmm. I never knew!
    You’ll be just fine.

  143. The baby sweater is beautiful!
    I didn’t have time to read all the comments, so please excuse me if I am repeating a story that someone else has already told you.
    However, I recently saw a re-broadcast of a pre-interview of Dick Cavett’s old TV show. He called it a “pre-interview” because he had the cameras running in secret because Katherine Hepburn was dropping by to see if she would be comfortable in the format with him for the interview she thought was scheduled for the next day. It is a classic – and very revealing. You see her completely herself, unaware of the cameras rolling. It was brillant.
    The most important thing is that she revealed how painfully nervous she got before any speaking project – interviews, personal appearances, making films – anything. She said she always, always wished she could die before the event, any event to avoid having to talk in public. I wish you could see the interview because you’d realize that you are in very good company indeed with your pre-event jitters.
    Both you and Katherine are fantastic, though. I feel safe in saying that we’d all love anything either of you would say or do if we were in the audeince.
    SAdly, she’s gone now, so it’s up to you to keep the jitters and fabulous entertaining going. You and Kate – what a great team of talented but shy women.
    Thanks Stephanie for sharing your pre-event jitters. It helps us all realize that we all in the same boat – though you are clearly our captain.

  144. Everyone gets butterflies in the stomach, the trick is to get them to fly in formation!

  145. Stephanie,
    I give briefings every day all summer long for the last 5 years, sometimes 2 briefings. Every spring I am nervous, dosen’t matter that I know I will do fine, that they are a kind audience and that I’ve done this TONS before. I’m nervous, this talking in front of people is not natural or easy. I just stopped worrying about being nervous. In th fall, after the last briefing, I feel as if a great weight had been lifted from my sholders and I feel euphoric.
    So go ahead and be nervous, just don’t worry about it.

  146. Stephanie,
    I give briefings every day all summer long for the last 5 years, sometimes 2 briefings. Every spring I am nervous, dosen’t matter that I know I will do fine, that they are a kind audience and that I’ve done this TONS before. I’m nervous, this talking in front of people is not natural or easy. I just stopped worrying about being nervous. In th fall, after the last briefing, I feel as if a great weight had been lifted from my sholders and I feel euphoric.
    So go ahead and be nervous, just don’t worry about it.

  147. The little jacket is GORGEOUS! $40 is a lot for a baby jacket, but this one is DEFINITELY worth it πŸ™‚

  148. Oh my, that sweater is so gorgeous! Wish *my* anxiety could make me produce like that. [g]
    I’m with runswithscissors up there – panic attacks, anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, check. (Xanax is my friend, LOL.) But I made it to see you here in PDX last September, and I’m gonna make it June 8th if I have to have hysterics afterwards! Last year was a bear getting myself out of the apt., but once I was there and talking to fellow knitters (and the Xanax kicked in, heh), I started relaxing. I didn’t even make much of a fool of myself when you signed my book. πŸ˜‰ Of course, by now I can see from comments you did a wonderful job, as usual, but tomorrow you’ll be able to read about how many of us empathize with you. And we know no matter know much peptalk you give yourself beforehand, it really doesn’t do that much. But see, what you really need to do every time is make your way to the podium *through* the crowd beforehand, so you can say hi and give your lizard brain the time to realize that everyone is just loving you. By the time you get to the stage, you’ll feel like it’s just a big knit night, and you simply have the best seat in the house!
    Yeah, that doesn’t really convince me either; but it’s the best I could come up with. [vbg]

  149. I’ve witnessed the coffee and the pacing and the descent into holy-shit-there-are-people-out-there…I tried not to think it was funny, but dude…it was funny…I’ve never seen anyone knit on a sock so fast πŸ™‚ I’ll bet you were wonderful, and I hope the Indigo people were astonished at the Force of the Knit. Also, skirt? You wore a skirt? Wow! Where’d you find one that doesn’t trail like a wedding gown? I loathe shortening skirts even more than shortening pants…
    And thanks for the birthday shout-out. I was wondering why our server had a coniption fit πŸ™‚
    I have massive stage fright, too, and I’m seriously counting on the stage lights to hide the fact that there’s an audience out there tonight. At least I don’t have to talk πŸ™‚

  150. You know, don’t you? – yes, of course, you must – that that visceral fear of getting up on your hind legs and speaking to a crowd, no matter how many times and how successfully you’ve done it before, is as much a part of your process as the procrastination in the runup to a deadline. Both apparently crippling, both necessary to get you over the hump. Awful, but so worth it afterward. (Go on, ask me how I know.)
    As for Wikipedia’s version of Spotted Dick, DON’T get me started – 90% of these ingredients don’t belong there. (Bread crumbs? Candied citrus peel? My foot. They might as well be making a plum pudding and have done with it. Self-raising flour? Anathema. And custard is NOT an ingredient, it’s an accompaniment. Grrrrr. Oh – so much for not getting started. Sorry.)

  151. I hope last night was great! Sorry I couldn’t be there to support you.

  152. I hope last night was great! Sorry I couldn’t be there to support you.

  153. The only real question is: do they actually serve SD at the SD? See, it saves everyone the embarassment that way too (I really did know what it was already – having read scads of British mystery novels).
    The only strategy you are missing for speaking in front of crowds: imagine they are all sitting there in their underwear (or even naked, if that helps).
    I am an absolute fiend for anything rainbow, and that baby sweater absolutely rocks! I am glad you explained about how the cost was reduced to near-reasonableness. Babies deserve good clothes but not clothes that cost more than anything I own!
    I am sure the Goddess of “Represent!” is watching over you, and great time will be had by all. See you Wednesday!
    p.s. Do we have to knit socks in the hall or will other sorts of knitting do?

  154. The only real question is: do they actually serve SD at the SD? See, it saves everyone the embarassment that way too (I really did know what it was already – having read scads of British mystery novels).
    The only strategy you are missing for speaking in front of crowds: imagine they are all sitting there in their underwear (or even naked, if that helps).
    I am an absolute fiend for anything rainbow, and that baby sweater absolutely rocks! I am glad you explained about how the cost was reduced to near-reasonableness. Babies deserve good clothes but not clothes that cost more than anything I own!
    I am sure the Goddess of “Represent!” is watching over you, and great time will be had by all. See you Wednesday!
    p.s. Do we have to knit socks in the hall or will other sorts of knitting do?

  155. Oh, Stephanie, part of the reason we love you and care about you is *because* you get nervous when you stand up in front of a crowd. It makes us feel better about the fact that we all feel the same way. When you get up there, you are us. And we admire your courage, because we know exactly how you are feeling and are so proud of you for doing what we are a bit scared of doing ourselves (even those of us who teach/perform and get up in front of people *every* day and still get that gut-clench every single time, even after all these years.).
    Wish I could be there to be proud of you. I’m proud from a distance. Well done, you, and Thank you!

  156. It’s like the first day of school for an experienced teacher…it is always scary. No. Matter. What. I’m glad it went well; congratulations!

  157. Stephanie,
    I got home at 11 last night – very pleased to have met you. You are One. Damn. Funny. Woman. I want to say you have no need to be nervous, but I’d be daunted by even a friendly crowd that size too! And you have just the slightest tremor in your voice, I don’t know if that’s nerves or normal, but it makes you sound so genuine, it’s endearing. Professional comediennes try to affect that, and it just doesn’t work when it’s not real.
    My face hurt from laughing, even though I was stuck at the back of that crowd, mostly behind a post, and could hardly see you – I had to duck and bob around to see the full effect of “these are my KITTENS!”. Hilarious.
    Thanks for staying there until those of us waaaay at the end of that line got to say hi.

  158. In the future when you’re going through ‘what’s the worst that could happen’ scenarios, think about the time the US President threw up on the Prime Minister of Japan in front of dozens of cameras and then had it replayed world-wide for days. There’s really nothing you could do to top that, no matter how many blog photos of your trifling faux pas show up.
    I’m sure you were great. I’ve only seen you at a relatively small event at Bumbershoot here in Seattle last year. You appeared very relaxed and then chatted nicely at the book signing afterward.

  159. I can hardly wait – Petaluma comin’ soon. I would so like to meet up with others; I’ll be driving up from the SF peninsula mid-day (to be able to actually get a seat instead of hanging from a rafter or something.)
    Stephanie, we love you no matter what you do; just come beam at us and we’ll beam right back!

  160. I hope it went well for you. I’m sure someone must have mentioned that you don’t LOOK nervous when you speak. . . that’s a plus at least. I’m with you on the jitters though. I still go sleepless the night before a new school year starts and I still have nightmares that my class will mutiny on me (hasn’t ever happened. . . knock on wood). I think it might be our reptilian brains at work—fight or flight sort of thing.

  161. Stephanie, you put so much effort into worrying but in the end that’s good – all that effort also makes for a good event. Which is why everyone is always so excited to see you. Keep on working on it!

  162. I hope your Canadian debut is awesome and you have loads of fun (after the stressful bit, of course). Thanks for the pre-performance mantras. I’ll keep them in mind as they may come in handy next week when I present at a conference. I’m looking forward to seeing you in Victoria in a few weeks!

  163. So after WEBS on Wednesday where are we going to celebrate? The Toasted Owl is a good time… Or The Tunnel Bar… Just let us know! πŸ˜‰

  164. Hey! I feel all cosmopolitan or something, I not only knew what Spotted Dick was, I’ve eaten it.
    Lovely baby sweater. Good luck… (It’s a girl thing, I swear. I always imagine the back of my skirt in my pantyhose, when I’m doing public speaking, even when I’m not wearing a skirt.)

  165. Well, Stephanie, you were terrific!!!! I had to leave just as you ended, and left the hats on the table for you. The small grandkidlets needed to get home, so I couldn’t stay longer and meet you. But I had so much fun, and everything you said was amazingly true and hilariously knittish, and you didn’t throw up or anything! AND you wore a skirt! Without any tucked in bits. :O) Thanks so much for last night. I was thrilled to be among people who are like me, because I’ve never been surrounded by people who “get it” before. And today everyone is getting tired of hearing about it…… darn muggles! samm

  166. Well, Stephanie, you were terrific!!!! I had to leave just as you ended, and left the hats on the table for you. The small grandkidlets needed to get home, so I couldn’t stay longer and meet you. But I had so much fun, and everything you said was amazingly true and hilariously knittish, and you didn’t throw up or anything! AND you wore a skirt! Without any tucked in bits. :O) Thanks so much for last night. I was thrilled to be among people who are like me, because I’ve never been surrounded by people who “get it” before. And today everyone is getting tired of hearing about it…… darn muggles! samm

  167. Stephanie, all you have to say to yourself is “It is ok if I screw up all of these people love me.” I mean that in a way that we all love our closest friend that we don’t always get to talk to as much as we want. I had never seen you but when you walked in the room in Ann Arbor it felt like a dear friend had arrived. I am glad to hear you were great in your hometown.

  168. Thank you so much for your chat last night. It was bright and hilarious (and yes, we could see the nerves at first, but you breezed on through like a pro). I’m just sorry I couldn’t make The Spotted Dick for the after party. But I turn into a pumpkin if I don’t get home in time to tuck in the little guy. Last I saw, pumpkins don’t knit squat.

  169. That may be the greatest baby sweater I have ever seen! I love it!
    I’m sure you were fantastic. (From a lady who sat on the floor in a teeny yarn shop to see you. I think I could probably see up your nose, but I still love ya.)

  170. The best performers/speakers always get the jitters before they go on. It’s what gives you the extra edge. πŸ™‚
    Great baby sweater, btw!

  171. Stephanie,
    I can so identify with the stage fright thing! Whew! But you go, girl! I’ll be one of the smiling faces looking back at you this Wed at WEBS in Northampton. Can’t wait!

  172. When I was volunteering at a hospital, I asked a nurse when this job would be easier and less stressful for her and for me. She looked at me and said “When you stop stressing about this job, you need to take a break. When you stop worrying about this job, you are not going to provide the best care you can to our patients.” When you stress, it means that you care. When you care, it means that you try. When you try, we don’t care if you mess up, just that you tried.

  173. Stephanie-I was out of town and didn’t have a chance to post wishing you luck, but just now scrolled down to see all the “you were wonderful” comments, which I never doubted I’d find! I’m wondering: was the hometown event easier or harder than the crowd of 700+ knitters in NYC? I’m so sorry it’s hard for you to get up there and do what you do, but want to add my voice to the chorus of admirers, and hope it’s all worth it for you, because you do bring us a lot of joy.

  174. I wish I could be there but I can’t, no way at all I’m afraid. But speaking as one American, my mind wasn’t in the gutter, I know what Spotted Dick is. No, not because I’m well traveled, not because I’m super knowledgable about all things, it’s because of countless years of reading British mysteries! Give me a cup of tea, an Agatha Christie (or any other of the type) and a grey day and I’ll travel the world.

  175. Thanks so much for a great event on Friday! Your talk was super and it was especially wonderful to see the welcoming crowd of knitters there. So many socks and shawls I wanted to pet (the knitter’s handshake eh?) I’m so glad I got to attend a signing in TO. Thanks again!

  176. Well mu niece went to hear you talk and bought your book and got it signed, then came the next morning to see me for a couple of days and she was THRILLED to have gone to your bash and met you . She said she’d go again in a heart beat . Of course I said “”Told you so “haha We went to my local LYS and she added to her small stash and knitting books big time and then to Chapters to get MORE knitting books and is GEARED to get knitting . See the effect you have on people !!! Another one to add to your WHACK of knitters haha

  177. It’s Sunday evening. By now, we trust you have calmed down from what sounds like a hugely successful evening. Also – hopefully you survived the yarn crawl. Now, post something, please please, for those of us who couldn’t be there. It sounds as if the Indigo folks were suitably astounded. Give us the lowdown.

  178. I’m glad you cleared up the issue of the Spotted Dick, (I actually new that was a food item) but you seemed to have a trend going with the Spotted Dick and the Naked Sheep, I was beginning to wonder if there was more to Canada than I realized. πŸ˜‰

  179. Since tomorrow officially opens up “Summer”, today was my day to officially buy my first book of summer. Summer is when I buy absolutely nothing that resembles a text book, an instructional manual or a lab book. I picked up a copy of your “Casts Off” today. Please feel free to book that Caribbean cruise now! (LOL) I do love your style and this promises to be just as hilarious a read as “Knitting Rules”. And sneaky you, you manage to put some instruction in and make it a “learner” book. Tomorrow, I’m kicking back on the balcony with my sweet tea and Casts Off, which will be the extent of activity tomorrow (except the sock I’m knitting).

  180. its only ten in the morning the nervous wreck
    still has webs and new york pots of coffee
    to drink you all know what it was like last
    she went across the border if she does not
    show preety soon we will send the comment
    patrol after her

  181. Don’t worry about being nervous. Picture me teaching PAID beginners knitting for the FIRST time to a bunch of women I’ve never met! I’ve taught people for free before and MAN do I sweat!

  182. Dear Harlot – you know by now that Friday was a fabulous success. I was sorry to have to leave before lifting a pint. I’d love to know how many hats you ended up with for Street Knit and perhaps we could see a picture of them in a large pile or something? You have no idea how funny it was after Marsha and I purchased that basket for you – we had visions of you ending up with 50 or more at Indigo – or maybe they wouldn’t let us bring it in the store – or . . .
    I’ve already read through the new book and I’ll be dipping into it again and again. I’m so glad our little group of three got to see and hear you – thanks for the opportunity to see a different region of the land of Knitting. I’ll be back for another visit.
    Thanks again for a great time!
    Chris S

  183. I’m starting to hate weekends. First Doctor Who was a two-parter and now Stephanie leaves us with a big cliffhanger.
    I’m off to find Canadian bloggers who have reports online…

  184. I hope everything went well this weekend. Can’t wait to hear all the fun details. And hopefully see a completed baby sweater.

  185. Dear Stephanie I hope all is well with you as we have not heard from you since Friday. I seriously hope WE didn’t freak you out as I know we freaked out the Muggles of all sorts of ages and discriptions. I for one had a wonderful time and would do it again in a heartbeat. It was amazing how enthusiastic the hometown crowd was we were definitely not stuffy stoggie Torontoians. We were a force to be reckoned with and we love our Yarn Harlot. Here are some albeit blurry pics for those who didn’t or couldn’t go http://www.flickr.com/photos/miz-cat/ click on the Yarn Harlot talk and my blog I describe how I saw events.

  186. Wow – that sounds so hard on you. I can’t believe you keep doing this – I am glad that you do, but really it sounds dreadfully stressfull.
    The baby sweater looks so great! Brilliant sales idea to make up some kits – much more cost effective for knitters and possibly more lucrative for the seller.
    ps – I have no idea why my posts keep getting put up twice, sorry about that!

  187. I am working on the Rocketry version of this sweater and I am totally confused as to how to do the colour change row. I know it is done on the wrong side but on the notes it says to slip the first st and then K1,P1. In the colour change row it says to *work 2 sts with new colour, slip 1*. The 2 sts that you work is it k1, p1, slip, k1, p1, slip until you can’t anymore and you purl to the end of the row and knit the last stitch? I tried emailing Dream In Color Yarn but I have not heard back yet and I am impatient to get back to the knitting. I called Lettuce Knit and the woman I spoke to said just seed stitch across and you don’t slip any sts. That doesn’t sound right. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks,
    /Rochelle

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