10 Things About Sock Camp

1. I love where it is. Orcas Island. There is the sea and the hills and actual trees and flowers.


2. The twisted brain of my friend Tina who can even imagine, invent and make real a week like this. Seriously. There are camp tee shirts and buffs and a big plan that is weirder than you can imagine. I love it. (Also, if you click on that link, she has very, very big plans for the Portland Event on Earth Day.)

3. Campers. I’m spending 5 days with knitters. For five days I will only walk among my people. For five days nobody will say “don’t you think that’s a lot of yarn” or “how many pairs is that on the needles now?” For five days I will talk about socks, and nobody will try to get away, because everyone here wants to talk about socks. A lot.

4. Cat Bordhi. It is very good that Cat and I are friends, but probably also good that we live this far apart. We are trouble together. Trouble. Also, I am going to kick her arse in all the camp games. Just like last year.


5. Yarn.

6. I do not have to get on a plane today. I did not get on a plane yesterday. I do not get on a plane tomorrow. This makes me so happy that every morning that I am not getting on a plane I am doing a balcony dance.

7. Oh yeah. My balcony.


8. Deer.


9. Cookie. (I like the face she makes if you sneak up on her with a camera.)


10. I am knitting.


Blue Moon Heavyweight in a Rare Gem (one of a kind) that I snagged yesterday. I think I talked Tina into making it a colourway. It’s just too pretty not to be able to have again.

It’s going to be a very good week.

Up, down, up, down

Sorry about the blog downtime there guys. I did The Yarnery event and then the Ann Arbor Event and a couple of things that the publisher makes me do are part of the job and then I went home for fourteen hours before leaving again, and as much as I wanted to, I just couldn’t see spending even two minutes of my fourteen hours with Joe and the girls on the internet. The internet is everywhere all the time and my family is just in that one place. So I skipped it. We watched a movie. We had a great dinner. I took my clothes out of my suitcase, washed them and put them back in, then I slept for five hours and then got up at 5am and left again.

Now I’m at Sock Camp (where there actually is no internet in the rooms, so the blogging will likely happen at really odd hours as I write the entries when I have time, and post when I find signal. Please bear with me) which I will tell you about tomorrow. for now, back to The Yarnery.

The Yarnery is in Minnesota, so the weather was a surprise after Nashville, although I did feel oddly at home with the snow falling on me. I checked into the hotel (after having a coffee in the coffeeshop about Garrison Keillor’s bookstore – which seemed to me to be a very Minnesota thing to do) had a brief “nap” (a loss of consciousness would describe it more fully.) Then went over to the event, which was being held in on the campus of a University. (You can imagine what they thought of us.)

That was when it started to get weird. Good weird, but very weird indeed. If you do nothing else today, please follow this link to see The Yarnery Family Singers. (Ok. I lied. The Yarnery doesn’t have theirs up yet. Go see Shelley’s in the meantime.) They were the first act, and they were so awesome that I considered not going on after them. There was no way to compete. My favourite is “Our Favourite Things”. Listen. Love.

I did go on after them, mostly because The Yarnery people were smart enough to block the exits, and this is what I saw.




That’s a lot of knitters, my friends. A lot of knitters. Enough knitters that when I stepped out there after the singing and the planes and the hotels and the everything that for one second, all I could think was “Wow. Who’s life is this? How does this happen? How do you end up somewhere like this doing something like this and what am I doing? What is this?” Then I remembered that I don’t have time for existential angst.

Knitters and little knitters to be? You bet.

This is Aileen and Lily


Kate and Veronica:


These guys aren’t babies (clearly) but they are a whole family of knitters. All of them, Noah, Nathaniel, Mackenna, and their Mum Heidi.


Does it get any cuter than that? I don’t think so.

Do all of you remember Shelly? She wanted to make a blanket out of leftover sock yarns? I asked you to bury her house in sock yarn (I’ll never do that again. The woman scarcely survived with her sanity. You people know how to go to town) and last year when I visited she was working on it, and this year…


It’s done, and what an incredible thing it is to. Shelley’s got an info thing about it on her blog, since I know you’ll have questions.

First Sock Brigade: Brett, Alyson (technically 1st slippers, but she just learned to knit) Courtney, Jennifer, Kathryn in Minnesota (who also brought a survival kit (whether that is a reaction to the tour or the recent trip into the woods, I just don’t know) Melissa, Mara (those aren’t first socks, they are stalking socks)



Emily knit a pair of Lenore’s


(a sock I designed for the Blue Moon Sock Club, not for sale yet but will be)

I love it when I meet bloggers I’ve loved from afar forever. This is Cursing Mama.





That messed me up so much that I’m afraid I may have gushed. I hate it when I meet famous bloggers and act like an idiot. I was all “Hey Susan, that’s so cool, you’re getting your sister a book” and she said “This is my sister” and then I went all fangirl and acted like a moron. They were so graceful and lovely and I really wish I had that 4 minutes of my life to do over again. Sigh. Maybe I should start practising.

I later recovered from that with the help of Gwyneth.


Last but not least, Angie.


Angie was the singing/knitting/genius who wrote the lyrics to the great songs they did at the Yarnery, the songs that totally made my day. Mercy it was fun. The Yarnery throws a hell of a knitter party, let me tell you, and their organizational skills are fantastic. The whole thing was huge, wonderful and very nearly seamless…with the exception of one thing.


They forgot to book better weather, or maybe I brought it with me. In any case, everyone who came to the event had to slog their and back through this, and especially on the way home, it was pretty challenging driving. Slippery as all get out. I sat there, MInnesota event behind me and looked at the weather and thought…

Who doesn’t want me to go to Ann Arbor… and Why? I have more trouble getting there than anywhere else, and when I saw that snow, knowing i had a flight early the next morning, all I could think was that if the weather didn’t clear up I was going to rent a car and start driving, because there was no chance that Ann Arbor was getting screwed two years in a row. No way. I went to sleep (briefly) with my fingers crossed, and I guess it worked, because in the morning my plane flew out in between waves of bad weather, and a had the bumpiest flight of my life into Detroit where I made my way forward to Ann Arbor, where I attempted to take sock pictures in a Tornado warning. These were taken in rapid succession while the lovely lady Presbytera of the comments tried to cram as much in as she could.


There was no snow.


There was an M in the “diag” at the University.


Apparently if you step on it you’ll fail your first exam. I don’t know what that could do to a book tour, so I steered clear. She showed me this big cube thing, and if you push it it spins around. See?


See too how it got darker? From there the weather went seriously downhill, but the knitters came anyway.



Plus the knitters in the “overflow room”.


(I know. Seriously weird.)

First sock brigade of Ann Arbor, reporting for duty. Rita, Alice, Liz, Hadley/Emily/Rebecca, Samantha, Amy, Kate, Cesarina, Valerie (it was her birthday too.) Robin (who also gave me a great hand massage) Erin (those are her first split toe socks)




Harriet knit me a tiny little mitten that fits on the end of my Sharpie.


I find it so charming I can’t even tell you.

Look! It’s my buddy Abby!


Abby is absolutely the most infectious fibre person I’ve ever met. Want proof? This nice lady, Melissa, happened to have the good fortune to be sitting next to Abby in the audience. A little time with Abby?


She’s a spinner now. Abby makes them everywhere she goes.

Here, right in front of you is Juliet and Connie, who together have been LLL Leaders (like I used to be) for 39 years.


Kat’s tat.


Joe knit his own kilt hose and sweater.


Nikki made me a washcloth, and Amanda made me two.


Karin is a lovely 10 year old knitter.


and Kaarina has only been knitting for two weeks, but somehow got herself wrapped up in this.


Here’s Carolyn and Spencer, who is so far, the only baby on tour who wouldn’t smile for me.


I totally get it though. They were the last people in line, and Spencer – little dude, I get it.

Finally, those of you who’ve been reading for a while will notice that someone who is always the heart and soul of the Ann Arbor events (Next to the lovely people at the Ann Arbor public Library, who led by Tim, do an honour to librarians everywhere) Our Lady Rams of the Comments couldn’t be with us for this event, since she had a sad bit of business to attend to. We missed you Rams. Presbytera did her best to fill in for you, and was stellar in her own right, but as she had to admit on her name tag, she was:


We missed you.

More tomorrow. The knitters are beginning to arrive by car, bus boat and sea plane at sock camp.


I love Nashville. It was the same way this time as it was last time. Lush, green, overgrown and (mercy me) warm. Totally warm. Not warm like the way you think anything above zero is warm after a Canadian winter, but really truly warm. Like, an entirely insane temperature like 23C (75F) I reeled. I took off my sweater. My pasty little canadian sun starved face got sunburned in the 23 minutes I spent outside just feeling the warm. There’s something stunningly wonderful about the American south. I don’t know if it’s my own sense of romance about the place, all tied up in Scarlett O’hara and Mark Twain and riverboats….but it’s not just Nashville that does it to me. Anywhere the kudzu grows, I am overwhelmed. I stayed in a terrific hotel too… The old Union Station Hotel.


It used to be a train station (trains still rumble underneath, carrying cargo instead of people travelling) and the whole hotel grew up around it. Behind the front desk is a sign listing what time all the trains (used to) come in, and from where, and I stood there stunned that there really was a Chatanooga Choo Choo. (Or a Chatenooga, for that matter. I thought it was just a song.)


I reluctantly left the hotel by way of a door marked “This way to platforms” and I went and found Nashville knitters. Charming, as always.




There were all the first sock knitters, like Anna, Auntie Em (technically it was her second socks, but she was so endearing I cut her some slack) Ann, Natalie, Shirley, Lindsay, Jo (love the knitters with short names.), Jennifer and Ryan. (Jennifer had to bring the sock recipient too. ) and Shakey.

(Click to embiggen.)




Stacie brought me two things I love. A Tennessee washcloth and a beer.


Dos Perros Ale is really yummy. Just saying.

This is Dana, who now owns the terrific shop Threaded Bliss.


Barb is number one. (And has the proof from Borders to prove it. They number knitters there.)


Our good lady Jess of the Bugs brought me a drawing of a butterfly’s reproductive parts.


(Seriously. I don’t know why that was even a surprise. Getting bug porn from Jess should be totally expected. It’s surprisingly beautiful. I’m going to frame it in my house and wait for people to ask what it is. I shall take great glee in telling them all manner of sordid details about bug bits. )

Wooster came to hold me accountable for how long it took her to get her Vintage sock kit. (Totally not my fault that knitters know something good when they see it. Totally not my fault either that I broke the Tsarina’s supply chain. That was the mill running out. Not her.)


Knitterboy brought me an incredible present. I posted the other day about some socks that I love, and I didn’t want to tell you what it was, lest it all be bought out from under me before I could find it. Well, I’ve spend two days on the internets looking for Regia nation colour #5399 and I couldn’t find it. I was all prepared to give up, and here comes Knitterboy with two blessed skeins of it.


Turns out he saw that I was after it, knew that it was a scarce thing on the market and decided to part with a portion of his own private reserve. He walked up to the table and said “I’ve got something you want” and I unwrapped it and went nuts. Folks who were in Nashville last night will tell you of the cry of glee I let out when I saw it. Knitterboy is as powerful a man as he is handsome. Fantastic.

I’m off and running again. It’s terrible whiplash here. I’m in Minnesota and it’s raining/snowing. Not warm. I’ve got six minutes before I leave for the big Yarnery event…and I should seriously do something about my hair.


A Charlotte Harlot

I feel sort of badly about how little I learned about Charlotte while I was there. I usually learn about a city on its sock picture hunt but I couldn’t do that this time. In fact, this tour is turning out to be pretty poor in the sock picture opportunity department. There’s sometimes a little time in the afternoon (after the flight, before the event) and I think about going out and hunting up some cool sock pictures, but then I think about the other stuff I could do with that time…stuff like eat, or sleep (both of which have been hard to fit in) and then somehow I realize that sock pictures (while hugely entertaining) aren’t actually a human need and I do one of the other things. When it comes to Charlotte though, I feel sort of bad about it, because it is a really, really beautiful city. Gorgeous. The trees are all leafed out, there are flowers everywhere, downtown there are azaleas by the millions and window boxes and it is all especially gorgeous to a Canadian coming out of the end of a wicked long, dark winter. It was great, and warm. I asked one person for a little Charlotte Trivia, but all they could tell me was that Tammy Faye, Billy Graham and Clay Aiken are all from Charlotte. I couldn’t stop laughing when I thought of that particular mix as a Charlotte microcosm. The real Charlotte microcosm, looks like this:



….and I have to tell you, this was a seriously fun crowd. A whole lotta awesome. It started right away. Shelle (the very pregnant manager) was celebrating a birthday, and Damien (the employee behind her) somehow located a cake (with her name on it and everything) in about 7 minutes flat and all the knitters sang her the birthday song.


We sang it again later for Stacey.


We had a ton of first socks. There was Jami, Renée, Judi, Aleta (with her 1st, 2nd and 3rd socks, just to show the learning curve) Allison, Tiffanie, Davey (who works for Mac and told me why Leopard was crashing Imageready.) Sue (who also brought me a very, very funny book for tracking animals, which also includes pictures of their scat. Weasel scat, by the way is very distinctive.) Laura, and Michelle. (As always, click to embiggen)




There were babies. Doreen brought Zuri-Elizabeth


and Teresa brought Alexander.


I got to meet Laura from the Unique Sheep. She’s the lady doing the fantastic fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders here. (Some knitters at the Toronto Launch won some of that great yarn in the MSF colourway.)


Elizabeth brought me a washcloth (a big one. I told you they get carried away in Charlotte.)


and she was wearing a really great “unofficial” tour t-shirt. Very funny.


A real high point came when Cristi asked me to cut her first steek for her.


I refused. Everyone should cut their own first steek. It’s an honour to be asked, but it’s so cool to see that it really works that I didn’t want to deprive her of the thrill. I provided deep emotional support and held the layers apart so that she couldn’t accidentally cut where she didn’t mean to. (I don’t think that happens much, I just know it was one of the things that I worried about when I started.)


She lived, and the vest looks great.

Here’s Mandy and her mum sending a shout out to her sister Holly in Anchorage. (Remember her?)


The last person in line was Dru. He came to collect a book for his mama (who made him that excellent gryffindor scarf that he thought to bring with him.) and he was totally charming. I think the bookstore and I all agreed that Dru’s mother did an excellent job. He’s a total gentleman. (Funny too. He was “ma’am”ing me to death (he’s Texan. It’s a reflex) and I pointed out that ma’am is for old ladies. He switched to “miss” in a heartbeat. Then he “yes miss”ed me to death.)


Charming boy.

This morning I went to the airport to fly from Charlotte to Nashville, and I totally saw a knitter in the airport.


She was sewing up a really beautiful greenish sweater. Gorgeous. I was way too shy to talk to her, but I did kinnear her. Anybody know her? She’s really talented.

Finally, on the flight today I totally finished my Rivendell socks. I love them too.


They are a little big, which is good, because they are not for me. I love the wrapped stitches, the twisted stitches…these are a winner all around. I bet I knit them again.


It is, by the way, very hard to take pictures of your own feet in a hotel room. (Or anywhere, really)


Details: Rivendell sock pattern. Dyed in the wool Handmade fingering yarn in “I am the eggplant”.

Onward. Nashville Knitters await me.

Two for one

You might want to go get a coffee for this one, since I’m going to try and do two events in one post so that I’m back to posting in real time (more or less) it’s just too weird to be writing about an event that happened two days ago instead of an event that happened last night so I’m taking this post to recoup, and writing about Atlanta and Annapolis even though I am now in Charlotte. (I’m lucky I know where I am…)

So, I arrived in Atlanta in the morning (the morning of the alarm incident) and dragged myself off the plane and went and stood in baggage claim along with a million other people because apparently it was “spring break”. I stood, and I stood and I stood and eventually, all hope died within me, as an hour had passed without any sign of my bag at all. I went and talked to the airline people, and they assured me that I should keep waiting, because of the spring break and one million travellers, and that another 30 minutes of standing in the Atlanta airport was prudent. I did so, but it was for nothing. I left, while the airline began to track it down. There was another flight from Lexington in two hours, they said, and my bag would undoubtedly be on that. I did the math. There was still a chance (by my reckoning, which was optimistic) that I would have my bag before the event, and that I could be clean and dressed nicely for the knitters of Atlanta. Alas, it was not to be, and I did go to the event in my travel clothes (after I had a little cry in the hotel room) and abandoned all hope of ever getting it back. (I figured that I’m moving so fast, from city to city on all different airlines, that if I didn’t get it back that day, it would just chase me forever.) I went, with my hair all weird (nothing to put in it) wearing the same clothes I’d been travelling in all week (not pretty) and I tried to be chipper. Once I got to Knitch, that was easy. Knitch, my friends, holds hell of a party.




They did the thing at the Hilan Theatre, which is a very cool place and smells like cookies baking. (Anybody else notice that?) Knitch gave away a small fortune in prizes, had a very cool knit it, and the whole thing was a gas. I’m starting to adore Atlanta, and it’s all Kim’s fault.

Atlanta had very cute babies. This is baby Sydney and her mama Pixie Purls


and this is Annie and Sari. (See? Very cute babies in Atlanta.)


There was the first sock brigade: Elizabeth, Nada (it was her Birthday AND her first sock) Beverly, Laura and Andy.

(Click to embiggen these knitters.)


Then there was Melissa’s second sock, which…. Well. Clearly she went a little over the top.


I got to see Abby, who is the genius who designed our knitters without borders button (and pins)


She brought Mr. Orange. (And she took a million pictures. A million.)

It was a brilliant event. Brilliant, and it’s all because the staff at Knitch are the nicest ever.


I love those guys. Kim drove me around after so I could get some sock pictures. See what I found?

Wisteria and Azaleas.



Atlanta isn’t having a winter. Clearly. The sock was astonished.

Event done, I went back to the hotel room and when I saw that I still had no suitcase, I just lay on the floor face down until it came. (That was around midnight, and you have never seen a woman happier to get her underpants.) Six hours later, I handed the bag right back to the same airline and went to Baltimore/ Annapolis.

I was not there long enough to get a sense of it, but I did figure out four things. It is in Maryland. Crab is big there. The water was Chesapeake Bay,


and there are LOTS of knitters.




Crazy. See those escalators? I think everyone there would agree that one of the coolest parts of that evening was watching unsuspecting non-knitters come up the escalator into that scene. It was endless entertainment.

There were, of course, babies, which you all know I love to no end. (I heard someone shush a happy baby at an event the other day, and I thought I might take a moment to mention that I never, ever mind happy baby noises at an event. A baby singing or babbling is just fine with me – and I think that most people would agree that a happy baby can be anywhere their mama is (especially if their mama is also their meal. Seems harsh to separate them when they need each other that way.) Naturally, if your baby is sad at an event that’s another story…but happy baby noises are just fine, and even pleasant.)

This is Jolene and Joe. (Jolene is an LLL Leader, just like I was)


and this is four week old Raley and her mum Sarah. I put the knitting needle in Raleys hand.


She held tight to it, even in her sleep.

Amy and Mama-e came to say hi!


These are Annapolis’ 1st sock knitters: Trish, Kathleen, Lynne, Jessica and Chris. (Chris is totally going to be a hot commodity in the knitting market in about 10 years.)


This, this is Bobby, who’s wife is Marianne. He just happened to be in the area and saw I was coming and scored her a book. Dude stayed for the whole talk and stood in line and held the sock. That, my friends, is a man who loves his wife.


This is =Tamar. (She’s a regular in the comments, I thought you might enjoy seeing what she looks like as much as I did.)


This is Jane. Jane is holding a 40 year old sock, knit by her.


The mate wore out ,she says because she forgot the reinforcing thread in the heel and toe. A 40 year old first sock. How about that.


This is Rhonda. I took her picture because I love her socks but I’m not telling you what it is until I buy some. (I don’t need you lot clearing it out.)

Behold the wonder that is Tola and Mike!


I always enjoy their visits, and not just because they bring beer. (Although that’s really good.)

Trish brought a Maryland washcloth…


and this –


This is the Princess Colleen. Seven years old, already knitting hats on DPNs. Destined for greatness.

I saved the best for last. When I was growing up, my mum’s best friend was Anne Marie, and I played with her daughter Kimberly all the time. All the time. Even after they moved to the states we drove to Greensboro to see them sometimes, and I spent a summer with her in my teens, so I’ve always thought of Kimberly as my cousin. About 18 years ago I lost touch with Kimberly. She went her way, I went mine, and though I’ve (almost) always known where she was at because our Mum’s are always in touch I swear to you…


I didn’t know she was in Baltimore. I just about swallowed my own tongue when I saw her. She happened to be shopping in the Borders that afternoon, saw a poster and stuck around. She doesn’t even knit. (Yet.) I recognised her right away, as I’m sure my brother and sister will. She looks just like herself – only older.

How about that. Kimberly.

It was fantastic.

(PS, no Mum, I’m not taller than Kimberly. I’m wearing my tall shoes like you told me to.)

Should I survive

I will have met the nicest knitters. I’m still alive though feeling a little like I’m holding on tight. The events are wonderful, it’s all the stuff in between that’s tiring. The planes, the cabs, the hotels, the everything. Then I get to an event and everything’s fantastic again, and then it’s back on a plane. Speaking of fantastic, I give you the knitters of Lexington, Kentucky. (Sort of backlit in crappy pictures because of the big windows behind them, but I was too far away to use the flash. Imagine them better.)




Jessi did a great fundraiser with wonderful donations from Magpie Yarns and ReBelle, raised over $500 for Doctors without Borders, and the whole thing was lovingly co-ordinated by the lovely Rachel Ray (Not that one) who is not just a Joseph Beth Bookstore lady, but a knitter, as evidenced by her display of sockitude.


(The one on the right is here first sock. It’s a little big.)

Ann brought big socks too, though hers were big on purpose.


Kilt hose for her brothers wedding. Dude is TALL. You have to really love someone to make socks that big.

This is Lindsey, who’s showing off her first socks, only one of which is big.


(What? Do you knit both your socks the same size?)

This is Olivia, youngest knitter at the Lexington event, only 8 years old.


When I posted the picture of Holly after the NYC event, a lady piped up in the comments and said that she knew her from college, and here she is.


Holly… do you remember Jaime? She remembers you.

This is baby Samantha, clearly loved by knitters,


as she’s as covered in knitted stuff as a baby in Kentucky can be before you’re endangering their lives.

Meg didn’t fall for the big sock theme in Lexington…


At all.

Here’s Renée,


Co-author of AntiCraft fame.

Nicole had her first sock with her. (She may not finish. It will be a choice, not a lack of skill)


Brooke continued to stalk me in that way that only she can. (Damn she’s funny.)


and I was done. I declined several charming offers to do some beer drinking in Kentucky (one or two of the more charming offers also involved bourbon – which I have been known to enjoy in a bourbon sour – except for I like the sugar on the rim, not in the drink.) but I was a very good author and went back to my room, went straight to bed, which was excellent, because the next morning was the morning of the “incident” described in my last entry.

The “incident” was apparently repeated all over the continent as clocks programmed by the manufacturer to “spring ahead” for Daylight savings sprang on the old date.

I staggered to the airport after that last post (and yes..did make the shuttle, thanks for asking) found an entirely inedible bagel with some yellowish stuff they claimed was egg and some orangish stuff that they said was cheese and I know for a fact, was neither. I’ve had egg and cheese, and I don’t care what that place in the Lexington airport had written on their menu. That’s not it. (I have my suspicions about what they were calling “coffee” as well.)

I short time later, I arrived in Lexington to do the Knitch event, and well. My luggage did not.

(I’ve got it back now, as I am sure everyone at that event will be pleased to hear. Especially Nell, Knitch employee extraordinaire, who offered me her very own underpants. )

I am thrilled that declining that kind offer turned out to be a good choice. More tomorrow, tonight, I’m off to the Borders in Annapolis.

More that there are words

I have to catch a 5:30am shuttle to the airport this morning. Getting up at 5:30 runs counter to my nature the way that taking baths runs counter to the nature of toast, so I very carefully implemented my patented triple alarm system. I live in fear of oversleeping and missing a flight, so I take extreme precautions.

I called the front desk and booked the shuttle for 5:30, then asked for a wake-up call at 5:00. (I can get ready really fast if I have to.) Then I set the alarm by the bed for 5:00. Then I set my cell phone alarm for 5:00. I have found this system to be highly reliable. One may fail, two could fail….three? No way. It’s failsafe. Then I lay down and immediately fell into the deep and dreamless sleep of the author on a book tour.

I woke up this morning, for no reason at all. The phone was not ringing with my wake-up call. The cell phone wasn’t ringing with my alarm, the clock radio wasn’t going off. I rolled over and looked at the clock to see how early I was awake and to divine if I could glean even a few more moments of precious sleep and HOLY SAINTED MERINO it was 5:32am!

I jumped up. I said some incredibly appropriate and foul words. (When under duress, I have the ability to string them together with incredible alacrity. It’s a gift.) I swore again. I ran into the bathroom and started ramming my toothpaste and sock yarn into my bags. I swore some more. Bastard pigs! How had this happened! I had already missed the shuttle, I was probably going to miss the flight, I was not going to make the event in Atlanta. Kim at Knitch was going to kill me. Jayme-the-wonder-publicist was going to kill me. I paused.

No- I would kill myself. More efficient, less humiliating. Son of a phentex ball band. How had this happened?!

I ran to the phone. If they could hold the shuttle for 5 minutes I could be there. I dialled the front desk. When the nice girl answered, I exploded into the phone.

“Listen, I don’t know what happened, I really don’t. I had a triple alarm system and somethings happened. You guys didn’t call with the wake up call for 5:00 but I don’t think there’s any time for blame. Lets move on, I’ll blame you later if I miss the flight. You can talk to the knitters. Not me. Now, I’m supposed to be on the 5:30 shuttle which I know has probably already left but if you can please just hold it I can be there in 5 minutes. No…4. Just don’t let it leave I’ll be right there. Don’t let it leave. Get my bill ready. Hold the door open. Distract the driver. Take your top off, I don’t care what you do…just don’t let that shuttle leave if if hasn’t already and if it did, maybe you should call me a cab. Yes, a cab… that’s the answer. Don’t talk. Just do it. I’ll be right there. I can pee at the airport. Damn. Damn. Damn.”

Here I paused, which was not my intent, but I was out of breath. When I did pause, the girl on the other end said “Ma’am, please calm down.”

“Missy – now is not the time for calmness. I’ve been a mother for 18 years. I know when to be calm and this is not it.” I replied, and the first seeds of real fury arose. (I’m not the type to get angry with hotel people, but her calmness in the face of disaster was more than I can bear.)

“Ma’am….?” she said, ever so tentatively, “I can hear that you are upset. I really can, and if you really want a cab, I can call one for you right now, it’ll be here in less than 5 minutes and be waiting for you, but I’m not sure that’s what you want.”

“Oh, are you?” I replied, the hostility welling up in me.

“Yes ma’am. ” she said.

“It’s 4:30.”


I fell down. My hotel room clock is wrong. It’s ahead by an hour. (Although it still didn’t go off. May be my fault. This is exactly why I have the triple alarm system.)

“Do you think you can still make the 5:30 shuttle?” she inquired.

“This day is off to a challenging start.” I replied.

For the record, my wake-up call and cell phone did ring at 5:00. The triple alarm system remains undefeated.


I have 15 minutes to post a blog entry, so I have to tell you this may be short on both words and charm. Denver just about killed me. I’ve got a new respect for people who live there, mostly because I think that its an environment that kills off the weak. There’s no air in that state, and it’s so close to the burning ball of fire in the sky that I think that you could be incinerated in moments, were you to succumb to the lack of oxygen and happen to fall down somewhere the bright sunshine could get you. It’s the altitude, that place is just closer to the sun and farther out of the atmosphere. By the time that the signing rolled around last night I had a headache, swollen hands, swollen feet (probably a swollen face, but I’m trying not to dwell on that) and was exhausted and dizzy after executing demanding physical chores like carrying a coffee cup from one side of the hotel room to another. Sadly, sock pictures in Denver are sadly lacking as a result. I did get the most important ones though. The knitters.



Good looking bunch, aren’t they?

Erynn was first in line with Isaac and Isaiah.


I think there was nobody in the place who thought there was anybody with a better reason to be first. I didn’t ask her to hold the sock. Her arms were right full.

Then was Jackie, who’s sister wondered why on earth she was going to see someone called the “Yam Harlot”.


Amy Clarke Moore, editor of Spin-Off magazine, and a friend.


Ruth may be my new best friend,


because she gives hand massages. (I entreated her to follow me from city to city.)

I met Marly,


who does the great Yarn Thing podcast and gave a nice little knitted sock a chance to hang out with some crochet.

Jacob was back,


This time wearing a great kilt and sporting kilt hose underway. (Do you all remember Jacob and his great shirt from last year?)

Stacey brought the mittens I knit and she won several years ago back for a visit.


Penny came all the way from Wyoming. (I don’t know where that is, but it sounds far.)


and this is Liz (the mum) Abigail (the wearer) and Hannah (the knitter.) Also sisters.


Abigail is modelling the first pair of socks Hannah ever knit.


(Ever get tired of these overachievers? Bloody brilliant knitters making the rest of us look bad.)

It was Lisa’s Birthday.


And Pat loaned me a darning needle, so I could finish the Sock Ease socks (liked the yarn perfectly well still. Good stuff. I thought the aloe might be weird, but it’s not. It’s nice.)


and so they’re done!


(Which is extra good, because I didn’t pack enough socks. It’s good to be a knitter an solve these little problems independently. Slowly, but independently.) When I was taking these pictures this morning (rather early) I happened to look across the street and see this.


A Jolly Roger, flapping in the wind on the building across the street. What building?


The Chamber of Commerce. Dudes, you gotta love a city with a sense of humour.

Thanks for everything Denver. It was a blast. A breathless blast, but a blast.

New York, New York

The morning after the launch (I am still reeling over how fun that was) I got up early, ate a Montreal bagel and some squeaky cheese (transported here by the lovely Barbie) and went with Jayme-the-wonder-publicist to the airport, where we talked about how she was coming to understand that knitters were everywhere and how incredible that is, and she kept talking about the flickr pictures (which are incredible and way, way beyond my wildest dreams – I mean, have you seen them? Ms. Atwood holding a sock for all knitters in support of a Canadian Author? The woman’s got class, and not just because she’s a famous author, but because she’s equally respected for her valuable mentorship of up and coming writers. It’s profoundly decent that she bothered with me and I’m so absolutely remarkably, surprised in the best way possible that I can hardly talk about it. I’ve started a thank you note to her 26 times, and have deleted them all when they either make me sound like a moron or a sycophant or a moronic sycophant. In the end, I may just go with “thank you”, and hope that she understands.) …in any case, Jayme and I were talking about how knitters are everywhere, just everywhere, and I looked up and …


Glenna! Another knitter, found in the airport. We sat down to chat and knit (she’d been at the launch the night before) and while we were chatting, Jayme took our picture. We’re laughing because yet another knitter was walking by. (We are everywhere.) As a quick aside, Glenna just finished her thesis, and that sweater, and she said that she wasn’t sure which one she was more delighted to have finished. It is a really nice sweater.

Glenna got on one plane, we got on another, and soon we were in a cab headed for a lunch meeting in New York where I found something remarkable.


It’s spring! (Hold on Eastern Canada. If it’s here, it has to be coming our way soon.) There isn’t a single pile of snow here, not one. Not in a corner, not in a shady alley…none, and I looked. There are blooming trees, and tulips and I even saw some trees that had leaves. Actual leaves. I just about walked into the trunk of one of them I was so stunned with the verdant glory of it. Just imagine, tiny, perfect, fresh leaves. It’s glorious. That would have been enough for me. It really would. I could have gotten back on a plane right that minute and gone home and carried spring in my hopefully little heart, but my day got better. I had lunch at my favourite restaurant (HanGawi. I love that place. Ms Too Much Wool took me there after my first book conference in NYC, when I was somewhat emptied by the joyless soul-suck that is the Javits Center. She promised me that it was the spiritual opposite of a conference centre, and she’s right. I try to eat there every time I go. You get to take your shoes off at the door, which is totally another reason to go if you happen to be the sort of person who, like me…is likely wearing great socks.) and then I went to the bookstore and then I saw this:



Knitters of NYC, in all their quirky glory. (My apologies to the knitters on the far left and in the centre I didn’t quite get you into the picture and didn’t realize it because I was busy freaking the frak out and trying to look like that’s not what was happening.) The talk went well (I think, it’s hard to tell from my position) and after the sweaty podium part, I got to do the part I like better, which is just talking to knitters individually, which isn’t really all that scary.

Remember Kimberly? First class stalker, finally remembered to bring her much promised and much maligned first sock. (It is a little questionable.)


Bakerina came, but …didn’t bake. (What was in the bag was really good though.)


This is Holly, with the third thing she has ever knit, which clearly means that she is destine for a greatness that should both frighten and inspire us all.


That goes for Melanie, who’s holding her first sock, which is a perfectly executed monkey sock.


Jenn with her knitting tattoo.


and this is Liz, being a book sherpa for her mum Maggie, who was on the phone and was very nice. (I got to talk to her.)


When it was over, I showed the sock Times Square at night,


a sight that I think every brand new Canadian travelling sock should see at least once, and went back to the hotel where I immediately lost consciousness I was so tired. Crazy tired. All these knitters can tucker a girl out. The next morning I had a meeting at Workman Publishing, which was fine, because everyone there is nice, but still made me want to hide in a closet because of how badly unsettled I am by meetings with big tables, many people and men who wear ties. (It is good that I have chosen the career I have, since most of the time I just have to see the cat.)

I regained my equilibrium two ways. First, Peter Workman (inspired by what aspect of my nature, I cannot guess) gave me a copy of the book Stuntology, which promises to teach me how to open a beer with my eye socket, a skill that I feel will vastly improve my book tour… and secondly, while he was talking, I slipped him a little sock action.


I am not even sure he noticed, which is extremely satisfying. I just sort of put it in his hand and took the picture before he really knew what was going on, which is seriously in the spirit of the game. Very good.

From there, I went to the Newark airport, then flew to Denver, making for a great deal of knitting time. I finished the Sock Ease socks on the way, and as a little bonus, I left the remaining half a skein of yarn in the seat pocket. I hope a knitter finds it. All that remains to be done is to kitchener the toe,


but alas, I have packed like a moron and can’t find a darning needle. I’m going to try and borrow one from a knitter at the Tattered Cover tonight. (Note that you can email the Tattered Cover and ask for a signed copy, should you want one, and live too far from anywhere I’ll be.) When I finished those, I cast on for the first of two pairs I want to knit over the next little bit, and I’m really loving the combination of pattern and yarn.


This is Janel’s beautiful Rivendell sock pattern and a fantastic new-to-me fingering sock yarn from Dyed in the Wool Handmade, (Happy Birthday Maggie) in a colourway called “I am the eggplant”, which makes me laugh every time I think of it. Which is lot. Eggplant. Snort.

Finally, now that I’m in Denver (where I totally have to go wash my hair and put on clothes to do this thing) I keep seeing signs like this


It says “tornado shelter”. Denver? Is there something you’d like to tell me?

You have no idea

I am (although this is usually not the case) entirely at a loss for words to describe yesterday and last night. It was wild. It was crazy. It was like for one whole day, everything went down knitter style, and I didn’t even know we had a style. Andy and Michael were wonderful,

, I took that from backstage, if it worked…. the company was excellent, if entirely mad.


The babies were happy.


(Many knitters love this baby. You can tell because she has so much wool on.)

Drea finished an afghan.


The pictures from the scavenger hunt, and a whole lot of the stories for how they got them are downright exceptional.


Knitterly subterfuge, trickery and careful application of the knitters wit have made for some shots you won’t believe, and some stories you’ll be telling all day.


I’m going to refer you to the Flickr group, and get on a plane for NYC, and leave the knitters to use the comments to tell you what happened. Or didn’t. (Hint: The Mayor’s secretary is very nice, several Canadian Icons are excellent sports, and much of an entire city doesn’t know what hit them.)

Get a cup of coffee. Read. C’est fantastique.