Baltimore, Briefly

I arrived in Baltimore yesterday around 4pm, and I was up and gone to the airport by 8am this morning, and so what I am going to show you here is really all I saw of the place. I saw the airport, the bookstore and a hotel. (I can tell you one thing I learned – the place where I was? Not so walkable. I looked at the map when I was in the hotel, and figured out quickly that the easiest way to get to the bookstore was to walk. It was close, it would be easy, and it would be nice to be outside. Ten minutes later I’d trucked past a shocked doorman, who tried desperately to call me a cab, and I was walking along the side of an overpass and crossing ramps without lights, and five minutes later, someone actually stopped their car to ask me if I was okay. A few minutes after that, I realized there was no sidewalk into the mall, and got honked at twice while I was trying to cross the street legally. People were looking at me like I was a kangaroo. When the event was over last night, the store manager said that there was no way I should walk back to the hotel, and confirmed that he doesn’t expect any pedestrians, doesn’t look for them, and that it wasn’t smart to be one. Driving is the way it works. Coming from a city like I do, it was a really surprising thing to hear. A city where everyone has a car? Heck, half of the people I know don’t even have a driver’s license – never mind a car. I chose life and accepted the lift back to the hotel.)  While you might not be able to walk there, it’s pretty clear that the joint is chock full of really nice people. Behold! Our people of Baltimore!

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Hey, also behold this! I finished my pair of socks, that’s a new one in those pictures: 

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The pair I’ve been plugging along on turned up finished while I was in Boston – and that was days ahead of the sock deadline for this month. The finished ones are Trekking XXL colour 538, and my basic sock pattern from Knitting Rules.

Baltimore was a treat, and the knitters couldn’t have been nicer. There was the now ritual parade of first socks, and as always, most of them came with a twist.

This is Judi, who finished her first pair of socks, only because she found a way to knit them flat. (Atta girl. Work what you have.)

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Here’s Kathy, with an appropriately tiny and bedraggled first pair.

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Sarah arrived with her first sock (she didn’t quite make it through the first one, and that was quite some time ago – like, years) but she brought her mum’s first pair to prove that she’s genetically predisposed for success.

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Jessica had a first pair that had.. umm, “interesting” toes? (She’s better at toes now.)

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And last but not least, Cindy’s son got deployed, and she got custody of his husky, who promptly ate the better part of her first pair.

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We had knitting sisters, coming along to the reading together… Meet Carol, Phylis and Mary. (That’s a lot of mojo in one family)knitsisterscarolphyllismary 2014-03-15

Then there was Melissa. She had one of those sock blankets that seem to be viral again:

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But my friends, Melissa got a crazy case of it.  I don’t even want to think what her viral load is like, because ladies and gentlemen, she’s not even halfway done.

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What a sight. That’s five knitters holding it up, and Melissa’s just getting into the blues.

It’s was a miraculous thing. Several of us almost fainted dead away.

And that was Baltimore. More tomorrow about Exton, I’ll write about it tomorrow when I’m at the airport, because it was lovely (although we were sort of short on chairs) and I’ll have time in the morning… on my way home. What a beautiful word.

77 thoughts on “Baltimore, Briefly

  1. That’s a really big blanket! Thanks for coming to Baltimore. It’s always a treat to see you and hear your storytelling, and I had a good laugh. 😀

  2. It was lovely to see you in Exton even if we were short of chairs. (I’m the one who gave you the handmade book). I was wishing I’d brought my 12 yr old son. He would have LOVED the skunk story. I’m going to see if I can get him to read it in the book.

  3. Our people are pretty awesome! So glad you’re getting knitterly love and welcome on your tour. Next best thing to being there? You’re pics and commentary!

  4. I was sad I didn’t get to make it to the reading in Baltimore. I’m glad you got safely back to your hotel though.

    I have your book and I’m about half way through, savoring it for night time reading once my kids go to bed.

  5. I’m had so much fun meeting you in Baltimore! And now my blanket’s famous! If anyone wants details of its journey, I’m Darwinkity on Ravelry.

    • Your blanket is incredible! I started one (for my smallest balls of leftover sock yarn) several years ago. It is still quite small, since finishing “real projects” seems to take precedence. I will be following your progress on Ravelry — be sure to keep us all posted.

    • Enjoyed meeting you and your friend last night. Love your blanket. Hope the pictures turned out. If not, let me know and I will resend.

  6. I enjoy so much seeing everyone’s first socks! I hope I get to show you mine some day (ATLANTA, ahem)! And Melissa K, that blanket is just amazing, thanks for sharing your ravelry name so I could see more photos.

  7. That rainbow sock blanket is SO beautiful and wonderful 🙂 I think those projects are viral for a reason – they’re inspiring and exciting but still do-able!

    As someone in another very walkable/transit-able city, I would also find it super weird to be expected to drive everywhere. I don’t have a license either. Weird.

    • That particular shopping center is particularly bad and is *not* “walkable”, even from other sections of the parking lot, like where I parked, over to the bookstore. That said, there are plenty of walkable parts of Baltimore and surrounding communities (I live in Catonsville where we have lots of sidewalks and crosswalks.) Owings Mills tends to assume car use.

  8. Have you ever considered writing a book about your travels, the people you meet, their stories, their knits and the stories of their knits? I love the pics you always post…and the stories!

    • It wouldn’t be the same as you or the author reading it aloud, but maybe you could buy the ebook and use the computer or tablet’s text-to-speech function. A dyslexia expert calls this “reading by ear” and points out that it’s as legit as “reading by eye” (conventional reading) or “reading by touch” (reading braille). It also has the advantage of giving you control over how fast something is read to you. (This also would have been a HUGE help in school to DS, who is very bright but dyslexic and gave up at the GED level).

  9. Loved meeting you in Baltimore and listening to your stories, can’t wait to sit down tomorrow and read your book from cover to cover with a bit of knitting mixed in. I do hope for an audio book as well, but will read some to my hubby as well since I know he’ll enjoy it too. (He’s visually impaired).

    Thanks also for the best laughs I’ve had in quite awhile. I laughed till I cried and almost reached that stage where you cannot breathe due to laughing so hard. It’s a good thing I didn’t. That stage is horribly infectious and we’d have all been rolling on the floor.

    p.s. If you ever find a stunt double to help with book tours, you’ll need to arm her with a bunch of partially knitted socks at different stages because we won’t believe it’s you otherwise.

    p.p.s. I love your mum.

    • Hi Laura – I am also waiting for the audio version as my husband is also visually impaired and I know he would love to read the book. T

  10. Thank you so much for coming to Baltimore! You really cheered me up at the end of a hard week. I can’t wait for you to come back! (I was the one with the baby in the R2D2 hat.)

  11. So glad I could see you in Baltimore! I hope the treats were good. I meant to bring you dinner but there was an incident with a husband burning things… Have a safe journey home!

  12. Loved meeting you in Baltimore. Your stories are wonderful! The story about Calgary was hysterical, can’t wait to hear the stories about Pittsburg and Memphis! Looking forward to seeing you again. Safe travels home!

  13. Kimberly and Slytherbun in the front row–I hope you got to hold the baby. And WOW on that afghan! I am the happy recipient of two get-well afghans in that style from when things looked Not Good five years ago, and they totally worked at helping restore my health. So that pattern is near and dear to me: it means love, some of it from people I didn’t even know. Knitters are wonderful.

  14. My Alaskan Malamute not only ate my first pair of socks, she ate few more pairs before we realized she had figured a way into the laundry basket! She does eat the store bought socks.

  15. To be fair, that Baltimore bookstore isn’t really in the city of Baltimore, despite its address. Mid-atlantic cities are weird and sprawly and generally very car-centric, so the edges get blurry. If it makes you feel better, there are parts of Baltimore-proper where people do walk places without getting run over (or at least without getting accidentally run over).

    • Agreed – you were in the suburbs, where things are much more spread out. Downtown Baltimore is quite walkable, and there’s decent public transit. Glad you came, despite all that!

    • I was going to say the same, that you weren’t in the city limits and were outside the beltway (the interstate I suspect you had to walk over). I live in the city and walk a lot and also take the bus, metro (subway), or light rail. Yes, we have all three!

      I laughed a ton and retold your stories to my husband. Thanks so much and do come back!

  16. So nice that you finally get to go home, Steph! Thanks so much for posting all of these pix with your wonderful sock progress I’ve enjoyed every bit – so much so that I had to run out and buy your book!

  17. The sock blanket is amazing. I’ve got lots of leftover sock wool waiting patiently to be made into a blanket……one day.

  18. My husband went to Baltimore a few years ago and got egged at while walking from an officice he visited to his hotel which was 200 meters away. He laughed when I read your post to him!

    Being a Swede, the US way of never walking anywhere feels strange but I suppose there are infrastructural reasons to why it is like that…

  19. At least you haven’t had a call from home asking you to come back a day later so they can clean up… Happened to a friend of mine – her teenage son had a party that went a bit wrong…

  20. Just wanted to add how much fun we had. My 12 yr old son, who was wandering around in the stacks, stopped to listen to your chapter and said that people kept looking at him funny because he was laughing so hard. Not sure whether they were surprised he was listening, or if he was laughing his goofy laugh, but he heartily approves of your non-knitting humor. 🙂

  21. Yeah, for some reason, the concept of “walking to the mall” isn’t even considered in most of the USA!

  22. I don’t have a driver’s license and I too have tried to walk to some places I shouldn’t. But how they heck are we supposed to know who to believe when they say we can’t walk? Every time I teach a class outside of Toronto someone asks with a shocked look on their face “how did yoooou get there”?

  23. I totally get the no driving thing. After years of driving kids everywhere in DC, we decided to settle in Kingston, ON within walking distance of everything. The kids, it turns out, now have no motivation at all to learn to drive–and that’s OK. Have a lovely trip home.

  24. Ha, I almost laughed myself silly when I read your post. I had pretty much the same experience, when I was in Baltimore last year. I’m from Germany and living in a big city. We’re used to not having a car and walking or using public transport, too. So I walked to the mall about a mile from my hotel, too. I got almost run over twice and was very glad about the draconic speed limits the States enfoce in urban areas (a lot slower than what we’re used to over here, usually).
    That experience was only topped when I walked to the supermarket about a block from my hotel the next day and, lo and behold, brought my own linen grocery bag for the two bottles of soda and a pack of cookies I was about to buy. The guy assisting the cashier to pack the customers’ purchases stood dumbfounded while I actually packed my stuff into my bag myself and was about to carry it outside. He took all his will together and tried to take the bag from me, “to take it to your car, Ma’am”. Imagine his face when I told him, I was there as a pedestrian. His shock eased up a little as I told him, I was a visitor from Europe. I just hope I haven’t made all Europeans look like complete basket cases in the poor guy’s eyes.
    Anyway Americans are fun and I look forward to my next visit.

  25. Missed your reading in Baltimore region because it was at a location that is NOT public transportation friendly. The bookstore is outside of the city. I live in Baltimore city and walk everywhere– to work, to baseball games, to concerts and today, to an Irish festival and parade. Please come back when you have more time and I would love to take you for a walk along our beautiful harbor.

  26. That sock blanket is so amazing. I can’t even imagine the finished project. Wowza. That’s not a project you bring on the subway to work on while you commute.

    I always love seeing everyone’s first socks! Brings a smile to my face. Glad you survived and enjoyed your short stay in Baltimore.

  27. tee hee (sort of) – short of chairs. Your chats/signing have a big history of being a wonderful draw for the stores…BYOC starting soon? That blanket is stunning and the soc pix inspire me to keep going! Thank you for your latest book – I have it on my kindle and all the essays give me things to think on.

  28. I enjoyed your reading so much. Totally worth the 2 hour drive from Northern Virginia. You are right, the suburbs aren’t great for non-car transportation. Your stories were so funny I immediately retold them to my wife. Hopefully next time I can show off more than the toe of my first sock (or third if we count how many times I have ripped it back and reknit it, seriously the yarn is starting to look a little shabby).

  29. I love your blog. I get to see lots of other knitters and know that we are worldwide. I laugh. Sometimes I get misty eyed. But it’s all simply wonderful. Go Baltimore! Thanks!

  30. I only had a couple hours notice of your visit from Alison Jeppson Hyde or else I’d have worn the Water Turtles shawl (THE one from her book.) Besides the turtle, we had deer, raccoons, possums and skunks come get our food scraps. Skunk-smell is a natural asthma cure–it opens up your breathing, just in case you couldn’t smell it well enough before! Took us a while, but “the spot” moved farther into the woods because it wasn’t “composting” but “feeding the critters”, including the turtle…and skunk. You could have become ‘stinkin’ rich if you’d just bottled “your” skunk’s emanations. 😉
    I can *totally* understand never going back to Calgary. I’ve not laughed so hard *with* someone about their situation as I did about your “situation”. Hear, hear for Canadians being polite and not “noticing”, and for your fortune in scoring a hand towel. 😀
    Glad you made it back home, with plenty of new travel-related material, for your next book!

  31. Thanks so much for coming to Baltimore!! I will echo the other commenters by saying that you were not really “in the city”, and we do have plenty of very “walkable” areas! I thoroughly enjoyed your talk, and I’m so thankful that you persevere, even though talking about the book is not your thing!!

  32. Yikes! Glad you made it safely to the bookstore – yea, they’d just as soon run you over as to hold to a pedestrian…. I’m a MD girl now – and this is one of several reasons I’m thinking of not being a MD girl anymore…. I couldn’t make it to this event this year 🙁 glad all the knitters came out in force!

  33. My husband was down in Virginia for work last year, and a couple of his co-workers actually got stopped and almost arrested by the cops, because they had decided to walk home from the bar they’d been at (probably about a 20-minute walk). It took them some time to convince the cop that yes, they had really just walked home from there and their presence on their feet on the street did not mean they were up to anything nefarious. I’m sure the cop left that encounter thinking that these Canadians were just plain crazy.

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