Imagine me, far away riding my bike with my three little ducklings trailing me as we pedal through pastoral Quebec (I think that's where we'd be there by now. I wrote this ahead of time) with Ken and I making fools of ourselves en français. Imagine two people, each badly handicapped in their second national language. One has no accent, the other...no vocabulary. (If they work together they may almost order poutine without being mocked by the locals.) Now imagine that each of them actually labours under the delusion that they are speaking better french than the other and that both of them are stubborn to the point of ridiculousness. All parties concerned now (having been biking and camping for several days) smell sort of funny, are obsessed with the idea that there are bugs in the tents, and one of them is likely regretting that their camping knitting is crack kid silk haze, (That would not be me. I'm a thinker.) since the relentless heat, humidity and filth are making the cobwebby stuff stick to him. (I would be the one feeling guilty for not warning him better.) I suppose, since I am writing this ahead of time, that it's also possible that we have spent several days sitting in tents waiting for the rain to let up, and are on the brink of shattering insanity from playing endless rounds of "eye spy", " A - my name is Annabelle" and "20 questions" with the girls to keep ourselves occupied, and we all wish we had enough crack kid silk haze to strangle each other with...but that's just too cruel to consider.
Regardless of what I am doing, this entry is here to occupy you while I'm gone with a contest.
The prize? Glad you asked.
How do you make this yours? While I was in Hollywood for the bookbookbook, I took a stroll on the walk of fame. The sock and I looked for names we liked, but we were only moved by two. These two I liked well enough that I diced with hoards of ravening tourists and lay the sock down on the sidewalk for a shot.
What names were on the two stars that were my favourites?
Leave your two names in the comments, and in the unlikely event that more than one person guesses right, I'll randomly select from all right answers. If nobody guesses (which, frankly...I think is more likely) I'll draw from among all guesses. If you are a California knitter and I already told you who's stars I loved, If you happened to be out for a walk on Hollywood blvd. and you saw me taking the pictures (and now that doesn't seem as crazy as you thought), or if told you on the phone in a minute of weakness...you can't play.
Have fun. See you on Thursday.
Rams here again. Can we talk cannibalism?
I know the Harlot’s a vegetarian, so maybe I’m out of line here. But although no one else seems to be blogging about it, I can’t believe I’m the only one with cannibalistic issues.
Let me explain.
Every year our Weaver’s Guild holds a wonderful sale. They take a percentage to fund their workshops and speakers; I make enough money to buy more fiber, kind of like Ma Otter in Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas trading socks for a pumpkin to make pies to buy yarn to knit socks to trade…
And I understand that mature spinners/knitters spin for a project, spin enough for the entire project before they cast on and then actually use that yarn for the project they intended. I, on the other hand, am Grommit. You will recall that in “The Wrong Trousers” the burglar penguin (trust me) is making his in-house getaway on Wallace’s model railroad and tries to thwart the pursing Grommit by throwing a switch to send Grommit’s engine onto a siding. As the end of the track appears, Grommit grabs a spare box of track, leans over the end of the engine and lays piece after piece of track just ahead of himself. That’s me every November, spinning what I hope is just enough to finish this Fair Isle Tam, that mitten, in time for the sale, running out, spinning a bit more. I’m this close to tethering a sheep in the living room.
And like every bad habit, this one’s colonial. I’d really like to blame my current sin on Brainylady That picture on Harlot’s July 18 post of her perfect spiral scarf (soooo much more appealing than the illustration in Scarf Style where a flat white yarn resulted in something that looked like chitlins to me and an umbilicus to Stephanie) jolted me. I remembered that I’d already cast one on in Blue Moon Targee as part of my ongoing quest for good uses for handpainted yarns, and Brainylady’s challenge resulted in a little domestic archaeology.
You’d think I’d be happy.
The problem is that I’m a word person. And in the text describing this scarf there’s the casual comment that since it’s actually two sides spiraling around each other (it’s a very ingenious pattern) it could be made in two different colors. Just that. No picture. And I’m afraid that’s where the cannibalism comes in. I’d been spinning white merino-angora and black alpaca for Norwegian mittens, and I was going to be virtuous, going to have enough for BOTH mittens before casting on. That’s a fair amount of yarn.
Oh, well. It’s a long time till November.
This is Joe's Mum.
She's just about the nicest mother-in-law anyone could ever hope to have, not only did she create my very nice Joe, but she saw to it that he could cook, clean (I said he can...not that he does) and made sure he knew enough about the way the world works to bring me coffee in the morning and that he knows how to iron a little girls pink party dress.
- She knits. (See? you like her already don't you?)
- She had four kids and lived to tell about it.
- She used to, (because she lived near the ocean and Joe tends to wander) TIE Joe to the house with a length of rope when he was little. I love that. (I've had similar urges.)
- Carol has never once said squat about the way that I neglect housework. In fact, she claims that her house was like that when her kids were younger. I know that she's lying, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.
-Her generosity is only matched by her patience.
- Her good attitude is only outshone by her willingness to try new things and go new places.
- Her hair is perfectly, beautifully white. (I hope my hair goes like that. It won't, but I can dream.)
- The carrot casserole. (If you had eaten it, you would understand.)
- Carol's wonderful sense of humour, ability to roll with the punches and unlimited grace under pressure. The woman can have an entire house full of lunatics at Christmas, more arriving for dinner, some coming for lunch, neighbours dropping in to the porch, various plane schedules colliding, guitars playing in the living room, Brittany Spears blasting from the basement, granddaughters and neighbourhood rabble playing dress-up and trouping through the living room wearing negligees and cardboard wings and in the middle of all of that, when any normal woman would be sobbing on the bathroom floor, dressed only in pantyhose, begging for sweet release, Carol will be making a wild rice pilaf, opening a decent merlot and getting you a deal on new sheets.
Happy Birthday Carol. We love you.
(PS. Sam says you smell nice too.)
Yesterday Mairi asked about blocking. How I do it, where I do it, what pins I have...how I manage the big stuff. There's lots of opinions on this, and many clever people have written about it.
There's a knitty article here, and if you want to see it done by someone who really, really is not screwing around, check out Judy Gibson's pages. (Note: Judy's knitting often inspires waves of jealous nausea in the unprepared. Sit quietly and let the wonder of her sweep over you until you feel a sense of respectful awe instead. This may take some time if you have recently had your arse kicked by some lace knitting.)
I am a really big fan of full-immersion multi pin blocking. I have no interest in laying damp cloths over things or lightly steaming them into shape. I want the big swish. It is the act of bending knitting to my will that I love, and I have the most control when the piece is properly wet. Usually, the blocking bath is also the first wash and since I knit all over the place, the item can usually use it. After the wash I use a simple system of strings and pins to get the shape I want and leave it to dry. This takes very little time and effort with sweater pieces or stuff like that...but can be involved with lace.
Here's the Harlot Lace blocking method...such as it is.
1. I assess the piece and come up with a plan. Any straight edges?
I take a darning needle and smooth yarn (a piece much longer than I think the knitting will block out to) and thread it through the edge I would like to keep straight. The example here is the top edge of a triangular shawl. I hear tell of knitters who use blocking wires for this part, but I don't have any.
2. I soak the piece in a room temperature bath with wool wash for about 10-20 minutes. Shorter for alpaca and silk....longer for stretchy wool (like merino) that is difficult to persuade.
3. Gather the knitting into a ball while it is still in the water, you don't want to lift it out so that it gets stretched or pulled out of shape while you are moving it. Lift it up, plop it onto a clean towel and wrap it in the towel. Step on it a couple of times to squish out the worst of the dripping sodden-ness. You want the thing somewhere between damp and wet.
4. I take it to my bed, which I have stripped of duvet and pillows, just leaving the clean bedsheet. I use my bed because it is big, because you can jam a million pins into it without it mattering, and because lace dries really fast. If you block in the morning it will be dry by bedtime. (If you are worried about ending up sleeping on the couch, use a fan. It speeds it up a lot.) I'm sure I don't have to warn you that if you have a waterbed or a bed covered in an electric cover that it's a really bad idea to stick pins into it, no matter how careful you intend to be.
5. I spread the wet thing out and give it a little shove into shape to make sure it's going to fit on the bed the way it is. Then I stab a collection of pins into the bed and stretch the string for the top edge tightly between them.
The string is a brilliant thing. If you don't use it, you will spend hours and hours trying to eliminate little scallops along the edge...
You don't want that. It's crazy making. If you have any sort of perfectionist tendencies at all, save yourself the anguish trying to get a straight edge with pins. It leads to this....
Speaking of pins, I use the dressmakers rustproof pins (that rustproof is important. You want that.) and I get the ones with the little coloured balls on the ends to reduce the odds that I will miss a pin in our bed and end up giving Joe a surprise that will also give him an opinion about blocking on the bed. (Also, whenever possible, in the interests of marital politeness, I block on my side. That way, if I miss a pin or the bed is a wee bit damp at bedtime...I'm not annoying someone who really doesn't think that properly blocked lace is worth sleeping in a wet bed.)
6. Using your trusty tape measure, measure out from the centre of the piece and pin the two points (or edges or whatever your thing has).
7. Follow down a centre line and pin the point (or bottom edge, or whatever your thing has.)
Don't worry about how lame it looks right now. Give it some room.
8. Pin out any points.....
Working back and forth, side to side. Pinning the centre of one side then the other, then a point between those, then the matching one on the other side. Pull the knitting firmly, but not alarmingly, since it is possible to break a thread if your knitting is fine, and you really will have to go lie in the road if that happens.
(Note: any spots you see on the sheets are water from the shawl, not anything on my bed that you don't want to know about. I can't believe I typed that, but Rams would never let it go if I didn't cut her off at the pass.)
9. When the whole thing is pinned out, take a look. Do the sides look even? Are your slopes straight? Is there any pins or strings you can move? If it is very stretchy (like merino) you may find that once the lace has been pinned out and "rested" for a few minutes, that it can be further pinned out, moving the pins further outward, stretching the lace more.
(That picture is totally crooked because I was too short to get the whole thing in the frame. I was also too lazy to go get a chair to stand on, so I just held the camera over my head. Sorry. I'll try to be a better blogger from now on.)
10. Wait. Ken finds it helpful to admire the knitting every so often, but I stay away. I'm a little on the obsessive side and I find a pin to move every time, so it's better for me to go out.
When the lace is thoroughly dry (and not one second before.) you may unpin and dance around with the it held aloft. Show the cat. Show your neighbours.
Party hard on the thrill of blocking.
Pssst. Over here.
No, here. In the corner. That’s right. Hi.
I’m Rams. And I’m going to (no, Stephanie isn’t here right now) to ask you to cast your minds back (Soon. She’ll be back real soon.) to your babysitting days. (She went for a little bike ride, okay? And she’s going to bring back lots of nice…)
Now see here. Get a grip.
No, wait, my fault. The baby on Jim Henson’s “Dinosaurs” used to react to alternate caregivers (like his father) by shrilling “NOT the mama! NOT the mama! NOT the mama!” and anyone filling in for Stephanie’s got to anticipate a similar response.
As I see it, I have two choices, Imitation and Distraction (Uglification and Derision will be along in a minute.) On the one hand I could start adding “u” to any word ending in “or” in a valourous attempt to add local colour. I could allude to Rick Mercer’s blog, complain that the kids dripped poutine on the chesterfield, show no surprise that a “combo” at Tim Horton’s means “with coffee” and say “arse.” (Okay, that last wouldn’t be much of a strain.)
Or. There’s Choice B – Distraction. This is where the babysitter puts in the Thomas the Tank Engine tape, pulls out all the pots and pans to bang on and even starts sharing her Mint Milanos. Of course this is too transparent a technique to use with sophisticated adults. (LOOK! A baby panda!) Greater subtlety is required. For example:
Well, one incomplete sock isn’t going to do it, right? To simultaneously distract, suck up and impress/horrify you, I need to come up with spectacle. Now, granted I just finished teaching a sock knitting class and felt it was My Duty to have a sock at every possible stage of completion, just in case, um, you know, someone needed a demonstration of what came next. Still, that may not quite explain my compulsion to cast on every ball of sock yarn in the house and order
three new colorways (oops, colourways) of Blue Moon Socks That Rock.
(Actually, this feels more like the knitting equivalent of the Locking Yourself Out story, where everyone competes to prove they were even dumber than you were. I once had to burgle my own house because I had a pot of water boiling on the gas stove, but my friend Lynn left her locked car running in the teacher’s lot all day long and even returning to it after school just wondered why every car was covered with snow but hers. My boss, however, holds the current title, having stopped to check his country-road mailbox and locked himself out of his car which was running, in the road and nearly out of gas. Not enough? He also locked himself INTO our store’s former “air lock,” between the shop’s back door, which automatically locked, and the outer door, which at that point had a deadbolt. Keys on his desk. Gotta love that man.)
No, no, wait. Don’t wobble that collective lower lip at me. No lemur eyes! (What would Stephanie do, what would Stephanie do….)
I know! A vote! (I’ve always suspected her polls are a way to get us to play quietly while she gets some work done.) All right, how about this -- No, really, I need your help….
A lot of us love handpainted yarns, the variety, the colors, the plot, the way the project just sings along while you wait to see what color comes next. Yet when all’s said and done, too often you step back and look and that schmatte might just as well have been knit of Red Heart Mexicalli. Okay, so Gretchen Huggett, the head of textiles at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and I have been experimenting with dying intervals, spinning techniques and patterns in which handpainted yarns would be indispensable, not an afterthought. We tried producing self-patterning sock yarns, some successful
(Why yes, there are two of them – thanks for noticing,) and some less so, like those blue and yellow ones in the group shot (Shut up. They were supposed to be Pansy Socks, purple and blue with a touch of gold, but that chrome yellow makes everyone in Michigan start humming “Hail to the Victors”) Then we moved on to bigger things.
We dyed parallel lots of merino/tussah/alpaca roving in identical colors,
then took them home to spin
and knit into completely different stoles. We’re working on an article (well, two articles of clothing, but you know what I mean,) so I can’t reveal too much, and nothing at all about what Gretchen’s up to, but I’m stalled. I’d never liked modular knitting until I saw Barbara Venishnick‘s ingenious top in the summer 2004 Vogue Knitting. Adapting its diagonally-migrating diamonds for my purposes, I envisioned a rectangular stole with tapering ends, each end deeply fringed (so the fringe would taper, too) and knotted.
As I spun, though, and calculated (and recalculated – I’m an English major, so shoot me,) I began to get nervous about having enough yarn (this despite the reality that spinning it was taking decades of my life.) And we all know two things about fringe: a) it eats up a lot of yarn and b) there’s no going back once you cut it. So I chickened (didn’t hurt that one skein, spun while watching A Night at the Opera, came out way too thin) and decided to do my favorite lace trim.
I forgot about that point.
Now, even the best of us sometimes have to make a couple of running starts at points before we round them. But see how adorably (read: accidentally) the lace-so-far mirrored the sequence of colors of the shawl? Until it all began to go horribly, horribly wrong (pink began too early, didn’t go on long enough, one point should really be three centered ones but then there REALLY wouldn’t be enough pink…) To further complicate matters, this stole builds diagonally, so that mirroring won’t happen on the right side.
So, possums – what should I do? (I mean, “rip out and get that point right” is a given, as is “block that lace SEVERELY – how can we tell anything from this picture?”) – suck it up, rip it back, spin more pink, round the point symmetrically and finish the lace? Or go for glamour and fringe it? How about lace on one end, fringe on the other? Help me – I’m flailing.
This will be my last post for a little bit, since Team Harlot is heading off for our 2005 bike adventure. It's 360km of family bike riding, camping and visiting across Ontario and parts of La Belle Province and I'm hard pressed to think of a time when I could need unplugging from the world anymore than I do. After yesterday's meltdown I have a chapter and a half (instead of two) written, 6 loads of laundry (instead of 9) but I did find the camp stove. (I had covered it with a camp towel. Apparently simply putting a cloth over something is enough to make it un-findable. All I had to do to get those three hours of my life back yesterday was to move that cloth. Ever wish you were smart enough not to be able to outwit yourself?)
You know you're ready for a vacation when all you're knitting is little tiny shoes and you think there's nothing wrong with that.
Nothing at all. These are the "Chunky Ankle-strap Shoes" from (which you would think was the only book that I owned) 50 Baby Bootees to Knit, using Knit Picks "wool of the andes" in "daffodil" which I quite like. It's not the softest yarn on the block, but has a nice firmness, and has a little bit of a crunchy thing going on that really turns my crank. I think it would be quite good for cables. (Cabled bootees? I have got to get a hold of myself. This bootee thing is a disease.)
For those who asked, yesterday's bootees were from the same book, the "Slip-ons" knit out of Knit Picks "Elegance" alpaca/silk. (I like that one too...I'm playing around with the new Knit picks stuff. This yarn is quite soft...probably not the best choice for bootees, since the resulting wee shoesies (for the love of wool. Stop me.) are sort of "limp".) The little leaf on it is not from the book, I took it from "Knitted Embellishments".
Even though I will be blog absent until the 31st, I'm not leaving you entirely at loose ends. The very funny (and sadly, blogless) Lady Rams will be entertaining you in a couple of entries, assuming that the technology doesn't defeat us, and I'm leaving behind a time delay entry or two. There's also the chance that I'll hook up with a computer on the way...so I'll blog if I can. I'm not going to worry about it though, since I hear tell of people having rich full lives without ever knowing what I'm up to. (Hint: Bootees)
The real question, of course, is what sort of knitting does one take on a bike trip? The knitting must be:
1. Small. If you are carrying everything you need to conduct your life, from shelter to pots, underpants to coffeemaker, on the back of your bike, you really have to pay attention to size. A sweater is not going to cut it.
2. Light. See reason above.
3. Washable. This will be knit by daylight and firelight, dragged in and out of a tent and crammed in a pannier. It's totally going to need a good wash. Now is not the time to think of the white merino laceweight (despite it fitting reasons 1 and 2. )
4. Chartless. Charts suck by firelight. Words (a few) are ok.
5. Interesting. It's the only knitting I shall have for 10 days. Just thinking that gives me the heebie jeebies. Who only knits one thing for 10 days?
6. Lots of work. It needs to be not finishable in 10 days, or I'll have NOTHING.
Ideas? (I'll check tomorrow before I pack.)
We're sorry, the Yarn Harlot can't come to the blog right now.
She has procrastinated on a deadline, is beset by completely feral children and is no doubt engaged in a conversation that began with the words "She's looking at me" with one of those children right now. She can't find all of the camping stuff for the family bike trip (which is 350k and begins on Sunday) and wonders how the hell a camping stove she knows that she put on a shelf in the basement has left the building. She and Mr. Washie are not enjoying each other, and she's contemplating replacing his sorry arse with a machine that will, you know...WASH CLOTHES without lurching across the basement screeching metallic filth at her while refusing to spin unless she coddles him. The Yarn Harlot, while usually pretty good natured, is starting to look at people with hostile intentions, and is wondering what it would cost to install a totally soundproof bathroom where she could sit in a corner and engage in a little bootee knitting to take the edge off.
(oh...wait, she did that.)
Your local harlot hopes to return tomorrow with a good attitude, a freaking camp stove, two chapters of a new book and 9 loads of freshly washed laundry to appease the infidels with which she is trapped.
For the record, there are 19 days until the first day of school, a return to a regular workday and the end of a kitchen inexplicably covered in sand.
As usual, I sort of flamed out on re-entry. The girls were away while I was, cottaging with my mum up north. We all arrived home, exhausted, dirty, sunbrowned (them) and yarn-laden (me) and descended upon poor Joe (who had spent 11 days putting cups the wrong way, cackling about big reels of wire in the living room and sleeping sideways on the bed. He won't admit it, but I know that this was what he did..especially since when I arrived, the family computer had been moved from it's post on the computer desk and had been thoughtfully arranged on the coffee table. The coffee table, naturally, so that a feral man can surf the web, drink beer and watch James Bond movies all at the same time. ) It took us a few days to get sorted, get the laundry done, take toolboxes, wire and computers out of living spaces and buy groceries. I slept, knit, worked and pulled myself together. We celebrated Meg's birthday and I watered the garden. Somewhere in that, I finished this.
(Can somebody tell me why my arse looks like that? I'm not even sure that's me.)
It's the Diamond Fantasy Scarf by Sivia Harding, knit with...get this...
ONE SKEIN of Fleece Artist Sock yarn. (320m/350 yards) ONE. I'm delirious with joy. I love stuff to make with small amounts of yarn, and this makes a decent sized shawl (she calls it a scarf, but on me it's totally big enough to be a shawl.)
I had some trouble with the pattern until I worked out that there is no problem with the pattern. There comes a time, on rows 36 and 46 when the travelling stitches appear briefly to be travelling in an unexpected way. I yanked back this row about 20 times trying to figure out how I was screwing up. Turns out that If you don't try to outthink Sivia and do exactly as you are told (especially on rows 36 and 46) ...suspend your disbelief, don't try to "fix" the brilliant design and blindly follow her directions, all will become clear within the fullness of time. If you can do as you are told and follow a pattern without sabotaging yourself, this is actually an easy knit.
My favourite parts? The edge is knit on as you go, so when you are done you are done.. and the last instruction is to "Block Severely".
I love it when you need to block severely.
I give this pattern a 10 out of 10. Gorgeous result, clever construction, brilliant use of a skein of sock yarn, charts and written instructions and a chance to pin 8000 pins into a piece of knitwear.
I have to tell you that I thought 14 was going to look different than this.
Younger maybe. I think that's it. I thought that 14 would still look like a little girl and it really doesn't. It looks grown up, responsible and suddenly much bigger than I thought. Fourteen on this girl is perplexing, wild, changeable and tall.
Fourteen on this girl is....
Loud. We will remember this (I hope, unless it get's worse) as Megan's loudest year. From her raucous laugh to her "wild moose" (making this the only household in the world where the phrase "don't you moose at me" is uttered) impressions, you can't beat Meg for volume. (Or continuity). She was a quieter two year old.
Clever. This is the year that she told us to get off your back about homework and school, that she would handle it all...and she did. Her grades were pretty darned good too. Meg is clever enough to be in charge of some of her own destiny.
Tall. Taller than me. I don't even begin to understand how something I made can be bigger than me, but there you have it. (I know that Joe will be unable to resist pointing out that I'm not hard to beat...but I'd like to point out that I made Meg myself from a couple of cells that were lying around. She used to be a zygote. I wouldn't care if I were two and a half feet tall. I'm impressed with her.)
Funny. Meg's sense of humour is sharp, quick and keen. If there's an opportunity for a moment, my girl is there. She's the best kind of smart ass....since she is kind. She's also funny by accident and good natured about it when it happens. Riding our bikes by the ocean last year, our girl Meg pipes up "MOM! I saw a herring!"
I look at Joe, since he's the ocean guy. Herring? Joe shakes his head. No herring here. "Meg? A Herring? Are you sure?"
"Mom! It was totally a herring. Totally! It was right over there with it's tall legs and long beak!"
Oh. Right. A herring. We all laughed, including Meg, and laughing at herself was a milestone.
Amanda (Meg's 16 year old sister who resents that I already got "Loud" and "Funny".) says Meg at 14 has
Bad taste in music. When I said "Amanda...hey!" Amanda pointed out that she listens to The Back Street Boys and Ashlee Simpson.
Ok. There's that. Amanda also admits that Meg is Good at sharing, and she's right. When Meg is in high form, you can't hold a candle to her generosity. (Amanda did say this sashaying out the door with Megs satchel and tee shirt.)
Sam (11 year old younger sister, sworn to follow Megan for every day of her life and torment her in all ways possible) finds Meg...
Picky. Food, clothes, friends, books, socks, apples.....it takes Meg hours, but she makes pretty good decisions. Meg is also good with those younger than her. She has lots of patience for Hank. (And Sam.)
Joe says Megan is Persistent, Tenacious and Hard Working.
Joe often takes a kid to work with him, and Megan seriously rocks. She doesn't complain about grunt work and can be trusted to take the time to learn to do a job right. Meg's going to be a good worker. Doesn't matter what at.
Ken says she's got
Commitment and follow-through, which are insanely useful and exceptionally rare at her - or any - age. She's a planner, with goals of her own that she intends to accomplish, and she's not just making idle chatter. She's worked out how she's going t do it, and (most remarkably), she's actually going to do all of those things she's worked out.
Finally, and I'm sure you noticed from the photo above, our Meg is
Beautiful. You couldn't find a lovelier teen, though really, with everything else she has going for her...it's icing on the cake.
Happy Birthday Meg!
Actually, pre-sunrise in Winnipeg...as I'm up at a shocking hour (5:00AM) to get ready for an early flight home, and I don't even care. Sitting here, pouring coffee into my tour-done self, I would usually be thinking "Kill me", but because this is what I have to do to see the lovely curly-haired man waiting on the other end, I'm totally fine with it.
Winnipeg is beautiful, and flat, being in a prairie province. "Prairie" comes from the french "pré" for meadow (I think, it's really early) and much of Manitoba is just that. The flatness is so awesome and complete that it is impressive in exactly the same way that mountains are. The earth stretches away from you, and the sky is huge overhead. I wish I had been here longer.
I was convinced that because the rest of this yarn crawl book tour has gone so well, that Winnipeg would be where I got my lumps. They had me booked into a really big bookstore and I thought that the universe wouldn't be able to resist. One woman can't be this lucky, no, no...Winnipeg would be it. I would stand alone, talking to two people and an ocean of empty chairs and that would be the equality the planet is surely itching to deal me. The universe would be balanced. I was ready.
I got of the plane and into a cab, to go here:
Be still my beating heart fellow Canucks, it's the CBC! (Ah! I thought. Of course it's the CBC. It needs to be a well publicized crushing.) I met this dude:
Ron Robinson (holding the sock and tolerating my oddness) before an interview in which I believe I did make sense, and didn't say arse, enter an expletive spiral, faint or die. From there I cabbed it to the hotel, flung myself through a bath and left for Robinson McNally, possibly breaking a land speed record for harlot-hair management.
On the way there I showed the sock the provincial legislature.
When I got to the bookstore there were many, many chairs, the scary microphone and TWO knitters. "I knew it" I thought, and I went to get coffee. The bookstore scurried around me as I perused the knitting magazines (Hey, Karlie...I met your mum and dad. They're very nice.) and I cracked myself up because they were bringing MORE CHAIRS. At 7:00 I walked over to the reading area to warmly greet the two knitters (and possibly invite them out for a beer, since the microphone seemed silly) and here is what I saw.
An ocean of knitters. An ocean. A huge turnout, and every single one of them a nice person. (Near as I could tell. It got weird after that.) Here's Penny
Who, unbelievably was sitting in the front row, with her little swatch of knitting from plastic bags (How did she know?)
The official Knitting Teacher for the city of Winnipeg. (How can you not love a city that hires an official knitting teacher?)
The sock was blown away by the hospitality, stunned by the kindness and exhausted by the happiness. The sock and I would like to thank Winnipeg for saving the public flogging for another day.
Now, I'm off into the Winnipeg dawn, out over the prairie and flying toward home, home...home, my Joe and the ladies.
(I can't believe I survived. Thank you all.)
Calgary has been a hoot and a half. No unintentional nudity, I didn't get lost, the folks are nice and not to many of them had read yesterdays blog before coming out last night. (Timing is everything.)
Getting off the airplane I was greeted by two of Calgary's "White Hats"
(Don't they look like Calgary? You couldn't get those two anywhere else. They were really cute about holding the sock, though the lady did say "People from Toronto are really strange...." as I walked away.)
I checked into the hotel yesterday after an absolutely uneventful trip from Edmonton (What were the odds on that?) and immediately took the sock for a walk around this pretty, pretty city.
My Mum and my grandparents lived in Calgary (on the base) for a while and I'm just the sort of dork who thinks that it's cool that some of my furniture used to be here, especially my piano, which has lived lots of places in Canada. I've actually been to Calgary before, but I was 8 years old. There's a lot I remember about that trip, but I was 8. I remember the hot tub and pool that my grammy and I swam in on the top of the hotel (anybody know what hotel that is?) and I remember my grammy convincing me to feign a tummy-ache so that we didn't have to go to a business dinner with my grampa. It was brilliant. After he left we got a disgusting amount of junk from the vending machines and snuggled in the bed watching old movies. (I did get a tummy ache then.) My grampa caught us too...but I was 8 and she was beautiful and he forgave us everything.
I don't remember if I saw the tower
but I made sure that the sock did. The Calgary tower is where the Olympic flame burned during the "88 winter games. (Speaking of winter, I'm freezing my arse off. The high here yesterday was only 16/61 and I'm trying to layer summer dresses and tee shirts. My hands keep going numb. This is what happens if you pack when it's 40/ 104. Your luggage reflects your hometown. Is Toronto still steaming?)
I also took this shot,
which is a lousy attempt to show you the aboveground paths that Calgarians can take all over the city without going outside. You could totally get all over the place without ever breathing fresh air. That's got to be totally brilliant in the depths of a soul-threatening February. Toronto has something similar (called PATH) but this one is way more extensive.
We (the sock and I) reported for duty at McNally Robinson, and I laughed at myself. (Pretty hard actually) Can you believe I thought no-one would come?
Here's local blogger Gina
and Cate? I met Tallguy and he's darned nice. (Then again, so is everybody in Calgary.)
After the event, Gina, Morgan and Dana took me here....
Calgary's oldest pub, where "The Unicorn" was playing on the stereo. We sort of wondered if knowing all the words to the song was a bad thing (There'll be green alligators, and long necked geese...and humpty-backed camels and chimpanzees....) but decided it was just really Canadian to know that song on a molecular level. My sincerest apologies to Canadians who know have the Irish Rovers in their heads. I drank local. (Good beer guys.)
Momentarily I'll throw myself out the door and onto another plane, headed for my last stop, Winnipeg. I'll be at McNally Robinson there at 7:00, and then it's one more sleep until home, home, home.
Joe? Don't forget to buy dishwasher soap.
So my gentle knit friends, it is not all yarn and fun and travelling and good people and yarn. (Though mostly it is.) There is also the downside. Mostly, this downside is self inflicted, though I occasionally have help turning my life into a parody of normal existence.
The last little bit of my journey has been like that.
The morning I was to leave Vancouver, I got up in plenty of time. Let me re-iterate. PLENTY of time. I got a cab, no problem, then it started. The planets little reminder that I am me. Traffic. Lots of traffic. Heart crushing, soul eating, time-sucking traffic. I got to the airport doing that mental countdown and knowing that everything had to go exactly right to catch my flight. I walked into the terminal and just about fainted. An enormous lineup for the checkin. I got in line and hoped the line was moving quickly. It wasn't. I stood there for 20 minutes, containing my inner hysteria, knitting socks.
After this period, I came to my senses and spotted a "self check in" computer thingie. I checked myself in, and pressed "Next" for instructions on what to do next. Unbelievably, the next thing to do was to get into the same line to check my bag. Broken, I retreated to the back of the line (I lost my spot when I tried to save time) and resumed knitting my sock (perhaps with a slightly different tension.) inching along the line, kicking my purse ahead of me for emphasis.
When I was back up to the check-in machines I did my best to warn a large family off of them. "It doesn't save time" I said. "You have to get back in the same line." They stared at me and recklessly used the machine anyway. Foolish me, they had a plan. Their plan, as I stood there, watching the minutes 'till my boarding call tick by...was to use the machine, and then standing right next to me in the lineup, wait for the lady ahead of me to move along and then insert their entire family into the queue in front of me.
Now, I'm a nice person. If I'm not in a hurry I don't give a crap about this kind of thing. I am a rock in a river, I just let it flow over me. But this time I am a rock that is going to miss her flight, so I said something.
"Excuse me. The line forms back there". And I smiled.
The woman looks at me like I'm out of my mind (and rude, which I am not) and she says
"We don't have time to wait in that line". Pardon me? You don't have time to wait in the line? Pardon me?
"I'm sorry, I really don't have time for you to go ahead of me. I'm going to miss my flight." I smiled again. (Though for the life of me, I can't imagine why.)
The woman turns around, clearly annoyed with me, in exactly the same way that you are annoyed with flies over your picnic, and says:
"That's not my problem."
Well. Let me tell you. I was furious. (I also did nothing, which only made me more furious.) I waited behind them and I hated them. After checking in my checkin piece of paper, I checked in my baggage and proceeded to security. It was slow, I was exploding. Exploding. Looking at the clock, furious with the guy who didn't take off his belt until they asked him to, wasting precious moments. Furious with the lady who was wearing Fort Knox in jewelry and then removed it one by one and handed it all to her husband who put it all into his POCKETS. Furious. Finally my turn. Whipped through (minor discussion about why I had so many knitting needles, some minor begging. No problem) ran through the terminal to the furthest possible gate, and ran at a flat out tilt up to the woman at the gate and begged her to allow me on the flight even though the door was closed. I launched into a big talk about how I really needed it and pleasepleaseplease don't leave me here....when she smiled at me and told me my flight was delayed by hours.
I waited. I also got my arse kicked by the Diamond Fantasy Shawl. I'm knitting it like someone on crack.
(Sorry, did someone ask me about the blue shawl? What blue shawl?) I keep needing to tink this and rip and, well...it's worth it. I love geometrics, and I'm pretty fond of the way the piece self-edges. I'm sure that as soon as I have less hostility it will all fall together.
I eventually got to Edmonton. Beautiful city. The Saskatchewan river (I think it's the Saskatchewan, you Edmonters can correct me) flows right by the downtown and it's just lovely. It's also light. As in, there is a great deal of light. I took this picture at 9:45pm.
It was just then sunset. (Despite the fact that I was freezing, I thought this huge amount of light was a big bonus for living north of Toronto.)
The sock and I found a little park and we had a rest. (The sock is very homesick. I've tried to tell it how lucky it is, but it misses Joe and the girls.) I woke up the next morning, and feeling somewhat restored, I decided to tidy the hotel room. I sorted some yarn, and I took up the room service tray to put outside the door. I opened the door, put the tray on the ground and heard a little "Click" behind me.
That was the door locking. I was locked in the hall. Was my room key in my pants pocket? Yes it was, however, that realization was of no use to me, because I was not wearing my pants.
In fact, all I was wearing was a bra and underpants.
(Not even good underpants. I should really try to do better.) This sick realization swept over me as I stood, pressed against the door to the room trying to pass my molecules through it to the other side.
Then I tried to pick the lock with the room service knife. Then I realized that I needed a new plan.
A house phone? Maybe the hotel had a house phone on my floor. I sprinted along the hall looking for it. No luck, and when I heard the elevator chime, I flattened myself against the ice machine until whoever it was went away.
Standing there, in my undergarments, almost naked and sort of frozen to the ice machine, both spiritually and literally, I realized that this was going to end badly. That there was nothing I could do to end it well, and that all I could do was try and end it with dignity, grace and speed. I snuck (in as much as a half crazy mostly naked woman can sneak) back down the hall to the service area and snagged a smallish towel. I wrapped it around me and returned to the elevator. I took a deep breath, stepped inside and pushed the button for the lobby.
Nothing happened. Oh, silly me. YOU NEED A KEY TO WORK THE ELEVATOR. While I was standing there, stunned that I was truly screwed, wondering when I was going to get smart enough that these things don't happen to me, and contemplating the "emergency use only" phone. A gentleman got on the elevator. He looked at me, looked straight ahead and then said only "Hi."
"Hi" I replied. (Noticing for the first time that the elevator was completely mirrored - so I could view my humiliation from all angles) "I appear to have misplaced my key. Would you mind swiping your card for the lobby?"
"Sure" he said, and we rode in silence all the way down.
When we got the to lobby, the door opened, the gentleman stepped off and I tried to. I really did. I willed myself to move, but was paralyzed, looking at all the people. I stood there. I just stood there. After a minute, the guy was back.
"Would you like me to tell someone you are in here?" he asked.
"Oh. Yes. That would be lovely. Thanks so much." I said, with as much of that aforementioned dignity as I could muster, and off he went.
I waited, until what seemed like forever later, the concierge popped his head in and said "Excuse me madame. If you could tell us your room number?" I gave it to him, and moments later he was back. I will be forever grateful to him for the way he handed me the key. He simply passed it to me, exactly like I wasn't wearing a towel in the elevator and said "Enjoy your stay." Just like that.
When I got back to the room (After wishing some elderly couple in the hallway a "good afternoon") I had a lie down. A long lie down. (Only then did it occur to me that I wished I had been locked out with my camera and the sock.) Then I put on better underpants.
You never know.
The sock is seen here with the towel that made it all bearable, despite it's pitiful size.
The event that night was at Audrey's books, and the sock (spared indignities in the afternoon) had a great time.
Edmonters made me feel right at home, and the sock and I were thrilled. Tonight, I'm at McNally Robinson books in Calgary at 7:00.
I'm planning to wear clothes.
Big hurrah! I'm back in Canada! (Not that I haven't enjoyed the States, but you know that you're ready for home when the Canada Custom's sign at the airport makes you a little bit weepy. Am I the only Canadian who thinks that it's totally charming the way the customs people say "Welcome home" when they see your Canadian passport? They must have trained 'em, because they all do it, and I find it touching every time.) I landed in Vancouver, and couldn't have been happier.
First thing, I found some mountains for Margene.
They aren't the biggest ones, but they are the edge of the Rockies (Which are plenty big) and I think they stack up ok.
Next I found my hotel (The Granville Island Hotel) which had an awesome view of the sea village and the bay. Granville island is interesting (well, for lot's of reasons) because it has no provincial affiliation. It isn't in BC or any other province, it's Federal land, and is simply in "Canada". My friends Ingrid and Andre took me to dinner and we had the lovliest time. The restaurant overlooked English Bay, the weather was perfect, the company fabulous and the food and wines (from the Okanagan Valley) were beyond compare. Andre and Ingrid - I can't thank you enough for making me at feel at home.
The next day I made a crash landing at Urban Yarns, where the sock laughed itself silly at the really neat sign the store had knitted...
Neat, eh? I took a picture of the staff too...
they are laughing because I asked them to squat so they weren't blocking the shot of the Fleece Artist kits behind them. (What? It's good looking yarn.)
From there it was on to the Capilano Library, put together by Mary at 32 Books, where the room filled just as the librarian was starting to mutter something about "fire code capacity". Personally, I think she was just freaked out by the knitters.
There were so many bloggers there that I couldn't hope to name them all. Shout out in the comments ladies, and we'll click on your links! I did meet Amy/Indigirl and company,
which was a star struck moment for me, since I'm a big fan of her designs.
After, I hooked up with Angela, who fixed me up with some fab dinner companions,
There's Sherpa-doug, Angela, Me, Lynne (Who owns Knitopia in White Rock. I am in awe of yarn shop owners. I don't know how they don't keep it all.) Fran, Mel, Pearl (who knit me a wool-pig that is simply to die for.) and Sivia Harding (who I tried hard not to gush all over. I think I played it pretty cool.)
Pearl was responsible for unlocking a yarn shop later that night to show me the biggest carder I have ever seen.
I lay the sock on it for perspective
see it there? Quaking in it's DPNs? The tiny little sock just at the bottom of the drums, just behind all the fibre going to it's doom?
Pearl also showed me and the sock the BALES of wool who have a date with the carder. I felt dizzy. (Probably the wool fumes.)
What is wrong with me that I don't think this is too much wool? Do I have some sort of defect that lets me look a this enormous mountain of wool and think "There's a start".
The best thing, however, that the sock did was go to the Capilano suspension bridge. (We have to thank Angela and Photographer/sherpa Doug for these pictures. I was shaking too badly to do it myself.) The bridge spans 450 feet over a gorge and sways rather alarmingly.
It's not that scary crossing, until you decide that you might think about letting go of the edge. (Also? I would have liked someone to make sure that everybody didn't stand on the left side of it. I kept being worried that for reasons I couldn't imagine, all the people on the bridge would stand on one side and the whole thing would flip over.) Here the sock dangles 230 feet above the gorge.....
The astute among you will note that this means that I stood 230 feet above the gorge and looked over the side. (Thank you. You support means the world to me. I'm five feet tall, and there's a reason for that. It's really how far off the ground I'm comfortable being. I don't have an unreasonable fear of heights, but I do have a very reasonable fear of FALLING VERY FAR ONTO ROCKS.)
Here, the sock daredevils it.
(and I look nervous, note that my left elbow is holding the bridge very tightly. I know it's difficult to hold onto things with your elbow, but I managed to just about make a fist.)
and here...my piece de resistance.
Me and the sock, doing our thing 230 feet above ground about halfway across a nauseatingly swaying wooden suspension bridge. (There was wind too. Did I mention the wind?) I look odd because every single muscle in my entire body is completely in spasm and I am sort of sweaty and shaky. Note the wide stance, not sure what I thought that would help. I. Am. Not. Holding. The. Bridge.
Teri? This is my entry for the Extreme Knitting Contest.
Today I am in Edmonton (Wondering if the West Edmonton Mall is extreme....Anybody want to go with?) I'll see Edmonton Knitters tonight at Audrey's Books at 7:30. I'll bring the sock. I'm going to lie down now.
Turns out that I like Seattle too. Or I think I do, I was in and out of there so fast that it was hard to get the flavour of the place. (Good coffee though.) What I did like about Seattle was the people. All the people. 21 hours in Seattle and I didn't meet a single person who wasn't a fine example of human expression.
I spent a good chunk of time in the airport, since they had sent my bag on a separate tour. When I went to the desk to tell them that my bag wasn't there, two remarkable things happened.
1. The guy had a "message" from my bag. Presumably, he had a message "about" my bag, but I loved the metal idea of a bag sending word. "Dear Steph....."
2. He asked me, should the nametag have come off my bag, and they were to look inside to identify it...what did I have in my bag.
One word. "YARN". He looked at me so quizzically that I added
"Lots of yarn."
From there I was taken through Seattle by my friends Linda and Jay and her daughter Sarah. Sarah is a geography teacher and I highly recommend visiting new places with one. They answer all of your questions. Sarah also said "correct!" every time I got something right. Made me feel like I was doing really well.
Linda and Sarah are both knitters (and Jay is Knitter sympathetic) so our first stop was Village Yarn and Tea (a brilliant combination). Now who do I find while I'm perusing the angora?
Sam and Kim! Who kindly agreed to manage the sock and his/her (does the sock have a gender?) groupies for a minute or two.
From there on to 3rd Place Books. There was some sort of bridge closed because of some sort of planes, so I was late. While I was melting down in the car, Linda pointed out that making knitters wait isn't as bad as making regular people wait. At least they have something to do. When I got there (late) here was one of those scary microphones, and the bookshop had kicked it up a notch by adding a STAGE and LIGHTS.
(The sock was seriously tripping out.) I was almost hysterical. I know that this might not occur to you, when you see these pictures, but I am taking them. All those people are looking at me. On a stage. With a microphone. Here I am, some sort of late, weird Canadian knitter trucking a sock around the US on some bizarre trip that I can't figure out how I got on, and all of those people are looking at me. I have to say stuff about knitting that makes some sort of sense, and make sure that my fly isn't open. The only thing that saves me from complete babbling idiocy is knowing that they are knitters, and probably knitters who would forgive me for having my fly open. (Although my open fly would likely be blogged from here to Calcutta. There's a reassuring thought. )
Hanging out and signing books after, look who I found.
Ryan and TMK! (TMK actually has a face and a name, and both are lovely, but I'm not telling.) This realization stunned me so much that I couldn't stop looking at her. It was like meeting superheros. It was like one of your favourite imagined people just materialized in front of you and was everything you dreamed and more. Ryan cried a few knitterly tears, but me and TMK are tough, so we just thought about it. The sock had a little private time with them. Go see.
I saw Lorette, Dorothy (man, she knows her way around a piece of lace) Sandy Blue (I may have welled up a little for that one. She was so sweet), our lady Perclexed of the comments, and so many more that I need to ask all of you to give a shout in the comments so we can visit you.
After it was all over, Cheryl, chief in charge of Harlot wrangling at 3rd Place Books, told me that it is traditional that visiting authors (it still cracks me up when someone calls me that to my face. I feel like I'm running a total scam) have to have their picture taken in the photobooth at the store. You go into the booth, you do what you want and they save the pictures. Okay then. I totally knew what to do.
I blogged it.
Isn't she sweet? She didn't bat an eye.
Mission accomplished, team Harlot threw themselves back into the car and through an incredible series of twists and turns (you have to turn left to turn right) Sarah got us to Weaving Works for their Anniversary party. (May they have many more. Damn fine store.)
There was more threatening mobs.....
Except they didn't turn out to be threatening at all.
(I have to admit that it's easier to do these things in yarn shops that bookstores. Yarnshops don't have many microphones, and I find the wool very grounding. Besides. There was cake.)
I got to add another Cassie to my collection:
Now I have four! (This one hopelessly fondles wool in public too!)
Here we have Dena (Dena was the one who started the Llama, llama duck business.) Warning: that link has sound. Addictive, gripping, insanity inducing sound.
She brought a sock so she would look all innocent and not at all like somebody that sent you a link that left you humming inanity for days months on end.
Karma was there, and Carry (who got a picture of the cake) and Jessica, who experienced a string of bad luck that made me feel very, very at home. I have a thing for women who...much like me, regularly (and I quote Jessica here) lose their sh*t. (Those who know me are cracking up that I *'ed the "i" in sh*t, being as it's one of my favourite words, but it's a family blog.
My sh*t and I seldom seen in the same room together.
For now, I'm in Vancouver, and my hotel room has a bidet. I've never used one...so my plans are pretty much set.
Portland has wicked karma. Reasons? Glad you asked.
1. Seriously beautiful city. You can see Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens (Though when it blew, even though you could hear it in BC, you couldn't hear it in Portland. The sound travelled the wrong way. A waiter told me that. The top of the mountain is gone. Crazy.) The city is clean and beautiful and full of trees and coffee.
2. Right. Peet's coffee. I think they are really in Berkeley, but every where you turn around in Portland...Peet's. The glorious brown elixer of life has never been better.
3. This guy.
This dude was so charming about holding the sock. He kept saying "just hold it?" (What else would you do buddy? It's a half knit sock. It's useless except as a knitting project or a holding thingie. ) He was perplexed to a degree that I found endearing. I finally told him not to think about it too much, and that's when I got the snap. I love the way that he looks like he's given up, but likes it.
5.. Powell's. This is, and I don't have it in me to lie to you....not even to defend Canadian bookstore pride, the best bookstore I've ever been in. The place is huge. (They give you a map. You need a map).
6. Stunning knitters. This is at Powell's where there was a microphone (which still totally flips me out. I don't know who they think I am.) and the knitters where a whack of fun. Portland knitters ask deep questions. Deep.
Check out the reciprocal blogging in this one. They're blogging me while I'm blogging them. If you think it's hard to explain your feelings about knitting? Try explaining that.
My favourite moment, when a lovely knitter confided to the other 80 knitters that she feels separation anxiety when she finishes a project. She feels sad to let it go. I thought for a minute, then (suspecting the answer) asked her how many projects she had on needles at once. Perhaps not enough?
When she replied "One at a time", the whole room heaved an enormous "Ohhhhhhhh" and knew instantly what she should do. More projects at once. Takes the sting out of finishing something. (Sort of gives you the feeling you never finish anything, but it takes the sting out of the finishing nicely.)
This was the pile of books I signed with my unreasonably long name after everybody left. (By the way...the hyphenated name? Big mistake. I would have totally made it shorter if I'd have known I would be writing it this much.)
See the sock? See the sock's new friends? In LA was presented with "Groupies" for the sock. These wee buddies for the sock made me laugh for....well. I'll let you know when I stop laughing.
Today was Seattle, (which is also a totally cool place) but I'm too tired to tell you anything. More tomorrow, after a morning flight to Vancouver.
When last we left our confused traveller, she was about to investigate LA. I had arrived at night, so when I woke up I looked out my window and discovered a world of wonders.
You may not be able to see it, but trust me, the sock and I could easily read the "Hollywood" sign from the hotel window. From the other window, I saw this.
There I was, standing in a hotel room, sun rising over Los Angeles, and I read the enormous sign on the building beneath me.
It reads The Knitting Factory. That whole big building (and the one next to it) was a yarn shop? The worlds largest yarn shop! Lit up with strobe lights and with limos out the front! What kind of wonderful place is LA! (and really, if there is a yarn shop this big on Hollywood, why am I going to the Knit Cafe?) I shoved on my shoes (and my clothes) grabbed my room key and my wallet and beat it outside. I raced across the street and pressed myself to the glass. It was closed. Closed, and sort of barren and yarnless.
Perplexed, I staggered back to the hotel and googled it. Had it been robbed? Burned out? Some sort of yarn tragedy we should all prepare for by buying all the yarn we can get? No. It's a club. A live music club with the incredibly misleading name "The Knitting Factory".
Cruel. (But it explains the publishers choice of venue.)
I went for a walk and found another bizarre mall.
I swear that in Toronto, mostly we just put a bunch of stores in a row with roofs over 'em. We don't put big arches or dancing elephants or that whole thing in San Diego with trapping people and confusing them with colour. (There was no yarn store in the mall).
I walked around some more. (It's the palm trees. They are gripping. I can't stop looking at them. I walked into a Stormtrooper outside of Grauman's Chinese Theatre because I was looking at a palm tree. I'll have you know that it costs $5 US to have your picture taken with a Stormtrooper. There is no discount for socks, even though they are much, much smaller than people. I draw the line at the sock incurring expenses.)
After I found my two favourite stars on the walk of fame, I went back to the hotel to knit.
Still loving shawls as the perfect trip knitting. This is "Summer in Kansas" in my recovered blue zephyr.
You can see Monika on the right there. She deserves special mention for being out of her ever-loving mind. She's wearing a really neat top, knit out of 13 strands of sewing thread held together. She alters what colours she's using gradually to achieve a shifting colourway across the top. I thought she was brilliant. A few sheep short of a flock, but brilliant. (How many spools of thread does that take?)
More peeps, including Julia and Mary Heather, and there were more bloggers afoot, (though I kinda jumped the gun and took the picture too soon...) Big shout outs to Kathy for the seriously kicking samosas, and to Ninjaknitter for the secret present that I loved (and used).
From LA, I fell into bed, briefly slept, then got up at the completely ungodly hour of 4:30AM to endure, navigate, pass through LAX airport, headed for San Francisco.
I love San Francisco. (Although all those hills? They are going to be screwed when the ice comes.) I was shepherded around by the incomparable Candi "Slick" Jensen. (A crocheter who's life's work appears to be to talk me out of my feelings toward it...You haven't lived until you've been in the car with a die hard knitter and a militant crocheter, ask Maggie...she lived it.) we saw very good stuff.
the worlds twistiest street....
Alcatraz, (the sock feels an affinity for Alcatraz that it can't explain. Probably brought on by being trapped in my purse for 20 states...)
and Artfibers. Where, as Rachael so eloquently put it, I may have fallen and swiped my mastercard on the way down. This place is....is....There are no words. I was breathless the whole time. The yarn is good. The people are nice, the yarn is....well. Mine now.
I'll show ya later. (Hint)
Rachael? Yup. The object of my most profound blog crush was there. If you have a blog crush on Rach, and are jealous that I met her, you should know that everything you are thinking about her is true and you should be jealous. She's funny, charming, pretty, smart.....I want to be Rachael when I grow up.
I even have to respect what she did to the sock. (It's what I would have done. Though I will guard the sock more carefully in the future. Poor thing. Defiled and humiliated. No wonder it bit Candi like that.)
Doesn't she look innocent?
The crowd at Stash was the best...
and the owner, Ellen is the most generous yarn shop owner in the world. She donated the proceeds from the bookbookbook for the day to Doctors without borders, making her a member of TSF of the highest order. The sock and I think she's simply the best. (I may have bruised the old mastercard in that shop too....) I'm going to make myself late if I list all the bloggers from there...so give a shout in the comments, will ya?
For now, I'm in Portland (which I'm pretty sure is in Oregon) desperately looking for something unwrinkled to wear to Powells in an hour. I like Portland too...though I did misplace the hotel for about an hour while I was out for a walk. I hope somebody finds me a pub tonight.
I'm writing this from a restaurant, where I'm doing something that I've never done before. Eating alone. (You know, it's not so bad...)
This is the trip that I try to learn new things, this is the trip that I don't spend all my time in the hotel room, looking out the windows because I'm a big chicken. This trip (in the 3 hours of free time I have in each city) I'm seeing stuff. I'm shaking off the fear of getting lost far from home and I'm going out there.
Saturday I arrived in San Diego. (By the way, I stopped in Phoenix for an hour and a half - Phoenix has mountains. Well, not really mountains, more like enormous, huge rocks sticking up out of the ground. Crazy looking. I was shocked. I thought it was a desert. It turns out that it is both. A desert with mountains. Very, very beautiful, and hot, but in a totally bearable, dry way. No humidity at all, which is stunning to this Torontonian, who has never known heat without humidity. I would have liked to stay there.)
San Diego is a very beautiful city, and not what I was expecting at all. It smells of the ocean, which is a fine, fine quality in a city, and the sock admired the view from the hotel room window.
This window is the very same reason why everyone who sees me from now on will see me in my Birkenstocks. For reasons that I can't explain to you right now (although I swear it made perfect sense at the time.) I accidentally dropped my right dress sandal out this window, down 27 floors on to the roof of the entrance of the hotel. I toyed with asking the hotel staff to retrieve it, but then decided that the humiliation factor was too great. I had been in the hotel room for a mere 4 minutes. This sort of move is classic Stephanie, I go buy shoes because I'm going to try and do better, be a more put together person, you know? I'm going to get shoes that aren't Birks, maybe a lipstick...and then every time I try, something like this happens. I'm taking the hint. Screw it. This is me, and the roof can have the damn sandal. I do wish the planet could find a way to teach me these lessons without costing me yarn money though.
After the sandal incident I got a hold of myself and went for a walk. I found the Gaslamp quarter:
And I found the Horton Plaza. (You totally need to click on the pictures in that link.) This is a crazy mall. 7 levels over 6 1/2 city blocks in every colour, sound and size imaginable. It's like an ordinary mall on acid. Crazy. You go in, but you can't get out.
It's a mousetrap maze thing. You can smell the bakery and see the bakery, but you can't get there. You go up and down and across bridges and through walkways and onto terraces and you still aren't at the bakery. There's a restaurant every 10 feet, which is good, since if you go into the plaza, you are definitely going to be there long enough to need a meal, no matter what you were planning. In a certain sense, it's a brilliant marketing ploy, since you are forced by the layout of the place to see every single shop, and to stay for hours at a time. Also, the whole thing is outside. No roof. I was walking around (In the two hours that I couldn't find a way out) and kept thinking "These people are going to be screwed when the snow comes."
It was a while before I remembered. The palm tree should have been a hint.
Sunday, over to The Grove, a very lovely, lovely shop. I think multi purpose shops are very cool, and The Grove sells yarn, and books and jewelry and furnishings and clothes. Pretty slick.
This is what the sock saw.
The sock also saw the right side of the room, which is apparently more than my camera can say. My apologies to everyone sitting over there. I don't know where the picture went.
It was a blast and I'm very grateful to everyone who made San Diego such a treat. I met the nicest knitters, some knitting bloggers, I signed books, I got wasabi crackers (my all time fave) from Kris (who was seriously wearing the sweater of the day. Made me feel like a hack.) and my lovely hostess Susan gave me a set of DPNs to make up for the one that Homeland security misplaced. (I swear that I put 4 dpns in my suitcase, last thing before I left. Now, I may be the sort of woman who drops a shoe out the window, I may even be the sort of woman who gets lost in a plaza or surprised by mountains, but I assure you that I am not the sort of woman who would only pack THREE dpns. When I got to San Diego, I had that charming note from Homeland Security in my suitcase advising me that my belongings had been "inspected" and I was suddenly short a dpn. Susan hooked me back up.) Then I may have bought a little sock yarn to take the edge off of my unreasonable longing for the big basket of Kid Crack Silk Haze she had sitting right in front of me. I'm starting to think that sock yarn is like methadone for knitters, you get it just to tide you over. I don't even count it as a purchase. It's not really "using". It's sock yarn. Doesn't even count.
After the signing, it was off to the airport, up into the air, and down again in LA. Today I'll be at the Knit Cafe from 5:30 - 8:30,
for now, I'm finished my lunch and I'm off to explore. (Alone!)