June 22, 2008

Chicago redux

I've decided that this was one of the best trips ever. I left Saturday morning, met knitters, had dinner with a Chicago friend, did my thing, met more knitters, drank a frosty beer in a hotel room and was back home by noon the next day. There were thunderstorms before and after all my flights in both cities, but I still got in and out without incident. (Considering my imperfect relationship with O'Hell airport, all I can say to that is a big "neener neener.") I was gone Friday morning and back Saturday morning. Enough time to get my stuff done but not so much that Joe and the girls missed me (or my share of the stuff I do.) Last night Joe and I went out to dinner and a movie, (We saw Get Smart. Very funny) and then I went to bed without setting the alarm. It was a delicious sleep and I feel like a new woman. Today I'm doing Yoga, finishing a pair of socks, scraping whatever that is off the kitchen floor and reading a book. I'm pretty psyched. It's been three or four years since I approached a summer without a deadline, and I'm really ready for it. So, more about Chicago?

I was actually in Oak Lawn, a suburb of Chicago, so I didn't get to visit the bean (my best favourite Chicago thing) but there was other great stuff. I had a visit with Team Nana at Nana's Knitting shop in the afternoon, where I gapped the whole knitting thing and just snuggled babies. There's clearly been some sort of an outbreak, since the place was filthy with them. I was delighted. The younger humans are the better I like them (and the feeling is mutual, I think) and there is nothing on the earth I like more than a really wee one. (Hard to take pictures of you and a baby with an arm full of baby though..

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but I managed.) After the gathering at the knit shop, I wandered off to dinner (in the rain) with a Chicago Friend, and learned something that will shock my native Torontonian friends. In Chicago, the bread basket that comes before dinner?

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Those are chocolate chip muffins, and their inclusion in a dinner bread basket is apparently not unusual. (Franklin told me he knows where to go to get chocolate cupcakes in the bread basket.) I was so stunned by seeing them there right next to the cheese buns and garlic bread that I could scarcely tear my eyes away. Imagine. Garlic sticks right next to chocolate chip muffins. When I recovered from the culture shock of unexpected baked goods, we went back to the hotel (in the rain) for me to do my thing. I was worried that the rain would keep knitters away, seeing as how last time the knitters gathered the rain became so apocalyptic that my plane couldn't come. I worried that they would take one look at the rain and immediately forget the whole thing.

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Wrong. (It was suggested to me that if Chicagoans didn't go out every time the weather was crappy, they would be housebound.) Lots of knitters, and a seriously fun bunch at that. (I'm certain that had nothing to do with the bar that was open.)

There were knitters with washcloths, Denise with a violet one (did you know that Violet is the state flower of Illinois?) and Leslie with washcloths to support the fight against breast cancer.

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There were knitters with babies... Tons of extremely well behaved babies, There were Mandy and Alister, Laurel and Margaret, Kathy and Maggie, Rebecca and Miriam... more too, but I was too slow with the camera.

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The first sock brigade trouped in. There was Anne, Faith, Susan (1st sock, third baby) Lori, Tonja, Lisa (that's her first second sock, a personal triumph) Charlene and Katie.

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I met Erika, who sort of had a bone to pick with me. Turns out that her husband heard me say once that sock knitting is a real expression of love. That since socks wear out and are used up when used, that they are a grand and powerful way to express your undying ardour. Yeah. Well.

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Apparently he's got really big feet. Sorry Erika.
I met the youngest knitter and oldest knitters at the event. That's Rowan, age 7, and Mae, aged 96 (and a half.)

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There were Canadians all over the place. There was Mary Jane in from Winnipeg, Valerie sporting the flag..

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and, in a really bizarre moment, the son of my good friend Nancy, who I'd totally forgotten had moved to Chicago.

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That's Jonathan and his lovely wife Heather, and I'll admit that what with him being so far out of context, when he stepped up to the table, I glanced up and thought "That guy looks a lot like Jonathan. How about that." and then he said "will you sign these for Katie, Jessie and Beth" which are totally the names of Jonathan's sisters... I got a little tripped out, just for a second that this guy who totally looked like Jonathan ALSO knew people with the same names as Jonathan's sisters and then I got it. It WAS JONATHAN. (I'm seriously not as smart as we had all hoped some days.) It was fantastic to see him. (Nancy, he looks happy.) To put the icing on the cake, Heather also had...

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Her first socks.

Finally, there was Andi and Alex. Alex was a non-knitter when he showed up. He was just coming along to keep Andi company. He wasn't very interested in knitting, but he was going to come along and be a good sport. Well at some point in the evening, something happened, and Alex got the urge to knit.

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See that little bit of business there? His first knitting, and it's pretty darn good too. When I asked him what he thought had made him finally feel like knitting, he said he didn't have a clue.

I do. He was overwhelmed by the knitter fumes. All that wool, all that knitting, all that fun. It was a great evening. Really great...and I have Tricia, the gracious, funny and persistent owner of Nana's knitting to thank for it.

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(That's her daughter Cory behind her. She's a whole lot of awesome too.) It's a ton of work, an evening like this, and it takes a really terrific person to sign up for a second go round after getting the weather shaft the first time. I think I love her, and not just because she has a lot of yarn.
Thanks to Trica, and everyone else to came out for a whole second kick at the can. It was a great night.

Posted by Stephanie at June 22, 2008 4:53 PM