April 29, 2008

Marvellous Madison

So the sock and I got up (I shall not write the ungodly hour of our travel on here, the sock doesn't like talking about it, and we flew from Northampton to Detroit, then Detroit to Madison.... by then I was sufficiently buoyed by airline coffee to take a picture and knit a little.

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I keep forgetting to say what the travelling sock yarn is this time. You know I like to show a nice little Canadian sock yarn the world when I do this, and I love this yarn. Red Bird Knits "Romney Sock", lambswool grown and milled in Ontario, dyed by the Fleece Artist in Halifax, and sold in Toronto. It's a lovely rustic-ish yarn, not at all like the firmly spun merinos most dyers are using for blanks right now. Really different and pleasant to use. (It's standing up to the particular abuse I put a travelling sock through really well.) I don't see the colourway on her site right now, but hand dyed art is like that. You gotta takes what you gets.

The sock and I saw the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin,

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but most of all, we saw knitters.

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I know this bunch looks innocent sitting there, but these are some of the most seriously fun knitters I've had the pleasure of running into - and I'm not just saying that because I got more beer at the Madison stop than ANYWHERE else on the whole tour - regardless of number of knitters. (Naturally, to avoid a drunken harlot incident that left me wounded today, I passed some (not all...oh no) on to the bookstore folks who helped make the whole thing work. They like knitters a lot now too.) I swear that when a well trained Canadian thinks a city is big on beer, they are a force to be reckoned with. There were the requisite first sock knitters... Anna, Emily, Stacie, Annette, Beth in Wisconsin (double teaming with a washcloth too), Leslie and Mary, who brought her first "Good" socks, which is an impulse I respect entirely.

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Then there was Kate, who is the last one there, and deserves honourable mention for her first sock, (will eventually be a pair...don't rush her) which started out as monkey socks, and wound up as Monster socks.

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My daughter Meg just sat up straight in her chair when she saw those. I'm this far away and I can feel it. She'll be knitting a knock off of these by the time I get home. Meg? Go study.
Mums and babies came, although my ability to get them to smile was clearly off this evening. There's Lisa and little Matthew, who is three weeks old, but has an adjusted age of -1 week. (I love the way he looks like he's saying "no pictures please") There's Susan and Anya, who was amused, but did not smile. Kitty Mommy and Isaak, who was an unyielding ROCK in the smiling department, and finally Lee and Wren, who didn't even wake up for the event -though her mother made up for it.

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Hailey - the requisite young knitter represented for her kind.

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There were washcloths. Meet Kathy, Sue, and Becky - who brought a "cheese cloth". (Har-dee har-har.)

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Here's Jaala, who puts out an awesome Knitzine... Knitcircus. (Let's here it for the Indie gals.)
(It really is good. I had a poke through my copy.)

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Here's Ellen from Sheepwreck. (Totally helpful and awesome blog for spinners.)

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Adrienne, showing up with a sense of humour and the first of several bottles of Fat Squirrel beer.

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Sock guy Ken showing off a pair of size 17 socks. (He was advised not to date the recipient, lest rumours be true and lives be lost.)

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Connie is a knitting taxi driver, and I can't tell you how much I wish I had been taking a taxi to the Madison airport instead of a car to Milwaukee this morning. I think we would have had an awesome time.

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Mary wants to say hi to her knitterly friend Tracy in Doha, Qatar.

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Maxine is the cheese lady. (For obvious reasons. That there is a big bag of squeaky cheese...all mine.)

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Julie rounded out the meal with a bottle of Monty Pythons Holy Grail Ale.

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Last but not least, quite possibly the best thing in these parts. My beloved Dale-Harriet. Present, and accounted for.

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Whew. There was more, so much more, but time is short if I'm planning on showing up clean in Carmel, Indiana tonight. I lost a little time when a very nice man accidentally took my suitcase instead of his when we landed here. When the only case left going around was one that looked a lot like mine, but wasn't mine...I went to the airline. A thousand thanks to Midwest Connect, who tracked down the charming Bill (who was hugely sorry and back at the airport with my bag like lightning.)

I don't know if he opened it, but I had to wonder what he would have thought if he did. Beer. Yarn. Chocolate.
Heaven knows what he would have called it, but I call it a party in a bag.

Posted by Stephanie at 4:49 PM

April 28, 2008

WEBS

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This morning, all I can think is that Steve and Kathy at WEBS are the smartest things ever. They had a thousand (maybe more) knitters turn up yesterday, and I didn't catch either one of them crying in the bathroom from the strain of it all. (Kathy and I did have a matched set of stomach cramps though. Stress.) Steve directed traffic in the parking lot, Kathy wrote names on post-it notes so I could spend time with knitters that didn't include asking them how to spell names, and they experimented with a "pre-event signing" from 11-1 that, while it worked well, just about killed me. (I am still not so sure what is so tiring about this job. Meet knitters. How hard can that be?) There was a scary and totally weird moment on stage when I felt a little faint (of course. That's never happened before but it just has to happen in front of a thousand people) where I felt sure I was going down and all I could feel was a terrible certainty that if I did faint, a thousand knitters were going to A) blog it and B) pose socks on my fallen form.) Kimberly (my favourite stalker) saved me with a bottle of water and I felt better almost instantly....as you might have guessed from the lack of reports that I went down like a house of cards. Totally bizarre. I blame fear...because this is what it looked like.

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Individually, the knitters were way less scary.

Here's Guido, from It's a Purl Man, came with his wife (yup. She's real, though camera shy) and their wonderful hand knit Chuppa (I somehow missed a picture of that. It was beautiful.)

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Amy won a skein of sock yarn from me, and she's turning it into a little sweater (there's a baby under there.)

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Jennifer and Maaike came all the way from Montréal, bringing me fresh bagels (there is Nothing like a Montréal bagel) and squeaky cheese and dishcloths to add to the effect.

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Kimberly, the rescue stalker. (Never before has a bottle of water meant so much to me.)

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Nell brought her octopus. He knit on the sock.

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Heather brought "Eye of Jupiter" yarn (Get it?)

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There were first sock knitters EVERYWHERE.
Meet Noelle, Nancy, Lynn, Chris and Carol (brought me a beer that was my best friend later that night) Chris, Alex, Maria, Cheryl, Dennis, Stacy, Lucille, Dianne, Carolyn, Dan (who has only been knitting for three weeks and had a perfect sock) Jennifer, Louise, MargoLynn (she had a monkey too) Cori, Rebecca and Angela. (Whew. As always, Click to embiggen.)

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Alex1Sts2704Cherlylsts2704Marianists2704Cherlylsts2704-1
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Margolynnmonkey1Sts2704Cori1Sts2704Rebecca1Sts2704Angela1Sts2704

There were mums and babies: Cynthia and Emerson, Jessie and Eamon, Aimie and Matrim, Lee and Charlie, Kristine and Lucy (I love that kids smile. You have got to click on her.) Zoë and Aoite, Lia and Zephyr.

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There were young knitters, Leah (almost 10), Emily (7) and Nicole (8), Emma (9) and Sarah (13). There was even a whole family of knitters (and one pre-knitter) Jonquil, Eliana, Talia (9) and Jeff.

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Washcloths from all over:
Linda, Susan (hers was handwoven), Ruth, Kristen, Sheila (who was knitting a bunch but they weren't for me) Shanan, Charlene, Maria, Scott (by way of Patti) Patty (that's a CT Knit for the Cure one) Jayne, and Heather.

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Pattykftcct2704Jaynewewc2704Heatherwewc2704

Melodie made wee me things:

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and Kristina was knitting a Hemlock ring on size 000000 needles. (Seriously. That's a dime.)

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Jess and Caro came. (Plus Caro's mum, who is very nice.) Caro's got great pictures.

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My buddies Stitchy, Melanie and Kellee. (Maryse was there too...I don't know how she got away from this picture.)
They brought me veggie fare. I loves them.

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and finally, Aaron. Aaron stood up at Webs last year and said that he was only knitting one scarf. That he didn't believe that it was addictive, that he wasn't going to get sucked into it's evil web, and that he was not going to be a knitter. He was just going to knit one scarf. Yeah.

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Dude's screwed. I reiterated to him what I said last year.
RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.

When it was all over, I drank beer with Steve and Kathy (you would be proud of how much forbearance we showed in the face of a day like that) and we drove back to the hotel, where we saw this.

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Movin' on. The Calvin, and me.

I'm in Madison Wisconsin now, about to jump in a cab and go find me more knitters. 'Cause you know. I haven't had nearly enough. Bring it on.

(Tomorrow: Indianapolis at Barnes and Noble - Carmel. I've just realized I have NO IDEA where Indianapolis is.)

Posted by Stephanie at 8:30 AM

One fine morning

It's just before 6am, and I'm about to dash off to the airport, to go to Madison. (Who am I kidding. My ability to dash is long gone. I'm so tired that watching me navigate the world should be a sitcom.) I'll post about WEBS, which was awesome, as soon as I manage to find the time to process the billions of photos generated by an event with a thousand knitters at it. (There are a few.) That's not why I'm posting though.

I'm posting (before 6am.) because it is Denny's Birthday, and she's worth the loss of coffee drinking time.

Happy Birthday Den!

Posted by Stephanie at 5:57 AM

April 26, 2008

One fine day in Portland

There is so very, very much that I love about that part of the world. I think of it when I am in Vancouver and Victoria and Seattle, but never so much as this time in Portland. It is green and lush and green....and lush....and standing off in the corner are Mount St. Helens and Mount Hood. (That's a volcano too...but they say that it is sleeping.) I love how everything looks there. This time, because I was hanging with Tina, and she runs Blue Moon Fiber Arts and that is in Scappoose, that's where I went, and I was absolutely stunned to see something totally new to me.

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See that? It's moss! Big Moss! Moss that wraps up all the trees and covers everything. It drips from the trees like some sort of thick verdure spraypaint. I loved it. I was so completely flipped out by it that once again I found myself thinking about how much I would love to live there, and then it started to rain, and I remembered. (I think I must have been a cat in a previous life. I hate getting rained on.) The Pacific Northwest and I will just have to date. We could never live together.

(While I got to see the inner workings of Blue Moon, how they dye everything, how it all works - the mountains of yarn, I didn't take pictures. The light was bad and the space deserved better. Rest assured that it's as magical as you think.)

We journeyed to the Forestry Center (which is a really beautiful space) where the Blue Moon team was setting up for their day and doing a heck of a job. They only sold one colourway that day, a fantastic one called "Doctors Without Borders" $3 from each skein goes straight to the good guys. (You'll be able to get it on the website soon.)
I knitted some up into Leyburn socks (I love that pattern) but I'll show you in a day or so when I can photograph it nicely. I paced around the back, walked off my nerves and listened to the sound of more that 400 knitters arrive in the driving rain. (There's another difference between there and Toronto. If it was raining that hard in Toronto a bunch of us would have stayed home. Totally.) Then it was time. I walked out and already there was big fun. Tina had done an Earth Day scavenger hunt. (You should look at the pictures here. They're fantastic.) Here's the winner - Susan.

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Susan got up at dawn, spent the whole day with maps and a plan and claims to have had a fantastic day. I don't doubt her. Susan and the runners up chose yarn from the big box of Socks that Rock.

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When I got up there, this is what I saw.

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Portland knitters. More than 400 of them. I'd have been freaked out but they were too much fun. Just when I was working my way up to having a stroke completely, Duffy got up and sang. (You gotta see it here.)

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I got her to hold the sock. It was the least I could do.

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Portland babies represented: Amanda and Everett, Shannon and Jaxon, Mia and Gunner. (Click to embiggen the babies.)

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There was, as always, the first sock brigade: Jillian, Tinivial, Rachel, Mary, Camille and Hillary.

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Camryn represented for the youngsters. She's a competent and knitterly 8.

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Nic was sent on a mission (bribed with fudge) to get his Aunt Kathy (from the comments) a book. (He admitted to having a good time Kathy. Keep working on that one.)

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Melissa went to Voodoo donuts for the scavenger hunt and brought me back this baby.

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Er, yes. It is shaped like what you think it is, and it is (naturally).... Cream filled. (Also, yes. It does appear to have been licked. Not by me.)

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Michelle brought an Oregon washcloth and Leann gave me a rabbit rescue one.

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Knitters with cool tats turned up. That's Maiya and (although I was so impressed with her back I didn't get her face) Kelsey. (I love what hers says. Click to embiggen.)

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Libby knit a "Princess Diana" sweater in the eighties. (Bitterly, it turns out, since all her friends were able to go and buy a commercial version right after. ) It's knit on supertiny needles.

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The PDX knitbloggers turned out in scary force.

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...and they even brought Judy Becker with them, which is awesome, since she's a genius.

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Roxanna wears a mean hat and gives a wicked, wicked backrub. (I want to be her when I grow up.)

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....and, in case I wasn't overwhelmed enough, here's Deb from Fearless Fibers. (Which I have coveted for some time, seeing it beautifully pimped out on Knitspot.)

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Finally (and I hope I didn't miss anyone) this is Zarah, who lost a sock while doing the scavenger hunt.

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In her words the misplaced sock is 1 bright green simply soft "ugly sock" lost on Gateway bus #19 (probably.)
Have a look around will you? A hand knit sock is a terrible thing to waste.

All in all, it was a spectacular evening, only made more so by the terrific efforts of Blue Moon Fiber Arts, comprised of several women I am pleased to count among my friends. Jolly good.

For now, I'm off to bed. I'm in Northampton, totally freaked about tomorrow. The big WEBS event looms large, and I'm petrified but at least I'm here. This morning when the sky turned grey and stormy over Toronto (that storm moving along from Chicago tried to get me on this end) I was nervous, but although we had a terrifically turbulent take off, I'm all the way here. Wish me luck. It's going to be a big one.

PS. Reports are true. I'll be in San Franciso May 3 at the Maker Faire. Saturday, 11am at the Main Stage, and then I'm doing something (I have no idea what...maybe signing...at 2pm at the Craft Demo area "Fiesta". (I especially like the "Fiesta" part. Makes it sound like fun.)

Posted by Stephanie at 9:55 AM

April 25, 2008

The law of Averages

The law of averages dictates that eventually, you must get all results, and I suppose that if you're going to travel this much, eventually you have to get this result...
but man, does it suck.

I'm here in Toronto, not in Chicago. They cancelled my first flight this morning at 9am, and when they rebooked me on a slightly later flight I went to the airport with no idea what I was in for. I've spent 8 full hours at the airport today, as they cancelled flight after flight after flight to O'Hell. O'Hare. I made three full circuits through customs and immigration, I picked up my bags without going anywhere three times. I sat on chairs, waited in lines, struggled through customer service and burned through an entire cell phone battery. There wasn't even knitting time -and I still didn't get to Chicago. Rain there. Thunderstorms there.... No planes going there.

I'd tell you the whole story, including the part where Jayme and Amy from Storey publishing and I were ALL on the phone with different agents trying desperately to get a flight to anywhere near anywhere that might work at all. I might even find a way to tell it that was funny, or hysterical or manage to generate a few ha-ha's out of me weeping in various parts of the airport, but it's just not funny at all. After all of that, charging around the airport as they cancelled all my flights and then announced that the weather that was closing O'Hare was going to move this way and close Pearson here, and I looked at the board and saw nothing good at all, and as Jayme and Amy and I slowly came to realize that it was already 7:00 in Chicago, with nothing on the horizon at all.... that I wasn't going to make it, no matter what we did. That I wasn't going to be late. I wasn't going to run in at the last minute with a great story.... In that moment, I have to tell you that I lost any shred of something that might have resembled a sense of humour. Turns out that this sort of story is only funny if in the end, you make it to Chicago. Which I didn't, and it's not.

I feel just sick. Beyond sick. All those knitters sitting there, waiting for me and I can't get there. I was, and still am, just furious with frustration, and there isn't even anything that I can do about it, or anyone that I can blame. Mother nature gave me the finger today, and I can't apologize enough to all of the knitters who got the shaft, and especially to Trish at Nana's Knitting Shop, who must have done so much work to get ready for this, only to get rained out. I'm really, really, really sorry. So sorry.

Posted by Stephanie at 10:04 PM

Survival based

Whoa. That exploded on me. Two events piled up on top of each other like teenaged weasels caught in an illicit festival of love. I don't think my exhaustion was too obvious, except for when I tried to check into the wrong hotel in Seattle. I knew where I was supposed to be, but somehow just staggered into the first hotel I saw and tried to believe. (Me to my friend Tina: " How come this Sheraton has all these Hilton signs in the lobby?") Arrggh.

Onward to Third Place Books, where there had been some sort of a misunderstanding and there weren't enough books until Tina remembered that she had some for the Portland event back at the hotel in the trunk of her car. The events person from the store took off at a tear to get them and despite my hysteria (I was seriously upset. I mean, here I tell you all to please wait and buy the books at the events and then there aren't any?) she and Tina saved the day and it all worked out. I was seriously flipped though. (Getting seriously flipped is a symptom of fatigue for me. This away from home thing is making me strange and worried.) Apologies to any of these knitters:

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Who were inconvenienced before we pulled it together.
I've said it before, I'll say it again, Seattle is a knitting sort of town. The place is filthy with them. There were first sock knitters:

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That's Molly, Carmel, Becky (who's husband totally shrunk her first socks. Look at them. It's terrible, although I believe they are still married.) Laurie, Adrienne, Fay (who totally overachieved, bringing a first sweater and socks) and finally Aubri, who's first socks were rather wet as the result of a bookstore sink washing, the tragic consequence of a bottle of Nyquil coming open in a knitting bag. Poor knitter.)

Seattle knitters with knitters in training showed up in force. That there is Jen and the Gonzopants baby. (Who I was simply thrilled to meet.)

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Katie and Evelyn, who was just a bump when last I met her.

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There's Jackie and Jake:

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Emma and Olivia

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Jennifer and Sarah

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Sarah and Elliott (sorry I invented a different name for him) (check out his cool knitgear.)

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Megan and John Henry:

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Then there were knitters in training who had begun their life's work. Sherri brought five year old Thomas and seven year old Abby, both knitters. (I bet they were bored, but darn they were good.)

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This is Tracy (the mama) seen here with both her first sock and her first knitter, both coming right along. That's Sabrina, age seven, a very competent knitter.

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A little older, this is Emma, who runs a teen knitter group for her fellows.

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How about McKenna? She's our lady of the stash weasels, and a fine gal about to graduate. That sock she's holding will be one of her culminating works. Hand spun, hand knit. Congratulations McKenna!

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Farther along the knitter continuum, there's Anne Marie (she won one of my contests a while ago. That scarf is what she made with the yarn I sent her.) She's awesome. I'm so glad she won.

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Karen brought me a Breastfeeding Activist (that's a lactivist to you ma'am) washcloth (I love the way these are starting to be about causes as well as states) and Heather made sure that I had Washington covered.

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(Remind me sometime to tell you what I'm going to do with all these washcloths. It's awesome.)

This is Cheryl. Check out that Addi turbo. Damn. When bad things happen to good needles.

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Rabbitch (we are toying with changing her name to Kali) showed up. I don't even want to discuss where she is on the continuum.

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Finally, although this is in no way intended to imply where he may be on the continuum, my buddy Paul turned up, with his ever lovely companion Naomi.

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They are always infinitely a pleasure, and I look forward to seeing them every time that the wind blows me far enough west.
Finally,

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Oh, that's not a knitter. That's Frankie. Beloved (and actual real) dog of TMK and Mossy Cottage Ryan, darling friends who had Tina and I to dinner after the event and provided me with one of the THREE (Total. Just kill me.) meals that I have had in the last 22 days that was not made in a restaurant, hotel or airport. It was awesome, and would have been even if it had not been absolutely totally tasty (which it seriously was) and I am forever in their debt. I wouldn't have told you that a salad and wicked homemade soup could save my sanity a couple of weeks ago, but there you have it. I love them. (Plus they had beer. I am so cheap.)

Right. Laundry is done, it's midnight and I'm off to bed. I'll try to post about Portland in the morning, before I go the airport, with my bag repacked, but to tell you the truth, I'm going to drop you like a hot rock if Joe has time to have a coffee with me.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:31 AM

April 24, 2008

A word about wee ones

I'm home. I'll post later today (I hope) about the events of the last few days (I have to do laundry so I can leave again tomorrow.) but first....

I love babies. Just about all of them. They are the only human beings on earth that I judge as a group. (This likely has something to do with the way that they don't mouth off.) Everyone else, everyone above about the age of 18 months, I meet individually, understanding that I'm going to like some of them (most really) and not like others. I've never understood people who say "I love children", since it has always seemed to me that children are people, and I am going to like some, and not like others. Saying "I love children" has always struck me as bizarre as "I adore the elderly" or "Aren't middle aged men just the best?" Sure, I admit that the very young have powerful qualities that make it more likely that I am going to love them...three year olds are the major repository of charm in the human race, for example, and scientific principles explained by a six year old are nothing short of devastating in their ability to captivate, and I like the unbridled stupidity, wilfulness, stamina and energy of teenagers - as long as they are yours. (In mine, the charm is lost on me.)

This belief, that children are people, with rights, needs and privileges, is central to what I'm about to tell you. There has been an incident or two at events, over the last weeks, where some adults have felt that some children should not have been present. The occasional mother has been asked to remove her child (not by me, nor by someone hosting the event.) and I wanted to go on record as saying that the actions of attendees at my events do not reflect my beliefs. (I also don't want to go into the specific incidents. I'll simply say that I was unaware of all of them, which, since I was at the front of the room, facing all possible offenders, must mean that none of them were a massively big deal. Nobody screamed for an hour, I assure you. Please try to avoid any specifics in the comments, if you know of them. We're speaking in very general terms here. I don't want you to write about who's kid you think was disagreeable, which mother could have done better OR what some other person attending said that you feel wasn't nice. Anybody who wants to can read here, and I don't want people saying bad things about each other. It's very hard to read about yourself.)

I believe that children are people. I believe that as people, they have a right to be anywhere that people have a right to be. I also believe that some babies/children/mothers are inseparable and that that is how it should be for them. Amanda was the kind of kid that I could have left with a babysitter any time I wanted. She didn't mind at all. Megan, on the other hand, earned herself the nicknames "velco" and "The Klingon" (get it? Cling- on?) within moments of birth. If I hadn't taken Meg places that I wanted to go, then I wouldn't have been able to go anywhere...

and isn't motherhood hard enough? We've got the only culture on earth - or in the history of humans that actually segregates adults and children, and it's really hard on those of us who have little children who feel in their bones that they should be with their mothers. These mothers then have to choose between meeting the needs of their kids, or missing everything for years and years, and I think that really sucks, and discourages mothers from doing what is right for their particular little one. If a kid isn't ready to be without their mother (or the other way around) and there is an ever increasing list of places that babies/toddlers/children aren't welcome...then what's a woman to do....curtail every aspect of her life for years? That's really feminist...suggesting that a parenting/breastfeeding woman not take part fully in society. Just stay home and breed honey. Whoops. That's a debate for another day.

That said, I also think that children disrupting something is pretty sucky too. I've been at movies or plays or something like that where a child wasn't happy and nine times out of ten, the mum high-tailed it out or went to the back as soon as she realized that her kid wasn't into the scene. The tenth time, maybe she didn't, but I still cut her some slack because I understand that it might be the only time she's left the house in two weeks, and leaving the house is really hard, and maybe the only thing standing between her and taking up chewing on sticks from the park as a hobby, and because maybe the first step toward decent child care, maternity leave and ethical treatment of parents and families is actually accepting THAT CHILDREN EXIST and are so far, the only way we have found (despite them being loud, dirty and occasionally too damp for my personal taste) to continue the species.

This is a long way around saying that babies/toddlers and children who will be happy there are welcome at my book events. In keeping with the "children are actual people" thing, I would hope that no baby/toddler/child who would be unhappy there would be brought or forced to stay, and I have faith that 99% of parents will make the right call for their particular young.

This means, and I know some of you will be disappointed about this, that it is very likely that these smallest of humans will continue to be present at events. (I hope) Most of them will be happy children, because their mothers, want to meet their needs by staying with them, but also want to meet their needs by not forcing them to stay when they are clearly miserable. These happy children will likely make happy kid noise. As long as this is a reasonable amount, I would like to suggest that the same way we wouldn't ban anyone who used medical equipment that made noise or a person who had tourette's who was unable to be quiet, that we all just cope. Happy kids make noise. (Actually, almost all kids make noise, and most adults have a terrible track record, there are tons of happy and unhappy adults who can't zip it either.)

Saying babies/toddlers/children are welcome as they need to be, however, does mean that every once in a while there is going to be a happy kid who makes too much noise or a mum who fails to recognize that her child is being disruptive (seriously, it's like becoming snow-blind. Mothers can't always see it - I assure you that getting 3 hours of broken sleep a night can mess with your judgement.) or there might even be an unhappy kid who was predicted to do well and doesn't, and instead uses the time to finely hone their impression of demon spawn, and those kids are going to be a pain in the arse....Just like some other people we are all going to meet in our day (I am keeping a list) that are a pain in the arse that we don't have the right to get rid of either. I know these occasionally loud kids are going to get on your nerves, and sometimes mine too, but I'm begging, on behalf of mothers everywhere, to approach these baby/toddler friendly events of mine with a little tolerance and gentleness for these inexperienced little people and those who are trying to both have a life, and keep the peace.

Back to the regular blog shortly, I'm working on it. I got to bed after the Portland event at 1am, and had to leave for the airport at 4am and all day yesterday was lost to travelling home. I'm wiped, and I've got to go again in the morning. Still...I'm on it, and I'll get something up about Seattle (I love Seattle) later.

Peace out.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:11 PM

April 20, 2008

In Which Things End as Strangely as they Started

Here are some things that surprised me in the last few days of sock camp.

1. How very, very seriously knitters took making their little sock monkeys. By Friday, clothing and accessorizing the little gaffers had become an obsessive endeavour, and by the time we were all ready to play "show me your monkey" on Friday night, they were all nothing short of art.

Ballerinamonkey2004Bitermonkey2004Monkeyline2004Stashmonkey2004
Yogamonkey2004Bonenosemonkey2004Bongomonkey2004Brokebackmountain2004
Knitterstakingmonkey2004Shrinermonkey2004DownwardmonkeyAnythinghelps2004

There were homeless monkeys, monkeys doing yoga, shriner monkeys, brokeback mountain monkeys, monkeys with "hobbies", monkeys with habits... monkeys, monkeys, monkeys. Be sure to click to embiggen these monkeys, they are totally worth it. We even buried Debbie, the pattern's designer, in monkeys...an experience from which she is sure to never recover.

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My monkey? Well. I got a little carried away. My monkey knit a little sock on dpns (toothpicks)

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and because he was busy I made him an argyle vest to wear.

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We had a sock puppet show, which was funny from the front,

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but way funnier from the back.

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We had a talent show, with Yodelling knitters (you have no idea how rare yodelling knitters are) dancing knitters and a camp song (Addicted to yarn) sung to the Robert Palmer classic, complete with backup knitters. (I have no good pictures of this. Know that it was the brainchild of Stephen at Hizknits, and will likely show up on the Yknit podcast at some point.)

I think that it would not be a mistake to say that the bartenders for the whole final evening were so stunned that they could scarcely move.

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It was incredible to watch them. They couldn't look away. They were glued. They were stunned and amazed and they had no idea what hit them. The two of them were exceedingly awesome, considering that they were entirely shellshocked by the number and nature of sock camp.

Then, just when I thought it couldn't get any weirder...

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It snowed.
(I'm starting to take the snow thing personally. I think winter is following me.)
There's an altitude thing going on here that totally freaked me out.

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See that? Below a certain altitude it all melted off the trees, but for a good twelve hours there it snowed. Totally bizarre. More bizarre? I finished socks.

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Blue Moon Socks that Rock Heavyweight... 3.25mm needles, colourway that is currently a rare gem but will be for sale as soon as Tina gets to it. (Grimm's Garden, when it's done.)

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These worked up like lightning, but still fit in shoes and are brilliantly comfy. I'll write up the pattern for you as soon as I make another pair to check my work. Darned nice. For now, I'm off to bed. Tomorrow is the event at Third Place Books in Seattle, then the Earth Day event in Portland the day after. I'll be really sad to leave the island, but totally happy to get back to a place with regular internet and cell phone service.

Posted by Stephanie at 10:42 PM

April 18, 2008

Another time...at sock camp

Hey? What are those knitters doing?

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Can I see too? What's Jen got on her computer?

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Whoa.

Jen's an engineer. Jen made a program that predicts colour patterns in painted skeins. You measure the colour sections of the skein, knit a swatch and measure a couple of things, then input that information into Jen's program, choose the colours, and then click.

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From there, Jen's program can tell you what that skein of yarn is going to do at any stitch and row gauge, over any number of stitches, and knit flat or circularly, and it generates a picture to show you.

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Big Brain. Jen has a very, very big brain. This is the best use of a knitters vocation and natural tendencies towards the obsessive compulsive side of things that I have ever seen.

When knitters run the world,

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Things will be very different.

(PS. The pattern for the tiny sock monkey (and there is a big one too) is from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. You'll be able to get it on their website, in about a week. Happy now?)

Posted by Stephanie at 1:31 PM

April 17, 2008

One time..at sock camp

We are having almost a criminally good time here, but I have to tell you, I think that like SOAR, Sock Camp may have a mortality rate. (Like SOAR, I believe the proximity to water is helping to cover this fact. If I had to guess, I'd say the bodies of the knitters who don't make it are stripped of sock yarn, needles and useful notions and rolled into the sea by the Sockateers.) I'm getting tired, but I've got my wits about me and expect to survive.

Here are some things we have been doing.

1. Learning about socks. The classes (though I have only been in mine) sound terrific, and everyone seems to be learning a ton. (Hopefully, some of them are learning something in mine.) I want to take the class that's just about different cast-ons really badly. Three hours....lots of different cast ons for socks. I have stolen procured the hand out, so I am learning anyway.

2. Tina made their "camp project" a toilet paper cover. You were to make it and bring it. I didn't have time - (I ended up doing what I did last year, which was something with Cat Bordhi that we just won't discuss) but the campers really, really stepped it up. They were so much better than I thought that I just couldn't believe it. Some were just beautiful.

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Some were just hysterical.

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(This is "Crapotis" - note the appropriate stitch pattern)

Some were darling.

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Some were literary.

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This is Edgar Allen Poo, who is standing like that because he has just released "the tell-tale fart". He is, naturally, in front of the house of flusher. Yes. I think that is very funny.

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Then we had a day where we made little tiny sock monkeys.

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I am delighted with mine.

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Then last night there was a knitting relay race, a game with toilet paper I don't want to discuss but left a large and strange mess, and then there was a game of "Can you knit with this?" To which the answer was a resounding

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YES.

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YES.

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YES. (The beef stick smelled really funny and the knitter who got the piece of a plastic hangar and a drill bit did finish, but boy, that was a challenge.)

After that, Cat knit faster than me with turkey basters, and we called it a night.
Today, more classes, some underwater knitting (camera free event) and I have no idea what else. This is the strangest way I've ever spent five days, but I'm having a great time.

Last, but not least, it is Rachel H's Birthday. She's funny, clever, organized, knows everyone's schedule, (though I am particularly grateful she knows mine..) makes kick ass soup, makes a thousand things possible just by breathing air, and is my friend, for which I am very grateful. She has my love and very best regards on this day. Happy, happy Birthday.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:31 PM

April 15, 2008

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.

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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.

Goodmorningcat1504

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.

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8. Deer.

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

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10. I am knitting.

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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.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:20 PM

April 14, 2008

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.

Yknitterifght1004

Yknitterscent1004

Yknittersl1004

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

Aileenandlily

Kate and Veronica:

Katandveronica1004

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

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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...

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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)

Brettistso1004Alysonslippers11004Courtney1Sts104Jennifer1Stso1004

Kathryninmn1Sts1004Melissa1Sts1004Marastaalco1004

Emily knit a pair of Lenore's

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(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.

Cursingmama1004

(I KNOW.)
and this, this is BOTH OF THE RAINEY SISTERS IN ONE PLACE.

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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.

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Last but not least, Angie.

Angie1004St

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.

Snowinmn1004

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.

Presbytera11104

There was no snow.

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There was an M in the "diag" at the University.

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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?

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

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Plus the knitters in the "overflow room".

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(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)

Rita1Sts1104Alice1Sts1104Liz1Stsaa1104Ahadlysmilireb1104

Samantha1Sts1104Amy1Stsaa1104Kateaa1Sts1104Cesarina1Staa1104

Valerie1Stsbiday1104Robinistsaa1104Erinsiststoes1104

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

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I find it so charming I can't even tell you.
Look! It's my buddy Abby!

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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?

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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.

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Kat's tat.

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Joe knit his own kilt hose and sweater.

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

Nikkiwaa1104Amada2Nswa1Ss1104Amandaausw1104

Karin is a lovely 10 year old knitter.

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

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

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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:

Notrams1104

We missed you.

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

Posted by Stephanie at 2:32 PM

April 10, 2008

Nashville

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.

Unionsthotelnash0904

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.)

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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.

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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.)

Anna2Stsock0904Auntiem2Ndsocks0904Ann1Stsocks0904Natalie1Stsock0904

Shirley1Stsoc0940Lindsay1Sock0904Joistsocks0904Jenniferandryan1Stsock0904
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Stacie brought me two things I love. A Tennessee washcloth and a beer.

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Dos Perros Ale is really yummy. Just saying.
This is Dana, who now owns the terrific shop Threaded Bliss.

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

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

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(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.)

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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.

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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.
Seriously.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:07 AM

April 9, 2008

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:

Mcharlotteknit0804

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....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.

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We sang it again later for Stacey.

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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)

Jamiistsock0804Renee1Stcosks0804Judi1Stsock0804Aleta1230804
Allisonknitpicky0803Tiffanie1Stsocks0804Daveyknits0804Suescat0804

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There were babies. Doreen brought Zuri-Elizabeth

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and Teresa brought Alexander.

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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.)

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

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

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

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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.)

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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?)

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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.)

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Charming boy.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

Onward. Nashville Knitters await me.

Posted by Stephanie at 6:45 PM

April 8, 2008

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.

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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

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

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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.)

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

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

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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.

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

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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,

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and there are LOTS of knitters.

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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)

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

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She held tight to it, even in her sleep.

Amy and Mama-e came to say hi!

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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.)

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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.

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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.)

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

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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.

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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!

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I always enjoy their visits, and not just because they bring beer. (Although that's really good.)
Trish brought a Maryland washcloth...

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and this -

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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...

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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.)

Posted by Stephanie at 1:23 PM

April 7, 2008

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.)

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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.

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(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.

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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.

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(What? Do you knit both your socks the same size?)
This is Olivia, youngest knitter at the Lexington event, only 8 years old.

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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.

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Holly... do you remember Jaime? She remembers you.
This is baby Samantha, clearly loved by knitters,

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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...

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At all.
Here's Renée,

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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)

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

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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.

Posted by Stephanie at 4:03 PM

April 6, 2008

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."

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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.

Posted by Stephanie at 5:14 AM

April 5, 2008

Running

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.

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Good looking bunch, aren't they?
Erynn was first in line with Isaac and Isaiah.

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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".

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

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Ruth may be my new best friend,

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

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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,

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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.

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

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

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

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

It was Lisa's Birthday.

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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.)

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and so they're done!

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(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.

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

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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.

Posted by Stephanie at 6:06 PM

April 3, 2008

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 ...

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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.

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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:

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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.)

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

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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.

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

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Jenn with her knitting tattoo.

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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.)

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

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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.

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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,

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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.

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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

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It says "tornado shelter". Denver? Is there something you'd like to tell me?

Posted by Stephanie at 1:50 PM

April 2, 2008

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.

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The babies were happy.

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

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

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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.

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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.

Posted by Stephanie at 8:26 AM