A swift and sudden understanding

I admit, right now this second that in all of the years that I have possessed a drivers license, from the time that I was 16 until now, I have never once honked the horn while driving. (I admit to honking that quick beep-beep with a wave that is the way everyone says goodbye to relatives) but never, ever have I found a need to honk the horn for anything else. Torontonians do not honk much either. This is not a very honky city. People yell, people flip each other the bird, people do that “I’m crushing your head” thing from the Kids in the Hall, but they do not, as a general rule, honk unless there is a pretty large problem. (Child in the road, failed brakes…someone who is trying to turn left where there is no left allowed, your purse hanging out the door, your coffee on the roof…You know. Big stuff.) We don’t honk much in traffic. It’s pointless. If you’re stuck you’re stuck, and there’s squat all that honking does to clear the DVP.

Even if you are a Canadian who honks, or if you think Canadians honk a lot, you will have this attitude smacked off of you when you get to New York City. These people honk. This baffled me. Why honk in traffic? Buddy would move if he could – the intersection is not full of cars that are only waiting for instructions. They are stuck! Honking changes nothing! New Yorkers honk in traffic. They honk when they turn corners. They use the horn not just as it is intended to be used, as a warning system attached to their cars, but also as an expressive form of uni-tone vehicular communication.

I didn’t get it. At all. I admit actually, that I thought all the honking was slightly rude.

Then I went to NYC for this trip. I spent the day with Ms. Too Much Wool herself (she took me to The Point, and to Purl both very, very nice.)and we went all over the place and we even took the subway.

Here’s another thing I learned. Americans come to Toronto all the time and are suprised how clean our Subway is. (We have sort of a thing about it.) I thought they were just playing to the mythology of a good, clean, polite Toronto. I couldn’t imagine it was that different.

Torontonians ! Behold the NYC subway and know why they are impressed!


It really is very dirty. You know how (if you live in Toronto) when you wait for the subway if you are very tired and all of the benches are taken that most days, if you had to and you were wearing jeans, that you would totally sit on the floor? You would not even consider that in the station I saw.

After our afternoon of coffee and walking adventure Cass looked at my itinerary and saw that there was 40 minutes allotted to go from midtown to Brooklyn, and she laughed. We spoke to the powers that be and changed it to an hour, and both of us felt better. We got in a cab exactly on time. We headed for Brooklyn, and then we hit Canal St. Traffic stopped. We moved by centimetres. Cars blocked up intersections, cars nudged each others bumpers, cars, cars, cars everywhere. All of them honking. At first it was amusing, this taste of real New York traffic, it was amusing until I noticed Cass’ furrowed brow, and I realized that we were going to be late to the event.

At this point, I believe that if one were to search for the exact term that applied to what happened to me then, I think what you would find would be the term “went buggy”. I flipped out. I started, when the taxi would inch hopefully forward 10cm to be gleeful. I would turn to Cass and say “WE’RE MOVING!” only to be crushed entirely seconds later when I realized that we were at a standstill again. I yelled “OH COME ON!”. I made fists. I bounced in the seat. I glared at other human beings and I taunted them from the rear of the cab. I made mental lists of people driving in stupid ways and I thought about writing down all of the license plate numbers of any idiot who was “Blocking the box”. (I don’t even live in this city and I know not to Block the box. Do these people not watch Law and Order?) I was frustrated. I was late, I was angry and knitters?

I wanted to honk.

I wanted to climb through that little barrier window of the cab and lay on it. I wanted to express my rage and frustration through the glory of the car horn. I wanted to yell “WHY ARE YOU NOT HONKING” at the cab driver. As 10 minutes turned into 35 on Canal street and Cass called and recalled the bookstore to tell them where I was, I vented my wrath. “HONK! HONK AT THESE PEOPLE!” New York Traffic reduced this non-honking pacifist driver into a raging twit who not only wanted to honk her self stupid, but possibly to drive over other cars. I get it now. I understand. I did not truly feel the pain, but now I do. I’m sorry New York. Really sorry. Honk until you feel better.

When I finally arrived. (Vaguely breathless from holding back all that honking) There were Brooklyn knitters, all waiting nicely. (I actually think that if you absolutely have to keep people waiting, that knitters probably take it better than, say…potters.)



First up? The very, very juicy and delicious Thumper, who graced me with a cuddle and few devastating smiles before beginning to de-compensate a little. (Way past his bedtime, poor wee lovie. Besides, he had a very big day.) He is the picture of heath and good nature and should be the poster child for vegetarian nursing mums everywhere.


Kate and I had a bonding moment showing of Icaruses (Icari?) She’s got a great picture. Aileen brought me Connecticut


Alison had a Mets sock…(I think she said Dave dyed it for her)


I saw Jenny (Goddess of the now defunct Copper Moth) and she is as wonderful as I remembered.

Karen and Valerie should have done a wardrobe check before they came. (They are both wearing the same tank top from Fiona Ellis



Then, oh then, we have proof that my children are wrong, and that there do exist in the world teenagers who think that knitting (and by extension, me) are cool. This is Ashley, just a little younger than my own Samantha….


And Casseen and Nina, just a little younger than Amanda and Meg.


(See that girls? See that? THEY wanted to talk to me. THEY were knitting. THEY wanted to hold the sock. I bet the also do all of their homework without anyone reminding them and never, ever leave clothes on the floor. )

Next up, the delightful Bakerina.


She was just as nice as you would hope, maybe nicer. Funny too.

When it was all over, Cass and I found a glass of wine, then a cab (much less traffic) and I fell over onto my hotel bed.

The next day was the Knit out. The Knit Out my friends, is huge. massive. Many, many knitters and wanna-be knitters and muggles drawn inexplicably to yarn. (Pre-aware knitters.) Hundreds. The sun shone, the knitters wandered and it was lovely. I met Jove


Fellow Canadian, in NYC for another reason, but still drawn to the wool. The lovely and charming Em


Clearly gearing up early for Knit like a Pirate. (Succeeding too. Her shirt was a huge hit.) Here’s podcast host Guido,


He’s a high enthusiasm sort of guy.

Yo! Cara and Kay!


Kay knows how I love her, but I was so overwhelmed that I forgot to tell Cara that sometimes, on bad days when I need a pick me up…I reload her blog page over and over, just to watch the header change. Try it. It’s uplifting.

Just to trip me out…It’s Amy!


I see Amy Wednesday nights at Lettuce Knit here at home, so having a visit with her in another country. Trippy.

There were more. So many. I’ll never get them all. There was ccavicch (wearing the same cool tee-shirt as Em), Julie (who I had the privilege of meeting twice in two days) Jenn, Liz (was it Liz?)

It was a blast. From there I hopped in a car and went up to Knitty City, a charming shop uptown. (Was it uptown?)

I took this picture early on before a lot of the knitters were there (I was starting to be off my game)


Then I took another one, because you can’t see Nancy in the one above. (WHOOPS – See what all these knitters do to me? It’s Caron in the green. Yarn fumes. I blame Yarn fumes.)


There she is! Right in the middle. (Nancy was the one reminding me to take pictures at all. Girl kept me on my game. )


A high point of my evening was meeting Naomi Dagen Bloom. She used to be the worm lady (I guess she still is.) and another author who appears in the first Knitlit book, but now she’s into HIV prevention for women over 50. It’s a good point, since many women rejoining the dating pool when they are widowed or divorced often have no sex-ed whatsoever. Clever lady. Lovely to talk to.

We had a lovely evening, all sunburned and wiped out from the Knit Out, and it was a terrific way to end a trip to NYC. Tomorrow (hallelujah!) the blog goes back to realtime. Whew.

133 thoughts on “A swift and sudden understanding

  1. You actually made me miss New York. Even the honking! Everything seems better with knitters doesn’t it?

  2. Sounds like a whirlwind tour! I’m glad you understand the honking, but hope you never get the urge again… it’s not a fun place to be. (The honking-zone, not NYC. Never been there, so I can’t judge.)

  3. You nailed the NYC description…now imagine doing it with a newborn. It’s never quiet, EVER — honking, shouting, sirens, huge trucks — and after awhile you get this feeling of being either in the middle of a giant movie set or on another planet altogether. I lived there for two years and am soooo glad to be back in Michigan!

  4. My newborn likes it just fine. It’s just what outside sounds like, as far as he knows. He heard it all in utero, and so far it doesn’t faze him. He’s fourth-generation New Yorker, though, so maybe it’s in the blood.
    Thumper is seriously considering a daytrip to Rhinebeck, and if so has big plans to show you his charming, well-rested, daytime side.

  5. California makes it illegal to honk just for the noise of it. All that fabled mellow, laid-back stuff? Hey. Don’t be fooled. It’s the law.

  6. What honking? Just kidding…thanks for coming to see us in Brooklyn!
    Also thanks for being patient about the rampant small child disturbances! πŸ˜‰
    Signed, the woman corralling the toddler in the front row.

  7. Sounds like a blast. Amy is beating me at the idea of being a travelling Harlot groupie. You know, those breathless 40-something women dressed like teenagers who tell you that they’ve seen every Axl Rose concert in the hemisphere in the last ten years? I’ll follow you on your book tour. (I’ll wear appropriate handknits, though.) I’ll outstalk Stalker Angie. Oh yeah.
    Oops, sorry, my crazy is showing.

  8. Hi! It was great to meet you. Knitty City was fun. What a cute shop! I was just wondering I thought Nancy’s blog was ‘Harlem Purls’, and wasn’t her name Caren?
    I am sorry if I am wrong. I was really tired too.

  9. Oh dear, I wish I could say I’d never honked. Although in my defence I honk when someone else on the road does something dangerously foolish. Never when I’m stuck in traffic. Honest.

  10. Oh my…. I’m so not a city girl. All the honking and the whatnot… The Knit Out looks like it was fun, though.
    Thumper is an absolute doll. I think he’s my favorite knitblog baby.

  11. The first time I ever went to Canada, I ended up driving in Toronto in rush-hour traffic, and I was absolutely struck by how incredibly polite everyone was. I had learned to drive in Boston (where the drivers are somewhat less prone to honking but possibly more prone to acts of overt aggression than in New York) and I did not realize back then that there were places where drivers are generally nice.
    Someone pulled up beside me in traffic just to tell me that my brake lights weren’t working (instead of honking and/or rear-ending me on purpose, which is what I would’ve expected from a Boston driver). And then, when I hung up traffic for most of an entire light cycle because I had no idea that the flashing green light means the same thing as a green arrow? Nobody honked at me or made rude gestures or anything. I was stunned.

  12. I grew up in Brooklyn. You have perfectly captured my attitude toward car horns. Both the aggravation at having to hear them, and the aggravation at not hearing them when they really need to go off.
    (This is why one takes the subway, when at all possible. It may be dirty, but they ususally don’t get stuck in traffic jams. Usually…)

  13. It wasn’t until I lived in NY that I realized why black is de rigueur–black hides the dirt. We had a cousin from Nova Scotia visiting once and he tried to count all of the honks he heard (there was at that time a $50 fine…he thought he’d be rich if he could collect) in NYC. He lost track of the number, though!

  14. Oh man, our schedules are just a little off. I’m doing a signing at that very book store in Brooklyn on October 6th! (Honestly, I’m afraid that your reputation is going to preceed me and everyone will want me to bring the funny like the Harlot does.) Luckily, my cousin lives nearby so we’ll be walking instead of pounding our heads on the plexiglass divider in a cab. Sounds fun, though.
    I admit that I honk, but not excessively. It’s just a way for me to yell as loud as I need to when there’s dumbassery on the road.
    Now, get thee to a bubble bath, you sound like you need to relax!

  15. Love the honking story! I was shocked when my knitting buddy Pam honked at an animal in the road (we live in rual AZ)…It never occured to me to do that! We just wait until the critter moves off the road…she is from Chicago and was shocked that I was so suprised…then shocked that we just wait for our turn…hey…it is knitting time..ya can get a few stitches in!!!

  16. if you are a little bit of a clean freak (as i am myself and not afraid to admit it!) even the prospect of sitting on the benches on the subway platforms is scary, as i see the homeless men stinking of who knows what (really, i am better off not knowing) sleeping on them. so sitting on the floor is unthinkable…and to sit on the bench is a sure sign of how tired i really am! i enjoyed this post so much! thanks!

  17. I am now living in my third city with a subway/el system (first Boston, then NYC, and now Chicago.) Toronto’s subway was amazing! We vacationed there a couple of years ago, and I could not believe how clean it was. It also felt very user-friendly. You’re quite fortunate to have it. To New York’s defense, it is a VERY old system, and incredibly extensive and heavily used. I do think it is cleaner now than it was when I lived there 15 years ago–I saw fewer rats on my last trip. They have also spiffed up a number of the stations. Boston used to have some incredible stations with very cool art instillations. (It probably still does, but I haven’t been there in a decade.)

  18. ok, i confess, I’ve lived in nyc for 20 years and i, um, think the subways are clean. ish. at least waay cleaner than they were when I moved here. i know someone washes them once a week, which is more than I can say for my kitchen floor.

  19. So. Very. Jealous.
    DC’s subway is cleaner, and our traffic isn’t quite as bad within the city proper, but OH the honking. And the stupid drivers. I wish you hadn’t had to have that particular traffic nightmare come true.

  20. !! Are potters supposed to be rowdy? As a potter / ceramic sculptor for almost 20 years, and a knitter for less than 2, I think knitters and potters are more alike than different.
    And I’ll have you know that at a ceramic conference in Ohio 7 years back the bartenders said that the potters (all 4000+ of us, we drank the bar dry 3 nights in a row) were the politest people they had ever served.

  21. In defense of the New York subway, part of the problem is that it’s open and running 24 hours a day. (Apparently the subway never sleeps either.) All the stations and cars could definitely use a good scrub-down — there’s just no time to do it!

  22. Thanks so much for coming to Knitty City. Best entertainment I’ve had all month. What do you think about trying out for that (wretched) tv show called “Last Comic Standing”? You could give us knitters even more mainstream notoriety, or a reason to watch some prime time.
    And, yep. It’s Caron in the green shirt and her blog is Harlem Purls. http://www.harlempurls.blogspot.com

  23. Whoah. Whoah. Whoah.
    Teenage daughters not appreciating knitting? You can tell them that there PLENTY of teenagers (of the male and female varieties, both). I started when I was 16, many of my (female) friends started at 13 or 14. A few of us even blog.

  24. Wow… teenagers who appreciate knitting…I love those…the keep me coming back to work, since it’s even twice as hard to find teenagers who appreciate English…

  25. I, too, thought that New Yorkers honked a lot (and I grew up in Boston).
    Until I went to India. The traffic there can best be described as complete and utter mayhem, with cars, cows, bicycles, and families of four riding on mopeds. And everybody honks all the time (except the cows, but people honk at the cows). It was unbelievable.
    And Pakistan was almost as bad…

  26. Ever been to Montreal? We honk. A lot.
    Hey! When are you coming to Montreal on tour? Lotza knitters here to meet!

  27. Our subways are generally gnasty, particularly 34th Street/Penn Station. Did you get to see any wildlife (ie, rats) while you were in it? In my two days stalking of you, I forgot to ask that part. πŸ™‚

  28. We call it Road Rage. I have daydreams of living in another time when there weren’t modern day stresses. When you think about it, ambition to achieve something creates stress in itself. Balance is the key, though, and planning, if possible.

  29. I love that you took a picture of your sock posing with the subway schmutz. Since I do about 90% of my knitting on the subway, it just seems natural to see a sock there!
    They are cleaner than they used to be (20 years ago), but have gotten dirtier in the last few years mainly due to MTA cleaning budget cutbacks.

  30. That going ‘buggy episode you mention. Strangely, I have no problem picturing what that would’ve been like… *ducks and runs*

  31. You tried to get through New York by cab? Oh dear no. People use that dirty subway for a reason.
    Cabbies can’t honk when they have passengers so they flash their lights instead. It’s some sort of quality of life issue. They’re also supposed to not smoke, to drive the speed limit, to stop at red lights, and to stay off their cell phones. Right! Most times I’ll settle for not smoking (I have nasty allergies) and not crashing into anything.
    I was in a car service (one of those things where you get a free car service ride if you work past 8:00) that got pulled over for driving close to double the speed limit. The driver didn’t have his licence with him.
    The officer was so apologetic to me, which I found sweet, but odd. He was protecting me. That’s not something I need an apology for.
    I highly recommend a hand sanatizer if you have to touch anything on the subway. I ride the trains all the time. I rode it to Knit Out. I used to visit client sites and ride 5 or 6 times a day. The things I’ve seen would astound out-of-towners. My fiance saw a man whip it out and urinate on the seats. I’ve seen people whip it out and…do….something else on the seats. I’ve seen condoms on the seats. Used.
    The people are funny though. On one line there is no way anyone will give a seat to anyone. Pregnant. Elderly. Handicapped. All three. It’s not happening. On another line it’s exactly the opposite. A woman walked on with a cane once and twenty people hopped up. “Would you like to sit down, miss?” One might think they took a count and at the end of the month who ever gave up his or her seat the most times won a prize.
    I don’t honk except for danger, like someone going the wrong way down a one-way or trying to back into me when I have another car right behind me. Or when the light has changed to green and the person is sitting fuddling with something on the passenger’s seat and not moving. I recite Blake’s “Eternity” in my head and if I can get through the entire poem without the person moving, I think it’s fair to point out that the light has changed.

  32. Now this is why I don’t KIP as much as I would like to – my only regular opportunity is on the New York subway, and now, Stephanie, you have conveniently shown the world in graphic color why I literally have *nightmares* about my yarn leaping out of its bag and rolling down the platform….
    If you had taken the subway that night, you might have been able to see the apparently extraordinarily huge rat (even by New Yorker standards), sighted by Spinning Spider Jenny(.blogspot.com) and described in her blog entry for that night. Maybe on your next trip? (This is why we New Yorkers don’t even need to bother going to the zoo).
    Thanks for an incredible talk – I know it must have been exhausting and, what with the cab and all, even pretty heinous, but we all enjoyed seeing you so much! You made many knitters very, very happy!

  33. and also in defense of nyc, just remember how old the New York Subway system is – and yes, it’s ALWAYS open. and thanks for coming upTOWN to my neighborhood – now I’m just afraid I won’t be able to get into Knitty City again!
    you’re welcome back any time – no matter how dirty we are! big grin…

  34. Wow, your trip to NY sounds exasperating and invigorating. I’ve not been part of the stuck in traffic honking situation. I’ve just been to NY and been honked at before the light even changed. Thank you for writing such a warm, informative, funny, touching and everything else blog. You are so thorough with the links to other blogs too! When you’re touring I get to read about every stop you make at least half a dozen times usually more. I get every perspective. You also reveal the overwhelmingly incredible number of fabulous knitters out there. Knitting must be normal and sane, look how many wonderful people are doing it. Not that I ever doubted of course. Thanks and good luck with the next book I love the first three. I own the third and am waiting for a rainy day to splurge on the others.

  35. We do alot of honking here. Even the AM radio traffic alerts are called the Road Rage Report.
    Looks like fun, I seriously need to move farther north. Are ya EVER coming to Florida?

  36. very nice to meet you at knitty city! i loved the whole casual thing going on – espcially after being in that hot sun in union square all day.
    as a former peaceful south jersey girl, i didn’t quite get what all the honking was about either – til i started driving in the city. i can now honk and cut people off like the best of ’em. in fact, i even find myself using the horn when i go back to jersey. bad, very bad.

  37. Your post actually made me sad I chose not to go to the Knit Out. I went last year, and all those people and cars and big big buildings made me just a little twitchy. I could find a bit of earth to save my life.
    Sad to see that someone beat me to a CT washie, though it sure is cute πŸ™‚

  38. Drive to Brooklyn from mid-town Manhatten? That’s either a recipe for disaster or your looking for some good ole commuter knitting time!
    Considering all that was going on in NYC with the protests plus the Knit Out, you made pretty darn good time…

  39. You and Amy had no fun RIGHT. I mean you saw some friends,ate in fancy restrants, went to a yarn hoo-down, but not to much fun. Right. Without me . In New York. You were crabby and honky. Right.
    Did the hotel put sweets on yous pillow(I love when they do that)
    That must of pissed you off, right, cause it was not so much fun right.In New York, in the ……fall.

  40. You were great in Brooklyn! There was so much I wanted to say to you when it was my turn, but it was about 10:15 and I was a little tired from all that laughing and standing. (And I admit to having a bit of the same reaction as Julie!) Your Icarus shawl is beautiful in person. Enjoy your much deserved break from touring. πŸ™‚

  41. I moved to LA from NY. LA is not a horn blowing kind of town either, but I can’t let go of my old habit when someone does something especially stupid on the road. Also, I’m always surprised and amused when I hear a horn being blown by another driver…I often wonder if they’re a transplant from NY too. I’m so glad you’ve had this epiphany!

  42. So wonderful to meet you…and Pam!
    And I can’t tell you how happy I was that my daughter won you book BECAUSE…somewhere around page 110 you talk about making hats. Don’t think I’m too strange but I was desperately searching for directions for a pointy hat decrease. You’re advice was spot on. I created an adoreable Candy corn hat for my nephew’s first halloween.
    Hopefully life on the road will be less stressful after NYC

  43. Now you have a small idea of my daily commute. Only my NYC part is on foot with cigarette smoke being blown in my face while running to the train and avoiding the honking cars. Great fun isn’t it? πŸ˜‰

  44. I love how all the pictures of knitters look kind of the same. It’s like there’s all these cool people around and they could be in my town instead of miles and miles away! I think it bodes well for the whole nefarious knitters-take-over-the-universe plot that you’ve hatched. I just love how your knitterly travels make the world so much smaller (in a good way!)

  45. stephie, it was my pleasure. just learned i was here from mo barger at rooster hill farm who was attracted to my chicken shirt. she has sheep, goats…maybe roving for my spouse. all this connecting is awesome! visit us again soon.

  46. Steph, I live in rural Ky and we honk mostly to say hi or at newlyweds. I started knitting bec ause my grandpa did, at age 11. Your books and blog rock!! Come back to Ky!!!!!

  47. Woohoo! It’s a picture of the Famous Sock in *my* chubby little mitts! I have to call my mom and tell her. (The fact that she was also lucky enough to meet you at Knitty City, and actually carried on an intelligent conversation with you, will not keep her from being totally starstruck and calling me a little punk for getting *my* picture on the Yarn Harlot’s blog.)
    All wackiness aside, it was so delightful to meet you this weekend. I’m so glad that you had a good time despite the, er, locomotoring challenges, and I hope said challenges won’t dissuade you from doing it again sometime. In the meantime…no! sleep! till Rhinebeck! (Hi, Carole!)

  48. Manhattan is my home town. I was born there and lived in and near there for 23 years. I even learned to *drive* there, *in Manhattan*, from a NY cabbie (my boyfriend of the time, who was working his way through Columbia University by driving at night), and took my driving test *in Manhattan*. However, I left 2 months later and have been here in northern CA ever since. Your post was such a flash from the past for me. And all the other posters are right; the subway is cleaner than it was 36 years ago. I visit with some regularity and can attest to the improvement. In fact ALL of the city is cleaner than it used to be. And the subway is over 100 years old.
    I have to add, in my own defense, that I rarely honk. I *do* regularly turn the air blue when an idiot is driving nearby. I was good while my daughter was growing up, but I can let loose now.
    New York is a big, potentially scarey, place. But there are knitters everywhere, and of such good folk is civility born. Thank GOD for knitters.

  49. Just think, my hubby used to long-haul tractor trailers in downtown NYC! He said it was an absolute nightmare. (He can’t haul to the US anymore because he is an insulin-dependent diabetic. That limits him to Canada only. But US truck drivers that take insulin can cross the border. Go figure.)

  50. Well now, this is why you should come to New Zealand! Here we have traffic jams too – they are caused by cars stopping in the road when they see a friend driving the other way. They brake, lean out the windows and have a chinwag. If you get stuck behind one you can just switch off and join in. If you don’t know the drivers who are chatting, you soon will.
    Maybe it wasn’t road rage you felt but the results of over-compensation for the coffee-drought the other day!

  51. Thanks so much for coming to Brooklyn! It made me realize how much I miss Park Slope. I’m so sorry you had to sit in that traffic — I was in it too and I know how horrendous it can get. I can’t believe I forgot to give you the stitch markers I made for you — I feel like a *total* dork! Hopefully you’ll be at Rhinebeck?

  52. The way I knew you had gone “buggy” was that you weren’t knitting. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. (You, not knitting, that is.)

  53. O.k., you understand the subway cleanliness thing (or lack thereof), you now understand the honking thing … you put a picture of me on your blog. I think you can be considered an Honerary New Yorker now. Thanks for visiting our fair (but dirty and noisey) city!

  54. oh yeah! subways are groosss. I went to New York with my mom a few years ago and remember being pretty much repulsed by them.
    and i happen to be a teenager (not for much longer though, i’m 19) and i think knitting is pretty cool.
    see? reason #132 why you should come to kansas.
    just saying.

  55. Dude! Let me tell you – I was just glad I had thrown that jaywalker sock in my bag. God help me if I had only had that shawl. πŸ˜‰ Good to see you. See you soon I suspect. Rhinebeck or bust.

  56. As a potter and a knitter, and after having waited with potters for an event to start, I can definitely say that while potters are patient, knitters are more patient – they always have something with which to occupy themselves! I don’t see carrying a 5 lb. lump of clay around in my pocket in case I have a spare minute.
    Whoops, sorry. 5 Kilo lump of clay.

  57. When I was a kid, I never understood why 5 pm was called rush hour, because everything seemed to stand still, which is the one thing NY’ers can’t stand (and the only thing they won’t stand for, either!)
    We are loud, emotive, and in your face. Yo. It’s an acquired taste.
    And, as I have lived in Toronto, I can say, it took me MONTHS to get used to pulling out into oncoming traffic, one lane at a time, to make a left turn (A Toronto boy showed me that. He lives still). Honking may be loud, but it is much safer. At least, south of the border, that is.
    Also, check out the Save The Children Website. The are asking for hand knit or crochet caps (they have a pattern) for newborns at risk in developing countries. The caps will have tags on them, and be sent to Pres. Bush to garner support for aid, and then to the countries in which STC provides aid.
    My knitting store in Cold Spring NY (Knittingsmith) is having a knit in; maybe other places and guilds might like to do something, too. In any case, it’s a cool idea; thought you might like to know.

  58. I have only honked-my-horn-in-anger one time in my life – after being grievously cut-off in traffic, endangering my life & that of my daughter (who was 6 yrs old at the time), not to mention the lives of the children in the cutting-off car… With heart & soul full of righteous wrath, I leaned fiercely on my horn and got
    Not the effect I was going for at all…

  59. It was nice seeing you at the Knit Out, if only for a moment. My only regret was realizing half-way home that you were probably hiding that beer in Joe’s gansey. Funny how I focused on the beer. What a miss!

  60. I live in NYC and have gotten numb to how nuts this place is. Wish I could have met you but have a brand-new baby (could have used your skills as a LC as well as a knitter). I’ll brave the nasty subway but won’t subject him to it just yet!

  61. I love Kids in the Hall; I crush people’s heads all over Los Angeles… Speaking of which, when are you going to come down here again?!? One can never have too many California washcloths!

  62. Now you know why there were mostly Brooklyn-ites at the Saturday nite event. I could not rally the Westchester gang to go to outer Mongolia (as it were). However, cheers to you for making it to Knit Out and acting gracious even tho you were positioned facing the blazing sun! As many have said, the subway is MUCH better than in days of yore, but it still maintains its “character.”
    Thanks for showing up at Knit Out, and I agree with Cassie – it was strange to see you not knitting!

  63. So what’s this about a cell phone thing in Seattle all the folks at Knitty City got to hear about but aren’t supposed to tell the rest of us?

  64. Does anyone know where to get those awesome pirate with the knitting needles shirts? My classmates would be so impressed to see me knitting in one of those.

  65. Whoa! Yes, that was me. I guess that means you’ve actually seen my website. Be still my heart. It was delightful and yes, I was sunburned, too. I didn’t burn the entire summer. I had to wait for September.
    All that honking, traffic that doesn’t move, dirty subways. Yep, it’s NY. How I do love the city, however. I’m drawn to it. Reading the beginning of the post, I though, gee, maybe I shouldn’t have nagged you to visit us. But, I’m glad you had a good time.
    I’m still a little dazed, having been mentioned in the blog. Now, I can fix that icky mistake I made in the baby sweater sleeve tomorrow morning.

  66. Ahh but for really good honking—coupled with interesting driving moves like driving on the sidewalk or creating another lane in the road simply because there is space, you must visit China–almost anywhere in the vast country will do. There is so much honking that you swear there must be several sessions in drivers’ ed class devoted to a special code for honking. Or perhaps there is a philosophy about horns, that if they weren’t intended to be used often, why place them so prominently in the middle of the steering column????
    Oh how I love that country!

  67. Next time, just take the subway – yeah, it’s a bit crusty, but in addition to being faster, it’s easier to knit on a train, there’s no honking, and, if you are very, very, lucky, the balloon animal man will pass through your car. Sorry I missed meeting you at the knit out – I saw you standing there intrepidly, baking in the sun at the meet the authors table, but then I got distracted by yarn and when I came back, you had escaped.

  68. Did you notice how carefully Kay was holding the blue sock? Allergic to wool, she is. Does she know your position on that?

  69. Should you ever find yourself in the NYC subways again, and should you ever find an empty bench, I’d recommend examining it with great care before you even think about sitting down. Sitting on a subway floor–forget about it. (I hail from the Bronx, and only Brooklynites say “fuggeddaboutit”. I won’t tell you what we do say in the Bronx.)

  70. May you never feel road rage again! Nice to go thru it once, so you’ll feel some sympathy and understanding for those who live it daily, though, eh? I couldn’t live in NYC, but I can appreciate those who do. More power to ’em. πŸ™‚ Thank goodness for knitting, to take the stress away. πŸ™‚

  71. Ah yes, the honking of New Yorkers. I’m from NY State myself, that crazy place we call ‘the Island,’ and have remained somewhat perplexed by (while still understanding of) all the honking. WHere I’m going with this, though, is toward a little sign I saw one day a few years back, when I was visiting the site of the former World Trade Center—a sign which read quite happily, ‘No Honking,’ and then something along the lines of ‘$50 Fine.’ I’d love to see them try to write out all those tickets…

  72. Honking? You truly haven’t experienced honking until you’ve traveled in India. They honk when crossing intersections, they honk when they pass (anything), they honk if they haven’t honked for a couple of minutes. It’s the MOST amazing thrill ride in the world to travel down a road in Delhi. My kids (we’re all American) and I would alternately scream and laugh while we watched out the windshield because there was ALWAYS a car or truck headed straight at us – our driver or the other one would swerve at the last possible second and miss each other – all the while honking like mad!

  73. Whoo! Pictures. People. Would-be honking. People. Real honking. Events. *More* people. More events. More pictures. More. And more… Help – I’m getting dizzy!
    I think you’ve just managed to give us a wee bit of a faint glimmer of a hint of an idea of what it’s like being on a book tour. [g] I also think I woulda dropped dead somewhere around Utah. And I totally grok your alarm system you mentioned a post or two back. Only mine is the home version. It uses the 2 alarms on my digital clock, one on my battery-operated travel alarm. All 3 with alarms set about 5 minutes apart. Yet I can *still* obliviously sleep through them all (despite them beeping on forever, as I’ve found out upon experimentation when awake). Or even shut off the digital two in my sleep – I’ve checked upon waking up late, and sometimes they have actually been *turned off*. I apparently then wake up just enough to lean halfway out of bed, switch off the travel alarm, and collapse back into bed and slumber. Without really noticing I’m doing it, ’cause I sure never remember it. I need a wake-up call service for the home. Or an alarm you can set to ‘earthquake’.

  74. No, No! Potters wouldn’t be worse than knitters, get a group of us potters together, and more than half will be later than you anyway!

  75. I am the inverse of Cara in Exile – a knitter for 15 years and a potter for 2 – but I agree there are a lot more similarities than differences in personality types. I know several people who do and appreciate both. I think the only thing more dangerous about being a potter than a knitter is that if you do ever get frustrated enough to hurl your art, clay might hurt more than fiber. πŸ˜‰

  76. Chicago is a honking kind of place, too. If someone isn’t paying attention at a light, you just *blip* on the horn and they move.
    I’ve moved to Upper Michigan (a place a lot like Canada, really). One day I forgot where I was, and the car in front of me was sitting at a green light. I on the horn. The driver of the car got out and came back to see what I wanted.

  77. I don’t want to shock you (actually I do, you’re a fun one to shock….it’s so EASY), but here in New York we think the subway is so CLEAN now. Much MUCH cleaner than it used to be. It hardly ever smells like urine anymore! It used to ALWAYS smell that way. Honest! It’s new and improved! It’s a hundred years old! It WORKS! Who cares if you can’t sit on the FLOOR. That’s crazy talk.
    Don’t get me started. xoxo Kay

  78. Love all the pictures. I’m with you on the whole New York subway is dirty… but then, I used to live in Toronto. And even Boston where it is not as clean as Toronto but MUCH better than New York.

  79. You (meaning our neighbors to the north) really do the “I’m crushing your head!” thing??? That totally made my day. It was one of my favorite bits on Kids in the Hall. LOVE IT!
    Whenever I’m stuck in traffic and the horns are blaring I think of an old comedy bit by Paula Poundstone. She goes on about the honkers and do they think that someone just forgot to step on the gas? The punch line was “Alert driver warns many” as a possible headline. That is always what I think of when the honking starts.
    Have a happy weekend!

  80. Another thing I’m grateful for: the Toronto subway does not smell, although it is stuffy in the summer. Still, it’s better than reeking of urine as some subways in big cities do.

  81. I live in Georgia and I can’t remember the last time I honked my horn. My husband works with a man, Saul, who is from NY. Hubby has a great story about this guy that illustrates your “NY honking” point very clearly.
    Saul moved to Georgia in the mid ’90’s and bought a new car. After a week, the horn wouldn’t honk anymore. Saul took the car back to the dealer to fix it. They told him to come back in a few days as it was not an emergency and they were backed up in the shop. Saul went nuts! He demanded a complimentary vehicle, with a working horn, to drive while they kept his car and fixed his horn. Saul was telling my husband about this when he exclaimed, “Horn not an emergency? How can you drive a car without a horn?!!” (in his deepest NY accent)

  82. Much as I appreciate the linkage. I wasn’t the Nancy at the Knitty City. I was the one who was at the Storey booth bright and early with my son and my best friend. Oddly enough I was also standing in front of Amy when you took her picture.
    Just wanted to make sure the right Nancy got credit for making sure you were on your game;)

  83. After living there for 10 years, my theory is that the NYC subway cleanliness (or lack thereof) is the reason NYers favor black/dark clothes. Those who wear white tend to be people who either don’t care that they’re wearing obviously soiled clothing in public, or are wealthy enough to afford a car of their own or car services 24/7.

  84. I was so happy to hear you were coming to Brooklyn…. and consequently pissed when (of course) it was on a day that i was already obliged to other(much less important) commitments.
    I’m glad you enjoyed the city – and, in a weird way, glad you had that horn honking experience. That’s authentic new york!
    I hope you find some rest in the coming days. Sorry I missed you.

  85. Hey Stephanie,
    It was great meeting you at Knitty City and thanks for signing my book. Like the troublemaker that I am I just wanted to point out my real name (even though I like my alias better). I feel special being that I got to take my own pic with “The Sock”. I really enjoyed myself and we’re all glad that you came to our loud and grimey city.

  86. Am an English, returned to knitting, knitter. Love reading your blog. Brings back happy memories of my visit to Toronto and other parts of Canada a few years ago. Still hoping to come back one day. I wanted to go to New York, husband said no Canada – less people, and more friendly. I so, so agree with him now. I do not wish to go to NY anymore – especially after you comments on honking. Keep up the good work, must get back to a diffcult Aran. 36 row pattern and I still have to read every row after doing 6 sets!! Not something to do when watching a particularly riviting film.

  87. I’m leaving Monday for Hong Kong and Bangkok where the traffic is not only as bad as NY, but worse, faster and on the wrong side of the street! In Bangkok, they use their signals–they decide which way they want to go, turn the signal on and then go that way–WITHOUT LOOKING IN THE MIRROR OR OUT THE WINDOW. They just assume that the act of turning on the blinker will miraculously clear the way–and sometimes it doesn’t. Right now I’m trying not to think of that and concentrating on what I want to take to knit during the 14 hour flights!

  88. Here in Quebec the people hook all the time, they are in such a hurry, even if there is traffic and cant go anywhere they hoonk.
    thank goodness I dont drive, as every one is in ahurry to go nowhere,

  89. It was great listening to you at B&N. I’m sorry I didn’t stick around after and say so in person. My life is kicking my butt lately and I fear I might have just babbled incoherently in your general direction. Thanks for the humour-break! I needed it!!

  90. Having grown up on the polite and granola West Coast, and despite our legendary Seattle traffic, I had never witnessed and/or understood this honking phenomena. Yesterday, however, I both witnessed and understood. And I didn’t even have to go to New York! At least I had double knitting to keep me pulling my hair out for OTHER reasons. And you had the sock, didn’t you?

  91. when you coming to SD? we got 0 for traffic here. the only honking is neighborly. I starting knitting to learn to knit socks but now i’m scared to start…where should i begin?
    rita n/

  92. when you coming to SD? we got 0 for traffic here. the only honking is neighborly. I starting knitting to learn to knit socks but now i’m scared to start…where should i begin?
    rita n/

  93. Stephanie … Going to Canada from the U.S. is like going from Kansas to Oz, it’s so clean. In fact, I just wrote a blog entry about just this when I got back from Ottawa a few weeks ago (feel free to check it out … I’d be thrilled to have the Harlot come to call!)

  94. My grandma used to honk all the time. We are west coast dwellers, so I don’t get where she got it from. She would honk when passing someone in a lane in the city. It was nuts.
    NYC in the fall, how wonderful!

  95. And … that’s why I live in the country now, on a farm where there is no traffic and the cows moo softly as the sun rises smoothingly.
    We’re right up here in upstate western NY, between Buffalo and Rochester … you should come here and decompress from NYC.

  96. i had to laugh out loud at your comment about the two teenage girls probably doing all of their homework and never leaving clothes on the floor because i PROMISE you that because they think knitting and you are cool, they are avoiding homework to knit more rows or read your books, and they are DEFINITELY leaving their clothes on the floor.
    except for the ones that they knit themselves, of course! =]

  97. I ride the subway to and from to work and i am immune to the trash that is thrown about. But sitting down……….I don’t think so.
    But even though I live in New Jersey, I never really use my horn except if I drive in NYC and it is as if it honks itself. Your description of traffic was priceless.
    Good Luck on your deadlines. cecilia

  98. EW…..I was born and raised in Toronto. I took transit all the time. The NY subways is soooo icky gross bad. Never mind sitting on the floor, I doubt I’ed sit on anything!!!!
    I agree that to meat that many knitters would make travelling the buses/subways worth it, assuming you could stand.

  99. Yes, Harlot, NYC subway tracks & platforms are disgusting. The thick hardened goo that surrounds subway trash cans ( this also happens to the street trash cans too) is called “urban shellac.” Too bad you didn’t get to see a rat scurrying along the tracks. That’s always a treat for out of towners and NYers alike. My grandfather was born & raised in NY and we were driving in the city one day and he was a honking maniac. Everytime the traffic light would change to green he would honk. Eventually I asked him why and he looked at me as if I were crazy and said, “you’re supposed to honk when the light changes.” That’s what he was taught by his father as a young man in the 1930s learning to drive in NYC. Generations of NYers were probably taught the same thing. Hope that helps explain the honking phenomenon in NYC (other than people being impatient and rushed and crazed).

  100. I visited T.O. for a week in April, 2004, and had a blast, but decided that we’d never ever try to drive there. You’re right, the drivers weren’t honky at all, but they sure did threaten to flatten us just for walking in front of their cars (Queen St E, if that helps). And yeah, going carless is still not a problem with all the nice, clean public transportation options. And the whole underground Path thing. Good for vampires.
    My mom helped us move to Canada, and we had to drive the 401 through Toronto. I’m glad she wasn’t driving for that leg of the trip! She just hung out the window talking about how “nifty” it all looked. And you know how long it takes to get past Toronto. In that traffic. With the cars.

  101. I forgot about the “I’m crushing your head ” thing! My friends and I used to crush each other’s heads all the time. I’ll have to remember to do that the next time I am tempted to flip someone off. Safer, I imagine.

  102. Oh Harlot….come to Germany. We spent over an hour yesterday creeping along at 10 kph on – get this – the AUTOBAHN. Yep, you read that right, the Autobahn. You know, that road where everyone is supposed to drive really really fast? I mean REALLY fast? Yeah. I wanted to honk too, but DH wouldn’t let me…something about getting thrown out of the country, and what would we do then. Silly man. Anyway, I feel your pain. I just wish I’d been smart enough to take my knitting with me!

  103. I really liked your comments about getting around in NY. I’m a New Yorker (lived in or around NYC all my life). Believe it or not, the honking has gotten some what better in recent years – they started ticketing for it a few years ago (I think the fine is $250) so that may be why your cab driver didn’t honk.
    As for the subway system – what most people fail to mention when comparing it to other systems is that it runs 24 x 7. It doesn’t shut down at 1 or 2 AM like other systems (including Toronto, I think). And it remains crowded at all hours of the night. As much as I, like most NYers, like to complain about the MTA, they really do a pretty good job of keeping it running (don’t tell anyone at the MTA that I said that). So, between the age of the system, the number of people who ride it each day (over 4 million), the fact that it never closes, how extensive and complex it is (many systems its age don’t have the express / local options)… I wouldn’t trade it!
    Hope to catch you the next time you’re in NY!

  104. I had the same reaction when I visited NYC the first time – WHY? In the Midwest, when you honk, people react. Big time. Either with corrective behavior, or with anger, but something happens. I was agog at all the honking for no discernable reason (or effect), like sitting in your kitchen and banging on soup pot, trying to make it rain. In the kitchen.
    But such energy. And a lovely melting pot it is there. In any event, good luck finishing that book. Seriously, how are you supposed to write when you have to tour? Has anyone said that to those powers-that-be? Hm? (I could be an underwriter for procastination and justification.)

  105. I was just sent this blog entry by my knitting obsessed friend because I’m going to NYC this week. While I haven’t picked up knitting (much to the disdain of my mother) I found your blog fantastically funny and thoughtful. Thank you!

  106. In Rhode Island we flash our lights instead of honking, so that when i moved to NYC, i found that lights were still bright, but that there was much more noise (like the trash truck outside my apartment every night at midnight).
    I’m very sorry I missed you that weekend!

Comments are closed.