And So Seattle

I was in Seattle last night, at Third Place Books, which is starting to feel like an old friend of a sort.  I’ve gotten to go there with every tour, and it never disappoints.  It’s a big glorious bookstore, and we filled it up with knitters.

This never ceases to amaze me.  Not that there’s a lot of knitters, I know there’s a lot of knitters, and not that those knitters like to gather in groups – I am a knitter.  I get that too… It’s the reaction of ordinary people staggering by, asking what the book is and why there’s a crowd and then being simply gobsmacked as the reality of a couple hundred knitters (all knitting) in one place sort of washes over them.
Never mind when they start lining up to show you first socks, which they did. First up was Whitney, who brought her first socks, her second sweater, and her first baby Declyn and her husband (covered in knitwear, and clearly a supporter) Bryan.

Also working the first baby/first sock combo were Lauren and Lila.

and Ellen, Andi and baby Liam

They had to work a combo.  Ellen has the first baby, and Andi has the socks.  (And no.  She didn’t knit her sweater, I already asked for you.) Then there was Lucy,

Then Karen (who want’s you to know that she’s not an overachiever, she just didn’t know what she was getting into.)

and Kate:

then Rebekah (if you could see those socks, you would see they sort of accidentally have really different toes)

Kimi brought her first sock- which used to be part of a pair but isn’t anymore, which doesn’t really bother her because they didn’t fit anyway.  (It’s like looking in a mirror, that one.)

and Erica:

and then Sandra, who was representing for her mum – Amy Rose, who knit these socks.  ( I might have that backwards.  That might be Amy Rose who’s holding up her mum Sandra’s socks.  I can’t remember.  My mind is shot at this point.  Sorry guys!)

Brightwind brought several first socks, because they’re all sort of in the middle of being done and none are a completed pair, so she was sort of unclear about which ones to designate as "first."  (I am too.  We agreed she should hold them all.)

Maybe someday she’ll have a pair.  Maybe not.  I’m not sure she’s the type.
Cassie couldn’t stand to bring her first socks, so she brought her most impressive ones. 

They were very impressive.  While I was on my way to this event, ST-2 Lisa texted me to tell me that there were some very good babies waiting for me.  Besides the ones above, we had Jessie and Clark

Leila, Annika and Marion.

Kate and Zoe. 

Margaret didn’t bring her son Simon because he’s two and she knew it would be a set-up for unhappiness for him (good call.  Two year olds aren’t usually that into book readings unless there are funny voices and lots of pictures) but she did bring the Hallowe’en costume she’s knitting him.

He’s going to be Ernie.  (Best costume ever.)
Walt showed up for his daughter Jesse,

He was bedecked in all that she’s knit for him.  (He’s very, very proud.)
It was Andrea’s birthday !

(She was also wearing her first socks, but you can’t see them.)
Rachel knits dragons.  (I believe that speaks for itself. She’s specializing)

And our new friend Kim suffered a cruel lesson at the hands of Mother Gauge.

Same pattern, same knitter, same needles, same yarn – two mittens of completely unrelated size for NO REASON.
Carmel brought a fabulous worsted weight cashmere shawl

(Yes.  She should have insurance on that. If only to protect it from the likes of me.)  – And speaking of cashmere, guess why all these knitters are touching Kate?

Yup.  Cashmere, but with a little angora in there to really make her huggable.
Elisabeth brought an incredible wedding ring shawl.

Took her four years to knit it (on and off) and you wouldn’t believe how great it is.
Lisa wanted to say hi to her knitter buddy Tucker:

Abby and Sherri were back:

the last time we saw them they looked like this:

Abby’s growing up into a very nice knitter.
Sally and John came.

Apparently she knits and he reads this blog.  Together, I pointed out, they are one fan.
Alex works in a yarn shop, and wanted to show this off as proof that he can knit:

Apparently there is doubt in t
he heart of the occasional customer.
Almost finally, it wouldn’t be Seattle if we didn’t see McKenna, our Lady of The Stash Weasels.

I love me a good stash weasel.  (She’s onto Dr. Who themed ones now.  Be still my beating heart.)
Finally, last but certainly not least,  I give you Scott.

What’s that?  What’s his tattoo say?

Damn Straight. 

Thanks for everything Seattle.

City of Knitters

Last night’s event was just outside of Los Angeles, and boy, was it a doozy. Just being in LA always freaks me out a little.  The palm trees, the cars – the outdoor swimming pools open even through it’s almost November… it’s a lot for a Canadian to absorb.  I walked to the event, and even that was weird because I swear to you, without a word of a lie, me and a homeless guy were the only ones on the sidewalk.  I got the feeling that walking places isn’t really a Pasadena thing.  I arrived and went upstairs and could see that things were already going to be a little out of control in the way that freaks non-knitter bookstore people out – and I was right.  They were dong a good job, but you could tell by the looks on their faces that the realization that this many knitters walk among them was a big of a leap.  Behold.  The knitters of LA.

I did my thing, and then I got a surprise when the signing line formed.  Turns out that knitters are sneaky, and the reason that the store seemed more worried than I was had to do with all the knitters I couldn’t see.  Knitters behind the stacks, on the stairs… knitters lurking all places.  It was a horde, for sure, but a horde that I like.  

First off, I met Jean and her lovely baby Daphne.

Daphne was (except for the odd man who burst in mid-reading worrying about some problem with the police) the only person not smiling, I think.  (I respect her seriousness.  Clearly Daphne is doing some big thinking. Probably about fine motor control and when she can learn to knit.)
Then came the parade of first sock knitters.  Cindy, Aty and Christine had beautiful first socks.

So did Pat and Teressa.

…and with that, the veneer began to crack. Next up were Debra and Sandy, and their first socks –

as well as what Sandy said was her "last sock" which made me think she was giving it up, but I think what she meant was that it was her most recent.
Then came Catherine, who (FINALLY) represented for those of us who have trouble getting things together sometimes, and brought me:

A truly crappy, misshapen first sock.  Sing it sister!  She was followed by Linda:

Who brought her "third first sock".  I reminded her that we call third first socks "third socks" but she told me that this is her third attempt without getting anything that looks like a sock, which is my kind of knitter.
Finally in the first sock department we have Mary Ellen.   Mary Ellen walked up to me and said "I don’t have a first sock, so I knit a tiny chicken"

Alright then.  You know, I couldn’t make this stuff up.
For the record, it was a fantastic tiny chicken.

Karin brought me a little Canadian stocking for my Christmas tree,

Rowan and Jason showed up to show off her first pattern – Chromatography.

Mary brought a picture of her friend Angie, who was supposed to come, but got stuck at work,

Even though she dressed up in her best knitter stuff.
Allison fixed a spot on her sweater by snipping and grafting – she’s another Black Ops knitter.

Loren did something really sweet.  She started a scarf at the signing, then passed it all around while I was talking, and the whole lot of them put in a few rows for me. 

I love it, and isn’t she nice?
Christine brought her picture of her getting Allan Tudyk (from Firefly!) to hold a sock.

And finally, there was Danielle, who’s son works at the bookstore, and is an avid crocheter.  Her son called her from the store and told her there was "a big yarn thing"

So she ran over, like we all would.

Next stop, Seattle!

A Little On the Side

Today is my the second half of my wild and glorious rest day, which means that since I landed in Los Angeles yesterday, I’ve been in the same hotel room and haven’t gotten on a plane, and I didn’t have to do an event last night, and I had a wicked good sleep and I’m thinking about napping before tonight’s event and that makes me delirious with joy.  Delirious. I’m absolutely looking forward to going to the event tomorrow, and have started thinking about tomorrow’s plane ride to Seattle not as a test of my fortitude, but as an opportunity to knit – which reminded me that I haven’t really told you much about my knitting on this trip, and there’s been a ton. 

When I left, I had three projects planned.  Gwendolyn had not yet manifested her destiny to become our Lady of Perpetual Knitting, and so I didn’t count her.  The way she’s gone on to become a  sweater of destiny means that I’m a little behind on my big trip project, but since I finally kicked her firmly in the arse this morning…

I’m moving on.  That’s right, Gwen’s done.  Finished.  Fixed everyway that she’s needed to be fixed and sewn up, and blocked (and I fixed the mistake some of you pointed out yesterday, after briefly thinking about burying it outside) and this morning I procured a sewing kit from the front desk of my hotel, and while I drank my coffee, she took her final steps to becoming a garment and got buttons. She fits too – and I love it, which is excellent, because if I didn’t get something I adored or wasn’t flattering after all that, I couldn’t possibly have been held accountable for my actions. I’ll give this trial by fire cardigan a proper photoshoot later when I have time/energy/help/my hair doesn’t look like this.

When Gwen hasn’t been sucking the lifeblood out of me, I’ve followed my usual plan for trip knitting. Something small and fussy for the plane, something small and simple for cabs, dinners and dark places, and something bigger and fussy for downtime in the hotel. 

The only thing wrong with that plan was that there hasn’t really turned out to be all this imagined downtime in the hotel, and what there has been was promptly sucked up by the black hole of Gwen, so the project I thought I could finish in two weeks is still a wee start – though here’s hoping that changes with the albatross Gwen getting out of the queue. 

I started Fernfrost, a beautiful Anne Hanson pattern using Foxhill Farm laceweight cormo that I’ve been hoarding for a few years, and I love how it’s coming out. Cormo is bouncy, cushy and soft, and I love how much texture it’s holding.  I love it.  At present, it is only an 8cm scarf, but I have big plans. 

While the quiet knitting time in hotels hasn’t really turned up the way I thought, the plane knitting has been exactly as predicted and so my October socks are almost done- or at least in my head they’re almost done, probably because I know how many plane hours are left.  I’ve got a whole first sock done, and the toe of the second one.

Pattern: Netherfield.  Yarn: Serendipitous Ewe fingering weight, in Silver Shadows. 

If you decide to knit these, note that I changed the toe, because as written, the original one reminded me too much of a nipple. 

I know it would have looked fine on a foot, but I couldn’t do it. I ripped it, and replaced it with a regular toe up toe starting on 16 stitches.

My cab/dinner/dark knitting is moving along just fine too, and producing a pair of socks I deeply regret making in another person’s size. 

Pattern: none. Just a regular sock. Yarn: String Theory’s Continuum, Colourway is on the ball band at home, so you’re guess is a good as mine, but who cares? It’s a self striping yarn with big stripes! Who wouldn’t want that in any colourway?  I love self striping yarns.  Love them, always have, always will, don’t care who knows it.  Those socks are so much fun that I’ve actually been rationing them so they aren’t over too fast.

This knitting on the side of the book tour means that I’ll likely go home with two new pairs of socks (one for me, one for Christmas) and a scarf, and a sweater, which isn’t bad at all considering how much else has been going on – coughTHANKSALOTGWENcough.

What have you been knitting?

On Leaving Texas

Last night brought me to a really great event at A Real Bookstore.  (Teri and the staff there made it really, really nice for me.) It was just one of those days where everything comes together, especially once I got there successfully.  (There was a moment where I realized that the desk clerk was calling me a cab to the wrong place when I was leaving the hotel, because I said I needed to go to "a real bookstore" and she was just going to hook me up with her favourite local. It took me a minute to convince her I needed a specific Real Bookstore.)   I was well rested, the knitters were supremely nice in that wonderful way that people in Texas are.  (Or maybe it’s just the way that knitters in Texas are.  I actually haven’t met many Texans who aren’t knitters.  I travel in tight circles.)  It’s like they’ve got all the charm and hospitality of the south, but wacky. You’d like it. In any case, I got there and did my thing – and these are the knitters who came. 

A special thanks to the lady in the blue tee shirt in the front row. She beamed so warmly at me the whole time that I felt so welcome and at ease – she single-handedly made me less nervous. There’s something special about every stop I make… each one has it’s own unique flavour- the theme in Dallas was knitters running in a pack.  Check these knitters out.  They’re the McKinney in Stitches group combined (see, even one pack isn’t enough for these knitters) with the Stich-N-Lit group out of the bookstore. 

They brought me that present sitting there, which had Texas wine (and a safe way to pack it for home so that Joe can enjoy it too…) and Texas chocolate, and Texas yarn… they were a ton of fun, and so kind too. 

We had our standard issue first sock knitters, only they weren’t so standard, really.  Kristina brought her first socks, which seems standard..

except that they’re her 2nd project ever. That’s right.  She made a scarf, like everyone does, and then bam.  Socks.  Straight out of the gate. That’s not normal, but she seemed nice enough.   Heather brought her first socks,

and her mentor, Anna – who brought her 2nd pair of socks, which seems about right for a mentor.  Anela brought her first socks…

(which are perfect.  Another overachiever who doesn’t know first socks are supposed to suck) and Erin has a similar problem. 

Perhaps Pasadena will have some appropriately crappy first socks tomorrow.  I can only hope.  In the meantime, we have Lynn, who was so proud of her first sock…

That she framed it.  That’s my kind of knitter, right there.

We had Emily and Thomas –

and I think that Emily was just as proud of the sweater that kid is wearing as she was the kid (I bet the sweater was just as hard to make. It’s beautiful) and then we had a parade of young knitters. 

Meet Ronan.  He’s four (almost 5) and he’s knitting a sweater for his Green Guy. (That’s his mum Cindy behind him.)

That’s the neckhole in the middle (it’s self designed) and I have been advised that it will have sleeves.  Later.

Then Sarah brought (and we’re back to the pack theme again) a whole brood she’s taught to knit.

That’s Mark (12) Josh (10) and Emma (8) all competent and skilled knitters.
Josh is holding my sock because he forgot his knitting and we agreed he should have a loaner. 

Finally, let me show you two knitters I love.  This is Tiny Tyrant

I see her on every tour, though usually not in Texas.  In fact, her presence in Texas threw me off for  a minute and made me wonder if I was in Texas at all, but it turned out that she moved.  She was thoughtful enough to bring me supper.  A simple little bag of bread, great cheeses and a good stout, and I was really grateful.  That area can be tricky for a vegetarian (as I learned when the only thing on the hotel menu I could eat was an iceberg wedge salad with no dressing and no bacon – which is sort of like a dinner of water…) and Tiny came through.  I see her every time I’m on tour, and it’s so nice.

Last – but never least, is Andrea.

Andrea’s been raising money for Doctors without Borders with her kids (she’s a teacher) for years and years now, and reporting those donations to KWB.  (With the earthquake in Turkey – now’s not a bad time to remind you guys about that either.)  I’m sure Natalie will be delighted to put a face with her cheerful emails in our KWB inbox… and with that…. I’m caught up. 

I started this post in the Dallas airport, and finished it up in the air on my way to Los Angeles.  (I’m looking out the plane window at some crazy desert action down there right now.)  It won’t be long until we land, and I make my way to Pasadena for tomorrow’s event, and yes – that’s right.  I typed tomorrow.  Today is a "rest day" on the tour, which means that I only have to travel, not travel and do an event, and even though I’ll spend six or seven hours doing that travelling, the fact that once I’m in my hotel room I can have a rest has me just about delirious with joy. (That’s when I’ll push send on this blog post too. I’ve got no internet up here.)  It’s just the break I needed to make me absolutely gung-ho and happy about the final days of the tour.  I’m chipper now when I think about Pasadena, Seattle and Portland.  Chipper I tell you, and the fact that I may have finally kicked the deserving arse of my Gwendolyn sweater may actually put me over the top. 

After I fixed the mis-crossed cables – I got a comment from Tamar (longtime friend of the show, as Colbert would say) and she congratulated me for fixing the front, and (ahem) encouraged me to fix the back.  After I contemplated all manner of unreasonable things, all of them involving public drunkenness, I bit the bullet, decided that after all this I should fix those too… and did so. 

Now I’ve sewn it all together, done the neckband and one buttonband, and I intend to put that bad boy to bed tonight.  
It’s a good day – and if you see something else wrong with the sweater, for the love of all that’s woolly, don’t tell me. 
I’m fragile.

While I was in Austin

This post comes to you from the Austin Airport   Sorry.  I ran out of time there.
This post comes to you from the sky above Texas.  Nope.  That didn’t work out either.
A cab driving towards the hotel now that I’ve landed in Dallas?

Yes. This is working. I feel like various modes of transportation are my main location these days – and it’s just starting to wear a little.  Don’t get me wrong,  I love the tour.  I do – and I mean that.  I love meeting knitters, and I love reading from the book – I believe totally that this is the best book I’ve ever written, and I’m proud to be out here supporting it, and huge chunks of it are even fun, and really, there are authors out there who would kill for this chance, and I know that. So believe me when I say that the last thing I want to seem like is ungrateful… but dudes,  I am tired.

I realized it this morning when despite having a lovely day, a fine evening and eight solid hours of sleep, my only response to waking was a gentle sort of urge to weep softly and drink nineteen cups of coffee. 

Luckily for me (or I’d really be bummed), I know that this feeling is just a reponse to this phase of the tour. It’s simply too many days without the food I’m used to eating, the bed I’m used to sleeping in, and then husband I’m used to bothering.  It’s best not to think about it, since it can’t be helped. so instead of dwelling on it this morning, I got up, drank a cup of coffee (just one, since I know disaster looming when I see it) and I did 30 minutes of yoga and I turned that frown (literally) upside down, and now I’m on my way to the event tonight in Dallas (Fairview, actually)  and I’m feeling  genuinely happy about it. I think it was a wave of homesickness, and just because you love home doesn’t mean you can’t love where you’re at now too.. right?   Right. 

So. Yesterday in Austin.  Austin is one of my favourite cities in the US.  Any city with an unofficial mandate to "Keep it weird" is going to be high on my list, and the great thing about Austin is that I think nobody needs to try and make it weird.  It just is. The cabbie I got proved the whole thing by unbuttoning his shirt  as soon as we pulled away from the airport, (how come it’s never the guys you wnat to unbutton thier shirts that are just compelled for public displays?) and then proceeded to tell me a series of remarkably off colour jokes while blasting "Werewolves of London" as we hurtled through the city.  (For the record, only one of the jokes is worth repeating, and I have repeated it several times. I left my shirt on.)

I arrived at the hotel, changed really fast and left again, after being assured by Brent at the desk, that Book People was only a 10-15 minute walk from the hotel.  Well – Brent is either a filthy liar, or he’s never walked ten steps in his life, because 40 minutes later – 40 minutes under the blasting Texas sun, I arrived at the bookstore a shadow of my former self.  Enough of a shadow that I drank cold tea when they offered it to me, and I liked it.

Good thing I made it, because this is what was waiting for me. Wave at the charming Austin knitters!

I read, I talked, I cursed Brent publicly, and afterwards, this is who I met. 
The first sock brigade,  this time Laurel,


and Erica.

Then our babies for the day, Claire and Dorothy,

Leigh Anne and Dooley  (Leigh Anne is sneaking her first sock in there too.)

Aimee and Luke,

Jen and Evan and their darling Clementine…

Austin apparently specializes in clever young knitters, so I present to you the fine knitter known as Gus. 

Gus is eight.  (He just turned eight.  That’s significant.) He’s knitting some beads into his fine knitting.  I asked him what he was making, and got sort of a blank look.  I asked him then if it was an objet (as in an objet d’art) and after a brief explanation of what that was, we agreed.  It is an objet.

Please meet the similarly talented Abby (she’s seven, and she knit the scarf she’s holding) and Emily who is nine and three quarters –  (The three quarters is, as you may have surmised, significant.) Emily is wearing a vest she knit her whole own self.

They’re with their clever knitting teacher Mum Carey.

It was Rachael’s birthday:

And check out Anastasia. 

She showed me her wedding veil (which is in her hands) and I asked as politely as I could, when she was getting married.  Turns out it’s two years.  Everything is okay. For several horrible minutes I thought she was going to say "Oh, two weeks".   I was going to suggest a wedding scarf.

I got to see Tonie again, along with her Mum Janice.  Tonie was 10 years old the last time I met her –

and look at her now! 

I’ve clearly been at this book thing for a while.  I don’t know if that’s encouraging or frightening.  In any case, she’s a lovely young knitter.

In the Awwww. .. department for today, I give you Justin

Non-knitter, trying to be nice to his mum.   She asked him to come and he did, and there’s nothing more charming than faithfully obeying your mum, even though you’re a grown-up.  Not that I’m directing that at any of my children or anything, I’m just saying that Justin seems like a very good person.

Finally, last but not least,  I want to show you Stacie, Claire and Stephanie.

These three ran in at the last minute, out of breath and hot, and it turned out that they had run out on Ysolda’s class at The Knitting Nest to have their books signed.  Something I made sure to mention to Ysolda later that evening when we were together at the aforementioned shop.  Why? Because I’m three years old. That’s why. (A special thanks to The Knitting Nest for shooting me a tee-shirt to replace the one that my pen blew up on in my suitcase.  Extremely helpful.)

I’m off again, with only minutes to spare before I need to be at A Real Bookstore,  but I forgot to mention in my St. Louis post,  I signed some extra books when I was at Left Bank Books, because they do mail order.  So if you’re one of the people who wrote and asked how you could get a signed book if I’m not coming to a town near you?  Left Bank Books.   

In the pews in St. Louis

It’s Sunday morning, and I’m writing this post from heaven knows how high in the air, winging my way from St. Louis to Dallas, then from Dallas to Austin.  (I’m trying not to think about how the next day I go from Austin back to Dallas. It’s too much to accept intellectually.  The only way through it is to live it.)  I’ll try to hit send on it when I’m on the ground changing planes.  My timelines are so tight today… I think I’ll go straight from the airport to the Austin signing.  I bet I’ll look amazing.  Let’s go back to yesterday – shall we, when I met the St. Louis knitters and had a really lovely time.  I spoke in a church (I think the irony that a harlot was speaking in that locale was fun for all of us) – and knitters filled the pews.

(For those of you who have ever been asked not to knit in church, this moment may have a certain feeling of vindication in it.)  Afterwards, I signed books and chatted, and look who I met.

This is Jackie and Marie, and they’re firsts for me.  They had me sign their e-readers.  (I’d been wondering what authors were going to do as more and more books become digital, and I guess it might be like this.)

There was Stephanie and Alice,

and this is Reina and Skye…

and this is Kate, Joanna and Hamza, who was absolutely quiet during the whole talk, though he did make his mama dance at the back to make that happen.

Meet Vicky, who was rooting for the Cardinals like nobody’s business.  (I don’t know if you all know this, but the world series is on and St. Louis is in it.  I had no idea – and in my defense, remember that it’s not actually the WORLD series, so it’s not always top of the news in other countries. I figured it out fast.) 

Vicky even dressed up her dog Daisy – but just for the Cardinals home opener.  It’s not like she does it all the time. 

Emma and Abby were there with their first socks.

Kate, oh – let me tell you about Kate.

At 4:30pm the day before I came, Kate decided that she wanted to represent her friend Rachel’s yarn at the signing, and so she knit a Traveling Woman in 12 hours.  Just like that.  That one.  That’s she’s wearing. She even claims that she slept and ate – and still had a small shawl in 12 hours of knitting.  I have a feeling that she doesn’t knit so fast that I couldn’t do it too, so I’ll be doing a little test soon. 

In the category of nice people – we have Liz, who isn’t even a knitter, but discovered that the answer to the question "How much do you love your mother?" was in fact…

"Enough to go to a talk and a booksigning for you, mum.  Of course."

Finally, meet Cameron, who was there for his brother Joseph, who sort of made him come. 

It’s true, Cameron is a knitter, that’s his second and third knitting projects in his hands, but he wasn’t there for himself. His big brother made him go.  Made him email verification that he understood his mission, then text confirmation that he had arrived, and then send a photo proving that he was in the right spot with a book.   I told Cameron that I’d post this picture to prove to Joseph that he did it right.  Joseph, he did it all.  Listened, showed me his projects, and got a book signed for you.  I wrote something special in there for you. You’re brother is very nice.

Finally, a sweater update.  Friday was just a travel day – a flight and a car ride but no event, and in book tour land, that’s a "rest" day.   I was super excited, and tackled Gwendolyn.  I know a lessor knitter would probably have given up by now, and it really does look like that sweater sort of has bad Juju, but I’m positive that I can come out on top, and there’s no way I’m letting a piece of knitting get away with resisting its destiny like this.  This yarn will be this sweater whether it wants to or not. Mark my words. 
Instead of ripping the front back to the mis-scrossed cable and re-knitting, I tried a bolder approach.  I figured that if it didn’t work, I could still rip back and reknit.
I identified the mis-crossed cables, and since they’re both on one row, I found the single strand of yarn that was that row of knitting.  The exact row where I went wrong.

Then I snipped it.

Then I gently teased that strand of yarn out…

Then I started to graft back together the stitches, this time crossing the cables the way that I should have in the first place.

It was tedious, and a little fiddley, but took so much less time than re-knitting would have.  I blocked it last night and  with any luck, I’ll be doing the making up and button bands tomorrow.  Just in time for Dallas, where – in the final proof that the sweater is a pain in the arse that likes sticking it to me, I absolutely won’t need a sweater.

When in Chicago

So last night I was in Chicago – or Skokie rather, which I have been helped to understand is NOT Chicago.  (I suspect that this is rather like the way Brooklyn is NOT New York, and Brampton is NOT Toronto, but I’m still working out the details.) It was lovely, thanks for asking.  It was pretty cold and rainy, and exactly the sort of weather that one would want a sweater for, but the sweater from hell that I thought was finished isn’t, although I thought it would be yesterday, until a bunch of you pointed out a miscrossed cable… so.  The saga continues.  Let’s not talk about it.   Let’s look at interesting knitters, shall we?

We only had one baby last night, and though she made her Mama Christine dance all night, Nora’s behaviour was perfect.

Similarly perfect, the simply charming future knitter Jamie, and his delightful mother Meg.

Next up, Brent wants to show me who he got to hold a sock.  (Let me tell you, this sock holding thing has caught on in a way I’d never dared hope for.)

Jane Lynch! (Apparently she didn’t even ask why she was holding a sock, which is amazing.)

How about first sock knitters?  first up Kelli, who’s first socks are doing just fine.

Then Emily, similarly blessed (and young!)

Then Yas (who’s first socks are twisted stitch cabled fancy things.  Another freakin’ overachiever.)

Next is Jenny, who restored my faith in normal first sock knitters by showing up with two socks of  very different sizes…

And then Abby, who’s first sock adventure was singular. 

No worries though… she uses it as a trivet.

Nathalie came with her first socks,

though really, she specializes in those teensy weensie crochet mice cat toys. (Millie will love them.)

It was Judit’s birthday, she came with her daughter Magda.

And Denise brought me the most incredible video of her six year old son Zachary, knitting his little heart out.

Anna came in her first sweater. 

..and yes.  It’s normal to want to leave her for dead in an alley for knitting a first sweater like that.  (Seriously.  Doesn’t she know it should suck?)
Finally, meet Katie.  Katie had a baby hat to knit night before last, and she thought it would be really super cute to put the baby’s name on it. So she whipped up a little chart, knit it in right quick and then…

Yeah.  Forgot to flip the chart.  A knitter after my own heart, that sweetie.
Proof that experienced knitters don’t make fewer mistakes.  They make larger ones faster.

And with that, I’m off.  I’m getting on a plane in two minutes, and when I arrive at my hotel I am going to attempt a surgical repair of the miscrossed cable.

Keep me in your thoughts.  I don’t know how much more I have in me.

In which Baltimore Brings It

I’m going to try to explain to you the amazing that was Baltimore, but I’m going to try and do it really fast because I’m in the airport getting ready to leave for Chicago, and I really don’t want to be late.  (I’m having a beer.  I hear it’s super windy today in Chicago, and I’m an experienced enough flier to know that means turbulence, and I hate turbulence.  It makes it hard to knit, and convinces me that we are seconds from being plunged into the earth. It’s better for everyone if I aim for relaxation.) Essentially, what happened in Baltimore was that they heard that Boston was amazing, and so they tried to one-up them.  (This may or may not have been a formal plan.)   Filled up the room in Boston? Baltimore had overflow.

(That chair shortage thing may have happened again. Sorry guys.)

Baltimore had cute babies:

This is Jody and Amelia representing, but there was also Margot and Marseille and Gillian

(Gillian is the little one in the phone) and Margot made the baby and Marseille made the sweater and that kid looks so happy.

Baltimore didn’t just have beer and sweaters. 

They had Amanda knitting a BEER SWEATER. (Yes.  That’s what you think.  Not a sweater with beer on it,  it’s a sweater for a beer to put on. It’s genius.)

Boston had people with first socks, but Baltimore had these two. 

That’s K and her first socks (freakin’ overachievers. They make us all look bad) and this is Melinda, and she didn’t just bring her first socks.

She brought her first socks, her first little sweater and her first born Sarah.  Shazam!

Molly brought her wedding veil, and seriously, I don’t think I need to tell you it was amazing:

Boston had people with charming boyfriends,  Baltimore had Kelly, and she is knitting a sock for her boyfriend, and people.  IT FITS.

I told her that it’s just as easy to love a small man as a large one, but apparently she’s in too deep.

Let it here also be noted that Baltimore should be called the city of brotherly love, because check out these brothers.  Meet Chris. 

When his sisters Katie and Becky had their car break down about an hour away, they called Chris, and he "cleared his schedule" and came straight over to listen for them, and get their books.  I said "you’re a good brother" and he said "well,  I have good sisters."  (All together now… Awww.)
This is Estin and Grace.  A brother and sister who came together.

Estin is, Grace tells me, the only person who had the presence of mind to giver her yarn for her baby shower.  Says Estin "She made a blanket.  It was good"
(Again… awww)

Finally,  Boston had nuns?  Baltimore had NUNZILLA. 

Thanks to Doris and Janet for that treat.  (She winds up and walks and sparks come out of her mouth. She is nothing like the nuns in Boston, but she is funny.)

And last- for those of you who are all "holy cow, like I care about knitters in other places – what about your knitting" let me tell you this.  First, you should totally care about the other knitters they’re really gripping, and second. 
I have two re-made sweater fronts, and none of them is, or has been on fire…

and they are even the same length as the back.

It’s almost a sweater.

PS to Melissa Morgan-Oakes.  They sort of ran out of my books last night and so someone asked me to sign one of yours. Meet Joellyn and Jeffrey, who were not leaving without a signed book, and they didn’t care who’s it was, as long as it was a good one.  They picked yours.

I put a note in saying that I wasn’t you and shouldn’t be signing it, but also noted  (in the book) that I would let you know there’s been an unauthorized signing of your book.  So I am.  Feel free to sign one of mine as revenge.)

Boston Knitters

Well Boston (Brookline) is behind me and Baltimore beckons, and the Booksmith was great.  There’s a lot to love about Boston, and I’ve been before, but the thing that’s always the best about it, is the knitters.  Boston knitters know how to represent, yo.

We can start with a knitter who wasn’t even there, but still managed to influence events.  It turned out that Evan, the events guy- his wife is a knitter, and she had heard what he was up to that evening, and told him, point blank, that he simply couldn’t introduce me or host the event without knitting something.  Evan complied, and when he showed the crowd his first little bit of knitting that he had completed only the night before,  they were his. 

When he offered the pattern, he brought the house down.  I got through the reading, and then the Q&A, and then went upstairs to sign books, and the parade of interesting Boston knitters started.  Meet Mary and the very competent preemie hat that she’s knitting. 

Mary is seven years old – sort of.  It’s really more important that you know she’s almost eight.  She’s serious about that.  And knitting. 
Next up? 

Carrie and twelve day old (almost thirteen) Sam.  Sam’s one half of a set of twins.  His sister Ella is still in hospital.  Let it be noted that I didn’t touch or ask to hold Sam.  He’s too new for my random germs, especially when I’m meeting so many people a day, but he was lovely to look at.

This here is Lissa and her first pair of socks.  Nothing remarkable, right?  Wrong.  Lissa knit the first one in 2003, and the second in 2006. 

Not that- as she said, not that she has a problem with second sock syndrome or anything.   Below please find a picture of Kate,

and she’s holding a blanket that her daughter Veronica designed, which means we are all very old, because the last time I saw Kate, Veronica looked like this.

This is Mira and Jesse –

and really that pictures only there because Jesse is so ridiculously cute and good natured.

All hail Deborah and Kathy! 

Deborah is the free range Canadian who brought me really delicious home made butter tarts,

and Kathy, who brought me home brewed beer. 

Together, they were my dinner, and I was very, very grateful.  (What? There was no room service.  It was necessary I tell you. There was no other way out.)
Now this – this picture is partly for you, but mostly for Rachel H and Natalie.

Hey Guys! It’s our nuns! (I don’t know why they’re a little blurry.  Sorry about that Sisters.)  Meet the Sisters of the Holy Nativity Convent.  I’ve been writing back and forth with them for a while now, and while they always sign the letters "Mother Seraphima and Sisters" it turns out that Mother Seraphima was away during my trip there, which was very sad for me, and I hope for her.

Anyway, the Sisters are buckets of fun and ripping good knitters – the lot of them.  I’ve seen pictures of their craft room.  They have it going on. 
(Hey Natalie, remember how a few weeks ago, I asked you to send that stuff to the sisters, and after you mailed it you sent me that text that said "The package has gone to the nuns."  and then the next one said "I love how that is not a euphemism for anything."  Remember that?  I told them about it.  They loved it.  Rachel H, I told them you had enjoyed sort of stealing for them.  They appreciated it.)

Finally,  meet Betsy and a little picture of her nephew Patrick James. 

Patrick’s recovering from brain cancer, and she’s got something going on for sick kids. Check it out over at Nutmeg Knitter. 

See that?  I told you Boston was interesting.  (We’ll see if Baltimore has nuns.) 
See you tonight Baltimore Knitters.  My plane leaves in a minute.  I’m on my way.

PS.  That cute baby from the other day? The one in the Amazing Monster Pants?  The one I told you was Theo?  It’s Leo.  LEO. 
My apologies to the gentleman. 

The coming Zombie Apocalypse

This post comes to you from La Guardia Airport in New York, as I leave Brooklyn behind and head for Boston.  I’m sitting here pulling myself together after a taxi ride that reminded me that you don’t actually die in NYC cabs, you just think you will… and drinking a cup of "coffee" that is one of the biggest lies ever told to me.  (I don’t know what is in this cup, but it is not coffee.  I have no idea why I’m drinking it anyway.  Makes me wonder about my self preservation instincts.)   I had a lovely time in Brooklyn, though really brief. I got to walk to and from the bookstore, and walk around the area a little, and wondered why I always head for Manhattan. It turns out that Park Slope is charming and there is very good coffee, amazing vegetarian sandwiches (recommend the tempeh ruben) good company and pretty views.

I don’t know why I didn’t think of Brooklyn as pretty, but it really is, and I have a fondness for fire escapes that means that if you slap a bunch on your city, I’ll love it there. 

The event was little, as it always is in Brooklyn – but as always, there was the best and the brightest – or strangest – or well.  Meet  Kitsa, and her subway project.  

Apparently Kitsa had "a little trouble" with this skein, the way I had "a little trouble with a sweater, so now she’s untangling a full skein on the subway.  Apparently the incident was something involving a wicker chair.  I was too shocked to absorb the full lesson.  Anyway, she’s a better person than I am.  I’d have abandoned it.
Next up is Terri, who has a fantastic picture on her cell phone.

I don’t know if you can tell, but that’s Neil Gaiman holding her sock, which is a score of epic proportions in the sock holding game.  Completely cool.
This is Ikumi and Anna, who came all the way from DC (which I didn’t know was near Baltimore, but I’ve got it now.)

And finally, Sally and David. 

I can’t remember what prompted me to say so, but I happened to mention that after the coming Zombie apocalypse, when all the stores are closed, then knitters are going to be very valuable and popular people indeed. Just as soon as you can’t buy a pair of socks, we’re going to all have a million new best friends.  David took that and ran with it, and the next thing I knew he was explaining that Zombies had actually been misheard all this time.  They’re not saying "Brains" but "Skeins."

It would seem that in David’s particular Zombie apocalypse, there’s a lot of competition for yarn.  Arm yourselves accordingly.

See (some of you) tonight in Boston.