Monday, October 03, 2005

In Which I Meet Many Delightful Knitters, One of Them Quite Famous

One of the reasons rant and screed blogs have proliferated is that superlatives make for dull reading. Misery loves company, and folks slogging through a typical American work day of endless meetings, routine humiliation, and painstaking labor without tangible result cannot be blamed if they'd rather not read about the perfectly wonderful time somebody else is having.

If that's the mood you're in today, you might want to skip this entry. Not that I generally corner the market on Blog Bitchery, but this report is going to be obnoxiously sunny. Allow me to get it out of my system. Tune in tomorrow, and things will be back to normal.

On Saturday, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (she is who is known as Yarn Harlot) made her first visit to Chicago. While I'm not one to get weak-kneed and slobbery over famous knitters in general (okay, Nancy Bush is an exception), I find Stephanie's work to be rock-solid and deeply funny, and I wear my Harlot Fan Club Secret Decoder Ring with pride.

She was scheduled to appear at Arcadia Knitting, which is one of my two favorite yarn shops in the city. (From my very first visit, they've never given me attitude. Quite the contrary. I recommend them to all knitters in Chicago, particularly men who are tired of second-class treatment.)

I stopped by early and, in addition to accidentally buying Gladys Thompson's Patterns for Jerseys, Guernseys and Arans and a skein of Lorna's Laces (oops), I also asked whether they had a photographer hired for the event. They didn't. I offered to be It. They accepted.

[Insert little shout of joy here.]

On the way back to the shop around 3 pm (with Harlot due to arrive at 4) I was delighted to step into the subway car and see somebody knitting a (really cute) sock. As a rule, I won't approach a knitter on the subway (or anywhere else) as it's best in the city to leave people alone if you have no compelling reason to bug them. But happily, as we sat on the Lawrence bus heading to the shop she introduced herself - it was Melissa, who you probably know better as The Stitchin' Seminarian.

The shop was already buzzing and I swung into action. Being the photographer at an event like this is marvelous for a shy person because you cannot sit in a dim corner and pretend you're invisible. I started photographing groups of knitters and asking where they'd come from. As expected Harlot's appearance had drawn in not only knitters from the suburbs, but also folks from Minnesota, Michigan, and Indiana.

My first big surprise was how many people recognized me from this blog and introduced themselves. I will not pretend it wasn't gratifying. When I started writing this thing, I did it as a way to motivate myself to keep projects moving and record daily minutiae. At Stitches, I met in person two people (one of them Jon) who read it, and that felt wonderful. On Saturday, at least 20 people had a kind comment to share, and I nearly hit the ceiling.

I was already floating around on a cloud when Harlot showed up. It's difficult to write about her and say anything new, as the 12,493 other bloggers who met her first have it pretty much covered. My summary:
  • Yes, she really is that funny. By the time she wrapped up her Q & A and began signing books, I'd laughed so hard and so much that my face hurt.

  • She has no pretense about her at all. She took Chicago public transit to the shop, for heaven's sake. I know people who live here who wouldn't have done that.

  • She has the patience of a saint. There had to be 80-100 people who lined up for autographs. I was standing there for much of the time taking photographs, and she gave every person her undivided attention.
As I was shooting for the shop, they get dibs on most of my photographs for their Web site, but I'll post a select few here that are of purely personal interest.

Here's Emily, who wouldn't you know turns out to be the sister of Tres and a heck of a fun person?



Harlot with Melody, who has one of the most infectious laughs you've ever heard:



And this is Melissa (my fellow public transit rider), who (how meta is this) having her picture taken for her own blog.



And this is Jen (also seen above taking Melissa's picture), the dear woman who designed the bunny hat, and was very nice to me even though I made my version in acrylic.



If the day had ended with the signing, I would have gone home to C bubbling with stuff to tell him. But it did not end there.

Because as things were wrapping up, Bonne Marie (my dear, you are stunning, how did you manage to avoid getting into any of my photographs? hmmm?) asked me if I would like to join Stephanie, the owners of Arcadia, and a few other people for dinner.

Oh, gee. Let me think about that for a little while.

It was heady company for a guy who only got down to knitting in earnest in January. But everybody else was drinking, so I may have given the impression that I held up my end of the conversation.

Before you start thinking it was all very serious, I should also mention that after dinner Stephanie took off her shoes and I took off my boots and we stood back-to-back to see which of us is the shorter person. (She is. But not by much. And I would kill for her waistline.)

In the absolute final picture of the day, proof I didn't make all this up just to piss you off.



Stephanie's the one in the middle. The pretty lady in black is Kathy, one of the owners of Arcadia. I'm the one with no hair and the Cinderella-at-the-Friggin-Ball grin on my face.

(Dear God: Remember that awful eighth-grade Halloween dance when I was 13 and had acne and my haircut sucked and none of the girls would dance with me and I spent most of the evening stuck in the corner listening to a classmate I didn't even like talk about his Star Wars action figures, and then went home, realized my zipper had been open the whole time and cried myself to sleep? Well, you finally made up for it. Thank you.)

*Late addition. I can't believe I forgot to give shout-outs to two people. Marcy, who brought you the Lil' Devil baby pants in
from the Stitch 'n' Bitch series; and Stephanie's publicist, Sarah, who also braved the Chicago El without losing her hair and who remembered the little review of the first Harlot book that I wrote way back when. Saturday was a gathering of right-on women. I was fortunate to be there.

45 comments:

goblinbox said...

I love that you were the photog for the event. It seems as if your two hobbies and arts, knitting and photography, are really supporting each other in your life right now. And how cool is that?

I'm also pleased to hear that everyone's reading your blog. Doesn't that feel fantastic? (I love it when my online 'life' and my 'real' life bump into each other, like when someone at a party drops some -ism from my blog or board. It makes me feel all tingly inside.)

Colleen said...

I am abso-friggin-lutely green with envy.

Jon said...

Well, aren't you the Belle of the Ball?

Love the last piccie, esp the little whities in your goatee..... grrrrr

Marlene said...

Put some of your great cartoons together into a book and onto t-shirts and that could be you, jetsetting around the country, meeting famous knitters, and being mobbed by adoring fans who clamour to have their picture taken next to you and beg to take you out for dinner.

Judy Foldi said...

You crack me up. I check your blog and Yarn Harlot blog every day, no matter how busy I am. Love the drawings!

Kelly said...

Thanks for taking pictures! I was the one with the digital camera from the stone age!

Marilyn said...

Wait until Rhinebeck.

This was just a warm-up.

Sneaksleep said...

So wonderfully well-told! Especially the last little side note to God. :) I'm so jealols, yet so happy for you at at the same time.

sep said...

what colleen said...
I'm bitter, bitter I tell you, with regret! :)

Jen said...

Great to see you on Sat, Franklin! Thanks for the encouragement-- I have a weeny, proto-blog now! And hey, for some reason I can't see the pix! (Not that I'm reading your blog just to see pictures of myself... well, maybe!)

Calvin said...

Damn, that is one sexy picture of you on Melissa's site. The one here definitely isn't bad either. It looks as if you had a good time. I, as Jon, am jealous.

Rana said...

I just have to say that one of the very first things D. said to me when we entered the store was "Guess who's here?! Franklin!"

We were very glad to meet you in person, if only briefly. :)

Cheryl said...

I saw your photo over at The Stitchin' Seminarian and you are so friggin' adorable!! Stephanie is sooooo nice and soooo funny and even more NORMAL!!! That is where her charm is I think--that she is every knitter's knitter. Congrats on getting to be the photographer for the event!!

knit chick said...

Saturday was a good day for all who attended. Lucky you dining with the Yarn Harlot! You summed up a great day quite well. It was good to finally meet you. I was one of your many adoring fans who introduced herself to you.

marcy neth said...

I'm a little sad the crumb filled minivan didn't get a mention.

No, really, it was lovely meeting you. I'm sure I'll see you at the shop again.

Anonymous said...

Don't you know how popular you are???? You poor misguided knitter, you...

I was thrilled to hear of your very charmed day but know that you deserved it AND helped to make their day very special too.

Congrats!

Sean said...

I cracked up reading the ending. I had a similar experience with Sally Melville when she came to our LYS and I was invited to dinner with her afterwards...

It's so funny to be enamored with the knitting elite, isn't it?

Donna said...

It's good to here that God made up so nicely for you! What a great day you had.

Jenni said...

Yep, knit me green with envy. It couldn't have happened to a more deserving blogger. Be sure to rest well before Rhinebeck...

birdfarm said...

Franklin, so glad you had a wonderful day! I thought you weren't going to be able to get any time off from work to go, and I was thinking how bitterly unfair the universe was to you. Needless to say I'm happy to be so thoroughly wrong!

You always did have what my mother called a "good enjoyer." When you enjoy something, it's this all-out, no-holds-barred, suck-the-marrow-from-the-bones-of life enjoyment... one of your many, many charming and endearing qualities.

And folks, for those who haven't already followed the link, the pic of Franklin on Melissa's blog is hot, hot, hot. Seriously. And this is coming from a lesbian, so you know it's an objective opinion!

Sorka said...

AWh man.. I am tearing up seriously! Good for you!
I am wishing that the Wool festival fairy will come up with the money to transport me to Rhineback! I had a dream that I went and saw you there!!
I wanna go!!!! I have a place to stay!! Everyone is right.. just wait till you get there!! You will be recognized!!

beadslut said...

I wish I had driven down from Minnesota, sounds like a wonderful time. I jumped through hoops to get your blog added to my flist because you're a charming read.

Emma said...

Fab !
A really fab day.

Cheryl said...

I slogged through a typical American office grind today, but reading about your exciting weekend tickled me no end.

Samantha said...

I've been reading for a few weeks now and you're writing is so wonderful and detailed. And you're very handsome. :)

Ann said...

Add my name to the list of people who envy your day. I think I am turning into a knitting geek and it feels great.

You are a fun read--especially at the end of a long and trying day. There have to be millions of blogs on the web by now--but just a few that are real gems. Say the names Jon, Franklin, Joe and Sean and we "know who you are". It takes time to put a little bit of your self out there, the good the bad and the ugly. What great fun you all are...

Gushing..yep I can see me gushing if I were to run into you someplace..more than likely I would point and whisper...that's really him!

:o)

Ann

Yarn groupies...is there a 12 step program for that?

Marcy said...

You are so sweet!

You can ride in my crumb van any time you like.

Bonne Marie said...

Franklin - it was wonderful to meet you - it's been a long time since I've crossed paths with such a *dyed-in-the-wool* Gentleman...

Not only did you hold up your end of the conversation with style & charm, I think I saw you holding up mine as well for at least a half-hour! Thanks! :)

dragon knitter said...

i'm screaming! i wanted to be there! that's the closest she's been to me in omaha! gaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!! i'm so jealous. maybe i'll see if SoP will beg her to come. i'd be there in a heart beat!

Lee Ann said...

Well, okay, you had her for the day, but I swear on my four pounds of roving I'm going to get her to help me pick out a wheel.

The jealousy on this end is that she got to meet YOU, actually...

:-}

Can you, um, come to Vermont next year?

Melissa said...

Hey, Franklin. Thanks for the number spike on Monday! Drop me an email (the address is on the website) and I'll send you a copy of the picture I took of you.

And I agree with Colleen, GREEN with envy at your dinner invite. Congrats!

Leslie said...

Yes, I teared up, Franklin. You truly had a wonderful day and I'm so happy and grateful that you shared it with us and that you had it. Blessings come when we least expect them.

La Cabeza Grande said...

I thought you looked familiar! I spotted you and Jon at Stitches.

Great write-up and what a Cinderella-at-the-ball kind of day!

Kim in Oregon said...

Very jealous of the day. But so pleased it was a good one for you.

Tres said...

Hey, what a great post! Thanks for the shout out.

When Emily called me all excited, "I met someone who reads your blog!" I couldn't figure out who it could be. How great that you met!

I will watch for the Harlot in Los Angeles.

Eldronius said...

Well I am knew to discovering the knitting community, so I have no idea who Yarn Harlot is...however, if I were to stumble across you, Franklin, I would squeal. That would be because I have enjoyed reading your blog, not because you would frighten me.

And I do have to say that is a good picture of you on Melissa's blog.

Marcia said...

Well, what a swell day, for you! Really.

I think I'll go carve out my eyeballs with a melon spoon. The first scoop is the hardest. I hear.

Jan said...

I had read Emily's and Melody's accounts of the day and enjoyed yours immensely! BTW, I'm jealous, too...sounds like it was a great time.
(*The Knitty Gritty* sent me over.)

cosmo_dk said...

Had I known the photog was YOU, I'd have introduced self.

I was the lady behind Emily, the one in the mitered scarf...

Drat. Ah, well.

Wasn't it grand?

Sahara said...

Franklin, my dear, you are now part of the "bloggerati" (Mr. K's phrase)


Lord, Rhinebeck is gonna be a hoot! We are ALL going to be pointing cameras at each other. I am living for this.

Ruth said...

What a great report! I wish I could have been with you all at Arcadia ... but the Harlot will be in MY town in just a few weeks, and I've already told my husband that he has to be home early, early, early, so that I can get a good seat at the reading.

This post was a lot of fun to read ... made me feel like I was there, Lawrence El and all.

susanna eve said...

I am a new reader of your blog. I am however, a yarn harlot fan and followed her link over here. I really enjoyed your entry and I'll be back. I admit to being envious that you got to meet the harlot. Her publishers think that the eastern part of canada has no book readers and no knitters and certainly no inhabitants who do both.

Anonymous said...

I have to mention that Stephanie is a *Canadian*. And she's from Toronto - When I lived there, everyone took public transit. Driving downtown was an invitation to paying huge parking fees (if you could find a spot at all), and or spending five hours in a traffic jam.

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