Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Whole Lotta Harlot

I was having a typical, ulcer-inducing Tuesday morning at the office when I got a message from Stephanie "Yarn Harlot" Pearl-McPhee.

She was in Chicago for a book signing. She had just been awoken from a nap by all the civil defense sirens going off. She had been reassured by the reception desk that we were not, in fact, being invaded. But she was not going back to sleep, and wanted to know if I felt like bumming around the neighborhood a bit.

I did. We did.

I'd met Stephanie twice before, but only in the frenetic atmosphere surrounding her personal appearances. This was the first time I could look forward to seeing her off-duty, as it were. To glimpse the Knitter Behind the Mask.

Well, I can tell you without doubt that the rumors you've been hearing are untrue. At no point in the afternoon did she kick little children into the street, throw her cell phone at the paparazzi, or press me to procure illicit hallucinogens so that we could trip while picking the angora fluff off her Bohus. She's quite normal, on the whole, although she does tend to say a lot of things twice–first in English and then in French. But I understand this is not so much demented as merely Canadian.

The three of us–Stephanie, her Traveling Sock, and I–strolled up Michigan Avenue in blessedly temperate weather for a visit to Millenium Park. The park is home to one of Chicago's newest but most popular attractions: Anish Kapoor's gigantic, reflective metal sculpture Cloud Gate. Only nobody (except perhaps the Anish Kapoor) calls it Cloud Gate. It looks exactly like a colossal, alien kidney bean and so we all call it The Bean. (Sorry, Anish.)

Stephanie loves the Bean. The sock loves the Bean. The sock was, of course, photographed in front of the Bean. Here, I offer you a glimpse behind the scenes:

Sock Shot

I also took this very meta shot of me photographing Stephanie photographing Stephanie photographing the Sock.

Sock Shot Version Deux

Maybe we were tripping a little.

That might explain why, for example, we not only took a spin through American Girl Place, but actually considered–for one chilling moment–eating lunch at the American Girl Café.

However, the sight of overprivileged children, many of whom were dressed as princesses, waiting in line to have their expensive poupées professionally coiffed at the doll hair salon snapped us out of it and we fled back to the street, swearing never to speak of this to anyone.

Sorry, Steph.

The hours simply flew past and suddenly it was time to head out to Oak Brook for the signing.

It was what many of you will recognize as a typical Yarn Harlot event.

There were boatloads of enthusiastic people:

The Masses

Stephanie's presentation was top-notch:

In Action

I was delighted to encounter adorable friends:

Merrye Companye

(Clockwise from back left: Knitting Camp buddy who prefers to remain nameless, Jonathan and Meg aka the Two Sock Knitters, and the Sock Knitters' very delightful friend Thorny.)

And quite a few nice readers–many of whom I'd never met–came over and said hello to me. I love that. That does not get old.

Meanwhile, Stephanie signed 25,683 books, posed for pictures, blessed babies, petted the socks of strangers, and generally handled the situation with unflappable élan. Except when the nice woman from the bookstore brought her Perrier instead of Evian and it was chilled to 67 degrees intead of 64. She'll never do that again, let me tell you, even if it turns out there won't be a scar where the podium hit her in the head.

And then, high on the energy of all those knitters rallying together, we rode back to the city. I wished her good-night at her hotel, then headed north to my place. And realized, sitting in the taxi, that I'd forgotten to have her sign my copies of the book.

It figures.

70 comments:

Angela said...

A belated hello, Franklin. I saw you across a crowded room but was unable to extract myself from the space into which I was wedged. (It was tight in the back rows!) Sounds like a great day with La Harlot.

Lynae said...

Yeah, I am so thinking that she will call you another day to go run around town!

It was SUCH fun seeing her last night. We wanted to take her for a beer....but that early morning flight didn't allow more fun!

Thorny said...

Thorny has a blog, btw: http://thornyknits.blogspot.com. Which she promises, vows and pinky-swears to update again very, very soon. :)

So lovely to chat with you!

Sarah said...

It looks like you guys had a great time! I love the picture of you taking a picture of her taking a picture of the sock :-D

Angie said...

That is really an outstanding photo of you, Stephanie, the sock, the cameras, and the bean!

mehitabel said...

Now I so wish I had been in Chicago! Lucky you, lucky Harlot...

the fiddlin' fool said...

I'm not sure how you put up with us being so cute together in public. It must make you want to puke. :)

So good to see you again. I'll do my best to not be a stranger!

the fiddlin' fool said...

Ah, I know what it is I wanted to tell you. My niece and great niece came up for a visit a few weeks ago, and they ended up eating lunch at the American Girl Cafe, though they didn't know what they were getting into, either! I just know that my great niece (she's 5) thought it amazing that she got two desserts.

Mel said...

Oh, you celebrity types with your bottled water and crazy drug trips.

Carson said...

Oh my gourd.."We're not worthy!"

And thankyou for reminding me about Millenium Park, it was a highlight of Chicago for me a couple of years ago (except Kapoor's giant metal coffee bean was still under wraps back then).

MonicaPDX said...

Franklin, what a wonderful surprise to find when I came right over after reading Stephanie's blog today. (I always read you two first. What can I say, I'm a helpless fan.) Lovely post, much giggling, fantastic pix! I did love the photographing of photographing et al, but really, my favorites are of Steph taking her traveling sock shots, with her hair blowing back. No idea why, they're just... Coolness. Thanks!

filambulle said...

Hi.
I love your photos of stephanie. I think that she should ask you as official photographer.
:)

Elemmaciltur said...

I LOVE that first picture of Stephanie you took....it has something powerful to it. Is it just me?

Tasha said...

It's good to hear that she has such a good day after what happened the day before :)

Sean said...

ahh, yes. I remember it well. You're a great tour guide!

Sounds like great fun and looks like great (ish) weather! Not at all like the last two days here in Boston. They say that spring is on its way. But that remains to be seen!

KellyD said...

What a day! I'm glad you guys had a great outing. And yes, I loved the pictures too. Sorry about forgetting the books to be signed. Sounds like something I would do.

ErickaJo said...

Franklin, after these fantastic shots of her, how could you let any publisher-appointed photographer take her next book cover? I think these are the most fantastic pictures that I've seen of Stephanie yet, and the trippy shot in front of The Bean is inspiring.

Lee Ann said...

This is somehow not fair that her hair looks perfect even in Chicago winds.

The American girl thing, though. Please do not tell Twinkletoes there is such thing as a doll hair salon.

SJ said...

What a lovely photo journal of the Harlot in real life -- I especially like the "meta-shot."

Now, what do you mean, it's not called "The Bean"?

Angie said...

Great report, Franklin - but lordy, the Meta-shot, you look so HOT!

Dee said...

How inconsiderate of my husband to have required oral surgery the day when the Harlot is in town. I would have enjoyed bumping into you again.

I've never been to the Bean...I need to do that this summer.

Madam said...

Well, poo. The indeed delightful Thorny had been pestering me to come down with her, but I begged off, citing "work" or some other dumb excuse.

Never again, I tell you.

Janis said...

Sounds like an awesome time. I love the recursive photo. :)

denyse said...

THANK YOU! I have been reading the Harlot's posts about Chicago with increasing alarm. Her posts to date indicate that she hasn't had a great time in Chicago - and it wasn't Chicago's fault! Chicago is such a wonderful city - I was appalled that she wasn't getting a chance to meet it.

You, Chicago, and the Harlot - what a wonderful combination! Thank you!

marie in florida said...

beautiful as always.
when i come to chicago will ya take my pix ?

KnitNana said...

What an awesome photo!
(((hugs)))

Liz said...

When Stephanie shared her story of the Chicago air raid siren at her talk in MN last night and got to the part where she called "a friend" in Chicago who said; "oh, don't die in Chicago, it's so overdone" (or something to that effect) I knew she must have called you.

Anna in Atlanta said...

Hi Franklin -- Could you call (404) 270-2391 with BLT's cell #? I need to contact him and I think they're on the road already. Thank you muchly.
Anna (the St. A prom date . . )

Joe said...

You two are the KnitBlog power couple. I'm surprised there wasn't a nuclear implosion in Chicago or something as big.

Jen said...

I would just like to say that I know Steph from the TDot and her hair, while it looks generally good, looks absolutely spectacular in those pictures.

I'm going to drop her a line right. now. to say so.

Chicago Jen said...

Oh Franklin, I'm so sorry I didn't make it over to say hello. I saw you knitting away and I was prou of you for picking up the needles (seein' as how that's been a little bit of a challenge lately). You can see me a little in your group shot I'm that bright streak of lime green in the middle (the one craning her damn-fool blond head off to get a glimpse of the Amazing Stephanie). Next time our paths cross, I promise to introduce myself. I kicked myself in the morning when I remembered that I hand't done so. Thanks for coming to the Harlot's rescue.

Jenn in Manhattan said...

Franklin, as a lurker, fan, and prostletizer for your blog, I have a question. When random people walk up to you to tell you how much they enjoy your prose, your humor, Delores and the gang, what is your preferred form of address? Franklin? Mr. Habit? Knitting Stud? Hey, Guy Who Wrote the Rimming Sugar Post?

Lizbon said...

Fabulous pics. Makes me think it's time for me to get a new camera. Or get my good one fixed. Or somethin'.

Oh, and I can't decide whom to envy more: Franklin for getting to hang w/ the Harlot, or the Harlot for getting to hang with Franklin.

Just A Knit Wit said...

Oh no! I'll trade you signed for unsigned copies of Yarn Harlot, Secret Life of A Knitter.

If you don't mind being Kelly, that is. :)

Kris said...

Thank you so much for taking care of Miss Stephanie. Chicago is such a great place, that I'd hate for her to not want to come back.

~and the next time I see you out and about, I'll make a point to say "Waz-up"...kinda lost you in the crowd when the book signing began.

Cheers!

Wendy said...

Sounds like you had a great time!

BTW, since you're also a fan of the Baby Surprise jacket, have you seen the EZ "Baby Surplice Jacket" in the new Vogue Knitting?

d said...

Color Me Jealous! Two of my favorite knitting bloggers in one place interaction. Wow!

Glenna C said...

What a fabulous post!
I visited Chicago about a year ago and was baffled by the Bean. Maybe I should have gotten closer. That is so great that you showed Stephanie such a great time, particularly after her horrible airport ordeal. And I don't blame you for skipping the American Girl Place lunch!

knottykitty said...

Sounds like a fun day. "The bean" looks way cool. As for the icky doll place---sounded a little too creepy. Good thing you decided not to eat there--God knows what they put in the food to make people actually want to stand in line to have their hair coiffed in a doll salon--Eeeeee-ew...:)

Rebecca the ex-NAAer said...

I thought the general aura around my workplace improved for a time on Tuesday! It's too bad I didn't bump into you at the Bean on my afternoon stroll! Such a celebrity!

Chris said...

I love meta pictures.

ellen said...

Stepahnie looks just lovely with her hair blowing back - maybe it's just she is so relaxed not being confronted by a huge whack of knitters! Thanks for the pictures.

Lucia said...

American Girl? Be still, my heart.

Juno said...

Well, I am scarcely the first to say so - but you are definitely selected Official Tour Photographer. You take good pictures of people - they look like themselves. Which is hard to do.

And I never got my book signed either. She's a slacker.

Jennie said...

My God. I think if you can teach me how to stand like you I could actually get laid.

You're sexy even while taking a photograph. I hate you.

Emily said...

Oops, I thought it WAS named "The Bean"! What a fantastic photo of all of you!

I saw you from afar that night, and wished we had crossed paths.

Kim said...

I don't know, spending the morning with the Harlot (she has your phone #!) might be a replacement for a signature.

Janet said...

And dang if her hair didn't look fabulous - you are indeed a mighty fotog!

EricaLynn said...

Hi Franklin-I've been reading your blog for maybe a month or two, but never commented before. I love your writing, especially about Dolores. I was wondering if you could tell us which yarn shops in chicago are good? I'll be visiting my parents at their new house outside chicago next month, and I'd like to know where to go to find yarn while I'm there.
It must have been fun to run around the city with the Yarn Harlot!

David said...

We had Cloud Gate here in NYC as well - in the plaza at Rockefeller Center. It never occured to me to view it as a bean. You Chicagoans are a strange lot.

Kristen said...

What gorgeous pics of Stephanie! I'm glad you got to show her around!

knitguyla said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
knitguyla said...

I deleted my own post, let's try again. Franklin, first, I love your blog and am so entertained post after post. Second, I love my "It Itches" t-shirt more than you'll ever know. And last, the photo in this post is really interesting. I forced my partner to come over to the computer to get a look at what he thought was another "knitting thing" and he practically pushed me out of the seat for a better look. Thanks, Joseph

GaiaGal said...

I don't know why Stephanie is always complaining about her hair, it looks completely amazing in the photos you took of her! Must be that good Chicago wind?

Your Pic of Steph taking a pic of "The Bean" is really, seriously COOL! What makes it especially nice is that there's not a lot of people milling about, so it's completely about the two of you. Nice composition.

Sandy said...

I read your blog all the time and today I was shocked to see Meg. You see I used to work at summer camp with her, have not seen her in years. Thanks for leading me to her blog! the internet gods love me today!

Sharon J said...

Fifty-sixth to compliment you on those great shots!! Great staging. Steph's always complaining about her hair, but it looks fab blowing in the wind (and you looks so cute in your hat and gear!)

But now I'm growing suspicious: How come we never see you and Dolores in the same photo? :?

Angie Cox said...

Jeez to think my Holly always wanted an American girl doll. Looking at the prices of them I could guess the place would be full of your equivalent of Chelsea children. It sounds horrendous but then as a parent you can buy a doll without taking the little darlings the whole hog .

Mary said...

Whoa! Stephanie must have used some strong and magical hair products to make her lovely wind-blown hair submit into the coif she sported that evening.

Terrific photos!

Tracey, in MI said...

I quite like the "trippy" harlot pic;)

BTW- I vote you take the pic for the next book cover.

denny Mcmillan said...

Hello ..... don't make me come down to the U.S. and slap you up-side the head.....Hair, I see the hair, I know that hair. I see her giveing that talk, and I KNOW you went and got doll hair do's. I KNOW. Don't lie, her hair only looks like that if she leaves the rinse in. Do not lie on the blog.


Don't make me come down there.

Jennifer said...

I recently visited Chicago for the first time a couple of week ago. I was suprised by how much I like Chicago. And the blue of the water in the lake. Completely took me by surprise.
Anyway, I loved the bean. It was my favorite place to take pictures. It would be interesting to put together a book of the pictures people take of themselves there.

Berry Gal said...

I am glad you enjoyed you got your Harlot time in....

I am glad I got to meet the harlot and you... Sorry for interupting and running but had to head back to Rockford....

Erin B

Knitting Addict said...

Oh, man! I am positively green with envy! You meet the greatest peeps!

Knitting Addict said...

Oh, and I also think you should take the photos for the Harlot's next book! Oh, the stunning combo that would be!!

Are you listening, Miss Harlot? He's FANTASTIC!

blueyed wench said...

Long time lurker who enjoys your blog postings.... I WISH I could have gotten up to the Chicagoland area to see the Harlot talk! I was just beside myself when I learned that she had presented at a Borders that is a mere 15 minutes away from my parents' home.

Cherice said...

I was able to see the Yarn Harlot when she was in Denver. I would have hyperventilated to have been able to spend a whole afternoon with her. I would have loved to have hung out after she was done signing, but apparently Denver closes at the stroke of 9, and I only found the car because the husband remembered where I parked it.

Happy knitting, and your swatch is beautiful (I personally like the "Pee on this blanket" saying.....

knit chick said...

Poor Franklin. I guess Stephanie must come back to Chicago to sign your books. I was one of the people to say "Hi, Franklin!" when you first walked in with Stephanie.

Lovely photos (as always)!

Knittiana! said...

Sure sounds like you two had a good day! I used to live in Chicago and it is a fantastic place! A lot to see, a lot to do. Hope to be back there in December to visit family.

Terri Lynn said...

How cool is the cloud....er, bean, I love Chicago, too, but check out Steph's Rocky Mtn High on my blog....yep that's me doin' the shout out. Nice Link you have goin',I'v visited to you often, might as well link you up.

Lysa with a Y said...

You are too funny. I love the photos of you two at the Bean. Wow!