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:
I also took this very meta shot of me photographing Stephanie photographing Stephanie photographing the Sock.
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.
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:
Stephanie's presentation was top-notch:
I was delighted to encounter adorable friends:
(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.