Monday, June 09, 2008

Keepin' It Weird

First, I must offer my thanks to all of you who left comments or sent e-mails asking whether I was sick, dead or perhaps trapped beneath a fallen refrigerator and therefore unable to blog. The answer, happily for me, is None of the Above.

I just don't know where the week went. I came back from Austin, I did some work for the little book, and I got ready for my first-ever trip to The National Needle Arts Association's summer trade show. That's a mouthful, so most folks just call it TNNA. The semi-annual TNNA shows are where needlework retailers go to meet vendors large and small, see what's new and place their orders. Chances are, if it's on a shelf at your local yarn store, the owner first saw it at TNNA.

Before I get to that, though, I gotta tell you about the 1,000 Knitters shoot at The Knitting Nest in Austin.

The Knitting Nest is a new shop. The owner, Stacy, hasn't been open for long but I think she's going to be around for a while. You know how some shop owners create a good, solid shop with good service, and then others do that and also build what amounts to a haven for the yarnishly inclined? Stacy's of the latter variety.

Our little trio got an extremely warm welcome at the airport from the Knitting Nest's own trio: Staci (the Nest's beloved teacher), Steph (who isn't strictly on the payroll, but acts as a combination porter, ambassadress, cheerleader and photographer), and David (Stacy's husband, known for good reason on her blog as Mr Wonderful).

"Welcome to Austin, Ms Van Hoofen," said David, extending a hand to Dolores.

"Don't be so formal," said Dolores. "Call me Dolly and gimme a hug, you big longhorn."

David hesitated, fingering his wedding band.

"Give her one," I said. "Or she'll just take it anyway."

A few minutes later the hug was over and we were off to the hotel. Harry had been chatting with Steph and was clearly enamored of her KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD t-shirt. He'd been extremely excited at the prospect of going to a town that holds great store by its weirdos and was eagerly scanning the sidewalks for his first sighting.

"Can I meet some weirdos? I think weirdos are cool. I think I want a KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD ball band. Is that a weirdo over there? How about her, is she a weirdo? She looks like she might be a weirdo."

"You know," said Steph, "I'm pretty weird."

Whereupon Harry was struck speechless for the rest of the drive.

The day of the shoot dawned bright and hot. I opened the curtains to find this splendid view waiting. Nothing gets my blood pumping like a cool new skyline first thing in the morning.

Austin Skyline

I listened to the weather report for the sheer pleasure of hearing the weather lady say "The hot, dry and sunny trend will continue through the week." You don't hear that in Chicago unless it's followed by the words "April" and "fool."

I asked Dolores and Harry if they wanted to come along to meet the knitters, but they declined. Dolores was set on visiting the museum and libraries at the University of Texas campus. Harry, with map, camera and binoculars at the ready, was going weirdo watching.

By the time David and I got to the shop–an hour early–there were already folks waiting outside. Inside, there was a buzz of cheerful preparatory activity as Stacy and her crew put the registration table and everything else into apple pie order.

Then the doors opened and all cheerful hell broke loose. We had 57 knitters roll through and it was a group I'll never forget.

Austin Dozen No. 2

Guess what? We passed the 800 mark with Sherilyn, Knitter 0800.

Knitter 0800

And Ana, Knitter 0772, knit one of her hand-made Lone Star stitch markers into the scarf as a souvenir of Texas. I was touched.

Knitter 0772

Lone Star

One of the things I'm discovering is that the cliché "everybody has a story" is actually true–and the stories are fascinating. So far in these little reports you're getting mostly the images; but the final project will be just as much about the stoies. Here are two stories I have to share, in brief, from Austin.

Meet Rachel, Knitter 0794.

Knitty Knitty Bang Bang

Rachel used to be a Texas Rollergirl under the nom de skate Kitty Kitty Bang Bang. She has since retired, and now goes by Knitty Knitty Bang Bang. I am fairly certain she is the first roller derby queen in our line-up.

Meet Sam, Knitter 0809.

Soldier Knitter

So far as I know, Sam is the only person in the series who learned to knit in order to pass long, tedious hours sitting in a tank in Iraq. Thank you for serving, Sam.

Sam's Big Needles

And before any of you write to ask, Sam is married to the adorable Amy, Knitter 0808–fourth row below, on the left. So fuggedaboudit.

Austin Dozen No. 1

The last of the two sitter's was Amanda, Knitter 0813. Amanda's just finishing up her college degree in Photojournalism and was kind enough to show me her portfolio. The kid has it, in spades. Somebody at Spin or Rolling Stone needs to take notice. I hope some day one of the things they'll say about me is that I shot Amanda Klaus before she got all famous and uppity.

Two Remarkable Women

And we capped it off with the Lady Herself, Stacy, the mastermind behind all of it. Stacy, what can I say? You are a perfect example of why Texas hospitality deserves its legendary status.

When the day was done Stacy asked me to decorate the blank wall of the sit-and-knit area, which we'd used as a backdrop, with a portrait of the candidate whom she, a loyal Fibertarian, will be supporting come November. Dolores breezed in just before dinner (naturally) so she, Harry and Stacy's adorable Westie, Hank, struck a pose.

On the Wall

If you're curious as to how the drawing emerged, the awesome Steven has a sort of time-lapse series on his blog. (Love the title, by the way.) How anybody will be able to sit and knit with this staring down at them I don't know, but it ain't my shop.

And then they fed me barbecue. Real barbecue from The Salt Lick. We all ate around the big table in the shop like the Waltons, although I don't recall that the Waltons ever talked about yarn over dinner. (More fools they.)

Knitting Nest Crew

Knitting Nesters, you won my heart. I hated to leave and I can't wait to come back. Thanks for everything. Miss you, miss Texas, miss the brisket. Especially you. And the brisket.


Sue said...

kitty kitty bang bang! I wish I was a rollergirl.
That just plain rocks!

Stacy said...

You were every bit as wonderful as we all expected. Thanks for a wonderful weekend. Tell Dolores she'd better keep her hands to herself next time or I'll get Hank after her.

Steph said...

We love you, Franklin! You stole our hearts, and we can't wait to have you back. :)

Mel said...

Yeah, well, I'm getting married very soon myself, but Sam's still pretty easy on the eyes.

I'm just waiting to hear about what you and Steph and Sean got up to at TNNA.

Steven said...

It was a marvelous day. So glad you (and Dolores and Harry!) enjoyed yourselves. Come back and eat some more barbecue any time!

Nancy said...

I am just gonna hafta find this new oasis next winter when visit Austin for a long weekend!

Rhonda the Stitchingnut said...

Harry ... the real weirdos are in Salem, MA. Really!!

Melissa said...

I just want to know what is written on Harry's ball band in the drawing! Sounds like a great weekend. Aren't knitters the best?

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

Aw, so glad you had such a great time at my favorite yarn store. Life sized Dolores is a sight to behold.

And by the way Staci is TKN's knitting teacher extraordinaire.

CraftyCanadian said...

MMMMmmm brisket! I'm so jealous. Too bad you didn't get a chance to actually go to The Salt Lick it's well worth the trip to Dripping Springs. I got married AT the Salt Lick (well at the Pavillion just across Onion creek) three years ago... we still dream about our wedding dinner :D

Donna said...

Is the scarf getting wider? I was knitter 042 (or somewhere around there) and I don't recall there being that many stitches on it?

Alwen said...

"Hot dry and sunny" . . . well, yesterday was hot. One out of three weather: must be the Midwest.

knititch said...

yoour blog is the first i remember coming around and i love how things have moved in the right direction for you lately. i just hope that mr. fry will be knitter number 1000 and i wonder if i can speed things up since it would be such a finale.

=Tamar said...

Ditto, Melissa - I also want to know what Harry's ballband says. It doesn't look like "Keep Austin Weird" which was my first thought.

VA said...

Oh Franklin! Your poor knees!
Really hasn't anyone considered knitting kneepads.
(I hopped over to KN&SS blog.)

Wen said...

Considering what happened at the Governors Mansion over the weekend I am curious to know if Delores was accounted for the entire time that you were there...

Anonymous said...

Salt Lick will ship you a nice brisket for about $80. With a jar of sauce. I haven't found comparable brisket in Chicago, but I keep looking.

christina said...


We miss you too!!!

Maybe next time you get down this way we'll have out own brisket smoking perfected (so close!!) and we'll send you back with a whole one.

Kristen said...

Wow, those are some serious sticks Sam's wielding there! Thanks for that eye candy! Mmm, mmm, mmm. Yeah, he's married, but I can still enjoy the beauty. I am an art historian after all, that's what we do. ;)

Tsarina of Tsocks said...

The Salt Lick! Now you're really killin' me.

As if I wasn't already hating myself for not being able to get to Austin for that event.

Salt Lick. Damn. I bet you didn't even bring any back for me.

knitnzu said...

I just put in a travel request to go to Austin! End of July (eek for a mainah!). Almost no out of state travel these days, but I gave it a good plug, so maybe I'll be able to go. I'll try to add to the weird pool.

nosenabook said...

Loved the post. How long will it take The Knitting Nest to become a destination for pilgrims?

I got my Dolores 2008 bag last week and began carrying my knitting in it today. No comments so far.

nosenabook said...

Oh, almost forgot! Really enjoyed the episode with Sticks & Strings, too.

dale-harriet said...

1. Thanks, Sam! (Those needles must be some kind of Army issue - you'd have to be big and strong to manage such as those!) 2. Harry, we gots real weirdos in Madison, WI too, maybe you can come with Dolores when she {a-HEM} comes here to give a campaign speech. 3. Franklin, you are just WAAAAY too much fun! Just sayin', is all.

Stephanie said...

Hey Franklin! Fantastic meeting you this weekend at TNNA :) Hope you had a safe trip home!

Linda said...

The next best thing to being there is hearing about it.

Lynn said...

Eight hundred and something already? Damn, I just know I'll never get photographed by you. How about you finish up this first 1000 Knitters, then come to WEBS on your book tour, and we'll get you the next 1000 in one day. Maybe two. Bring Dolores!

TO in SP said...

Either Sam is really really small or those needles are unusually big.

There's a Westie in that pic. Those must be good people, indeed.

Bailey sends doggy kisses.

Zelda said...

*falls off chair*

Oh, poor Hank! I recognize that expression he's wearing in Dolores's arms; it translates roughly as, "I'm not going to be able to get out of this, am I?"

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

It was an absolute pleasure meeting you!

Rachel AKA Knitty Knitty Bang Bang

Holli said...

Wow Franklin, lately it seems it just rocks to be you! Jeal-ous.

grrlmonster said...

man, almost at a thousand and still no upstate ny trip!!!
we are all saddened by this.

smooches, franklin etc.
we love you anyway.

fran said...

Franklin! Remember you and I have a barbecue date next time you're in Austin! I'm so going to kidnap you and drive you to Lockhart! Love ya! ;)

MonicaPDX said...

Absolutely wonderful, Franklin! (I'm catching up, here. Rav certainly cuts down on blog commenting time.) What a great bunch of knitters. Of course we know they're all great, but the way you capture them, you can see they're great. And thanks much, Sam.

Wowsa, by the time you add in the Toronto event, yep; you've nearly done did it. Hurray! Now, how can we bribe you to keep on going, as everyone not-so-subtly demands? [g] Dolores should take bribes... ::steals off to ponder::

Evelyn said...

The National Needle Arts Association's summer trade show. That's a mouthful, so most folks just call it TNNA.

Yeah, except that TNNA doesn't really make sense. Shouldn't it be the NNAA? Why capitalize the T and then leave off the A for Association?? It's like calling the CIA "TCI." Weird.

Gotta Knit! said...

Have to say Sam totally rocks and thank you for helping to keep our freedom alive.

Sally Comes Unraveled said...

Thanks for coming. Come back when your book comes out.

I also wanted to share my pictures and my blog entry, if you're interested:

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