Monday, September 15, 2008

Great Trip! Lousy Photos!

I'm going to come clean right away and tell you that as lovely as my trip to Boston was, that's as bad as my photos of the trip are.

Yarn Harlot has the whole scrapbooking thing down to an art. She takes lots of pictures, she has names to go with the pictures, she photographs her sock du jour in front of interesting local landmarks, etc and she also gives fantastic talks.

Me, I'm not that nimble. I can either be present in the gathering and speak coherently, or I can photograph what's going on. Don't seem to be able to do both. I'm not much for multitasking in general. There's a reason I've never tried to make a living by juggling chainsaws while telling jokes.

But the trip–it was fantastic. The Common Cod Fiber Guild is brand new–this meeting was their first–but you'd never know they hadn't been hosting speakers for years. Thanks to the organizing skills of Guido Stein (he who produces the notable It's a Purl, Man podcast), support from Alanna of Tactile Travel and Lucy of Mind's Eye Yarns, and the kindness of members like Patience (who pressed her non-knitting husband into service as my chauffeur), I was feted like a visiting potentate.

Guido warned me when he asked if I'd come and speak that they had no idea how successful this group would be. I might wind up talking to ten people, or thirty. No fear. Almost a hundred people piled into the vertiginous, yellow lecture hall designed by Frank Gehry for MIT's Stata Center. One of them, by the way, was my sister–who surprised the heck out of me by taking the bus all the way from Maine to be there on my Big Night. (Also dimly visible in the murky blur you'll find Stitchy McYarnpants and Jess of Ravelry.)

Boston Audience

See, I told you. Crap photos. I realized at the last minute that I couldn't bring my best camera, so I tossed my old Canon G2 into my bag. That G2 was and is a good little camera, and I used it for years to shoot everything. But it's been sitting in a cabinet, neglected, and I forgot how to work it under trying circumstances–like shooting a ton of wonderful, kind people in a dim, tall, yellow room. Sigh.

There are much better pictures floating around on flickr, if you're curious.

But the talk went well, thanks in part to the nice lady from Westminster Fibers (you know who you are, and I promised I wouldn't embarrass you with public notice) who loaned me her laptop in a moment of crisis. It turned out that despite the best efforts of our host on campus–who was fantastic and gave me a souvenir water bottle from the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory–the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could not connect my Mac to the projection system.

I'd like to thank the Guild for giving me this chance, and I'd like to thank everyone who said hello. It's fun talking to knitters, but it's even more fun talking with knitters.

Mind's Eye Yarns, CambridgeThe next day I had some free time before heading home, so my buddy Sean–who owns Woolcott and Company–led me on a yarn crawl. First stop was Mind's Eye Yarns, which has such a huge reputation and following that the small size of the actual store comes as a surprise. But when you have an owner as charismatic as Lucy and products as charismatic as her hand-dyed yarns, who the hell cares about elbow room?

Then we went to Woolcott and Company, my very first yarn store–the place where in spite of the saleswoman's best efforts to push me out the door I bought the horrible, sticky blue wool that wound up as the first three feet of the 1,000 Knitters scarf. Boy, has the knitting world changed for the better. The newest incarnation of Woolcott is proof of it. More yarns, better yarns, better books, and no more exclusive, if-we-don't-know-you-please-get-out attitude.

The stuff I fell deeply in love with at Sean's shop–I'd never seen it before–was Rowan's Purelife British Sheep Breeds yarn.

Rowan Purelife British Breeds Wool

It's minimally processed, purebred wool from four British classics: Jacob, Black Welsh, Bluefaced Leicester and Suffolk. The appearance, handle and even the scent of the yarn (it smells faintly but distinctly like clean sheep) bring you about as close to the source as you're gonna get without raising and spinning your own.

We also stopped in Harvard Square so I could buy some gear from the alma mater, since I'm sick of sitting around at Crew surrounded by Big Ten logos with nary an Ivy League sweatshirt in sight. Some of my best friends went to Ohio State, but for goshsakes occasionally a guy wants to root for his own team. Even if we haven't been to or won a Rose Bowl since 1920. (Yale has never won a Rose Bowl. Just feel the need to point that out.)

43 comments:

AliP said...

Congratulations on a successful talk!!! How does it feel to be so popular? Did your toes curl a little from the pleasure/nausea? (I am imagining that being nervous made you nauseous. If I'm wrong i apologise) Did the welcome you recieved make you giddy? They like you! They REALLY like you!
Hee hee
Another sheepy smelling yarn (but from up here in Canada) is Briggs and Little. Have you ever tried any? I think the sheep specific yarns from Rowan are a great idea. When I had Jacob crossed sheep people had no idea what a Jacob was. To most folk, a sheep is a sheep is a sheep. I bet the BFL is wonderful.

pigbook1 said...

Thanks for speaking! It was wonderful and you were fantastic (not that I ever doubted)!

J.S. said...

Ya know if you ever end up in the wilds of Northern BC I'd be glad to chauffeur you around. How do you feel about pulp mills?

Congrats on your talk!

martian77 said...

Heh. That dig at Yale sounds suspiciously like some of the things I say about Oxford. Ain't rivalry great?!

Congrats on the first gig - looking forward to the London one now!

Kristina said...

Franklin,
The talk was wonderful. I was thrilled to be sitting next to your sister. You would have never known that it was your first.
Thanks for making it to Cambridge.
Kristina

Guido said...

Thank for making our first guild meeting so memorable. You are a gentleman and a scholar and your ability to speak to so many in such a personal way speaks volumes about you.

I look forward to seeing you and hearing from you again,

Guido

kerrylinnet said...

(it smells faintly but distinctly like clean sheep)

I sense Dolores will pick up on this immediately and be jealous. I suspect she smells strongly of Chanel No 5. I can't wait to see what you are going to make it into.

Kath said...

Glad to hear the talk went so well. I still hope for the day when you'll visit Southern California for a similar talk and/or photo shoot!

Is it wrong that I find it so hilarious that MIT couldn't make a Mac work with their projection system???

duraknit said...

Great news about Woolcott! It's been a good long time since I darkened those doors, but I remember it, um, vividly. . . I can't wait to get back to Cambridge and experience the New World Order!

--Elizabeth D (I was #91 in Kennett Square last May)

esmerel said...

Mind's eye is a wonderful little store. I was in Boston this spring, and it was the only yarn store I got a chance to visit. :)

zelda said...

Isn't "clean sheep" an oxymoron?

Now I shall go on to the rest of my workday with that Tom Lehrer song going through my head. "Fight fiercely, Hahvahd..."

Margit said...

It warms my heart to hear you went to Harvard. It makes me feel less guilty about throwing my Ivy League education out the door (I went to Princeton (& Stanford actually), and I have buttloads of sweatshirts & t-shirts), knowing there are others in the knitting biz doing so. ;)

James said...

We'll have to get you down to New Zealand at some stage!!!

Nita said...

I can't wait to see you talk somewhere along the line. Glad it was so successful. Allow me to wax fan-freakin'-tastic about the Purelife. I'm knitting with the Dark Grey Welsh and though I could never wear the stuff (it itches...apologies to you), knitting with it is completely awesome, the fabric is all bouncy and smells just wonderful!!

Alanna said...

Franklin, thanks for being such wonderful Cod bait for the guild. You had them leaping out the water for more.

I wouldn't worry about Delores. Wasn't she at a town meeting in Poughkeepsie?

Gerard & Craig said...

Wait til you get here...we've got some real straight-from-the-sheep stuff in. Gorgeousness galore. And, we've got a great big sheep covered in the stuff in the shop window. Hard to explain, but it's a big sheep covered in bits of knitting, all pure British wool. I'm excited about you coming now...but slightly concerned in case 100 turn up! The shop is a little on the cosy side...

Craigx

Mel said...

And I still owe you a goodbye, as you slipped out while my back was turned (Okay, I was in the pub ordering a beer). It was, as always, wonderful to see you, and we're looking forward to seeing you again at Rhinebeck.

maxine said...

Clara of knittersreview.com just reviewed the new rowan yarns last week in her newsletter.

http://www.knittersreview.com/article_yarn.asp?article=/review/product/080911_a.asp

Mini said...

I think Yale's inability to win a Rose Bowl is publicly announced at the Harvard-Yale game, just sayin'.

I heard you rocked the house, sorry I could not be there!

JoVE said...

When I speak at universities (which I do every spring), I get them to provide a computer and a projector and I bring a USB memory stick with my PowerPoint on it. Avoids any potential connection problems and means that some IT guy has set the whole thing up beforehand.

I'm a Mac user, too, and just cynical enough to know that the chances of issues (and no IT guy willing to deal with them) are high.

Glad it went well.

rams said...

I'd have called Dolores for an Evening in Paris girl, myself.

Kristen said...

I love it that MIT couldn't handle your Mac. Anyway, as an art historian I have learned almost all the tricks to get any projection system to play nicely with my Mac. But, as extra paranoid protection, I also travel with my presentation on a flash drive... just. in. case. I'm glad all worked well for you in the end.

Seanna Lea said...

I'm glad that you enjoyed your quick zip back into Cambridge, and your talk was lovely even if you don't have quite the photographic evidence you would like.

I love hearing knitters talk. People always sound so different in print than they do in person (umm, yeah, I tend to give voice and pitch to people's writings).

James said...

...

Harvard has a football team?

(Go Sooners!)

Lucy said...

It was such a pleasure to meet you! You were the perfect person to kick off our new guild. I look forward to seeing you at Rhinebeck.

Puss-in-Boots said...

Congratulations Franklin, sounds as if the talk (and you) were a resounding success.

Joanna said...

Just bought the Rowan book today - love the patterns and the yarn! Are you going to make something??

Anonymous said...

My theory about Big 10 or Ivy League schools? Whomever gives my smart, beautiful daughters the most scholarships--wins. I'll even put on a cheerleader's skirt and shake pompoms.
Michelene

Jeri said...

Thank you, Franklin, for a wonderful, funny, educational and inspirational talk! After driving 200 miles in the rain and braving the windswept streets of Cambridge, I was thrilled to relax in the company of 120 knitters and hear you speak. It is so exciting to be at the inaugural talk of what should be world domination, I mean, a world-wide speaking tour. You were delightful. I could easily become a groupie. Thanks again for making my weekend! memorable.

Laura said...

Just for the record, if you were giving a talk on my side of the country, I would drive a long way to hear you too.

Thanks so much for your blog.

Joy said...

Must be one of those mornings over here on the other side of the planet. I read the line "I was feted like a visiting potentate" as "I was FELTED like a visiting potentate." Somehow, that seemed appropriate for one of the fiberati.

Carina said...

Btw, they call it "The Ohio State University." I keep thinking of getting shirts made (just to tick off the hubster) that say "An Ohio State University." That's what I call it all the time, anyway. :)

Jennifer said...

Haha, all the MIT students couldn't hook up the Mac. Just wait until I tell my husband. He earned his engineering Masters at Purdue, which has won many Rose Bowls.

This is my first time to comment, but I've been reading on and off for awhile. Actually, I just plowed through all the archives to catch up. I'm very happy that your talk went well. Even thought the pictures aren't great, it looks like everyone is having a good time.

Rhonda the Stitchingnut said...

Gosh, I'm real sorry I missed your visit. How that happened I don't know. My non-knitting life must have taken over that day & I didn't look at the calendar ... and I WORK at MIT so I was already HERE. I could stick myself with a knitting needle!

I'm sure happy your visit went over so well tho. I'll be there next time.

barelyknittogether said...

I just found your blog and love it! Thanks for the laugh over MIT and their ineptitude - it makes us all feel just a wee bit better about ourselves. Now I'm off to get lost in your blog (and the groovy links!) - thanks!

Deborah said...

I was destroyed to think that I planned to go and got sick on the night of your first talk here. I had just heard of the guild, as you know they are new...but I'm glad things went well!

Theresa said...

Go Crimson! :)

And to the woman who posted about scholarships, if your daughters get into Harvard but they don't offer you enough money, call them up and ask for more. It worked for me, they didn't want to lose out to another school over something as petty (for Harvard) as money.

calicokitty6 said...

I wanted to go to meet you and hear you speak, but didn't have a clue how to get to Boston. Yesterday, Wednesday, I found out from another friend she would have taken me. :(

If you come back again, I plan to make every effort to get there.

I love the colors in the sock. A couple of friends are also knitting socks with Felici and love it.

coke said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brewgal said...

Yale has a football team?

Anonymous said...

I went to The Ohio State University. Because they gave me money. And it wasn't too far from home. Ivy League schools were too expensive and too far from home. Go Buckeyes!

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