Listen, before you say one word about how long it’s been since the last post please rest assured that I’ve already heard it all, in the form of six e-mails asking if I’m dead, two of them from relatives.
Not dead, not yet. Just traveling. And traveling takes the mickey out of me, because I have a congenital distaste for moving faster than a brisk walk. I know that’s old-fashioned and probably un-American, but tis true. Still, at least when I get off the plane there are usually knitters at the other end.
Of course, Ravelry has exploded the cozy myth that all knitters are sweet-tempered, needle-clicking buckets of love. We have now seen it demonstrated that some knitters are quarrelsome, small-minded nimrods who ought to have their heads held under water until the bubbles stop.
But in the past two weeks I haven’t met any of those knitters.
North Carolina was a pleasure on every level–once we got there. Just for fun, Mother Nature dropped nine inches of snow on Chicago just before we were due to leave. Happily, in spite of a four-and-a-half hour delay, I made it to the shop with six minutes to spare before curtain time. I'm glad nobody expects me to be pretty when I show up.
Mary of Yarns, Etc. and Great Yarns (yes, she owns ’em both, and they’re both great shops) put together two splendid events–a talk on Saturday and a photography class on Sunday. Here’s my view from the table at the front of the room before the talk.
(Click to embiggen. Wide room, narrow blog.)
Now, what Yankee wandering far from home could be uncheered by a sight like that? There were so many lovely people I thought Yarn Harlot must be in town. You can see what I looked like from their angle here.
I wish I had taken a few pictures of the photography class. I was still a bit bleary-eyed, but fortunately since it was early Sunday morning, so were many of the students. But we pressed on, foraging deep into untapped talents and untouched camera manuals. We coaxed true colors out of blue yarns under fluorescent light. We built a light box. We found interesting angles hidden in plain socks. We were knitters with Ravelry accounts, and we would not be defeated.
After class, I was a wee bit peckish. The friendly natives at Great Yarns steered us in the direction of a Chapel Hill landmark called Mama Dip’s. And can I tell you something? I have eaten some lavish meals in some fancy places, yet I have never left a table feeling more deeply grateful for my taste buds than I did that fine, fine afternoon after pork chops, fried chicken, yams, black-eyed peas, hush puppies, fried green tomatoes, corn bread and biscuits. I shouldn’t have eaten two biscuits, though. I should have left room for the blueberry cobbler. Next time.
After that I spent a few days of working vacation in North Carolina at a hotel. A really nice hotel. A foo foo hotel. I would even go so far as to describe as foo foo foo–the sort of place I’ve never been before and won’t see again until the next time somebody else’s company foots the bill.
It was a hoot. Fabulous people watching, especially at lunch when I sat in the bar and played Count the Facelifts. The staff fell over themselves to be helpful, and spoke in hushed, truckling tones. After a while it made me slightly crazy. I finally told the lady who served the morning croissants to chill out, because I wasn’t anybody important. (She gave me an extra croissant.)
I got into a nice rhythm of early rising, a workout, and then several hours of solid work before lunch at a sunlit table in the lounge. The place was still as a tomb. I was only interrupted once, when a group of ladies who must have been looking for a place to hold a social function were brought through by an event planner.
Two of them marched up to me–I was working on the finished Parterre Scarf for the lace class–bent down to see my work, then looked at each other in puzzlement. “What on Earth?” said one to the other.
I opened my mouth to say something, but they had already walked away, shaking their heads.
I think instead of a harpist for their tea party, maybe they oughta hire a guy to sit in the corner and knit scarves.
And thence almost immediately to Pittsburgh, a deeply underrated, beautiful city inhabited by people who have actually heard of the place I was born–it’s about an hour's drive south. The natives speak with the brogue that as a child I associated with my paternal relatives and the denizens of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
It was another talk-and-teach visit, talk on Saturday and teach on Sunday, both at Natural Stitches. Martha, the owner, said this was the shop’s first try at having a guest. I would never have known. She and the tip-top staff made me feel like a visiting crown prince with a predilection for Noro.
When I got to the shop, this was waiting for me in the front window.
Dolores, life-sized. I'm surprised it didn't cause traffic accidents in the parking lot.
I hadn’t been to Pittsburgh in something like ten years, and it felt like old home week. Check out this trio.
I was greeted at the airport (and presented with the best brownies I've ever eaten) by the founder of the Dolores Devotees group on Ravelry, KnitNat (on the right). I finally met face-to-face one of the first Panopticon commenters ever, btpsmom (on the left). And there in the center is Melissa, who I first met three years ago on a Chicago public bus when we were on the way to hear Yarn Harlot speak at Arcadia Knitting. And now she works at Natural Stitches.
And then, just when it couldn't get any better–family! The actual kind, with the blood ties and the shared emotional baggage! Meet my Aunt Ev, my cousin Stephanie, and my cousin Eric.
It does not get any sweeter than having your own kin show up when you’re on the road. I encouraged all three of them to take up knitting. Aunt Ev is a lapsed crocheter, so she’s already got a toe in the water.
The nice people at the shop said they had a fantastic time. You can see for yourself, it's in writing. I did, too. May I come back, please?
I had to leave Pittsburgh way too soon, but not before taking a few minutes to peruse the kick-ass Mister Rogers' Neighborhood display in Terminal C. Why did I not think to take a picture? Take my word for it, when you see her in person Lady Elaine Fairchilde is a total dyke.
Meanwhile, I’ve made progress on several knitting fronts and do wish to share them, but I see this is already long entry. As Mister Rogers' own Henrietta Marie Pussycat would say, “Miaow miaow pressing PUBLISH now miaow miaow more soon miaow.”
No, wait! One more thing! No, three more.
New additions to the calendar! I'm coming east! Philadelphia and New York City!
Here are the quick details.
Loop (1914 South Street)
Friday, March 27: Signing (5–8 pm, free)
Saturday, March 28: "Introduction to the History, Methods and Styles of Lace Knitting" (10 am–1 pm, $45)
For more information or to register, call 215-893-9939.
New York, New York
Annie & Co. Needlepoint and Knitting (1325 Madison Avenue, )
Saturday, March 28: Signing and reading (5:30-8 pm, free. Call 212-289-2944 to register.)
Knitty City (208 W. 79th between Broadway and Amsterdam)
Sunday, March 29: Signing and reading (3–5 pm, free)
For more information, call 212-PURL-TWO.
Next up: knitting!