My sister and I saw even more than we might have, thanks to our parents' fondness for road trips. For example, when our orders were to leave Tucson, Arizona (Davis-Monthan Air Force Base) for Fairborn, Ohio (Wright-Patterson Air Force Base) we made the trip in our Plymouth Scamp via a serpentine route that introduced me (aged five) to a number of firsts, including:
- first encounter with a live chicken
- first entrée composed chiefly of a creature to which I had been introduced
- first swim in natural body of water
- first contact with muddy bottom of stagnant pond
- first admonishment for screaming like a girl
- first ride on horseback
- first fantasy involving cowboy boots
- first plate of biscuits and gravy
- first second helping of biscuits and gravy
- first third helping of biscuits and gravy
- first fishing trip
- first attempt to get out of going on second fishing trip
Over the years I wound up spending at least a few days in most parts of the country–but never the Pacific Northwest. I'm not sure why. It wasn't for lack of wanting to go. You hear such lovely things about the place. Ferns, coastline, fabulous cooking, yarn shops sprinkled thickly across the landscape.
It was the yarn that finally drew me out there: two shops and one retreat simply stuffed with it. The first was Renaissance Yarns in Kent. Owner Nancy (she's the one on the left, without the goatee) welcomed me into her beautiful shop with immense cordiality for a book signing. The place filled up with merry knitters, who I am afraid may have been a touch disappointed to find I was unaccompanied. They were too polite to say so, but something about the sweet table suggested who the real attraction was.
As you know, it's not uncommon to see Dolores toasted; but it's rather unusual to find her baked.
The multi-talented confectionary artiste behind the cupcakes was Allison, who kindly posed for a souvenir portrait with the charming bibelot she'd created just to commemorate the occasion.
A closer look:
The scary thing is that no matter where I put it, the eyes follow me around the room.
Renaissance Yarns was a terrific introduction to the Pacific Northwest, and set the tone for the rest of the trip. More about that in the next few entries.
I like to think of myself as a curious knitter, always interested in a new ways of doing things, but I have no illusions that this applies to my sock knitting. I learned cuff down, heel flap, Kitchener toe from dear Charlene Schurch and the only thing I'd ever done differently since was switch on occasion from four dpns to two circulars. Until now.
One of the goodies I got at the Men's Knitting Retreat was a pattern called "Oliver" by Marlowe Crawford, which had been created specially for a previous men's retreat. I confess that when I first saw it I thought, Oh, a sock pattern, yippee, and then I pulled out the next thing in the goody bag, which was a Della Q needle case, and I went all gooshy and forgot about the sock.
But when you hear ten guys out of thirty wax eloquent about a pattern and how it turns out the best-fitting sock they've ever met, and you know some of those guys have been around the block with quite a few socks, you can't help but take a second look.
So I cast on for it using Schaefer Yarns Heather in "Betty Friedan," and didn't get out of my chair for two days. I can't remember ever working through a project in such a froth. It was like racing to the climax of Anne Rice's The Witching Hour, except at the end of the sock I didn't want to knock on the author's front door and demand a personal apology.
Instead, I want to send a thank-you note. This sock hugs my foot like Dolores cuddling up to a fresh bottle of Ketel One. Marlowe, you're a freaky genius. Whatever weird gears in your brain turned in synch to help you create this thing, I hope they keep spinning for a long, long time. More, please.
Notion of Note
I was helped immensely in knitting "Oliver" by yet another prize from the retreat, a set of clever stitch markers by Girl on the Rocks. These are made of wood, and smell very faintly of hickory smoke.
Since I can never seem to remember which side of the damned gusset is k2tog and which is ssk, these are going to settle permanently in my knitting bag.