Friday, June 25, 2010

Stuff That Fell Out of My Suitcase

I envy bloggers who manage to post reports of their travels while their return flight is still on the tarmac. What's more, their trips invariably flow in a neat channel from Point A to Point B. They may meander now and then, but never is the Grand Narrative lost.

My trips are not like that. I, too, begin at Point A; but the route to Point B skitters around like a jitterbug afflicted with St. Vitus's Dance. Back home, exhausted, I try to cajole the ducks into a single file conga line. But I get frustrated or fall asleep, the ducks scatter, and when I wake up I decide to forget it and go back to my knitting.

No more.

You want Grand Narrative? You won't find it here. You okay with random tidbits and souvenirs that tumble out of my bag along with torn boarding passes, Clif Bar crumbs and odd stitch markers? Read on. (If you start to feel dizzy, pop a Dramamine.)

Columbus: Knitters' Connection

Knitters' Connection is the brainchild of the lady who runs this place. She's a smart cookie. Every summer The National NeedleArts Association hosts one of its two annual conventions right there in her backyard. And while the convention attracts August Knitting Authorities like clover attracts honeybees, there's a catch: their classes aren't open to the general public.

So Jan (the smart cookie) decided to see if any of the August Knitting Authorities would like to stick around afterwards and teach the general public. It turns out they would, and the result (for the past four years) has been Knitters' Connection. This year, they let me join the can-can.

It was my first chance to offer almost every class in my repertoire, bangbangbang, for three days running. Some people signed up for the whole megillah. I wish I'd had little medals to pin on them at the end.


The second day was entirely occupied by a Tomten Jacket Bootcamp, at the end of which the students (a hearty bunch, not a bleeder among them) had produced a nubbly hillock of Tomtens-in-progress.

Heap o' Tomtens

One of the students asked at the end of class whether I'd like to see an Elizabeth Zimmermann relic, and drew from her knitting bag an original copy of the newsletter in which Elizabeth first published the Baby Surprise Jacket.

The Original BSJ Newsletter

Reports that I squealed like Smurfette when I touched the signature are slightly exaggerated.


But only slightly.

The Quotable Candace Eisner Strick

At the student reception/book signing: "I'm sorry, but I only wipe my lips on qiviut."

"Improve Your Knitting" Panel Discussion Agenda

Topics covered by the panel (ably moderated by the redoubtable Amy Detjen) included:
  • blocking techniques
  • the relative sizes of knitting needles and crochet hooks
  • finishing
  • wet felting
  • thong underwear
Jeni's Ice Cream

I had eleven scoops in four days and I don't care who knows it. Jeni's makes all other ice creams taste like library paste.

Cute, or Disturbing?

At the Knitters' Connection market, I had the opportunity to talk at length with the owners of Fiber Optic Yarn. One of them mentioned that her daughter (aged four) had adopted a pet sheep, and that the daughter had named the sheep Dolores after hearing numerous (expurgated) tales from this blog as bedtime stories.

I am not sure whether I ought to be flattered, or call Child Welfare.

(More on Fiber Optic in an upcoming post, by the way.)

Back to Texas

I left Columbus on Friday evening because I was scheduled to teach on Saturday morning at The Knitting Nest in Austin, Texas. This was my third gig at the Nest, because when they ask me to visit my only question is "When?"

They've just moved into a splendid new space at 8708 South Congress, but I knew I was in the right place when I saw the display of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in "Longhorn."


Austin Fun Fact

Austinites are constantly shouting "Hook 'em!" which leads one to assume that they are all simply mad for crochet.

Wall Flower

When the Nesters moved, they had to leave behind the enormous drawing of Dolores on the wall of the old shop. I would have considered this a great relief, but Stacy said she'd like a new one.

Stacy's got an entire photo sequence of me in action (shut up) here, here, here, and here.

Now she can try to work while Dolores sits nearby, burping and smoking.

She's On the Wall

Welcome to my world, Stacy darling.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For

I distinctly remember saying to someone, once, just a few years ago, "I love knitting so much. Gosh, I love knitting. I love knitting so much I wish I could just knit and knit all day, every day, and never do anything else but knit."

Those words, spoken from innocence, have been looping in my brain for the past few weeks, because some evil eavesdropping genie granted my damned wish. I have in fact been knitting and knitting all day, every day, and not doing anything else but knitting. I have a new furrow in my brow that bears a striking resemblance to a US 0 dpn; and one night I was getting ready for bed when I noticed this on my chest and upper arms:

Skin Condition

I appear to have broken out in lace charting symbols.

My doctor, who doesn't knit (he prefers Mountmellick embroidery) is stupified. I hoped he'd have some cream to clear it up, but apparently there are no other verified cases in the annals of medicine. Isn't that special? Any minute I expect a tap on the door and speedy private transport to an isolation ward at the Mayo Clinic.

Which might be nice. I could get a lot of knitting done in between probes or CAT scans or whatever horrid nosy things they'll do to me in the name of science. (I saw E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial five times. I know what those scientific probe people are like.)

In other words, I have a lot of knitting to do and I have been doing a lot of knitting. Would you like to see it? I'd like to show it to you.

But I can't, because it's almost all knitting for things that other people want to publish in their books and magazines. And those people get justifiably peevish if their designers offer unauthorized sneak previews. And then they don't want to use your work, and then they don't pay you, and then you are forced to live on the cold, mean streets without money for food or yarn.

No yarn!

Which makes it difficult, suddenly, to blog about my knitting.

But I was determined to find a way, and so I took some pictures of a sock I'm working on and asked the publisher if I could, pretty please, show it to you. Just to prove that I haven't given up and joined the macramé achievers. And since I am the publisher, I said yes, but only after I agreed to engage in behavior so vile and degrading you can't even see it on the Internet without paying a stiff recurring membership fee that is billed discreetly to your account as "SARAH PALIN 2012."

(I only mention this so you'll understand how much I love you.)

Here is the sock.

Sock Swatch

It's going to be in three colors of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, two of which you can see here.

(If you think I've been knitting with an awful lot of Lorna's Laces lately, you're what they refer to in my neck of the piney woods as darn tootin'.)

The inspiration was Victorian wallpaper, which I will have you know is not the only thing that inspires me, although after this and this you might well wonder.

(I wondered. I wondered aloud to Beth Casey, who owns Lorna's Laces. "Beth," I asked, "What is it with me and the Victorian wallpaper?" "Sweetie," she replied, "you're very, very gay." So I checked, and she's right, I am.)

But there's no wallpaper in my apartment. Which raises another question, but I have to stop typing now and go put more Calamine Lotion on my yarn overs.