Thursday, January 27, 2011

Letter from Texas

I know I’m in Texas, because I can see a Lone Star flag out the window. Make that four Lone Star flags. Query: Is it accurate to call it a “lone” star when there’s a caboodle of them?

Houston is the first place I’ve been to in four months that isn’t suffering from the kind of frigid weather that makes headlines: HUNDREDS IN METRO AREA DEAD OF SNOWFLAKE POISONING.

The weather here is just fine, thanks; yet nobody seems to notice. A nice lady from the café I’m sitting at as I type this came over and asked if I’d like to move to a table out of the sun. Get out of the sun? That’s like telling a famine victim he only gets one trip through the buffet line.

I tend to be slow on the uptake, so it’s hard to fathom that I’m sweating in Texas so soon after shivering in New York. Last weekend I was in Manhattan for the maiden voyage of Vogue Knitting Live!–me and something like 3,000 other knitters. The New York Hilton is a dim, grim Death Star of a hotel, but we warmed it right up.

Everybody was there. Tout le ever-loving monde. This was my first gig as part of an all-star cast; I almost went blind from the combined mega-wattage at the mandatory teachers’ meeting on Friday. Example: I was talking to Cat Bordhi when Stephanie Pearl-McPhee tapped me on the shoulder; so I turned around and almost tripped over Iris Schreier, who was sitting next to Carol Sulcoski and Cookie A, who were sitting next to Meg Swansen, who was talking to Beth Brown-Reinsel and Nancy Bush.

And there were donuts.

It would have made one hell of a picture, but I don’t photograph knitters I love at 7:30 in the morning, especially before the coffee kicks in. That's a great way to wind up with 23 needles stuck in your neck.

The last time I turned giddy from meeting knitters whose work I greatly admire (at TNNA), I caught flak from some folks (mostly guys, oddly enough) for the perceived sin of name-dropping. I expect that will happen this time, too. Know what? I don’t care. If you can meet Debbie Bliss, Mary Beth Temple or Catherne Lowe with indifference–good for you. This blog is my party and I'll squee if I want to.

Hit List

I have to get ready for tonight’s event (book signing, Twisted Yarns, 5:30–7:30, y’all come on down), but first a snippet of between-class conversation from VKL between myself and Melissa Morgan Oakes, noted author, designer, apiarist and chicken-killer.

Melissa has taught at the famous Knitter’s Review Retreats organized by Clara Parkes. When I mentioned that I’d like to do the same, she informed me (with a touch of nyah-nyah-nyah in her voice, may I add) that I have to wait for somebody to die before a slot will open up in the roster. It’s that sweet a gig.

I looked downcast. Melissa cheerfully suggested I could be pro-active and kill somebody, instead of waiting for the Grim Reaper to cull the herd. She then went down the list, teacher by teacher, trying to determine who should be the prime target.

“Not Cat Bordhi, obviously,” she said. “Ann Budd…no, definitely not.” And so on, until only one name, and one likely victim, remained: Melissa Morgan-Oakes.

“Wow,” she said wistfully. “I guess I’d be the one to kill. Dang.”

Never fear, Melissa. I’m Buddhist to the core. Plus, I hear from the chickens how good you are with that axe.

I'll just wait.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Puzzlement

First there was some Shetland wool I liked very much.

What I Made It With

I recall distinctly that I bought this yarn from two different suppliers (Schoolhouse Press and Churchmouse Yarns and Teas) with the idea of combining it in a splendid new winter hat for me.

Next came notes and sketches and especially charts, because I love making charts. Sometimes I make charts in Illustrator, sometimes I make charts in my notebook. (Harry loves notebooks, especially Moleskine notebooks, and he gave me this one for Christmas.)

Planning and Plotting

Then swatches, calculations, more notes and more charts. All to make a new winter hat for me.

Then there was knitting, to make a new winter hat for me. Knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting. There was ripping, of course–because Life, as a wise woman once observed, is often Like That.

But there was more knitting than ripping. At last, there was binding off and blocking of the new winter hat for me.

So why, please, am I sitting tête-à-tête with what is plainly a roaring twenties-inspired woman’s cloche?

Cloche of Mystery

A hat that would, to put it mildly, strike an incongruous note if paired with my customary winter ensemble of biker jacket and jeans?

Cloche, Aerial View

That a meticulously planned piece of knitting should transform itself, phantomwise, between cast-on and blocking suggests either that I am prey to the twilight machinations of wool pixies; or that I am apt to veer wildly off course because I am easily distrac

Where Was I? Am I? Shall I Be?

One of the strongest knitting Podcasts out there is Mike Wade’s Fiber Beat. I’m honored to be the guest for Episode 14, and to have a signed copy of It Itches offered as the prize for the latest contest. Dolores was less pleased. Certain of her tastes and proclivities are given a thorough airing at the start of the program; she was going to sue, until her legal counsel pointed out that this would mean getting off the sofa.

I’m excited as a cat at a midnight mouse buffet to be heading to New York City next week to be part of the first-ever Vogue Knitting Live! (the exclamation point! makes it even more exciting!!) event, after which I bounce back home long enough to chuck clean socks in the suitcase before heading south to Houston, Texas.

In Texas I’ll be teaching and speaking at both the Knit at Night Guild, and at Twisted Yarns–please follow the links for complete information.

I have to go knit a new hat now. My head's cold. I don't know what the hell I'm supposed to do with the cloche.