Sunday, September 10, 2006

A Harlot Was Seen

I almost didn’t go. I really almost didn’t go. I was a bit sore and it had been a busy week and so forth and so on…but then two things happened that sort of drove me out.

One was that my husband got all up in my face and pushy about it. I seldom leave the house these days, frankly, and he felt (correctly) that I was becoming somewhat squirrely and even depressed for lack of human interaction.

The other was that my Gran (the ‘almost halfway’ point between My House and Los Altos) got sick last week, hence giving me a compulsive need to drive out and see her. And since I was halfway there…well. In for a pence, in for a pound.

So the plan was: drive to Gran’s house, visit and have lunch, drive down to Los Altos in plenty of time, hang out and knit with a nice big coffee (or three), listen to her speak, laugh maniacally, get a book signed and be home again by 9:30.


So instead, I barely left my Gran’s house in time to hear her speak at all. I came skidding into the event ten minutes late and limping badly because my hip had declared outright mutiny about halfway there. ARGH!

This ARGH! is not a declaration of anger. It is what I did to pretend I wasn’t in pain. “ARGH, belay that, matey! ARGH! I always walk like this! ARGH! That’s me peg leg, ARGH! Up anchor! ARGH! Man the capstan! ARRRRRRRRRGH!!”

Fooled nobody, but as I am easily amused, I laughed heartily. Har-har-har. Matey.

Anyway. Let us move on.

Stephanie is hysterical. If you are a knitter at all, she’s funny. But if you are a knitter who has knit in public, she is extremely funny. And if you are the sort of fiber-obsessed lunatic who has ever washed a fleece in public (raises hand), spun yarn in public (raises hand – on stage, no less), talked about going to knitting / fiber conventions with great excitement to muggles (raises hand and heaves heavy sigh)…she is downright screaming with laughter funny.

Because Stephanie has given me so many hours of pleasure, through her blog and her writing, so many really good laughs when I really needed them, I was overcome with the need to give her something out of my stash.

I dug through that stash about a dozen times. I kept returning to a skein of Lisa Souza’s handpainted Merino sock yarn, in Joseph’s Coat. What struck me about this was, I thought it might – just maybe – be a ‘colorful’ sock yarn that Stephanie’s husband might actually wear. Because when you knit it all up? They’re rather manly. I had made a pair of socks for my brother, who like Steph’s Joe, is…erm…well, he’s not afraid of color, because that would be unmanly. But he is also a guy of very basic color schemes in clothing: navy blue, brown, black, white. But he’ll like these socks. They aren’t girlie, and they aren’t too busy.

It was a good price point, not ‘I’m so snotty I’m giving away a $75 skein of yarn’ (while I’m sure this is just me, I get embarrassed and/or creeped out when people give me expensive gifts – doubly so an Internet stranger), not ‘here, this is a $2 ball of rotgut wool I got at a garage sale that goes with nothing else and isn’t quite enough to make anything – my gift to you!’ cheap, it’s a really good yarn that makes really nice socks…perfect.

Also, there’s an amusing story about how I discovered Lisa’s yarns. I didn’t tell Stephanie the story because, bless her brave soul, it was 9:30 at night by the time I made it to the front of the line to get my book signed and give her my token of esteem. She looked exhausted, her voice was giving out, and in spite of my well-documented habit of chatting ad nauseum at people who really would rather eat their own heads than listen to me right about then, even I realized that this would not be a good time to launch into any tales about yarn significance.

So I shut up, handed her the skein and told her briefly that it knitted up ‘manly’ and might actually work for Joe, took my signed book, refrained from eating up any more time she could have spent sleeping with gushing adoration, and left. Limping all the way. ARGH, MATEY!!!

My fellow knitters were likewise a lot of fun. I would not have stayed for the signing, frankly, because due to my late arrival I was in the signing group that would have been lining up at about 10:00 and I was getting more sore by the minute.

But then! Well, I went to Starbucks for a pick-me-up and got embroiled in discussing knitting socks on two circulars, and the merits and perils of superwash, why it was that so many of us were so crazy, whether or not women who designed ‘those’ sweaters for men actually had husbands and/or boyfriends or even a brother they had tried to wrestle into one of them (my husband is artistic and not a bit color or pattern phobic, and yet he has expressed outright horror at some of the things in those ‘fabulous sweaters for men’ books). We talked about children, pets, and their effect on knitting supplies. We admired each other’s knitting.

And I must say: I have never, ever before in my life taken off my shoe to display the toes of my socks in a Starbucks. I swear it. Not only have I never done so, I certainly have never done so and had a crowd of about eight people gathering around to look at how a Kitchener stitch ends up looking when you do it ‘right’.

“See?” I proudly declared. “Honestly, there’s no lump under your toe, when you do them this way!!”

This is something that just Would.Not.Happen in real life. Nor would anybody be turning your foot over so they could look at how you picked up the gusset stitches, and you would not be sitting there gushing about how you pick up through BOTH loops and then knit one round through the back loop to avoid having any holes. And I guarantee you, in real life, if you did? Nobody would be writing that down.

But knitters? We do that kind of thing. We will also gasp, “Wow, is that silk?” and then start petting your hand-knit shawl. We really will. And because you are likewise a knitter, you do not take offense. That this is odd does not really occur to us.

The yarn store was between the Starbucks and my car, so naturally I swung back in ‘briefly’ to pick up a couple books I had seen, two skeins of light pink yarn that would make nice socks for my Gran and a violently yellow and orange sock yarn for two of the Denizens. One of the women from Starbucks asked me to give my lecture on heel gussets again, and once again got embroiled in a debate about socks on two circulars v. socks on double pointed needles (on which topic, naturally, I have An Opinion), whether or not cables were ‘hard’, why it was that everybody in the world didn’t knit and all of a sudden, just when no-I-mean-it-this-time, I was leaving, the Lady In Charge Of These Things said, “What group are you in?” and I said, “Well, I’m sort of a walk(limp)-in, I got here late…” and she said, “Oh, just go ahead and get in line, it looks like we’re about done.”

So I did. And it was 9:30 when I finally hobbled up to the desk. 9:30 being, you may recall, the time I thought I would be getting home.

I stopped for coffee twice on the way home, so I could shake out my hip (get down, funky momma!) and eventually yawned my way through the garage and up to bed.

It was good to be among my people, among people who understand things like…having the need to pet the cashmere yarn, or to bury your face in a particularly sexy skein of alpaca and just breathe in its essence. I know this is not normal behavior. I generally try to blend into normal society. I don’t think that, looking at me, you’d say to yourself, “Say…that looks like someone who would spend half an hour debating the relative merits and disadvantages of Superwash Merino…”

But it takes an effort. And it’s good, sometimes, to just drop the pretence and say it like it is. I’m a fiber-obsessed knitter who will buy a book full of patterns I never really intend to do because I appreciate the artistry of the designer.

$DEITY bless you for bringing us all together, Stephanie, and making us laugh about our unnatural obsession. Hope you got a good night’s sleep, and that decent beer and a massage are coming your way soon.


Anonymous said...

I would SO love to see Stephanie in person, but she seems to have a thing against the Deep South. OK, I understand that we don't have many yarn shops here, but there actually are quite a few knitters. Anyway, it sounds like you had a wonderful time amongst our people...and I totally understand about debating the advantages of superwash wool or gusset stitch pickup!

Oh, and I weighed the sock and the yarn, and it looks like there will be enough for the second feather and fan sock...whew!! Thanks for the comment.

PipneyJane said...

I am so jealous! One day, I hope the Harlot will come to London.

- Pam

PS: you may be able to solve one of the biggest questions revolving through my brain: how BIG is the Harlot's purse? It's just that I find it quite a push to fit in a ball of sock yarn, needles, my planner, wallet, dice box, etc (trying to fit a novel in there with everything else is impossible).