The lovely and talented Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is here in Seattle for a couple of days, and spoke yesterday at Third Place Books. Was I excited? Oh, yes. Having never seen her in person, I was thrilled to death. I loaded up my knitting bag, stuck my camera in my purse, and even packed up a few homemade brownies, thinking the good lady would very likely NEED a bit of chocolate after such a long trip. So. I was ready. I arrived an hour and a half early to find the place already packed with ladies carrying both purses and knitting bags. The chairs went up by 4:30; they were pretty much filled by 5:00. (An aside here: There's something inexplicably funny about all of these milling, talking women (and a very few men) all rushing for the chairs frantically the minute they're set up....and then quietly knitting for an hour. Seriously--rows and rows of peacefully knitting folks--you've never seen such a well-behaved crowd, especially considering how many sharp, pointy sticks were in evidence. But I digress. ) Stephanie was as I would have guessed: funny--brilliantly funny--sharp, entertaining, and gracious. She spoke for over an hour and yes, for those wondering, she had Icarus (scroll down on the link or check Stephanie's blog if you're wondering what an Icarus might be) finished AND blocked. A delightfully funny moment was when she came out on the stage wearing Icarus and half the audience breathed as one "She finished it!" (No.......we don't need a life.....why do you ask?)
After a wonderful hour-plus, we lined up for book signing. I was fortunate enough to have made a friend out of the lady sitting next to me (thanks, Megan--you rock!) and we were able to keep each other entertained throughout the hour or so long line (and we were nowhere near the end of it). When it was my turn, I had absolutely no idea that I would make as much of a dork of myself as I did...but life is full of surprises, yes? Sheesh.
First, I didn't see the woman ahead of me, thought it was my turn, and then nearly ran her over. Nice one. Now I look like a pushy dork. Yep, that's EXACTLY the impression I was hoping for. I apologized profusely, but you know....it just wasn't the best start. I made it to the table without taking anyone out, and started by producing the wee basket of brownies from the depths of my knitting bag. Stephanie was very sweet, and responded by telling me she loved me. I laughed and started to explain why I had brought them; she interrupted me with a completely deadpan look and said "No. Seriously. I love you." (Chocolate can do that to people.) Now, my brain formed some appropriate response. Honest. In my head, I sounded at least remotely cool. You know, something like "Right back atcha, Steph." Did it come out? No. What fell out of my idiot mouth was (and I'm cringing as I write this) "I know." If I could have fallen through the floor, I assure you I would have. Stephanie, should you ever read this, I swear I'm not always that much of a twit. Okay, sometimes. But usually not. I mean, really. "I know"????? Here, the photographic evidence of my downfall:
I realize you can't see my face in this photo. Do you blame me?
Speaking of uncool (which we definitively were), Stephanie was talking about how uncool it makes her to knit, and worse to spin. I have to gently disagree with this, and here's why: when I learned to knit 20+ years ago, we all knitted plain, uninspired sweaters out of acrylic yarn on straight needles. It was decidedly uncool, and typically a hobby relegated to grandmas. No one I knew had a stash--we bought gobs of acrylic yarn when we decided to make a project, made the project, moved on. When I returned to knitting after a brief hiatus, I found that I could actually be cool--but that I would have to make some changes. No problem. I learned to make socks, I learned to knit in the round, I learned to make lace, and I began a collection of lovely fibers--alpaca, shetland, merino, cashmere. I even started working multiple projects--a shawl, a sweater, some socks. Finally, I was one of the cool kids. Yes? No. I went to a yarn store the other day and began to chat with the proprietress, only to be derailed by the question "So, do you spin?" What? Do I SPIN? Now I have to spin to be cool? Don't get me wrong--I'm quite tempted by the notion of spinning. I love the motions of it, the equipment, the idea of making the yarn for my project. I love it all. But I am haunted by the notion that this will be very like my burgeoning nursing career: I'll do the next thing and it will no longer be the pinnacle. "Look", I'll say innocently. "I spin!" And the response will be "That's lovely, dear. But do you raise and shear the animals yourself?" In the immortal words of Charlie Brown, AAAAAAUUUUUGGGGHHHHH!!!!!