Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Yarn Harlot comes to Portland!

Wow! Friday was a really good day. First of all, I managed to sleep in. Didn't even wake up until 11:00. Now before you go thinking that I slept the whole day away because I was lazy, you should know that I worked Thursday night dealing roulette at a grad night party until 3:15 in the morning (which I realize was technically Friday morning, not Thursday night). I like working grad night parties, but it does make for a general state of sleep deprivation. Usually I have a hard time sleeping past 8:00 even if I went to bed at 4:00, so that's why this was a good start to my day.

Next, I did a little bit of transcription, then packed my Sockapalooza sock-in-progress and headed for the MAX train to go downtown. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee was scheduled to speak at 7:30 at Powell's Books and I wanted to make sure I got there early so I could get a seat, or even get into the room. As it turns out, it's a good thing I planned on that!

Before walking from the MAX stop to Powell's, though, there was one obstacle in the way -- Knit/Purl. Far be it from me to walk anywhere near a yarn store as nice as that and not go in and buy something! Since I'm enjoying working with the ShiBui sock yarn so much for my Sockapalooza pal, I went in and bought some more for me -- in a different color. You'll see it soon, I'm sure, as it's already calling to me, even though I have other projects ahead of it. I also bought some lovely Fleece Artist Sea Wool. I've read a lot of glowing reviews of that yarn, so I had to get some to see for myself what all the fuss is about.

While in Knit/Purl, I met Dessie who was also looking at sock yarn and also heading to Powell's for Stephanie's talk/book signing. So, with new sock yarn firmly in our hands, we walked together to Powell's, where we joined a couple of other knitters heading in the same direction. The gal at the information desk told us to head to the Pearl room -- how fitting! -- on the third floor and get there soon, because it was probably going to fill up and then be closed. Well, you didn't need to tell us twice! Up the stairs we went, and found a moderate number of chairs set up and a podium under some very hot lights. It was around 5:45 and the chairs were already filling up. We spotted a couple of empty slots in the front row and grabbed them. Lucky us!

By 6:15, the wise folks at Powell's had brought out quite a few more chairs and the room looked like this. Not bad, eh? Still some empty seats and quite a few knitters sitting and chatting and, of course, knitting. Stephanie wasn't scheduled to arrive until 7:30.

I took a break from working on the sock for a bit and wandered around looking at all the pretty things people were working on. There were lots of socks, of course, some baby blankets and sweaters, hats, sweaters that looked like they were going to be very toasty warm when winter rolls around, a skirt that was looking lovely, and even a dress in progress! There was hand-dyed wool, Kool-Aid-dyed wool (some lovely colors!), and even one person doing some drop-spindle spinning. Oh, and I met Rodger from the blog Over Abundance and Abundant Yarn and Dyeworks, a shop in Southeast that I've been wanting to visit. Now I have to make sure to get there soon! And there were several folks rom the Tigard Knitting Guild who I had met on the Shop Hop. There were knitters from Toledo (on the Oregon Coast, not Ohio) and from Tacoma, Washington. In short, there were knitters from both near and far. It was grand. There's really nothing like being an avid knitter in a room full of other avid knitters. It's a joyous thing!

Here's the room at around 7:00. No more chairs available. Pretty much no standing room (later, there was absolutely no standing room). Definitely a lot of knitting going on! I don't know if Powell's closed the room or not, but I'm betting they did.

At 7:30, the Harlot herself arrived to great applause (which, she informed us, is scary, so knock it off). A very nice gentleman from the store proceeded to introduce her and quickly discovered that the audience knew a lot about her, including the correct URL of her blog (he forgot to include the .ca part). I had to feel a little bad for him, because it seemed obvious that this gathering of so many people bearing pointy sticks in a variety of styles was a bit intimidating to him.

For the next 45 minues or so, Stephanie regaled us with her humor and passion for knitting. If she comes to your town, do try and go see her. It's worth it. I think she even had some of the non-knitting significant others in the room laughing. At least it sure seemed like a couple of them who were decidedly not thrilled to be there when I was walking around before the talk were laughing by about five minutes into it!

One of the things Stephanie said that sticks in my brain -- 100 years ago, people valued things that they made by hand. If you could make it, it was considered silly to go and buy it. You spent money on things you couldn't provide for yourself. Now, it's completely flipped. In today's world, if you can buy it cheap at Wal-Mart, or wherever, it's considered silly to spend time making it. That just seems sad to me. But it also explains why I get so many puzzled looks from people when they ask me what I'm making and I tell them I'm making socks. They just don't get it.

Stephanie made her own rule for the book-signing portion of the evening. If you had to be somewhere else and wouldn't have time to wait in line, or if you were carrying a baby (on either the outside or the inside of your body), then you were allowed to come to the front of the line and everyone would understand and not even question your actual motives. And you know what? That's exactly what happened! I had to catch the MAX train and get back to Hillsboro (about a 40-minute ride) in time to get home, change clothes, and be at another grad night party by 10:45. So, I invoked "Stephanie's rule" and did not encounter a single negative comment about doing so. Knitters are so cool! Thanks to all of you who let me cut in line and didn't grouse about it.

So here's my Sockapalooza pal's sock-in-progress with the Yarn Harlot herself. If I could have gotten the picture printed right there and autographed for you, I would have. As it is, you'll be receiving a pair of socks, one of which has actually been held by the Yarn Harlot -- truly a memorable moment. You can practically see that sock grinning! Of course I'm sure it's mate will never hear the end of this!

Thanks for coming to Portland, Stephanie! Next time, let's hope that Powell's hosts the event at the Baghdad Theater as one of the audience members requested so that more knitters can attend. Somehow, I think we'd fill that place up, too. Besides, then you can get a beer to sip while you're talking!

I managed to make it home in plenty of time to grab a bite to eat, change into my Wild Bill's attire, and head to Hawthorne Farms Athletic Club for the grad night party. If this blog entry seems long, it's because (a) it was a great day and a lot happened, and (b) it's now 4:40 a.m. and I'm dog-tired, but I wanted to get this entry done before I turned in. Brevity in writing takes more time and energy than I have right now, so you get the long-winded version of the day!

And now I'm off to dreamland. And yes, I'm smiling!


Priscilla in Michigan said...

Yay! Yours is the first post I've found about Stephanie's Portland stop. Good for you!

~Angel~ (NE Portland) said...

You know I don't even knit but am fascinated watching you. I love reading your blog and feel your excitement - your passion. It makes me want to get busy with my addiction of choice, which you know is scrapbooking. Unfortunately not as portable.

Plus you always make me laugh - OK, NOT when I read about the space shuttle.

Hugs! Until I see you again.

Carrie said...

I wish I'd made it to Portland for this, but the long drive (I'm near Seattle) after a very long week seemed like a recipe for disaster. Glad to hear about it and see your photos!

Bobbie said...

I got to your blog through Yarn Harlot. I was at Powell's on Friday, too. I didn't stay for the signing (I had a muggle husband waiting for me in the stacks). I got there about 5:30, to get a seat and make friends. I was wearing a multi-colored mohair shawl and was approached by lots of knitters, so maybe we met?

Gina said...

Hello from Calgary, Canada. I enjoyed reading about your Harlot experience. Lucky sock!

Anonymous said...

What a lucky sock! Glad you had fun :).

RodgerM said...


It was such a pleasure to meet you, and I hope to see you at the shop soon. I think your blogging style is fabou.

- Rodger

Bobbie said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog! Too bad we didn't meet. Some of us who exchanged emails are thinking about a Portland Knit Bloggers get together. Interested?