sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

October 10, 2007

blogging backlog: the yarn harlot
posted by soe 11:04 pm

I should not take photos.

Oh, I’m not a bad photographer. Admittedly, I occasionally cut someone’s head off or give them vampire eyes, but generally I understand the major idea — put something in frame and capture it (usually in focus) — and can execute it reasonably well. Every once in a while, I’m even somewhat gifted with framing a shot.

But I am a bad uploader. Shots sit on my camera for days. Then they sit on the computer for a while longer. Then they’re loaded into Flickr, but I have to annotate them. And then I have to write the post to accompany them. If I left out the photos, we could skip straight to that last item.

Because I’ve been diligent about bringing my camera with me, I’m behind on my blogging. (Those of you who have been peeking at my Flickr account and have already followed the goings-on in my life, shhhh! You’re probably bored already. Go ahead and click one of those links to the right and see what some other bloggers are up to.)

Which means that some of the topics covered in this week’s posts will be a little old. But, to reassure my folks, this does at least mean that there will be posts. Let’s not quibble about how long ago I did the things in them.

Today’s topic? The Sept. 20 Yarn Harlot talk in Arlington, Virginia.

I admit that I tend to wait until the last minute to focus on projects. They’re on my radar screen, but I have an optimistic and unrealistic relationship with the calendar. It insists on plodding along day after day after day, while I tend to think that days can S-T-R-E-T-C-H out to fit the length of time I need in order to finish something. So I knew that when Stephanie Pearl-McPhee came to town to do her reading that she would be collecting children’s hats for a charitable organization. I knew that there was a month before the event, then a week, then a weekend. You see where this is going. With 30 hours to go before the event, I cast on for a hat. Then, with 24 hours to go before the event, I ripped out what I’d knit because it was too small and cast on again — twice.

I knit during lunch. I knit during a ball game. I knit during a good-bye happy hour. My fingers flew.

When Sweetpea discovered she’d be unable to go to the talk, I convinced Rudi that the only way to guarantee that I arrived there and home again safely was for him to accompany me. (Virginia roads and I have the same relationships as Hogwarts staircases and students; just because they start in a place you expect does not mean that they will take you to the desired destination. They are very tricky and I will swear to a court that they move.)

The Gathering CrowdI pulled out my three inches of hat and knit as Rudi drove out to whichever stretch of road the Border’s was on that night (Lee Highway? Seven Corner’s? Bailey’s Crossroads? Route 50 or 7 or 66?). We arrived with a few minutes to spare, so I bought a snack and drinks for us both and Rudi found a place to stand.

I’d like to note here and now that there were plenty of extra chairs available from the store staff. They worked very hard to accommodate such a large group and were gracious as we took over their store with our pointy needles. I refrained from grabbing a chair because I wanted to be able to see Stephanie and by the time we arrived, anything with a straight line of sight had been taken. Rudi and I ended up at the back of the farthest aisle of stacks to the right of her. It was lucky that we were tall, because anyone substantially shorter would not have caught a glimpse. (In fact, if you click on this photo to the left here, you’ll see two people to the right of the window. The guy’s head is Rudi. The girl next to him is standing several feet off the ground on the window ledge.)

Yarn Harlot, Sound Person

We did not have to wait for long. The bookstore manager came out to express his understanding of knitting as a meaningful activity, saying that an acquaintance had knit him a hat 30 years before and while his life had undergone many changes during that time, the hat had always been a constant. The story netted him an audience ovation even before Stephanie took the podium.

After adjusting the microphone setup herself (she’s married to a sound guy, after all, she noted for those who don’t read her blog), the first order of business was to capture the crowd with the traveling sock.

Capturing the Crowd

All That Knitting Has Gone to My Head

Don’t bother to look for me in Stephanie’s shots. There seems to be a magazine in front of my head.

Perhaps, though, that’s just as well, given the shot Rudi captured here of me trying to untangle the knots in my yarn. I am hardly the poster child for sane, normal knitting.

(By the way, check out the great t-shirt I’m wearing. It was a Christmas present from my friend Sam.)

On the other hand, Stephanie isn’t known as the Yarn Harlot for nothing. She did offer up suggestions on how to neutralize the effect of a stash sighting by an uninitiated guest to your home, including stroking the yarn and muttering about how lovely it is. I definitely haven’t reached that point … yet.

Laughter does seem to make the fingers fly, though, because as Stephanie regaled us with stories of knitting and publishing, I took my hat from the work-in-progress you see to the left to this in less than an hour.

Weaving in Ends

Don’t I look happy at having finished?

Answering Questions

The best part of Stephanie’s talk came toward the end when she talked about the power that knitters have. The organizer of the ultra-successful Knitters without Borders fundraiser, she was asked what her secret was. Ultimately she decided, after much thought, that it had very little to do with her. The fact was that knitters understood that while one stitch on its own was unimpressive, if you combined it with lots of other single stitches that you could clothe a nation. Extrapolate that back out to small-dollar fundraising and you can see why knitters are a generous lot when counted together.

The Hat Represents

A Few Stitches When Added Together Create Something Good

It sure seemed like she spoke truth to power that night. My one little hat was impressive enough on its own. But when added to the table full of other hats, each unique and beautifully crafted in its own right, you got a sense that change was not only possible, but also highly likely. Just give us some sticks and some string and see where we can take the world.

Category: knitting. There is/are 1 Comment.


My friend Megan is going to try to teach me how to start knitting at Mocksgiving next month, since learning from a book failed miserably!

Comment by Jenn 10.11.07 @ 5:13 am