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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Make My Day

It's been quiet here, and I freely admit to some post-Summit and post-reunion letdown. (If you had told me that I would actually enjoy my 25th h.s. reunion, I wouldn't have believed it, but I really did.) I've been trying a few things to shake the cobwebs out of my head like playing my favorite songs really loud and singing along even louder (much to the neighbors' dismay, I'm guessing) and taking walks to the lake, but I'm still in a bit of a funk. But today, this helped. My skull rock made it onto Skull-a-Day.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lagniappe (A Little Extra)

The husband and I scheduled an extra day in Portland after the Summit to do some more sightseeing. We decided to rent a car and drive to Newport down on the coast. After fueling stops at Stumptown Coffee and Voodoo Doughnuts, we were off.

We visited both the Aquarium and OSU's Hatfield Research Center and then went over to the beach to get a little west coast sand between our toes.

I'm submitting this one to Skull-a-Day:
This one looks like a UFO:

Okay this one is sideways and I can't get it fixed (*shakes fist at Blogger picture upload*), but it's cool anyway, right?

I had no idea just how much I'd enjoy Portland (and the coast of Oregon). It is like finding a whole new passion. You lucky Ducks or lucky Beavers, however the case may be.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

All Good Things...

...must, as we know, come to an end. (Insert sad face here.)

After a refreshing day of outdoor activities, it was back to the Convention Center for my final class and the Sock Summit Luminary Panel.

On Sunday morning, I had a Spindle Spinning Basics class with Abby Franquemont and Denny McMillan. They advocate the use of a bottom whorl spindle, which was a new experience for me. I equated it to writing with my left hand instead of my right. (At one point I pulled out a top whorl spindle just to make sure I hadn't lost my spinning mojo; thankfully, I hadn't, though you wouldn't have been able to tell from what I produced in class.) Now that I know some of the advantages of bottom whorls, I will be looking at spindles differently.
After that, it was one more sweep through the market where the big finds were Stranded in Oz, some of the softest merino evah, and a sweet Queen Bee Creations tote. I had to leave because every aisle was another shoppertunity. Step away from the cashmere!

Finally, it was up to the ballroom for the Luminary Panel. There was so much intelligence and wit up there on the dais, but here are a few gems:

When discussing the creation of EZ's first book, Meg Swansen said that it was typed on a rented IBM Selectric Typewriter. "You know, you make a mistake at the bottom of the page…shit!”

After being posed the question of whether being a woman made it more difficult to be taken seriously in her business, Meg responded, "I don't know, I've never been a man." (Love her!)

Barbara G. Walker was asked how she has managed to pack everything in that she has (feminist writer of many books, painter, foremost curator of knitting stitches, etc.), and she proceed to describe a lifestyle that is clearly motived by focus and drive. She admitted to needing very little sleep. She gave a detailed description of her routine, including how she took advantage of the six hours a day she had while her kids were in school to work on her projects, and how she once realized that her tv had been broken for five years before she called to have it repaired. After she left us all agog with her incredible discipline, Steph summed it up: "Recap, don’t sleep, and ditch your tv, right?”

There were so many other wonderful moments: Anna Zilboorg talking of the days when she did craft fairs, and realized she had crossed over to the dark side when her favorite part became counting the money at the end of the day, and Judith MacKenzie McCuin admitting she had moved a few years ago and part of the move was 6,000 lbs of fiber! I could go on and on...

There were questions raised about knitting as it relates to race, economics, gender, and social interaction. It sparked an all-evening discussion with the husband (who came with me to the Panel) that actually started on the Max train. (Another knitter on the train added her thoughts, too, which was great.) I'm so fortunate to have a husband who supports my interest and is willing to participate in it. (I also think might have a bit of a crush on Lucy Neatby, who was charming as anything, even dressed as she is as a punked out Raggedy Ann Doll! To prove it, here is a badly Kinneared pic of her.)

What's next? Tina told me directly that there will be other events, just not next year. She and Steph have formed Knot Hysterical Productions for these future endeavors. There are rumors that the next one will be in Toronto, Steph's hometown. (That part is unconfirmed--I did not get from Tina, though others have said they heard it from her.) Wherever it is, I hope to be able to go. It will be hard to top this one, and it is unlikely that it can be repeated, especially given the age of some of the teachers involved, but there are people coming up who will be dynamic forces in the field, to be sure. Counting the days...

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Day Off: A Portland Travelogue

The husband and I took the day off from the Sock Summit to enjoy Portland. We were mighty busy as we:
  • went to Stumptown Coffee for some delectable brew. (Remember how Voodoo Donuts was playing Springsteen's Nebraska album? Stumptown was playing Born in the USA, and, while not my favorite album, clearly Portland has got my soundtrack down.)

  • we then headed down to the Saturday Market, a weekly art festival featuring all types of artists and craftspeople. I picked up a few very fun skirts made from reclaimed material. (I'm not buying more clothes, I'm recycling.)

  • After the festival, it was off to the zoo. (This has been the only disappointment so far, as there were very few animals. Or maybe they were just hiding from the crowds. If I were them, I might do the same.)

  • From the zoo, we headed up to the Japanese Garden which was lovely and peaceful.

  • We headed across the street to the Rose Garden, which was quite remarkable. The scents were intoxicating. (I took eleventybillion photos, most were blurry. WTF?!)
  • We had time to spare, so we caught the first part of a free concert featuring Devin Phillips and special guest Storm Large (of Rockstar: SuperNova fame).

    Wait, there is knitting!
  • After that, we headed down to the Ravelry meetup where we met up with our friend Jocele who we first met on the SeaSocks cruise. We also got to spend a bit more time with Blogless Carla, Ana, Leslie, Marisol, Linda, Stephen and his pup, Janie Sparkles.

  • As an added bonus, we had an early birthday dinner with Jocele, who shares her special day with Elizabeth Zimmerman. Happy birthday!

  • We rounded out the day with a late-night cappuccino in the club lounge at the hotel.

Not bad for a day off, eh?

Friday, August 07, 2009

August 7, 2009, Portland, OR

Today at Sock Summit, I helped to break the Guinness Book of World Records for knitters knitting in one place, met this legendary woman (Barbara G. Walker):

took a class with this lovely lady (Meg Swansen):

and put on a sock that Meg used to wear that was actually, really and truly knit by her mother, Elizabeth Zimmerman.

I think I need to put a cold compress on my head.

Knitting Ne'er Do Well, Summit Slacker

Here's a quickie 'cause it is late and I haven't finished my homework for my Meg Swansen class and I'm tired and my head is spinning and my sock knitting dial is at 11.

This morning I took the bus out to the Pendleton Woolen Mill Factory Store. One of the salespeople at a regular Pendleton store told me that they had yarn and felting supplies. I also knew that the had selvages which I definitely wanted to check out. The yarn was on cones and was more appropriate for weaving, and the felting fiber wasn't anything to write home about. The selvages were all black, so they weren't that exciting. What was thrilling, however, was this old animated display of the steps it takes to process Pendleton wool:

Most adorable. Also quite fantastic was the display of woven tapestry. There was a wide variety of themes and styles, but the photo-realistic ones fascinated me.

Here is a close-up:It was worth the trip to see the exhibit.

My afternoon was filled with reacquainting myself with knitting friends from past festivals, camps, workshops, trips, etc., and Priscilla Gibson Roberts's Ethnic Socks and Stockings lecture.

PGR has health issues, and we were told that this would be her last outing to teach, so it was extra-special to be there. (Her most recent teaching trip was back in 2001.) It was an interesting, varied, and eclectic afternoon with slides and samples of some of the most amazing sock knitting you can possibly imagine, plus tales of knitting ne'er do-wells and veritable yarn-y feuds.

Following the afternoon class, the Marketplace opened for a few hours. At some point I just stopped putting my wallet back in my bag and kept it at the ready. The stash has grown by a couple of spindles, some new project bags (all featuring skulls or skeletons!), and a few skeins of yummy yarn goodness. (SWAG photos will have to wait for now.)

The evening concluded with the Open Reception during which Stephanie and Tina shared many-a-tale of how no one believed that this little gathering of knitters would become the phenomenon it did. (Those girls have got to get some sleep because they were just the tiniest bit punch-drunk, but who can blame them.)

Gotta fly so that I can finish my homework lest I have to write "I am a Sock Summit Slacker" 25 times.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Get My Cowgirl On

The unabated fun continues here in Portland, and Sock Summit hasn't even begun yet.

After a quick stop at Powell's for a return, we walked to Chinatown to the Chinese Classical Garden. On the way, there was diversion into Pendleton's where a 25% off sale meant that a Sally Starr-like cowgirl shirt was coming home with me. (For those not from the Philly-area, Sally Starr was a peroxide blonde cowgirl who hosted a TV variety show.) This shirt has contrasting piping and big, colorful embroidered flowers, and I am unleashing the cowgirl who bucks within, y'all, so watch out.

The garden was beautiful and peaceful, reminiscent of the Dr. Sun-Yat Sen Garden in
Vancouver, BC.
There were so many incredible sites, not the least of which was this woman's feet.

Seriously, I am all for a pair of heels, and I have suffered mightily from leaving the house in the wrong pair, but these were out of control. Somewhere a barefoot drag queen weeps...

After the garden, we took a walking tour of Underground Portland, though that was largely metaphorical.

I took many, many pictures of above-ground architectural details.

After the tour, we stopped in at Voodoo Doughnut, Too, made all the more fantastic because they were playing Springsteen's brilliant but oft-neglected Nebraska album. The husband got three donuts, the cream-filled, the chocolate CocoPuff topped one, and, at my urging, the Maple Bacon Bar. I had one bite of each. Well, actually, it was two bites of the bacon one. (Dietary restrictions went right out the window when we got here yesterday. I even had my first drink of hard liqor in eight months. Vodka, how I missed you. I will be on permanent detox when we get back home.)

After Voodoo, we made a quick stop at the hotel for a little nosh in the Club Lounge. (What you need after donuts are hors d'Ĺ“uvres and red wine.) Earlier in the day we had read about a variety show featuring music and burlesque and hosted by a drag queen, so we asked the concierge what she knew about it. Her description of the venue was that it was a motorcycle bar. Hmmm....motorcycle bar and drag show...really. In actuality, it was kind of like Barbie's Dream Biker Bar with a cabaret room next door, and I'm guessing that the patrons were more likely to be Vespa drivers than hog owners.

One of the strangest things about it was here in a town with tons of great brews, there were several people drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon in cans. I really had to wonder.

So, some of you Chicagoans may know of Milly's Orchid Show, a live variety show hosted by Brigid Murphy, aka Milly, Brigid's cowgirl alter-ego. (Cowgirls are a theme tonight.) Milly holds some serious sway, and her show has included Poi Dog Pondering, appearances by Robert Klein, Sex and the City producer Micheal Patrick King, and many other notables. This show, Phoenix Variety Revue, was kinda like low budget Orchid Show. There was a charming vocal duo that performed 40s-era pop and jazz, a belly dancer, two burlesque performers/striptease artists (complete with spinning tassels and obvious evidence of being fans of Brazilian Waxing, a burlesque swing dance duo (more tassels!), and a hula hoop artist named Revolva. The whole thing was hosted by Ms. Zora Phoenix, who offered up both live vocals and the more traditional lip synced numbers. She opened the show by singing Brandy (You're a Fine Girl). You know the one..."The sailors say, Brandy, you're a fine girl, what a good wife you would be." (Now I dare you not to sing it all day. Come on, I dare you.) It was an interesting evening, to be sure, but it did make me nostalgic for both Milly's Orchid Show and a really good drag show.

Tomorrow...a trip to the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store and the Summit begins!!!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

PNW Tales

After an early morning and a very bumpy flight (at least the first 90 minutes of it), we arrived in Portland. We know we're in the PNW because they make your coffee like this:

I've already smashed through every dietary restriction I have, in part because our hotel is plying us with copious amounts of food and beverage. When I booked the room many, many months ago, I got what I thought was a great deal by prepaying. I knew breakfast was included, and free wi-fi sealed the deal. When we checked in, we found out that there were four different "meals" included--plus complimentary drinks, and we're not talking the cheap stuff, either. Our room looks like Coco Chanel came back from the great beyond to decorate it herself, and the towels are the biggest I've ever seen. I think I'll be moving in permanently.

We spent the day wandering about. We walked to Chinatown, the Pearl District, where I found a new favorite shop, Cargo, and around the Pioneer Square area where our hotel is located. We also hit Powell's, which is a site to behold, though I'm going to be going back to return some wildly overpriced used books I purchased. (I got back to the hotel and found out that the Powell's prices were significantly more than I could get the same books used on Amazon. One book was 7x more expensive at Powell's. It was a bit disappointing.)

Tomorrow will be devoted to more wandering. Thursday the great sock adventure begins.

PS I won't lie, no matter how much fun I'm having, I'm missing these two something awful.