Harlot Day

What can I say to adequately describe Harlot Day?

Part One: The Morning

The forecast was for rain/snow mix, but the day started off with a very good omen. A few miles down the road from us is a field where I’ve twice seen an albino deer. It seems to be the deer’s home ground, so every time I drive past that particular field, I look for it. Monday morning, I saw the white deer, standing still just inside the woods, at the edge of the field.

All told, I saw a zoo’s worth of animals on Monday. In addition to the white deer, I saw a flock of while turkeys, a Great Blue Heron in flight, two raccoons, and several Sandhill Cranes. We are masters of the microclimate here in Wisconsin. Every animal’s residence is theoretically possible. The cougar that was shot in Chicago last week? Today’s paper confirms he’s the same one who was seen some time back in Milton, WI.

Anyway. I left the house at 9:11 (which was appropriate, considering I had just called Mr. Chocolatesheep to get directions to the freakin bookstore) to head to Madison to pick up my wristband. I made it to the parking lot (easy peasy) right at the stroke of ten. Several knitters were waiting for the doors to open; by the time I opened my van doors and wrangled my boys out, the doors were open and everyone was inside.

I quickly met up with KnittinKitten from Ravelry, picked up my purple wristband, chatted with Jennifer (fellow Hog-n-Blogger) and her three kids, bought the Harlot’s new book as well as a copy of her first book. It was while I was purchasing said books, and signing up for Borders Rewards, and being talking into purchasing a children’s book for some sort of charity program, that I managed to leave the store without the wristband.

Knitters are great — a knitter and a Borders employee figured out what happened, and who it had happened to, and I had my wristband back before I had the boys buckled up.

Now I had to hightail it home before the bus dropped off my five-year-old. I had already arranged for her to be dropped off at the neighbors’ house, but still.

Unfortunately, when I checked my gas gauge I realized I didn’t have enough to make it home. I decided to fill up in Lake Mills, and then maybe, just maybe, look for a new yarn store that Dale-Harriet had told me about. I didn’t have the address with me, but Lake Mills wasn’t so big, how hard could it be?

After cruising through Lake Mills without finding the yarn store, there was unexpected road work on Route 18 that led me on a strange detour into Jefferson. Of course I had to take another strange detour out of Jefferson on the other side, to get home.

I made it with half an hour to spare before Miss got home, but she was going to be so excited about being dropped off at the neighbors’ that I didn’t switch back to plan A. She spent a few minutes over there, collecting leftover Easter candy, before being brought home.

Meanwhile, I had a plaintive voicemail from Cheesehead with Sticks, who was being snowed on (seven inches) and couldn’t get her schedule rearranged to attend. Poor girl, no problem, she’s been my yarn angel before.

Then it was just Countdown Time until I would be able to leave for the Real Event. I packed my bag with my knitting projects (2), a Coke, my knitting toolkit, the books I’d bought in the morning, my digital camera, a red Harlotgift washcloth, a card Colleen made for Stephanie, and four twigs from the apple tree. I didn’t actually take anything else *out* first, so it was pretty crowded in there.

Part Two: The Day

We had lunch. I packed. I paced. I checked the clock. I read the new book. There were a couple of typos, but nothing that was the Harlot’s fault. It was cute and funny. I didn’t recognize much that was a repeat from the blog, either. When does she have time to do all this? Then I paced and checked the clock again. Snuck my knitting bag out to the car while the kids weren’t looking.

Did I mention that my eldest had his Pack meeting the same night and was getting his Bear badge? Mr. Chocolatesheep was taking him to it, and had arranged for a babysitter to keep track of the other three (bringing her daughter, too). Great, great, great, when could I go?

Part Three: The Evening

I was able to hit the road at 4:45, and I have a receipt to prove I purchased another copy of the Harlot’s new book at 5:30. Dale-Harriet had saved seats in the second row, and I gratefully took one. There were a handful of us representing The Sow’s Ear, and we all checked out each other’s projects for a while.

Here’s the view from the second row:

Then I got going on the Zigzag Scarf. I had one-and-a-half to two hours of joyous knitting time before me, and I didn’t want to waste it. Besides, I was getting closer to the end of the only skein I had.

While we knit, several other knitters got up and took “traveling sock” pictures of their own, holding their socks-in-progress up in front of the crowd. They took pictures of each other, and at least one knitter took a video of Ellenspn, whose knitting projects were too unwieldy to bring, and therefore brought roving and spindles.

I noticed a bunch of male knitters in the crowd, about one for every other row of chairs. That added up to about ten as far as I could tell, but other estimate were of more than 200 knitters in total. (Crocheters, I’m including you, too. Hooks down.)

Well, eventually the Harlot was introduced. She was clearly nervous at first, but we were her people, after all, and an appreciative audience of the speech she had brought with her.

Here’s the view from the second row, with the Harlot in place:

She took her traveling sock pictures of the crowd, and got going on her speech. I don’t want to ruin anything for those of you who are still waiting, plus I think I was laughing too hard to put everything into permanent memory, but if you just can’t stand it, just Google her and look for coverage of the Portland event.

I used my camera to make a short video of the “Headlines About Knitting” segment. It’s 3:02 long and almost 80 MB, so I probably can’t e-mail it to you, and I don’t know how to put things on YouTube, but it really showcases her comic timing and physical humor. (I know! Next time you’re in town, stop by my house and I’ll play it for you. That should work.)

After the speech, there was Q&A, and she retold the whole story about hiking into town and back from the remote cabin, to get beer and toilet paper. It was hilarious all over again.

When she kept asking for more questions, I wanted to ask, “How’s the gansey coming along?” but didn’t dare. That’s Rams’s territory. Little did I know Rams would surprise her by showing up at the Indianapolis event, the very next evening.

So then the questions were done and it was book-signing time. Jennifer and Beeb pre-boarded; I took a picture of them and Stephanie which you can see at Jennifer’s blog. Then I sat back down to knit, purple wristband be damned. I had no need to shove ahead of anyone. I knit on the Zigzag Scarf while I watched usually mature ladies fall to pieces while standing in front of Stephanie with their newly purchased books. One in particular looked as if the last time she had giggled and gushed so much was when the Beatles landed at the airport. She was just manic, and I thought, Stephanie is just a knitter, a writer, a mom. Calm down.

After about an hour of this, our group got tired of being hounded to get in line by the bookstore staff, and we packed up our goodies and stood in line. I was not pleased about this, because I was coming close to the end of my Zigzag Scarf, but I put it down and left.

I don’t know when we started standing in line, but I do know they closed down the cash registers at 9:45 and we weren’t up to the main table yet. (All that Resisting Temptation while we passed the cookbook shelves, for nought.) The woman ahead of me was knitting socks on two circular needles. D-H was a couple of knitters behind me working on a tocque, and when she laid it on the floor to measure it, we allowed as how it would have been the world’s biggest Willie Warmer. I guess there *is* more than one knitting joke!

At long last it was our turn. Stephanie remembered my comment-name (Beth in WI) from some e-mails we’d exchanged, and signed a book for me with that name and with Chocolatesheep. Signed a book for Cheesehead With Sticks. Signed my Knitting Rules! book by clarifying what type of slipped stitch to make on the sock heel flap. I gave her the washcloth, explicated Colleen’s card, and posed for the combo washie/first socks picture. Then I took her picture — if someone from the staff took our picture together, it vanished somehow. (I had five pics on my camera and only four uploaded. Unfortunately my settings were to erase the camera memory after upload. Ah well.)

picture of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, someday

Then I sat down, looked at the remaining amount of yarn in my project bag, and bound off the Zigzag Scarf and wove in the ends right then and there. Ta dah!

picture of Zigzag Scarf

But, Dudes. That woman is amazing. Flew all this way, drove (was driven) all this way, spoke all that time, answered all those questions, was a ton of gracious to every single person there, and then joked about having to drink so much beer (that we had brought her) when she finally got to her hotel room in Milwaukee that night, that she was sure she would wake up swearing, “I gotta get tuh M’waukee right away.”

I got in my car at 10:15pm. I got home at 11pm. And that’s all I had to do. For all I knew, she was at that very moment finally getting to pack up and ride to Milwaukee, check in, drink & eat, and get ready for the flight to Indianapolis the next morning.

I don’t know how Stephanie does it. But I’m glad she does!

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Published in: on May 1, 2008 at 2:38 pm  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It sounds like you had an utter blast! And just imagine, all that knitting time. I have been lucky to get 15 whole minutes at a time. ha ha ha (kids, work, knitting—NOT a productive triad)

  2. Whew! that was a day! And you did get me a book signed, really?!?! I love you! I thought I was too late with my request.

    It sounds fabulous! I thought maybe ya’ll were still partying since I haven’t seen a post about it except for anyone but the Harlot herself – and nice washcloth you gave her by the way!

    I’m so bummed I missed it, but I am so glad you got to see her finally! I’ll call you to see what I owe you 🙂

  3. I wondered if you were the overachiever with socks and washcloths. 😉

    white deer, you say? you mean these guys:
    Ghosts in the Haunted Forest
    (that’s my sister’s account.)

  4. Well, isn’t a Harlot visit the best? We saw her in Northampton, MA on the 27th. Wish I could have gotten in as much knitting as you, but then again, there was the Mexican restaurant….

  5. Great review of the event! I was sitting in the row in front of you (lady in the turquoise Danish shawl)

    MichK from Green Bay
    twin256 on ravelry

  6. Sounds like a wonderful event 🙂

  7. Sounds glorious! I loved “seeing” you and then getting the 411 on your blog. I KNEW you and I had a lot in common — besides a gaggle of children apiece, I also have curly hair! Great event review!


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