Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Harlot Comes to Town

Last night, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee - the infamous Yarn Harlot - was here in Portland on her book tour. Believe it or not, I successfully tore myself away from my usual evening in my comfy chair to make the trek into Portland to attend the event. Tess, knitting instructor extraodinaire and designer behind Polar Bear Patterns, joined me.

My camera, of course, came along with me. Here's the first photo I took of the crowd, focused on a group of knitting bloggers from the Portland area.

That, in fact, is also the last photo I took. I am a very bad blogger, I admit. Once the evening got underway, the camera was long forgotten.

We arrived almost two hours early when the doors first opened, which we understood was the norm for these events. Many others showed up early as well and the time passed quickly as folks mingled and knit and chatted and knit and mingled some more. I fought my urge to hide behind my ClarkKent Knitter persona and spent a bit of time flinging little yarn samples at any one who cared to take one. Along the way, I met lots of lovely folks, including a few that I recognized from various online interactions.

Tess and I also found time for a little knitting lesson, during which I taught her a thing or two. Ha! Kidding, of course! Tess is a wonderful knitting instructor and has a wealth of knowledge about all sorts of interesting techniques. I was anxious to have her show me something firsthand last night. She's been working on a new sock pattern using my FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn and the pattern includes an interesting Japanese technique for producing twisted cables. It's a technique that involves no cable needle, but it's not the ordinary flapping-in-the-wind method of cabling without a needle. I won't even try to go into the details here, but suffice it to say that it's definitely fun to try out and although it involves certain motions that don't come naturally (at least not to me) I can see that it would be a handy method of moving swiftly through twisted cables once one becomes accustomed to the motions.

I'm really looking forward to the release of this new pattern. Tess designed it using the next "Virtue" colorway of sock yarn that I have coming in early May and we're hoping to have the pattern ready for simultaneous release. It will be available both in my Etsy shop and also on the Polar Bear pattern site.

The pattern is going to be a good one! Tess and I were chatting a bit last night about what distinguishes patterns as noteworthy, not only in terms of what makes a pattern "a good one" but also about what differentiates a pattern and makes it stand out in the crowd. There are so many great patterns (and also not-so-great patterns, of course) available today that it's a subject that could be discussed at length. In thinking about it today, what makes this pattern noteworthy and unique to me - beyond the fact that it produces a beautiful sock, of course - is that the pattern includes instructions for traditional twisted cables as well as instructions for the Japanese technique. Anyone not interested in wrapping her brain around the Japanese method can breeze forward in the traditional way. Anyone who enjoys trying out new things and exploring the complexity of knitting can follow the instructions for the Japanese method which are also included at the end of the pattern. What more could one want from a pattern? Clearly written. Beautiful design. And an opportunity to learn something new to boot.

Back to the Harlot . . .

I wasn't at all sure what to expect of her talk. I've read some of her books and enjoyed them very much, but I found it difficult to imagine what it would be like to hear her speak for an hour. Five or ten minutes respite for a bite-sized good laugh with one of her books is one thing, but an hour's "talk" is another entirely.

As it turned out, it was thoroughly enjoyable. Stephanie was funny, smart, entertaining, informative, and generally everything one could hope for. I laughed out loud and learned a few interesting things along the way. What more could you want?

Afterward, I paid my dues by waiting a good hour for my turn to have my book signed. (I also, of course, brought an offering of yarn and knitting goodies :)

Of course, I have no photo to share of Stephanie holding one of my socks or of me standing next to her grinning like a starstruck teenager, because of course my camera was long forgotten by then. Stephanie did snap a photo of me holding her traveling sock though and I'm sure she'll cherish the photo forever (ha!).

All in all, it was a wonderful evening out. It was great to see some of the knitting bloggers I'd previously met from this area and also to meet some new ones. Tess and I ran into a lovely gal I used to see at my favorite LYS knit-night long ago, whom I haven't seen in a very long time. The Harlot kept us laughing and entertained, as did some of the folks in the audience (there was a song about a traveling sock sung for Stephanie, a funny knit hat or two and a sock necklace, and all of the usual knitterly nonsense). I got to spend some time with Tess, which is always great fun.

Yes, a great evening all 'round.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like fun.

Tess said...

Oh, my. I'm blushing!!

Thx for all the kind words Deb -- I feel sort of thoughtless now, bcuz I just wrote about the bears...

Elisa said...

You got your picture in the Harlot's blog! Congrats. It's nice to finally 'see' you.

anne said...

deb that was a totally CUTE photo of you on stephanie's blog! looks like you had a lot of fun.