September 10, 2006

A day of yarn and Harlot

To say that we have all been looking forward to yesterday is a bit of an understatement. When we all found out that the Yarn Harlot was going to be coming to California, within driving distance, there was a small amount of giddy going on, and as it got closer and close we started discussing trip plans - when to meet, where to go, what socks to bring to work on during the talk. Because it was going to take an hour or two to drive to Los Altos, and the talk was at 5:30, and because there is a glut of yarn stores down in that area (compared to the not-remotely-a-glut of yarn stores in our area) we decided it would be even more fun to just make a whole day of it.

Yesterday morning four of us met at my knitting mom's house in Vacaville (at 8am in the morning (which meant I was up by 6am in order to shower and fill my tank with gas and scrounge up breakfast at a local bakery and make it there with enough spare time to go play with four *very* cute and fuzzy kittens that she is currently fostering) and piled into one car, and then we drove down to Fairfield to meet up with two others (including my friend-with-a-yarn-store), and we were off, sock needles flying and knitters chatting a mile a minute. The first car that the four of us were in has a GPS system, which turned out to be quite handy because the driver had printed out a list of all the yarn shops in the area, so we could just plug in an address and off we'd go.

Our first stop was to Uncommon Threads in Los Altos. We all descended on the store in one big group (six women and a very small and very cute little baby) and browsed our way through the whole store, oohing and aahing and fondling yarn and pondering whether or not anything 'needed' to come home with us. It being our first stop of the day, I managed to be good, even though they had a huge selection of Koigu, which I have yet to knit with. But I currently have two bins overflowing with sock yarn (plus a bag of it which will likely fill a third bin) so I instead stared longingly at some Rowan Tapestry , which is so amazingly soft and lovely, but which I could not justify purchasing because I had no idea what I would do with it.

Our next destination was Saratoga, where we first found an amazing needlepoint store tucked back in a tiny little strip mall.

After wandering through the needlepoint store and pondering all the possibilities for duplicate stitching that hung on those walls, we decided it was time for lunch. There was an Italian place just opening for the day, so we went there (it was close and we were all really hungry). Luckily the food was delicious, plus we had fun passing the baby around.

This is what happens when you bring a baby still young enough to have the really cool toe curling reflexes into a small crowd of sock knitters.

Next up, Knitting Arts, which was located just down the street from the needlepoint shop, and which was conveniently having an anniversary sale, where everything in the store was 25% off! These are magic words to a group of knitters doing a whole day yarn crawl. And this time I could not resist. They also had a giant wall of Koigu, but those three overflowing bins of sock yarn back home kept coming up in my head every time I fondled a skein, so instead I stood by the bins of Colinette and fondled yarn, until I finally could not stand it anymore and picked out these two skeins of mohair, which are so soft and lovely that if I could just make a big pile of it into a nest I would curl up in it and possibly never leave.

At this point we realized it was time to head back to Los Altos, so we reset the GPS unit, made our way back, parked, and as we were heading for Full Thread Ahead, we saw this sign on the sidewalk and knew immediately that we were in the right place.


Of course, for all the non-knitters I am sure this sign probably was a bit of a puzzle. I had fun imagining all kinds of uptight mothers scurrying past, shielding their childrens' eyes and muttering about the loose morals of those heathen knitters. But maybe that's just me. Ahem. Anyway.

We zipped inside, where we found no line at all, and picked up our Signing Zone cards, and then we wandered around and started noticing other knitters wearing nametags with blogs that I recognized. One knitter and I stumbled across each other - she wearing a t-shirt that clearly marked her as a gamer - and we started babbling excitedly about GenCon and DragonCon and gaming people and everything else, and I would like to note that even in a yarn shop filled with knitters who are normally fairly open-minded people, talking about gaming will still get you a lot of very strange looks. Grin.

We camped outside and knit for a while, but then we, and everyone else, started gradually making our way to the back. They had such a massive response to the Yarn Harlot's visit that they closed off part of the parking lot in the back and were setting up chairs there, instead of in the room they'd originally planned to use. We all waited dutifully until they had all the chairs set up, but then it was a rather mad dash to claim seats from dozens of determined knitters.

Over the course of the next hour, all those chairs filled up. I think the final count was slightly over 300 people who came to see the Yarn Harlot, which was a good size crowd. It was fun to look around, counting the Clapotis, socks-in-progress, lace shawls, knitted tops, and finally put some faces to knitting blog names. Our little group of six took turns sitting in seats, or ambling down to the local Starbucks to get cold drinks (it was kind of warm in the sun) until finally it was nearly 5:30 and there were last minute dashes to the bathroom and we all scrambled to our seats.

There were some announcements and door-prizes and such at the beginning but finally they announced the Yarn Harlot and there she was!

She came out and started talking and wow, she is even funnier in person than she is on her blog or in her books. She had the entire horde of us in stitches (ha) for an hour.She is one of these amazing authors who comes across so very normal and down to earth, even when she had us all doubled over laughing.

They sent all but the first three signing zones off to dinner, since it was going to be awhile, so since we were in the third zone, we stayed to wait, even though now that the sun had disappeared behind the buildings, it was getting pretty cold out there and we were all wishing we'd been knitting large afghans instead of teeny tiny socks.

Standing in line for the signing was like standing in a grocery store at the check-out counter, where they have all those candies and goodies for sale. The line meandered past shelves of yarn (luckily not the sock yarn, because the will was weakening by that point), including a shelf of this gorgeous Misti Alpaca laceweight in some of my favorite colors.

(It had to come home with me. The store was donating 10% of all proceeds made during the Yarn Harlot's visit to the Knitters Without Borders fund (for Doctors Without Borders) so I *had* to buy this. It was for charity!)

Finally it was our turn. We all got all our books signed and we did a big group picture (minus the baby and her mom, because by then the little baby had just about had it and all the very nice knitters let her and her mom go to the signing early so they could escape the crowds and she could drive her daughter around the block until she fell asleep). Here we all are, holding socks and books and looking a little sunburnt and giddy.

We went for dinner at a Japanese restaurant just down the street and tried very hard to not all just fall asleep into our tempura. As we were heading out of the restaurant and getting ready to pile into cars and head back home, I poked my head back into the yarn shop. By then it was after 9:30pm, and yet, she was still there, still signing. I'm not sure how she does this, day after day, with long car rides and plane flights thrown in. I suspect there must be caffeine involved. Large quantities.

I didn't get home until after midnight, and I only vaguely remember stumbling into the house and tripping over cats on my way upstairs to bed. I am still completely exhausted this morning, but it was worth it. Definitely worth it.

Posted by Jenipurr at September 10, 2006 08:19 AM

I am still very disappointed that I did not even get to send my sock along.

Looks like you all had a blast!

Posted by: Frances at September 10, 2006 09:41 AM

Hey, it was nice to meet you yesterday and put a face to your blog. What a great crowd of people huh? :)

Posted by: jeni at September 10, 2006 10:07 AM

Hey! great fun yesterday - you got such good pictures, i'm so glad, i'm stealing a couple off your site!

Posted by: BeccaD at September 10, 2006 01:38 PM

What, it's not like I wore that shirt on purpose or anything.

Wait. I did. Nevermind:)

Posted by: Lynette at September 10, 2006 07:10 PM

Stephanie gives a great reading, doesn't she? And I love the picture of the baby with the dpn in her toes ...

Posted by: Ruth at September 11, 2006 04:49 AM

A yarn crawl and Harlot? What a great day for you all! It was nice meet the woman behind Jenipurr.
Take care,

Posted by: Janice at September 11, 2006 09:24 AM

I remember taking your photo, I am really glad it came out nice!

Posted by: lu at September 11, 2006 06:00 PM

I'm doing "Virtual Tour" of following the Yarn Harlot's trip, & so stumbled upon your blog. Great recap of her visit to CA!

Here's a suggestion for that lovely lavender colored alpace laceweight:

I'm using the same yarn to make that shawl, but in green. I'm wishing I had your color for it though. Lavender would be so appropriate.

Posted by: Cindy at September 13, 2006 10:24 AM

Howdy! Just popping by checking ring code and I saw the drop dead Colinette. Is that the new Taos?? Yummmmmie!

Posted by: Jennifer at September 15, 2006 01:38 AM

Such a cool day we all had there! Loved your post.

Posted by: AlisonH at September 15, 2006 11:33 AM