I took Anna Zilboorg's "Free Sole Socks (Cuff Down)" this afternoon, and it was a very relaxed and happy experience. After knitting down to where the heel would start, essentially you split the instep and sole into two pieces. You knit the instep (or sole) first, work the heel, then join the sole (or instep) to it as you go. This technique allows you to make the sole plain and replaceable while you may embellish the instep to your taste. While you are doing this the sock looks rather like the open mouth of (say) an Irish setter. My result was serviceable if not beautiful. At the very least I understand what the intention is, and have what engineers call 'proof of concept', and can do it again at will.
I'd only seen Anna once before, at a Stitches in the late nineties or early 00's, when she autographed Knitting for Anarchists for me. I don't know if this is still the case, but at the time she was an Anglican solitary (what used to be called a hermit) living in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Perhaps as a result of this, she has a singular self-possession, confidence, and a lovely sense of humour. Also perhaps as a result of this, it did not occur to me to ask who might play her in the movie. If I see her again this weekend I will ask. She may not be able to answer-- who knows?
I also may have helped my next-door neighbour with a lifelong inability to start Kitchener stitch, but that remains to be seen. I was a total idiot at it for 15 years until I figured out a way to remember, and now I could probably graft soggy cigarette butts together behind by back.
Then there was the Opening Gala thing, which turned out to be a seated wine-and-cheese celebration for those of the (by one estimate) 1,860 students who decided to attend. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (the Yarn Harlot) and Tina Newton (Blue Moon Fiber Arts) spoke about how the first Sock Summit had been arranged and turned out, and the differences between it and this one. It was hugely funny and moving, but that's Stephanie and Tina. By the end they were both (Stephanie certainly) in tears.
As everyone was settling for the Opening Gala, I was struck. EVERYONE had something to knit, of course. I had dashed back to the hotel to deal with emails and calls home posting patterns and then, class over, had dashed back out again with no knitting. Sitting in this monstrous hall full of purring knitters actually knitting, I felt like Jack the Ripper in Whoville. Nothing to knit. No project in action. Completely out of place. Then suddenly it dawned on me that I did have a wound skein of Shelridge Farms Soft Touch Ultra Fingering, and a long circular needle, and that was better. I waved the yarn about when required. That was close.
Tomorrow, Knitted Tessellations with THE Franklin Habit, whom I have never met.
Met the ebullient Kate Atherley in the check-in line for the Portland OR flight to Sock Summit yesterday and we talked most of the way onto the plane (getting through customs took an hour-- you clear US customs in Toronto before departure). When quizzed, Kate allowed as how Carey Mulligan might play her in the movie-- this is hugely appropriate. She's got a book coming out later this year and we'll keep you posted; it should be wonderfully timely and incredibly useful.
I'm staying right downtown, across the Willamette River and about 1.5 miles from the Oregon Convention Centre where SS 2011 is being held. This turns out to be an inspiring idea if you can manage it. Portland is an exceptional city in many ways, and one of them is to have their tram transit in the downtown core (plus the Convention Centre!) is within a free zone of travel: just hop on and hop off wherever and whenever you like, at your convenience: no tickets, no money, no worries. So if you don't want to hang around the Convention Centre area all the time-- though there's lots of cool places there, too-- you can also live in the city.
And downtown Portland is a marvel. I'm from Toronto. Skyscrapers, crowds, subways, the works. Portland has no skyscrapers as such, but many intriguing buildings 100+ years old, with marvellous cornices and windows and idiosyncrasies.
I'd packed yarn with which to do class homework, and was very much looking forward to cruising the SS marketplace. But the marketplace does not actually open until just before my first class lets out. What to do? Yarn brought from home didn't seem quite the thing after all, somehow. Off I sped to a store suggested by the terrifically discerning JC Briar as close to my location. There it was, three or four blocks away, Knit Purl. Wow. Everything the choicest of its kind. Bruised the credit card a little. Friendly staff, incredible selection, mostly arranged by weight. And they wound as many skeins as I wanted.
Dashed off to register at SS, discovered the tram incredibly easy to use, and bumped into the seriously wonderful SS staffer Rachel H., who was a great student of mine in a finishing class at Romni Wools long ages ago. We caught up on children and jobs. Brunette Rachel suggests Reese Witherspoon ("with dyed hair!") to play her in the film; her colleague Natalie Selles suggests Kate Winslet for herself.
Eventually lunch seemed like a good idea, so after homeworking back in the hotel room, I wended my way back towards Knit Purl because there'd been some fascinating street food booths on the way there. Landed up at the Savor Soup House. After getting excellent advice from the met-on-the-spot, delightful Jaala Spiro of KnitCircus and her mom, Susan, opted for the Susan-recommended grilled (local delicacy) Tillamook cheddar cheese with dijon mustard and tomatoes on a ciabatta, together with their Susan-is-delirious-about-this blueberry basil lemonade. I added a cup of their sweet pea soup with mint and croutons. "I'm so sorry, the mustard is finished," lamented Savor server #1, while lauding the sweet pea/mint soup as her own favorite of the day. "Would you allow me to substitute a little truffle oil?" Hilarity ensued for blocks around. Of course. (But apparently some people really don't like the idea.) I took it back to the hotel. They had thrown in some extra, fresh delicious rye bread and real creamery butter. It was all fantastic, truly, and just a bit over $8. Plus Savor server #2 told riveting stories about how she likes to put sweet tea and vodka in her boot flask when she goes to rodeos: "Boot vodka." This just doesn't happen back home.
Having finished homework for the first class (in Koigu) and feeling very holy, again set out to explore and landed up at Powell's City of Books, once more recommended by JC Briar, and self-proclaimed biggest bookstore in the world. There's a self-proclaimed World's Biggest Bookstore in Toronto, too. And the folks at Powell's allow as how they might have more books in Toronto and more floor space-- BUT! "They're largely a clearinghouse for publishers," say the Powell's people. And having been there often, I can say there's some truth to that-- it is part of a chain, where Powell's is independent. And Powell's does new and used books, which is extraordinary, so you get the best of the Hay-on-Wye experience and new things, too. So Powell's probably has the most variety. Which is really what you want if you like books. And there's a map to their bookstore. And a whole section for steampunk. Advantage: Powell's. I bought a mug, too.
After buying more than I should have at Powell's, I decided a restorative beverage and light dinner was in order, so popped off to a brasserie where they had many different kinds of frites: fried in duck fat with rosemary; with pork belly & tarragon; foie gras & Szechuan pepper; truffle & black truffle, etc. The server said that either the rosemary & duck fat or truffle kinds were the most popular. Which permitted me to reply: "Rosemary and duck fat, please-- I'm all truffled out today."
Tomorrow afternoon: Anna Zilboorg's Free Sole Socks (cuff down). Anna gets my vote for one of the best book titles ever: Knitting for Anarchists. And her epigraph for Magnificent Mittens is the only quotation I read at my mom's memorial. Respect? So much.