Where I’ve Been, Part III

After leaving Arcadia Knitting with a heavy heart and no new yarn, I had to go back down to the Convention Center to pick up my backpack before going back uptown to my sister’s place.  It was getting late in the afternoon, and I was a little concerned about getting to the bag check before it closed for the day, so I took one of the three cab rides I took during my time in Chicago.

I had stuffed my backpack full of ARCs picked up at the Exhibits, you see.  It was much to heavy to carry all over the place.  And the bag check was free.

Backpack on, it was back to the Loop, then back on the El, and back to my sister’s place to change for the Newbery Banquet.  And then back on the El, back to the Loop, just in time to miss the last shuttle bus. Back in the cab.

I arrived a little bit after the doors opened, completely missing the (cash bar) cocktail hour.  I was seated with a couple of lovely ladies from the incoming Caldecott committee (one of whom works near my in-laws in the San Gabriel Valley), and three very nice gentlemen.  At the first table in my line of sight to the podium sat Elizabeth Bird, whose recap of the whole evening is a must-read.

The food was interesting, but the speeches were fantastic.  And after dinner was the receiving line.  I was behind Elizabeth, and after a few minutes, I realized that directly behind me was Linda Sue Park.  I gushed over Keeping Score a little bit.  And then I had reached the first person in line.

Me and Neil

Neil Gaiman, me, and my Storm Cloud Shawlette, knit out of Tempted Handpainted Glam Grrl.

Everyone was so gracious to the gazillion library-folk streaming through the line. Well, given that Neil Gaiman was at one end of the line and Ashley Bryan was at the other end, maybe “streaming” isn’t the word for it. I got to have a very nice chat with Beth Krommes about toddlers and Goodnight Moonand gushed a bit to Kathi Appelt about The Underneath. I told her that I thought of it as “stealth fantasy”. And Jacqueline Woodson complimented me on my shawlette.

A fabulous evening, but a late one. I made it back to my sister’s place around midnight for another 4-hours-of-sleep night.

Why did I have to get up so early on Monday? So I could do this:

First!

Gaiman was going to be signing at 9 AM at the HarperCollins booth. Two CTA buses got me to the Convention Center by 7 AM. I staked out a spot near the Exhibit Hall entry closest to the booth. The bemused Security Guards told me I’d be waiting a while. I sat down on the carpet and pulled out my travelling sock. The young lady next to me arrived with her mother about 5 minutes later, and a guy arrived about 10 minutes after that. By the time the HarperCollins employees starting showing up, the line had stretched across the room and was confusing quite a few people, who thought there was now a line just to get into the Exhibit Hall. A very nice HarperCollins representative brought out the signs around 8:30. The one in my hand says, “neil gaiman line starts here”. There was another sign for the end of the line. Other than some drama with a fellow who showed up around 8:30 and wanted to jump the line because he had a meeting to run, everyone was very friendly. There was another sock knitter a few people back, and several people commented on the sock.

One even took a picture and posted it to twitter. Please excuse my hair in that photo. It looks better in this one, which was also posted to twitter, but the sock is hiding.

I wanted to get a picture of Neil holding the sock (a la Steph), but the very first thing he said upon arriving was that he was not going to do posed photos, as that was what had held up the line at his previous signing. He did, however, autograph my “line starts here” sign as well as my book. (I cannot express how annoyed I am with myself for not bringing my stamp packet.)

Another couple of sessions, and that was it for my ALA. I crashed at my sister’s around 6 PM and woke up at 7 the next morning, enough time to pack up, go to Joy’s for another lunch, and get to the airport almost exactly one hour before my scheduled departure.

The next day, K, Little Miss, and I drove down to Sea World for a couple of days, followed by a couple of days of laundry and other chores before returning to work.

There hasn’t been much knitting since we’ve been back, just a little bit of test-knitting that isn’t bloggable, and it’s going to be All Cross-Stitch All the Time around here before long.  But maybe poor neglected Miss Honeychurch will finally get some quality time.

Where I’ve Been, Part II

My Conference Schedule – a masterpiece of planning that involved the official Event Planner, my datebook, a bunch of printed e-mails, and an Excel spreadsheet – got all messed up quite quickly. A program I’d been looking forward to on Saturday afternoon was canceled, leaving me with a block of free time. I hopped a shuttle bus to the hotels and went for a walk.

I walked by Millennium Park, home of a fountain I had just seen on Samantha Brown’s Great Weekends:

Fountain

Y’know, I lived in Chicago for the first half of the year 2000, and this whole Millennium Park business hadn’t even been built yet.

I ogled the architecture, one of the things I miss:

Architecture

I have no idea what that building is.

And I made my way down to Loopy Yarns, where my Only Buy Things You Can’t Get At Home rule allowed me to buy two skeins of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in Loopy’s exclusive colorway. (Also, a pen with a tape measure on it and a Stix Fix kit.)

Lorna's Laces Loopy

I was really surprised by how small the selection of Lorna’s Laces was, since it’s a local dyer. I would have loved to pick up some Helen’s Lace, but I learned that Loopy recently stopped carrying it. Bummer.

I was also a little surprised that the prices on Shepherd Sock were higher than the prices at my LYS, which are already a little higher than MSRP. And that’s before Chicago’s crazy taxes.

Since I went to Loopy on Saturday, I didn’t make it there on Sunday. Instead, on Sunday, I took a trip up to my old neighborhood. I admired the rainbow pylons:

Pylon

True story: when I rented my Chicago apartment over a quick trip as an about-to-graduate college senior, I had no idea that I was a block east of Boystown. Then, the day I moved in, my dad I drove past these pylons.

After a stroll down Memory Lane North Halstead, I went to my favorite restaurant for lunch. You can’t get these vegetable rolls anywhere else (except their other location in Chicago):

Spring Roll

I also popped into my favorite bookstore for a copy of The Graveyard Book, which I wanted to have signed, and my old hardware store, where I finally found some of those vinyl caps that (when combined with stretchy cord) make fantastic dpn holders. Finally, I headed up to Arcadia Knitting, where I was seriously disappointed (again!) in the tiny selection of Lorna’s Laces. I debated buying some LL Angel in the “Go Bears!” colorway, but I don’t see myself knitting angora anytime soon. Alas, I left empty-handed.

Where I’ve Been, Part I

The silence around here has been for one big reason: I was on vacation.  And it was lovely.  I had several days at home (“staycation”), one of which happened to be either our fourth or first wedding anniversary (depending on who’s doing the counting).  Then, I took off for Chicago.  I got my bamboo dpns through security with no problem, and I did this on the flight from Burbank to Phoenix:

Sock in Progress

A toe in the very soft Artsygal Stripes.

I had about three hours between flights in Phoenix, which turned out to be a very good thing.  I was booked on a different airline for the second leg of my flight.  When I got off the little plane from California, the only monitors in the terminal were for my original airline, and I had no idea where to go.  Eventually, someone told me I needed to be in Terminal 2.  Since I didn’t know which terminal I was in, this wasn’t entirely helpful, but I went with it.

I had to go outside, get on a bus, ride to Terminal 2, go through Security again, and find my new gate.  Bless the Airport Volunteer who warned me which bus would go to the Terminals and which bus went to the parking garages first.

And on the flight from Phoenix to Chicago, I did this:

Sock in Progress

A very simple improvised pattern for a toe-up 2×2 rib sock.  At this point, I was about ready to turn the heel.  Unfortunately, after two attempts to do a short-row heel without a bunch of little holes, I came home with a still-unturned sock.  Since the Artsygal yarn is a little thinner than some of the other yarns I’ve used, I think I want to go down to size US1 needles and start over anyway.

When I arrived in Chicago, my sister was there to pick me up in her car.  Ah, the joy of not having to take the Blue Line into the city.  My sister just bought herself a 2-bedroom condo, so I even had a room to myself while staying with her.  She’s so new to the building, her name hasn’t yet been added to the directory in the lobby.  While waiting for her to park her car, though, I did notice this listing:

For Reals?

How would you like A Dumdum for a neighbor?

Actually, my sister’s neighbors seem perfectly pleasant.  At least, the one we met in the elevator was.

My travelling sock accompanied me to the ALA Conference, where I caused a tiny stir by knitting in a signing line, but that’s a tale for another day.

Stashin’ on Sunday

Friday afternoon, this arrived on my doorstep:

Sappho I

Sanguine Gryphon Sappho I in “There You Are”, a lovely muted blend of blues and purples. That picture does not do it justice. I attempted to make a DIY Macro Studio out of a cardboard box and waxed paper, but I am having difficulty with the lighting source. Direct sunlight is clearly not bright enough. Out from under the waxed paper, the direct sun is too bright. I am still working on it.

I bought that skein from Gryphon’s online shop, along with a copy of the pattern for Call of the Sirens, and two bars of soap. Gryphon usually includes a little sample bit of soap in her packages. My first order from her (the yarn for the Chicago Illusion blanket) came with a bit of clove-scented soap.

I am building up a bit of a laceweight yarn stash to complement my sock yarn stash.

I’m looking forward to doing a bit of vacation stash enhancement next weekend, when I’m in Chicago for the ALA Conference.  I’m planning to be at Loopy Yarns around 12 Noon on Sunday (7/12) and Arcadia Knitting around 12 Noon on Tuesday (7/14). Going to be there, too? Drop me a comment! I hear there’s a Knit Night at Loopy Yarns on Friday evenings; I won’t be in town early enough to take part in that.

Fair Day

It was a very long weekend Chez Points West. Friday, I worked until 6, taking my lunch hour in the middle of the afternoon to run a Very Important Errand. Immediately after work, I was off to a party at my boss’ house, stopping only for some mayo and some cookies, as it was a potluck BBQ. It was a going away party for a coworker who is going to spend the academic year in Wales, and we partied the evening away.

I was up early the next morning for our annual visit to the County Fair. I love the County Fair. I love that Los Angeles has a County Fair. One of these years, I will enter the County Fair, but so far, I’ve just been an observer.

A few years ago, we saw two baby goats born right in front of us, but all of the pregnant animals stayed pregnant while we were in the barn this year. The highlight of the day was a visit to the petting zoo, where Little Miss got to pet a real, live sheep:

Petting a sheep

That came after our visit to this spot:

Vintage Craft Barn

The Vintage Craft Barn, where I got an impromptu spindle lesson, and Little Miss tried her hand at weaving:

Trying some weaving

Later, K and Little Miss checked out the pig races while I stayed in the Tapestry building. I’m always impressed and amused by the Tablescaping entries. My favorite this year was entered under the theme “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.

Tablescaping Entry

It’s a gay engagement breakfast, in honor of California’s acceptance of marriage equality. See? Two grooms!

Tablescaping Entry

As an aside, I love those salt and pepper shakers.

And, they included a little something for the cat:

Something for the Cat

The yarn addict in me loves the Tiffany Blue yarn, but the cat person side of me is slightly horrified, since letting a cat play with a ball of yarn tends to lead to bad results for the cat (not to mention the yarn).

After Tablescaping, I spent a good long time checking out the needlearts displays. I saw one verrrrrry familiar pattern:

Clapotis

Sure enough, it’s a Clapotis. It said so on the entry card. This picture also gives you an idea of why the needlearts displays at the L.A. Fair make me a little crazy. They arrange the items by color or theme, rather than putting all the entries in a single category together. This makes it impossible to compare items (which might be what they’re going for), and nearly impossible to find a particular entry. They can look up an entry for you at the information kiosks if you want to find your own (or a friend’s). There are a few exceptions to this rule – all of the handspinning entries seemed to be in one spot. Although, if that’s true, there weren’t many entries. I’m not entirely sure they display all of the entries in all of the categories. It’s very confusing.

The Yarn Harlot Does LA

Yesterday was my first Saturday off in a few weeks, and I was busybusybusy. Little Miss and I got a late start on going to our church’s Yard Sale, then walked by another yard sale (with a not so much accurate sign that said “Estate Sale”) where I bought a bunch of buttons. After picking up a cinnamon roll for K, we headed home, and Little Miss went down for a nap.

Then, it was out the door again, this time all by myself, to drive downtown for the Yarn Harlot. It was odd being in the Central Library in a non-work-related situation. I had to borrow K’s library card in order to get my parking validated, since I can’t find my card. (I memorized the number some time ago. The sad thing is that this is the second card I’ve lost. I’d be more concerned about it if I weren’t checking my own account activity on a very regular basis, so I know no one else is using it.) Stephanie was highly entertaining, even while being (unknowingly) threatened by the Giant DPNs of Doom:

 

harlot

She’s not nearly so blurry in real life, but I was three rows from the back of the auditorium. “Get there 10 minutes early,” said K. Yeah. Sure. I was in line 20 minutes before the start time, and I was still nearly in the back row. In fact, I was in just about the same seat I usually occupy during the monthly Book Order meetings. And, yes, that’s a sock she’s knitting during the Q&A time.  My knitting is not so blurry in real life, either, but it’s a test project, so I won’t be putting up a real picture of that until the pattern goes live.

I found out about the test knitting gig through (where else?) Ravelry, where I also found out that the Yarn Pirate Booty Club is open for enrollment. With all of these new opportunities to spend money, I am in search of new financial planning software. I am not loving the Quicken 2004 I’ve been using. Any recommendations for a Mac-OS-X-Tiger-friendly program?

Goodies

Many thanks to Ellen, who reminded me about the Fabulous Fiber Fest going on this weekend. I did have it on my calendar already, but it was nice to get a reminder.  I loaded Little Miss into the car, and the two of us hit the Fest on its last day this morning.

I was a little surprised that there didn’t seem to be any local yarn vendors there.  Maybe I was spoiled by Stitches West a few years back, but I remember a bunch of Bay Area shops had space in the Expo.  The Fiber Fest was a little smaller than I would have imagined, but that didn’t stop me from spending some money. I started out at Carolina Homespun, where I picked up some sock yarn.

tofutsies
Tofutsies

bearfoot
Mountain Colors Bearfoot

I also came thisclose to buying some fantastic pink Pygora from Peppermint Pastures, and then I remembered that I don’t spin.  I wandered around until I came across Sheila & Michael Ernst of Glass Pens, from whom I picked up a little more sock yarn.

bluegrass
Fly*Dyed Monarch 3-ply

I strolled past Lisa Souza‘s booth a couple times before stopping and buying some laceweight.

souzalace
Lace

At that point, Little Miss was getting hungry, and I had spent all my money, so it was time to go. Next year, I’m taking a spinning class. Maybe. We’ll see.

Something Else

There will, at some point, be knitting content on this blog again. In the meantime, I leave you with something I saw at the County Fair.
061007a

All the way on the end, there. The Krispy Kreme Chicken Sandwich. Why? Not to mention the Fresh Veggie Combo, all of which is deep-fried.

On the Metro

from the hills to the chills it’s a quick fall down
it’s a great big city, it’s a real small town

~Jude, “Out of L.A.”

I will talk about some knitting on this knitting blog, eventually. But first, I have to talk about Los Angeles. Specifically, I have to talk about public transit in Los Angeles.

Hey, I can hear you laughing. But L.A. does, in fact, have public transit. It has a subway system called the Metro.

I don’t take the Metro very often. For the most part, it doesn’t actually go where I need to go. But when I need to go downtown, it works just fine.

The last time I took it, I was in such a good mood that I gave a homeless lady my 75 cents change from buying my ticket. Today, I was not in such a good mood. Last night, I found and charged my iPod specifically to make myself less approachable.

It didn’t work.

While I was buying my second ticket of the day, a clearly unwell man crowded me at the machine, and when I didn’t talk to him, he poked me in the arm. I think he was a little surprised when I responded with “Do not touch me.”

Let’s talk about that machine for a moment, and why I needed two tickets.

I’ve taken public transit in several cities. New York. London. Paris. Chicago. In Chicago, I took it a lot, because I lived there for a little over a year. I had a MetroCard, which I regularly stuck into a machine to add money for the next few weeks’ worth of rides. Every time I got on the bus or went through the turnstile for the El, I ran the card through a machine.

The Metro has no turnstiles. It also has no MetroCard or anything similar, which makes sense, since there’s nowhere to scan such a thing. Instead, if you take the Metro regularly, you can purchase monthly passes. If you take the Metro every once in a while, like me, you have to stop at the station and purchase a ticket from a machine. Tickets are $1.25 each way, with a Day Pass costing $3, so you can’t even get a round-trip ticket. If you are caught on the Metro without a valid ticket, it’s a $250 fine.

I have never been asked to show my ticket. And, yet, I buy one every single time I take the Metro. And, more often than not, I get approached while at the ticket machine.

This is a very weird system. And I haven’t even mentioned the part where you can buy tokens elsewhere for slightly less than $1.25 each – tokens that you still have to put in the machine to buy a ticket when you get there.

Still, it’s less frustrating (and less expensive) than driving downtown and parking for the day. And considerably more conducive to knitting.