Worshipping the Harlot

Ritual_sock_photo Staci_christine It may not have been the first time that Stephanie spoke in a church, but it seemed an appropriate venue for her to hold court over the knitting cult of which she is inarguably the High Priestess (at least since EZ‘s passing).  While the faithful awaited Her arrival, heads bowed in an attitude of prayer, fingering needles in that sacred act of devotion, sock-knitting, we communed with the ancient spirits of the knitting goddesses. Can you feel the love?  We could, every last one of us.  Though her voice was much lower and more powerful than I expected, she displayed a gift for timing essential to any stand-up comic.  She was hilarious and masterful!  Signing_1 After speaking she retired to the newly refinished and air-conditioned garage at Hill Country Weavers where she graciously signed books, posed for photos, occasionally accepting tokens from the devoted and sweaty knitters lined up, knitting, talking and drinking beer.  There were chocolate brownies in the store if you drew a really high number and were forced to wait somewhere out of the direct Texas sun.  Waiting_1 Actually moving through the store to shop for yarn was a bit challenging as people were packed tighter in there than yarn.  Some waited outside the shop seeking out shade and grassy spots to sit.

Break_1  Stephanie required a little break midway through the signing and had to run next door into the shop – apparently they ran out of brownies in the garage and it was an emergency.  I captured the shot of her running back to the garage with the HCW sign in the foreground. 

After the signing we all trekked down to Guero’s for the Post-Harlot party and shared chips and queso (recommended – yum) and beverages with our sisters from outside Austin who made the pilgrimage: Christine_kristen_2 They came from Waco, Killeen, San Antonio, Houston, and even Louisianna.  Likely other places too, but I didn’t get to meet all of them.  Sarah brought sock bags that she made to trade and Christine and Kristen showed off theirs. The food was good the beer was really good and the company was simply outstanding.  This whole 24 hour period with knitting friends was some of the most fun I have had in ages.  I want to do it again.  Suzanne from HCW was fabulous to not only provide us with the Harlot, but also with beer and brownies and a cheerful disposition on a hot day with a deadline to facilitate the signing of up to 300 books and get Stephanie to the airport on time. 

Gifts_1 Christine and Katy stayed at my house on Friday night and Staci stayed nearby and joined us for meals and fun.  Staci has some great photos of her first trip to Austin and Christine has a play by play of the event at her blog.  Knitters make the very best guests to have in your home!  They ignore the mess in your house and they respect your stash and absolutely bring the best gifts you can imagine.  I can’t thank them enough, I am pretty sure that the lumpy futon and canned cinnamon rolls for breakfast wasn’t worthy, but I’m keeping the gifts none-the-less.  You gals can stay with me anytime.

1 More Day and an Open Letter to the Yarn Harlot

Dear Stephanie,

We are really excited that you are coming to Austin! I see by your tour schedule that you are really booked this trip. If you need a ride just say the word, I live just 15 minutes from the airport.  I’ll be happy to take you where ever you need to go, I used to drive a taxi in Austin, so I know my way around pretty well.  Of course you could always hang at my house, I’m hosting a couple of knitter/bloggers who are coming in from out of town just to see you. I know you are headed to Ann Arbor on Sunday but we would love it if you would join us for lunch and refreshments at Guero’s after your gig at HCW, as we’ve planned a little Post-Harlot gathering of Knitter/Bloggers

I hope I haven’t alarmed you with all my going on and on about your visit.  Really it’s enthusiastic Southern hospitality and not an unhealthy obsession.  I have tremendous respect for your work not to be confused with unchecked celebrity worship.  Yes, I understand that Stalker Angie will be here, but I have been assured she is harmless, in fact, they say she is a lot of fun. We all want to meet you, touch you, have our pictures taken with you, basking in our own proximity to greatness.  Do you by any chance carry mace?

If you didn’t bring a tank top and flip flops, you can pick some up at the Walmart.  It’s forecast to be in the mid-90′s on Saturday which isn’t bad really, but with humidity and all, well, sorry, there really isn’t much we can do but suggest you stay indoors. 

Stephanie, welcome to Texas.  We hope you find our people friendly, our food spicy and our air, well, it’s like a blast furnace, just move slowly and stay in the shade.  And maybe next time you can bring the whole family!  If there’s anything you need while you are here, don’t hesitate to call on me.

Your truly,


2 Days to Harlot – and Goodies in My Mail

Mail After work yesterday I found this package of goodies in the mail.  I won a random drawing over at Vicki’s last week for an extra IK mag she had.  Yesterday it arrived with a bonus!  I now own a lovely Ball Band Dishrag!  Isn’t that cool?  I don’t even have the pattern yet (the book is on my wish list).  Funny this dishrag thing that’s taken over the blogosphere.  I myself knitted 2 of Kay’s 9-patch dishrags for my sister-in-law last week while they were visiting. This may be Our Summer of Dishrags.

Anyway, finally after dinner, a couple of loads of clothes through the laundry, the kid put to bed, I get to sit down with my new mag.  It’s from 2002 and there are several fabulous designs in there!  Not to mention the tutorial on argyle which also seems to be enjoying renewed populatarity.  And the staff project is wrist warmers with beads.  Very cute.  Anyway it’s going to be a great knitting mag to have and I really appreciate Vicki for offering it up and I love the dishrag – thank you Vicki!

Some knitters purchase yarn with a pattern and a plan.  They buy with a specific goal, and most of it is used more or less immediately and as planned.  Others talk about the yarn "telling them what it wants to be." They buy and hoard yarns, seemingly at random, until a yarn speaks to them about its destiny.  There is sometimes a lag of 20 years or more between a yarn purchase and its realization as a knitted item, although there may be several periods of swatching and "false starts." This process cannot be rushed, or failure is certain.

Both ways are good, but if you prefer the latter, you need way more closet space.

-Stephanie Pearl McPhee, At Knit’s End, Meditations for Women Who Knit too Much

3 Days to Harlot – Finding the Harlot and What Non-Knitters Think

Many of us who have read the Yarn Harlot for very long think of her as a soul sister, a friend, a teacher, a role model, a leader, a marvel and an icon.  We live vicariously through her posts be they humourous or poignant.  We commiserate with her frustrations and we delight in her tremendous success.  She is one of us.  A knitter.  And a damn fine one.  But it is because of her blog that we of the blogosphere know about her.  Yes, she was writing before she blogged.  But her blog was the connection to the rest of us because if you were anything like me, before the internets came along, you pretty much knitted in obscurity and annonymity.  We knitted, but it was kind of a lonely, desolate passtime.  I never even dreamed it could have a social aspect, much less a community as robust and diverse as the one that has erupted in my life and perhaps yours too. 

I found Stephanie’s blog completely by accident and early in her blogging career.  Early enough that I often commented and actually got responses from her.  I admit that I don’t comment as often now since the posts routinely total in the 2,3 and 4 hundreds.  Unless I have something really original to say, I don’t say anything.  I’m not about to read all the comments either, just to see if I have an original contribution to make.  It’s up to Stephanie to read them, not me.  I had blogged before I found her, but it was a different blog, mostly about politics and ideas, like I was actually going to make a difference – very unfulfilling.  But I had stopped.  I didn’t know about the knit blogs – and there weren’t that many way back then.  But Stephanie sparked in me the desire to join the fray again.  This time among like-minded folks.  I am sure she had a similar affect on lots of people. 

It’s funny, I feel I know more about Stephanie than I know about friends I have known for decades.  She has that affect on her reader.  But we’re mostly all knitters or fiber artists.  What about people who don’t knit.  How hard is it to try to explain adequately what the Harlot is all about to someone who doesn’t knit or spin?  Well, it’s a challenge.  Sometimes I don’t even bother.  But I was curious about the world at large.  We know what knitters think of her.  What about the non-knitters?  So I did a little research.  If you know of others, add to the comments, but here’s a sampling:



Post-Gazette.com article


The Bean Blog

A critique by a somewhat Knitter

Harloted (verb)

To find your blog innundated by a vast army of knitters in response to a link from the Yarn Harlot. (Similar to getting Slashdotted but by much nicer people.) Effects include blog comments from total strangers and a feeling of bogglement that lasts at least 24 hours after the initial Harlot posting.

via Quantum Tea

Edited to addChistine is planning the After-Harlot gathering, so check her out!

4 Days to Harlot – and a Meme

Catherine tagged me for this meme.  And since I have no will of my own today, I must comply.

5 Things always in my purse:

  • sunglasses
  • wallet
  • keys
  • Sandisk MP3 player
  • cell phone

5 Things always in my wallet:

  • Driver’s license
  • ATM card
  • Voter Registration card
  • Insurance cards
  • Hunting/Fishing license

5 Things always in my refrigerator:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Diet Dr. Pepper
  • Butter (real butter, not margerine)
  • Powdered buttermilk mix (hey, who keeps fresh buttermilk? You never know when you might need to bake)

5 Things always in my closet:

  • Clothes I’m not currently wearing
  • Suitcases
  • Xmas decorations
  • Jewelry
  • Fireproof safe

5 Things always in my car:

  • Insurance card
  • tire pressure gauge
  • bungee cords
  • Childs safety/booster seat
  • Kleenex

5 Things always on my desk:

  • My desk is my laptop wherever it is.
  • digital camera
  • flash drive
  • computer glasses
  • beverage

5 People to tag:  Normally I don’t tag, but in honor of ‘Harlot in Texas’ Day on Saturday I am tagging just Texas KnitBloggers – Show us yer stuff girls:

5 Days to Harlot – And Waiting for Bats

Batwatch1 Living in the Austin area in the summer involves certain rituals especially when you have out-of-town guests.  Austin is famous for many things: Live music, State Government, The University of Texas, The Colorado River and the Congress Avenue Bats.  If they visit in spring or summer, most of our guests are treated to at least one viewing of the bat emergence from the Congress Avenue Bridge, home to the largest urban bat colony in the world.  Batwatch2 If you come to Austin during the months that the bats are here, you must watch a bat emergence.  It’s quite a spectacle.  They bring in millions of tourist dollars to the area (no kidding) and they are the pride of every local naturalist.  BCI (Bat Conservation International) puts up a tent and answers questions and take donations.  The Austin American Statesman kindly allows parking for the bat viewers.  The city has erected informational kiosks at the venue and there is a bat sculpture at the intersection of Congress and Barton Springs near the bridge.

Batwatch3 At this time of year, the emergence begins to occur between 8:15 and 8:45pm every evening.  People begin arriving early to claim a patch of grass to wait.  Blankets are nice and folks bring out the whole family and then the photo session begins.  Apparently it has become traditional to photograph your party awaiting the bat emergence, even if you live in town.  Then while the children get antcy having to wait, you can walk along the running trail that runs along the lake and under the bridge.  The closer you get to the bridge, the stronger the smell.  Batwatch5Two million plus bats can create a lot of ammonia and it’s distinctive, but it’s not that bad – there is a much stronger smell from Bracken Cave (25 million bats between Austin and San Antonio).    You can hear them sqeaking louder and with more intensity as the time approaches that they actually begin to leave the bridge.

These particular bats are Mexican Free-tailed bats, Tadarida brasiliensis. This colony is a nursery colony which means that all the inhabitants of the bridge are females and their offspring.  Free-tails are 5 before they reach sexual maturity and then produce one young per year.  By August, the young begin to fly with their mothers on nightly foraging trips and then the volume of the emergence doubles.

Sometimes, people come up to me when I am knitting and they say things like, "oh, I wish I could knit, but I’m just not the kind of person who can sit and waste time like that." How can knitting be wasting time? First, I never just knit: I knit and think, knit and listen, knit and watch.  Second, you aren’t wasting time if you get a useful or beautiful object at the end of it.

I will remember that not everyone understands.  I will resist the urge to ask others what they do when they watch TV.

Stephanie Pearl McPhee, At Knit’s End, Meditations for Women Who Knit too Much

Stephanie is a strong woman.  I’m not sure I could resist the urge.  When people tell me that they wish they could knit, I inform them that there are men who can knit and if men can do it, anyone can.

6 Days to Harlot – The days drag on

It’s 95 degrees outside right now, and the forecast for next Saturday, Unofficial Harlot in Texas Day, is projected to be 97 and cloudy.  If we can stay out of the triple digits, we might be okay.  Does anyone know the actual melting point for Canadians?  Of course if you factor in the humidity, all bets are off.  Precious few things are blooming in this hot environment.  A couple of sturdy wildflowers and a few natives I bother to water. 

My Harlot reflection today is one that tickles my husband and me to no end.  Mostly because of how much he values his sleep and how much I value my knitting accomplishments.

"It took me years and years of trial efforts to work out that there is absolutely no knitting triumph I can achieve that my husband will think is worth being woken up for.

As strange as I find this, I will try to respect it"

-Stephanie Pearl McPhee, At Knit’s End, Meditations for Women Who Knit too Much

7 Days to Harlot – and Saturday Sky

I didn’t put it off today, Sandy.  I also harvested my first cantalope today, it’s smallish, but I bet it’s sweet.  Crops
Also, the calabasa squash continues to put out more than we can consume.  And the pears are starting to fall from the tree all by themselves, so I take that as a sign they might be ready.  There are 3 different varieties of pears on this nearly 40 year old tree and here’s two of them.  I don’t know the variety names, but i think the brownish one is a Bartlett.

8 Days to Harlot – A Cautionary Tale

Beth piped in about her favorite Harlot post and that’s EXACTLY what I had in mind for today.  The most hilarious post I ever read was her post about locking herself out of her hotel room.  This one is classic Lucille Ball.  I tried to read it to my husband and I couldn’t get through it because I was so overcome.  Have you ever laughed so hard that nothing comes out – like you’ve lost the power to speak, laugh, cry out in pain?  You just shudder and cry and gasp for air, try desparately to maintain control of your bladder and shake your head – no, you aren’t in pain.  That is true hysteria.  That is the power of the Harlot.

There is the Downside

Is it any wonder that we just love her to pieces?