Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Of Yarn and Harlots

I have seen the Yarn Harlot

And it was fantastic. The Cuddlefish is still incomplete - true to knitterly type, I thought that the space-time continuum would bend around me, allowing me to finish the fin (which needed to be re-done), the siphon (which just needs grafting, really) and all the remaining tentacles during the two-hour car ride from College Station to Spring. As it turns out, Twisted Yarns isn't that far from my parents' houses in Houston, which means I will definitely be going back if I can wheedle Sweetie into it next time we're in the area. I also got tips on locations for a few other yarn shops in Houston that are supposed to be a little more helpfull than Yarntopia. Don't get me wrong, I loves me some Yarntopia (I think they're the only Fleece Artist-having shop in texas?), but they do seem to be not as offering of assistance as many shops I've heard of. This, of course, makes me want to save up for a month or two (I will have that interim between when I'm paying off Galveston and when I start paying off my actual student loans) and hit every yarn shop between me and the coast. Must find friends to accompany me in this. Perhaps bribe Hastur with cross-stitch shops?

At any rate, I saw the Yarn Harlot. Sweetie and I left BCS around three, and since we were going to be traveling all day and I didn't want to be rude and break my fast while Stephanie was talking, I had food on the way over. This is the first time I've intentionally broken Ramadan, even though you're not supposed to fast while traveling anyway, so I'll be feeding someone some time this week to make up for it. Lucky for me college towns have no shortage of starving students.

So we arrived in Spring at around 5:00, found the school and settled down for a bit of a wait. We met two girls from Austin, one of whom reminded both Sweetie and myself of an old friend of ours; we (the Austin girls and myself) spied on other knitters to see what they were making; I got volunteered to go and ask about a few projects that looked especially interesting.

There was a lady working on the Print o' the Wave Stole from Victorian Lace Today, but I swear to you, she was using cobweb-weight yarn and what looked like size 0 or 1 needles. It was awesome. She didn't remember what brand the yarn was.

There was a girl around my age (which is 25-ish, if you wondered) wearing the Breakfast Hat. You know the one, with the eggs and the bacon and the peas? She was wearing bacon on her head! It was fabulous. We chatted together at the yarn shop later.

Then there was the girl in the Venezia pullover. When she walked in the room, fashionably less-early, you could hear all the murmurs spring up. She was gorgeous, the sweater was gorgeous, it looked just like the model, she looked just like a model, ohmygoodness, how long do you think it took to make, can you believe in this weather? So, yes. Instant street cred. Even Sweetie noticed. (as a side note, one of the Austin girls asked, and it took her five months to complete. Worth every minute. I hope she doesn't change size.)

And then, of course, was the Yarn Harlot.

She was smart, she was funny, and even Sweetie not only had a good time; he said that she was funnier than most stand-up comedians (which sounds bad, now that I think about it, but he listens to a lot of stand-up comedians, so that's high praise indeed from a non-knitter. He was even telling some of her jokes at work this morning, and wants to borrow my copies of her books. He already likes tatting and macrame. I may have to casually leave some needles and a how-to book in his cubicle). I know whenever I've read blogs in the past talking about listening to Yarn Harlot I've been frustrated by their lack of detail (and sound recordings, to be honest), but it really is so much fun and audience participation that I know I couldn't do it justice. I knit through a lot of it, as did much of the audience, but it was just the fin. Just garter stitch. Hardly knitting at all, and I often had to stop and double over laughing, or clap, or wave the Cuddlefish around in the air (if you've heard her speak, you know what I'm talking about). It really is an experience, and I highly recommend it.

After the talk, at Twisted Yarns, I picked up a mere two balls of yarn, one jojoland Harmony in yellows and oranges that'll make a nice, bright lace scarf, and one earthy red Hempathy for fixing a co-worker's sweater (I'll need to call this yarn shop and have them mail me a few balls of queensland Kathmandu; they had colors I can't usually get, and I do need to get on those baby sweaters before the kids are born). We stood in line for only a little while, having got there early, and the Venezia girl was right behind us. Turns out she'll be moving to Aggieland soon!

When we got up to see Stephanie, she signed both my copy of her book, and my Idea Book, which if you'll recall was also signed by Amy Singer and Jillian Moreno. It's got good mojo. Sweetie asked her if she could recommend a good Canadian beer, which she did, and which I'm going to try and find for him while he's gone fishing next weekend. I showed her my Cuddlefish, explaining how I'd somehow thought he'd be done in time even though that was obviously impossible, and she laughed and took a picture. When I explained that he was in fact going to be as anatomically correct a cuttlefish as I could manage, she told me, "you're crazy, which is not to say I don't like you a great deal, but you're a complete lunatic."

So I'm really hoping she happens to link to me. I'm going to post the patterns tonight for the Anya scarf, and link to finished photos of Galveston, just in case. I'd post Emma, but my sister never has gotten around to getting pictures of herself in it, and I made her promise to be the model. Seeing Emma this last weekend reminded me how much I really love that scarf; I may have to get working on one for myself.

In non-harlot-y news, and speaking of last weekend, after taking LittlestBrother to the museum to see Lucy (which was sold out when we got there, so we went to the regular exhibits, and will go again sometime soon; they had awesome "I love Lucy" shirts in the gift shop), I stayed the night (Sweetie went home) and my dad, LittlestBrother and I went and saw PrimaryBrother in Austin. What this boiled down to was about four hours of driving time where it was me and my dad talking, which led to the dreaded "what are you planning to do with your life" conversation. I told my dad my plans, which are cautious but optimistic, and mentioned as a side note that it would be amazing to start a woollen mill in Texas. He was actually interested in why this was, so I explained as best I could.

There's a lot of sheep and goats in Texas. Texas is the biggest producer of Mohair in the US, and we make a lot of wool as well. Much of this is in the Hill Country, as in Austin, where Sweetie and I would one day like to live. So far as my (admittedly internet-based) powers of research can find, there are no operational woollen mills in Texas. Ergo, folks have to ship wool out of state to get it processed, which is expensive and takes a long time. If there were a mill right in the middle of Texas hill country, I figure, people would have a shorter turn-around time for processing, could even drop it off in person to save shipping entirely, and the mill would have good business, what with all the sheep and goats. You could do it in a small space, like a barn, and it doesn't take a lot of people to run a mini mill, two or three can (and have) done so successfully. Plus, of course, I already know a lot of the venues for advertising, such as the wool festivals, and magazines, and Hastur knows a dyer in Houston who's been thinking of getting into yarn anyway, and I could design patterns for our yarns, which is a good draw, and if you put solar panels on the roof you'd have most of the energy you need, etc etc.

My dad thought about this for a while (I may have surprised him with how much information I'd spewed at him all at once; this has been known to happen on occassion) and said that in a year, his friend Hussain would have paid off a loan my dad had taken to help him start a business, and if I'd run all the numbers by then and it looked like a good business idea, he'd get the loan and we'd get some land and try this out. He recommended I try to find used equipment, and talk to other mill owners.

I'm super excited. I've already contacted the guys from Wooly Knob up in Indiana, and they told me to give them a call and they'd chat with me about starting a mill with two people and what it's really like. The thing I'm most concerned about (aside from financial feasibility, of course) is recycling the water from scouring. I found an equipment manufacturer ( whose scouring machine recycles 40% of the water used, which is great, but I wonder if there are other ways that could be better than that. Austin is right over the Edwards Aquifer, and water is a Big Fucking Deal in that area. You can't use too much, and you definitely don't want to be contaminating the aquifer. I read about a mill that was able to recycle 90% of its wastewater as lanolin and various forms of organic fertilizer (the pesticides being caught up with the lanolin, which the cosmetic companies then de-poison-ify), so I know it can be done. All in all I know I've got a lot more research to do, but luckily I have a whole year in which to plan both a mill and a wedding.

And with that, I guess I'd better get back to my day job.


Twisted Knitter said...

You're there and adorable! I got to talk to your "Sweetie" outside -- he seems to have had a good time!

Micky said...

Yea I bounced over from the Harlot's page. I didn't make the connection until I saw where I was.

Liz said...

Ok, I am seriously blushing here... says the girl in the Venezia. I'm glad the Harlot linked to you, now I can totally stalk you when I move back to CS in a few months. Muahahaha.

Oh, and the plan is to not gain weight EVER (ha), but if I do I'll find a way to convert the thing into a (scratchy but impressive) pillow cover. Oh, and it was plenty cool in that auditorium for it, but I did die a little when I went outside with it on.

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog today,via harlot,I'm sorry I missed the Galveston shawl KAL. It's one of my favorite places to go. I will be visiting often

Amber said...

Also here via Harlot --

I am LOVING the idea of a cuddlefish!!! (I'm a biologist...I wanted to study cephalopods, but nooo...I got bryozoa instead.)

Kit said...

Thanks for giving me this address, you. Now I can read you when I get lonely at work! Yay. Oh, and if you're ever interested...