Friday, August 14, 2009

I Just Don't Know Where to Begin.

I could begin at the beginning, but I am not certain where the beginning is. Would it be the day I found out about Sock Summit? The day I decided to throw my hat into the ring as a potential teacher? Or the day my phone rang and Stephanie's voice said "Hi Melissa. We'd like you to teach at Sock Summit"? Or maybe it would be the day The Teacher List was posted and - you were right, Stephanie, my mind was utterly blown - I saw that amazing collection of names and realized that somehow mine was among them? Or should I skip all of that and begin with the day I stepped onto the elevator at the hotel in Portland and discovered that the only other occupant was Barbara Walker. All I could do was reach out and push '1', since there was of course no possible way she and I were both heading for the same destination (which we were, 6th floor, teacher dinner) and since I wasn't capable of speech and had to do something with my hands.
I've already told you about the awesome book signing, amazing students, fan-girl moments with EZ's stocking that left me nearly speechless - or completely speechless, which for me is a far stretch, believe you me. I could start by telling you about my fantastic roommate, the brilliant Sivia Harding who's talent appears to know no bounds. I could really tell you about the dangers of shopping with Clara Parkes, who adds to the already painful temptation of excellent yarns by tossing out tidbits like "That's an amazing yarn..." which she then follows with a series of very real reasons why this yarn is exceptional, and why you need it. This creates a perfect storm of sensory overload combined with impeccable taste and such rational thinking that your credit card magically climbs from your wallet while you continue to fondle what's about to be your latest purchase. I think Mister Wonderful is upright now - for a while the yarn receipts had him flat.
When I was a kid my sister Laurie brought home the Woodstock album, the original, in 1969, an Aquarian Exposition tucked into a New York farm field. (I still have the album here someplace and am convinced that my birth in 1967 just prior to the summer of love has had tremendous influence on me even though I was reared well away from the Haight). Too young to grasp the drugs part of the equation, I just reveled in the idea of a peaceful, loving festival where people could gather and share. Sock Summit was my Woodstock. I saw great things, and met amazing knitters - and not just the famous ones. At breakfast one morning when the coffee mugs had run out and the staff were struggling valiantly to get by, I saw knitters jump up and grab coffee and water jugs and keep the place contented until order could be restored. Knitters are like that. Need help? We're here!
I had two classes stuffed with dedicated knitters with great senses of humor, and a true dedication to their craft. I experienced first hand the generosity of knitting culture when a knitter insisted I share her sleeper car from Portland to Chicago, and Mary Ellen, one of the moderators on the 2-at-a-Time Socks board at Ravelry became my personal volunteer, fetching chai and generally standing by in case of need or want, and when Judy Becker made her way into the center of Portland and retrieved my Flower Basket Shawl from the hotel where I'd left it behind in a hasty retreat.
It's taken me a few days to get to this as I noted above. A long train ride (pictures below) and the excitement of the event kept me musing for a while. But here's what I think you really should know about Sock Summit: No one can say enough good things about Stephanie and Tina and the amazing job they and their ST-2 team and all the volunteers and vendors and teachers and others did to make this event work as seamlessly and flawlessly as it did. No one. These are truly amazing women, with a handful of men in there as well. Every minute, from the teacher dinner that left me stunned and speechless as I scanned around the room and realized that the knitters who've most influenced me as a designer and as a knitter, the women who's books I turn to time and time again were right there, to the Luminary Panel that brought togethernot just an amazing group of knitters and women, but a wide variety of opinions and ideas about our craft,to Stephen's delightful and charming Janie Sparkles sprawled on her back while I rubbed her tummy - every minute was savored and every moment nearly perfection. And, a bit like Woodstock, if you can really remember Sock Summit, maybe you weren't there. Because if you're anything like me it just blew your mind.
I hope there are more, and I hope you all can come. I hope I get to teach again, and I am so very grateful to ST-1 for giving me the chance to be a part of the FIRST Sock Summit. I hope you get a chance to meet my fellow teachers, one and all, because they are amazing people.

Now, train trip eye-candy for vicarious travelers:
Sunset. I don't know where any more. In fact most of these images will just have to be pretty because I can hardly remember the trip!
The Great Plains - I have wanted to see them ever since I was a little girl enamoured of Laura Ingalls Wilder
Descending from Glacier National Park I spied a creek that looks exactly like Lorna's Laces Baltic Sea, I kid you not!

Mountain in Glacier I believe.

Wind power alive and well in Montana.

The little net cage thing in the sleeper to keep me from flipping out of bed should the evening get rough - and sometimes it does! Between some rough bits of track and the need for speed, there's a lot of banging around.


Leaving the mountains behind.

Glacier Park entrance, right on the rail line.

More of "Baltic Sea" creek


Sunrise, followed by a string of pictures that just speak for themselves.

A river in I believe Cut Bank, Montana.

Grain elevator. There's a lot of them. For miles and miles you see nothing but unhealthy agribusiness "farms" and grain elevators, with an occasional abandoned farm thrown in for good measure. Some of the farm house are in use by Agribusiness folk as offices, others are stripped, gutted and appear to be ready for demolition. There's a lot of sadness from my perspective, a lot of loss of the idea of a family farm, a lot of desolation in spots. Empty things, abandoned things. I saw a whole abandoned town smack in the middle of a factory farm growing what appeared to be soybeans.

Minot, ND. We stopped for a while and I got off and stretched my legs. I did that any time we were allowed, because it feels good, and is a nice break from trying to walk on the moving train.

A picture perhaps only my sister Jamie would appreciate - when we were younger we travelled across the country on Amtrak to visit family in California. My mother was obsessed with the french toast. When I saw it being served, I just had to take a picture of it.


ME215 said...

Just a little surprised to see my name mentioned.... It was a pleasure finally meeting you in person and being your "personal volunteer" though I didn't do much. It's a job I'd volunteer for again. Anytime..... :)

After being thrown back into the craziness of work immediately (straight to the gym, then work when I got back), I don't think I've processed all I experienced and the wonder of everyone who I met in Portland. I haven't even finished unpacking yet... I sure hope there is a SS#2. Oh and after seeing your trip on Amtrak, I'd like to take an adventure by train soon....I'll keep you posted.

DrChopSuey said...

Wow! What an amazing trip! Thank you so so so much for sharing! I'm stuck in lab (doing a western blot and pcr) and this post just gave me a breath of fresh air. Thank you!