Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I Love This City

It seems strange when I think on it, that just a few short years ago I had never been to Manhattan, and was really downright afraid of it. I remember my first trip when I was shepherded around Book Expo by Amy Greeman, then acting in the role of handler/quasi-publicist, later to act as my actual publicist. She even did an entry here on this blog that I had forgotten.
I must have some mad city adaptation skills, because on this trip into the city for Vogue Knitting Live I popped out of Grand Central on Vanderbilt Avenue, crossed 45th to 5th, and headed uptown toward the Hilton without even checking my phone to see if I was going the right way. After checking in, being stalked by Carol while trying to leave the check-in desk (the official MMO stalker - accept NO substitutes!), and depositing my bag in my room, I headed out to find a snack and see some sights.

I found Radio City Music Hall.

And the Ziegfield Theater.

And the Radiance Tea House, with which I fell madly in love.

It may have been that the place is charming, or it may have been that I got on the train sans lunch and it was now approaching 5pm and I was something like starving. I ordered a delightful repast of homemade miso soup, sticky rice in a lotus leaf, and Hojicha tea. The tea is a slightly lower in caffiene green tea that's roasted to give it "a delicious earthy flavor with notes of cedar...". It was very very good.
I wandered a little more - to Central Park for a walk, and then I headed back to the hotel to get an early night, stopping along the way for the essentials of life - an emergency banana and apple - very handy in case of starvation.
The next morning we had an early teacher's meeting, which was really just a time to sit in a chair and breathe the same air as the knit-and-famous Knitterati. It was also a time to catch up with friends that I really only "see" mostly online. We got our room assignments, attendance sheets, and a run-down of the plans for the weekend.
When I travel to events like this I always worry that students will not be happy - that I will bite off my tongue, that they won't get what they came for, that I will not give them what they need. Particularly before the first class I get kind of freaked. I was so freaked, in fact, that I had the wrong materials with me. I raced back up to my room, and then to my classroom. My classes were in a converted guest room, which was a little tight, but we made it work. 14 people assembled to learn how to knit Toe-Up 2-at-a-Time Socks. We worked diligently through the morning session, and they made excellent progress. They were really excellent students. Focused and responsive, and I didn't spend hardly any time yelling at them - some classes can feel more like herding cats than teaching knitting. We're knitters and social by nature, so there's a lot of talking and sharing. Part of my job is keeping everyone focused. I tend to tell stories, which at least ensures that everyone is listening to me, so that when I need their attention, I already have it and don't have to yell over the voices of 15-30 excited knitters. Eventually I will run out of stories, I suppose, but for now it works.
At lunch time I headed out to the street to find something I could take back to the classroom with me. I like to be in the room during lunch in case students have questions or problems, so lunch needs to be quick. I found quick and YUM all in one - my official new favorite Halal Guy.
I love Halal carts. I love street food in general. I think that if I were young and could eat bread I might love hot dog carts in New York better. Or maybe not. I love the flavors of rice and veg and white sauce and hot sauce and cumin and the faint whiff of cinnamon all happily mixed up in my tin plate. And really, where else can you get "too much lunch" for $5?
I took my lunch back to my classroom (an action I would repeat all three days) and ate and rested for a bit until students returned. The afternoon session went smoothly, and by 4:30 I was fledging new 2-at-a-Time sock knitters into the halls of the Hilton and into the world beyond - good will sock ambassadors now who will assist in my goal of World 2-at-a-Time Sock Domination.
At 7:30pm there was a "Purls and Prosecco" reception for students and teachers. And I made a decision. Why not stalk Carol? I mean, every time I see her she's stalking me, and it really looks like it might be kind of fun. Don't you think? Following around a member of the Knitterati, taking pictures when they least expect it? Bribing hotel staff to give you a pair of undies or a few hairs from the hair brush for your attempts at voodoo? Serious fun, I think.
See, I told you. FUN! At the reception I saw more knitters I haven't seen in a while, and got to meet some new ones - I finally met Franklin (who, I must confess, is much shorter than I expected him to be, which was actually quite reassuring to my 59 3/4" self), and saw Iris Schrier of Artyarns. She has a yarn that I am over the moon for - cashmere and a bit of sparkle and silk that just makes me so very happy! I have a sample here that I spent some time swatching last evening. It's quite delicious. But more on that another time. After a glass of wine I realized that what was really missing from my day was dinner. Since it was 9pm, I headed out to find something, and then took myself to bed so I would be alert for my students on Saturday morning.
Saturday's class was also made up of excellent students who were really focused on learning. This was top-down day, and by the end everyone seemed to be pleased with their progress - I know I was!
I headed out for a walk, knowing that this was my last evening in the city. I didn't really have a plan. First I stumbled across Elmo.
Elmo is certainly larger than I would have expected. In fact I would think that an Elmo of this size would freak the dickens out of the average preschooler, but what do I know?
And then I found myself in Times Square, surrounded by sparkle and glitter and shopping.
It was very cold, and getting colder, so I headed back toward the hotel, stopping on the way for a snack. In the lobby I ran into Ron and Theresa Miskin of Buffalo Gold, and was able to show them the shawl I designed with their Moon yarn and Webs beads. It was supposed to be done in time for Brendon and Selina's wedding. Now I am just hoping it's done by spring. It's an easy knit really, but until this book is completely done and put to bed I experience disruptions in the construction.
On Sunday morning I dined on Fage yogurt and a banana from the 53rd Street Deli, and a cup of coffee from Starbucks. It's strange that when I travel I try to avoid chains, with the singular exception of those white cups with their green and black logo. The predictability reassures me I think.
My Sunday class, a second round of Toe-Up 2-at-a-Time Socks, was filled with yet another excellent group of learners. By Sunday we were all beginning to feel the effects of the exciting weekend, but even so everyone seemed to take to the method. Promptly at 4:30 we headed for the door. I am very grateful to them for this - often a class will run significantly over with questions, but they respected that I needed to head for the train station in a bid to be home by 9pm.
I raced for the front door, and a cab line. Normally I don't do cab lines, but this time it seemed best. I got an excellent driver.
Best cab driver in New York, or at least for that moment he was. He got me to Grand Central (admittedly not a long drive, but still!) in plenty of time for me to catch not the 5:34 train, but the 5:07!  Those extra few minutes may not sound like a lot, but after a long weekend and facing a 2 hour train ride and a 2 hour drive they sounded important to me right then.
I was on the 5:07 with minutes to spare. I settled into my seat and checked again on the weather reports for this area. Cold, it said, dangerous cold. In New Haven I took a cab to the parking garage on Temple Street. Between the dark, my being alone, and the frigid temperatures it seemed like the best option. It was by then beginning to feel dangerously cold.
I made it home at 9pm, and was welcomed back with a hot meal and an open bottle of wine. Don't we just love Mr. Wonderful now?
By morning the thermometer had plunged to new depths for 2011. It was -20 degrees for most of the morning.
When I did chores at noon the bucket handle got stuck to my hand, and as I stood there breathing on it to warm it and recover my hand, I found myself questioning my sanity. Chicken farm. Really? Well. OK, I guess. I only think this in winter. looking at that thermometer gives me heebie jeebies. Tonight is expected to be clear, but then we're anticipating more snow, possibly another 12 inches.
All of this makes me long for vacation, which isn't for another week. Warm Florida sun, I cannot wait to bask in your glow.
Vogue Knitting Live is rumored to be heading for Los Angeles in September. If you're on that coast, I recommend it - it's a great opportunity to meet and learn from some amazing knitters! I have but one regret from my whole experience. I had wandered through the market on Friday with the clear intention of returning to get  at least one set of Signature Circulars before the end of the event. I never did make it back. Luckily there is always online ordering. And just maybe I have a birthday coming up, hint-hint dear family!


arlene weber said...

Enjoyed your blog about my city; so many people have negative opinions about NYC and it so validates who I am to know that a "foreigner" is not afraid and actually enjoyed their experience. Having grown up here and lived here all my life (except for four terrific years in Iowa City, IA),it makes me happy to have people enjoy my home town and realize there is nothing to be afraid of. By the way; thanks for calling the Sat. class excellent students; we all enjoyed your teaching as well.

Iris said...

Love your blog, and thanks on the Cashmere Glitter. Can't wait to see what you come up with!
It was great seeing you again.

Carol said...

I want my panties back. Bribing hotel employees to let you into my room so you can root around in my laundry is just wrong.

Anonymous said...

I was in your Saturday top down class and loved it. You really paced the class well and I feel totally comfortable knitting two things at a time. Thank you.

Yarnhog said...

I would be freaked at teaching knitters, too. What if they're better knitters than I am? What if they know what I'm teaching better than I do? What if they don't like my patterns? What if they don't like redheads? What if they thought they were getting The Yarn Harlot? Oh, yeah. It would take some serious guts to face all that! I'm sure you did brilliantly!

Cynthia said...

Sounds like a wonderful experience, and so happy that you had a good time! Our two at a time class was not as successful, we tried to do alot in 3 hours, and we had some very beginners who struggled with cast-ons. Still going to come back to work on the technique, as I have 11 more months of sock club ahead of me!