Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Teach Yourself Visually Circular Knitting Blog Tour Begins!

Today the blog tour kicks off with an interview and giveaway at Kristi Chadwick's aptly named blog, Books, Yarn, Ink and Other Pursuits. Be sure to stop over and enter to win a copy of Teach Yourself Visually Circular Knitting, and maybe learn more about the book or about me along the way!

Today is also my return to real life from TNNA - and a day late at that. This was supposed to be whirlwind in and out sort of a trip. I left here on Saturday morning for the airport with a plan. Fly, land, visit, eat, sign, leave, fly, land. That's not exactly how it went.

I was met at the airport by my friend Mark and his kids. We headed into Columbus. Mark and kids took me to a place called BD's Mongolian Grill. I have never been to a place like this before. You take a bowl and fill it with your favorite things from two bars; meat and vegetable. Then you choose sauces and spices from a third bar. Next you stand grill-side while your food is prepared for you, sort of like a Japanese Steakhouse but with a huge array of selections, and most of it healthy food. It's a fun concept, and a great one for families with picky eaters. After lunch we walked to North Market and had Jeni's - of course. I had Dark Chocolate and Rhubarb & Lime Cardamom. We wandered around the market for a while and then Mark and family dropped me at the Hyatt - yelling "FAMOUS AUTHOR!!" out the window as they did so, which was very funny. You'd think that would have alerted stalker Carol S. of my presence... but no.

I checked in and decided to wander a little. I put on my new espadrilles thinking I would not be doing too much walking - just down to the convention hall, across the street to dinner, and back again. That's not exactly how it went down. Note to self. Do not break in new sandals at TNNA. My left foot looks like it's been through a war zone unprotected. The other foot got off with one or two hot spots. Not sure how that works. Lefty is jealous. Righty gloats.

Once I had my badge I spent a little time on the floor saying hello to people and finding the R&M booth so I knew where to go Sunday. I discovered the Lorna's Laces booth, but it was full of customers, so I decided to wait and not bug anyone. There was time, after all, right? I saw lots of new and impressive yarns and things, and fell madly in love with some buttons made by Bejeweled and Bedazzled. They are clear glass with copper oak leaves embedded within. Love them! I decided I needed to find some water before dinner - somehow I always forget to drink when I travel, right up until my mouth is sandpaper and my head is wooshy. I headed for North Market not realizing that they'd closed at 5 - it was 5:15. A wonderful kid at Jeni's (he should be promoted) gave me a plastic cup of water, thereby saving me from the embarrassment of tumbling to the floor. I went out the back of the market and found myself in the middle of a festival of some kind - the Park Street Festival. "Ah" I thought "surely a vendor here will have water." If they did they were not advertising. Tequila, beer, soda, yes. But no water. I finally found a lady selling unsweetened iced tea. I got one of those to sip while watching the crowd and listening to the music of a band called Union Rose. They weren't bad - did some covers and some original stuff. By this point I had found a spot to sit and realized that my left foot was complaining a little, so I dug around in my bag and found my Good for the Soles zipper pouch with it's stash of moleskin and band-aids. It was really too late by then, but I tried to cover the hot spots anyway. I could have done with more band-aids...

Still no sign of stalker Sulcoski, though. I was beginning to feel neglected. When it was about time for dinner I headed toward our meeting place, a restaurant called DeepWood. There I met up with Jack Bussell from Wiley and his wife Judy, Gail of R&M West Coast Enterprises, and a very talented crew of authors; Kristi Porter of Knitting in the Sun fame (and now More Knitting in the Sun), Alison Stewart-Guinee, author of Fairy Tale Knits (a must have for grandmothers, moms and aunts the world around) and the delightful Carol Feller whose forthcoming Contemporary Irish Knits is not to be missed. Getting to meet and dine with such talented ladies was a treat. Discovering that we share similar passions not just about yarn but about food, the environment and life in general was a bonus. The food here was excellent, and that was only enhanced by the great company!

After dinner we headed back for our respective hotels. Carol F. and I headed for the bar at the Hyatt (I like the Irish if it means we go pub hopping after dinner) and soon discovered we were in the heart of a gathering of knitterati. I saw more names than I could drop in a week, if I had a week to drop them in. Stefanie Japel posed with Carol F. for a photo.
I met Kate Oates. Imagine going through your life being called Kate Oakes, when you are really the grain with an e not the tree with an e? I bet it's nearly as much fun as being called Melissa Morgan-Oates when you are the tree and not the grain. *sigh*. The hardships of a public life. ;)

I hung out a bit and sipped my wine in the reflected glow of the assembled knitterati, and then made my way to bed.

In the morning I met Sandi Rosner for breakfast. I love meeting up with Sandi at events. No scotch on this trip; 9AM seemed early for scotch, and I wasn't there long enough for an evening date. Maybe next time! Next I had a video interview with Pam and Jen of the Woolie Ewe in Plano, which we followed with coffee and a chat. I saw Kathy and Steve, too. But oddly, not a sign of my stalker. By now I was really feeling wounded by her lack of stalkerly attention.

I was just thinking I would wander the floor for a bit when I remembered that I had to check out by noon - it was 11:55. I ran back to my room and got my stuff together in my backpack and headed down to the desk. Once checked out I was free to roam. I wandered off to the market for Pho.
This is Clara's fault. last year she took me to this place and now I cannot get enough. I have had other Pho since, and it's been good, but not quite the same. I also know that out there, somewhere, is better Pho. But until I find it, this is the Pho by which all other Pho shall be judged. And I had my last Jeni's - Queen City Cayenne and Wildberry Lavender. *Sniffle* I shall miss it.

I went back to the convention center and had a great signing - all of the tickets were gone, which means all of the books were spoken for, which means I don't have to feel bad that someone got me out there, set up a table, put out books... and nobody showed up. I always worry about that! Gail showed me a Clover product - an elastic yarn perfect for holding with your working yarn to create added elasticity and durability to a garment. I hadn't seen that before. LOVE it! I may even have a bit of it now, along with a copy of Spud and Chloe at the Farm, which I had been coveting for a long time. I got the LAST ticket for Trisha Malcolm who was signing Noro Knits at 4pm. I needed to be heading for the airport by 5:30, so I knew I'd have time to make it back. So now I have two new books that I could, maybe, if you wanted, review in a week or so when things settle down here. I can already tell you that I love both. Susan Anderson's creatures charm the dickens out of me, and require knitting. From a flock of chickens to THAT SHEEP! Must knit SPUD!! Then Noro Knits is just loaded with projects that make brilliant use of one of my most favorite yarns in the whole wide world. It's the colors that get me. I just cannot get enough Noro or enough Noro patterns!

But wait! What about stalker Carol? At long last she found me on the floor. Turns out she is as old as dirt, so her stalking skills are slipping. Badly. We wandered and saw a lot of people. For a while I was Cat Bordhi. We saw Ron and Theresa Miskin of the Buffalo Wool Company and fondled their Buffalo Gold yarns. I met Nell Bliss and her mom Debbie (maybe you've heard of her?). Debbie was at Webs a while ago and I was too intimidated to say hello. I tried to sneak into the Lorna's Laces booth one last time, but failed miserably. And then it was time to leave.

I headed for the airport full of good thoughts. I stopped just before security for a salad and a pre-flight glass of wine, guaranteed to make even the most nervous flyer crash like a 2 year old. Homeward bound after a successful 36 hours, I was content. I headed through security to my gate, and this was when things began to change.

You want a buzz kill? Try sitting on the floor of an airport surrounded by the miserable wreckage of 3 hours of grounded planes and cancelled flights all up and down the east coast. So much anger in such a small space. Six flights were listed on the board at my gate, and they cycled through them in rotation. Delay. Cancel. Delay. Gate change. And on and on. There was a lot of yelling. My boarding time approached, but my flight still showed on time departure and arrival. Suddenly my phone flight tracker - not the board at the airport - flipped to indicate that my flight was delayed by an hour, which meant I would miss my connection in Philadelphia - already a late one. I jumped into line. US AIrways called me almost immediately, but I missed it. I returned their call and was told that they could get me out, they thought, by Tuesday. Maybe.

Tuesday?? It was Sunday evening. I had an appointment Monday. I have to be in New York Thursday, and I needed to organize home and life between now and then. Yoshi has never been alone for a full day before. The chickens get watered twice a day. With me absent for 2 days of the work week, who would take care of my animals? I held it together, barely. I got out of line, still on the phone with US Airways, and negotiated and was charming and patient, and finally got a flight out 24 hours later; Monday night. I could be home by midnight, and in bed by 1:30AM Tuesday, IF I did not get bumped, and the operator didn't sound all too firm about the bumping situation. I called Gene who quickly found me a hotel room at the airport while I walked away from the angry place. I was running low on cash. I checked in to the Hampton Inn and contemplated. I was stunned by my own calm, really. It felt good to get away from the airport. I was concerned about not getting home until Tuesday, but more grateful to be out of the atmosphere of tension in the terminal. People that angry make me uncomfortable.

I went to the Hilton next door for a well-deserved glass of wine. I quietly read my Nook. I tried to be calm.

When I got back to my room I called Gene and we discussed my options. US Airways had offered me nothing for compensation - no hotel room, no flight voucher, not even a toothbrush. Nada. I assumed they would not refund because I had booked with a third party. I could get a Delta flight Monday morning for $150, direct to Hartford, then spend the day waiting for Gene to get out of work to fetch me. Or I could wait it out with US Air. Waiting was the decision.

And then my phone rang, and Mary Alice was on the line, and 12 hours later I was neatly tucked in the back of her Yaris while she and her son drove me back to Massachusetts from Ohio. They'd come out to visit family. I have never felt so relieved, I think, in my life. No more wondering, no more waiting until 6pm to find your flight's been cancelled or you've been bumped. I called Travelocity and they called US Airways and I was refunded for the remainder of my trip. By 10:30pm Monday I was in my own house, a little tired, a little manky, but HOME. Mary Alice and Jim are saints. I am so grateful for the ride. Especially when you hear what happened to my Monday flights.

Even if I had not been bumped, as the person on the phone found likely, I would not have made it home. My connection in Washington was diverted to Baltimore. It was a very late flight. I would have spent Monday night sleeping on the floor of National and Tuesday - assuming the could get me home early - skulking around Bradley waiting for Gene to get out of work and fetch me! 11 hours in a Yaris beats a bad day of air travel, hands down.

No more air travel for a while, and when I go again it's back to Delta. Stick with what works.

For now I am of to New York early Thursday morning, visiting Lion Brand Yarn Studio on Thursday evening, then scooting home on Friday just in time to select chickens for slaughter on Saturday and Sunday. Busy girl. Busy life. Almost makes me miss winter... Well. Maybe not!

Stay tuned for the rest of the blog tour!

June 15 - OMG! Heart with Alice, who survived 2-at-a-Time class with me - and STILL wanted to be part of this tour.
June 16 - Jessalu Knits with the talented Jessalu - I love those bags!
June 17 - Rock and Purl with the energetic and ebullient Ruth Garcia-Alcantud.
June 20 - Webs Yarn Store with... you know, I am not sure who is going to be doing this entry. I hope it's someone who loves me. ;)
June 21 - Yarncraft Podcast with the delightful Zontee of Lion Brand Yarn Studio.
June 22 - Knit-a-While with the charming Ida
June 23 - Lorna's Laces with the talented Beth Casey who controls all of Gene's favorite sock yarn (Shepherd Socks, color: camouflage).
June 24 - i made it so with cross crafting wiz Ana
June 27 - The Woolie Ewe with Jenn, my buddy from Texas who knows just where to find the gluten free food.
June 28 - ShibaGuyz with the lovable Shannon and Jason
June 29 - Nelkin Design with Laura Nelkin who designs the most delightful, lovely knitted things from shawls to jewelry.
June 30 - Getting Stitched on the Farm with the brilliant and undeniably gifted Kristin Nicholas
July 1 - Go Knit in Your Hat with Carol "My Favorite Stalker".
July 2 - Sunset Cat with Stefanni, who is not only a talented technical editor, but also has the loveliest Tonkinese cats!


Michelle said...

Yeesh! I think I have a headache from just READING about your travel headaches.

BTW, I want to add your book to my library on Ravelry, and it is not to be found. Can that be fixed?

Melissa Stanton said...

Everytime I travel with the wonderful US Airways - I swear to myself "never, ever again" and then I forget!
Friends that bail you out are worth their weight in gold! I love them all!!