Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lexington Festival of Books

Hi Knitters,
Well, I found my camera and I am not even going to bore you with the story. Let's just say I am totally at fault. It's back and I am happy about that fact.
Moving on, last weekend I was in Lexington, KY for the Festival of Books which is hosted by Joseph-Beth Booksellers and the University of Kentucky. It is a massive event and it was put together beautifully. I was excited to go. When I arrived at the event, the first booth I saw was for Paula Deen. Oh yeah! I love Paula. Have you made her Lemon Blossoms? They are a treat and one of my favorite recipes. I saw Paula as I was waiting for the shuttle to the airport and she walked right by me and jumped in her car with her husband after the event. She is teeny-tiny in person, and that silver hair is beautiful. I wish I could have gone to her speaking event, but at least I got to admire her up close. She is an inspiration. I love women who work so hard and have a special talent like her. She has quite a story. On to the knitters!

When I found my booth, that was in very large room at the Lexington Center, I quickly checked out who was next to me. Lo and behold next to me on one side this name appeared. Recognize that?
On the other side of my booth this name appeared. Do you feel my excitement?
On the other side of Stefanie Japel was this booth. Oh, I recognize that! I knew right then and there it was going to be an interesting day. I was the first one there. I keep strange hours and I spend a lot of my day awake before any else gets out of bed. I have been known to get up at 3:00am on a regular basis. Let's just say I was up kind of early on Saturday and arrived, well, early. I set up my table or booth by decorating it with a bunch of my hats, photos from my new book, and I brought along the pg. 81 booties and Elefante for anyone interested.
Stefanie Japel and her editor, Jessica, arrived after me. Stefanie has just released Fitted Knits, which is a beautiful collection of women's sweaters. She is innovative and a real design talent. She has 2 more books in the works, one called Glamknits, coming out quite soon, plus she is a scientist full-time. Phew, that's a lot of work. Jessica was the moderator of the panel I was on with Stefanie and Ann Hood.
Ann Hood arrived next, she wrote The Knitting Circle, which I reviewed not long ago. I really wanted to meet her as I admired this book so much. It is so well-written and it came from such a raw emotional place, I just felt this book in my heart. I think I am going to do another post on The Knitting Circle because after I met Ann and heard her talk, I have a lot to say about her and her topic. She impressed me down to my toes. I want to share with you about all of that in more detail. So look for that soon!
I signed books at my booth for a couple of hours, it went well. It is always a fun pleasure to meet knitters and non-knitters who like your work. Pure fun. Plus, I had the advantage of getting Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's spill-over knitters. Let me tell you, I had such a great time watching her at work with those long lines of knitters. She is kind and thoughtful to every single person who comes through with their stories, picture-taking, and their giddiness at meeting her. Everyone feels like they know her personally, it must be strange at times. I got a major kick out of the entire thing.
Okay, while all of this action is going on, the wonderful owners of Magpie Yarn, Diane MacDonald, and Jane Homeyer, arrive on the scene. These two friends and business owners came to my tour stop in Lexington last fall. They sat in the front row and knitted away and they were so friendly. They are a class act. They had a yarn giveaway at the event last fall to coincide with Itty-Bitty Hats. I recognized them immediately. Diane and Jane then invite the knitting authors/editor out for lunch. Yay! At this point I am more excited for lunch than the panel I am on. The panel is right before lunch, 11:00-12:00. It is one thing to sit next to people at a book signing, but now I really get to talk with them.
The panel discussion was well attended, lots and lots of knitters there. We basically fill a nice sized room. Jessica asked questions, we all answered. I loved listening to these other women. We all have such different stories to tell, I mean really different. I was fascinated and I love how we all ended up on this panel together. It was comfortable and fun. The time went super fast, which is a good sign. We pretty much ran right out. Jessica, who is smart and cute, did a great job at moderating. She was well prepared and I especially like how she included Ann Hood, who wrote a work of fiction, in with Stefanie and me. It went smoothly. Stefanie Japel is very interesting, I really enjoyed her and she did a wonderful job for her first event or any event. We are going to be hearing a lot from her in the future. Ann Hood is likable and funny to boot.
Okay, the knitters all loaded into a mini-van (Okay, we own two mini-vans and I am not proud of this fact but we don't have many options. Don't hold it against me.) I felt strangely at home in the mini-van while the others were laughing about it. I love this picture, that's Ann Hood front left, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee back right (like I have to tell you), Jessica, North Light Books editor, front right, and Stefanie Japel back left. Check out Stephanie's photo of our car ride here. I was happy to be in a picture with that famous green sock.
It was a happy, talkative group, as you can imagine. We went to a little restaurant, a local spot that was quaint and had a nice menu. At lunch I sat across from Stephanie and Ann was at my left. We ordered. Then we waited and knitted. Then we waited some more and some more. The problem was that Stephanie was set to talk at 2:00 and it was 1:40. Finally our lunch arrived. Did I care that my sandwich was made with the end of a loaf of bread? The answer is no. I would have enjoyed just about anything at that point. We all ate super fast so Stephanie could make her talk.
I did get to tell Stephanie about my personal favorite page in her last book, SPM Casts Off, and that would be on page 144 if you want to look it up. It is called, The Skanky Knitted Bikini. I laughed so hard at this paragraph. I have read it many times and skank is a word that is not often used by me, but I have always found it funny. Stephanie liked that and she told me how she enjoys that word, too, and the word arse. I love her. She also doesn't understand or enjoy the knitted lingerie thing. I love her again. She is just how you'd think she'd be, funny, friendly, opinionated (I adore opinionated people), down-to-earth, a vegetarian and oh yeah, she is tiny.
She says she gets nervous before speaking, but she seemed cool and collected to me. I was impressed by her. She has created a great voice for knitting and let me tell you, people love her. She is a rock star who makes people feel good. I was glad to have met her.
Here we are waiting at lunch. The owners of Magpie Yarn are between the two Steph/f/anies. Stephanie told Stefanie to go ahead and buy the extra letter for her name.
Here are Ann and Jessica at lunch, still waiting. Stephanie's talk started a little late, due to the fact that Stephanie needed a podium and they had to bring one in. I could only stay for a little bit of her talk due to my flight schedule, but I am grateful to have been able to see a bit of it. The feeling in the room was so happy. Everyone was excited. I sat back, pulled out my knitting, actually put my feet up (I was waaaay in the back) and enjoyed the whole thing.

See that man and the little boy? That little boy laughed so hard at Stephanie's every word, it was so sweet.
Okay, I have one more quick story. On the way home, well, really in Chicago's lovely O'Hare or O'Hell as Stephanie would call it, I had a horrible layover. It was supposed to be 3 hours and it turned into 5 hours. It was miserable and it included a large, older, very drunk man proposing marriage to me. When I said no thank you, he responded by shouting, well, thank god for that! Why me?
All in all it was good fun (except for the drunken proposal). Well done Lexington!
best, susie