When Frog Tree Yarns called and asked if I would be able to come help out at the Phoenix TNNA, I didn’t even blink before I said: “Yes!”.  This is such a wonderful company!  They are completely non-profit, they give back to the world in many and diverse ways and they are just completely on my list of favorite people in the world.  They also support COMMUNITY LINKS, a 501c(3) not for profit organization that reaches out to South America.  Please Google this awesome Organization…nothing but impressive.  Anyway, back to TNNA.  My husband and son were completely supportive, and perhaps just as ready for a little break as I was.  The trip out to Arizona was easy peasy and I arrived without incident.  If you go to the taxi stand at the Phoenix airport, ask for a price comparison between the Limos and the Taxis…it is kind of like Let’s Make a Deal.  This way you get a flat rate and no surprises.

I stayed at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown (now a Marriot Hotel, used to be something else) and it was just a block walk to the convention center.  The weather was breezy and 70 degrees the whole time — just perfection.  On my way to my room I picked up the Ski Warm-Up (now renamed:  WARM ME UP!) because the snaps were hard to open and needed reworking and handed over completed sample work for the show (check out the wonderful NEAP TIDE SHAWL on Ravelry by Mary Lou Egan;  I also made a hat, mitts and swatches in their newest yarn:  EWETOPIA — having knit 13 balls/1420 yards of this yarn I can honestly say IT IS AWESOME!!! IT DOES NOT SPLIT AND HAS A WONDERFUL HAND — which I missed the minute I started knitting with anything else.  Ewetopia is two different plies of extrafine merino wool with a loft unmatched by any other yarn I have handled to date.  More about this — with photos of the 18 color ways later.)

My roommate, Joan Fish, was there waiting in the room (we met last June at the Columbus TNNA) and we had a great visit.  Shower and off to bed so I could get up early and play “wrangle” with the snaps on the vest.  I brought several alternative snap solutions with me and started at 7:30 in the morning.  I even brought magnetic snaps which I thought were the right solution.  They were too heavy and I could not get them open any easier than the other snaps.  I was so frustrated I cut those tabs off.   None of the snap alternatives worked.  I admit to some sailor-like cussing at this point…none of which can really be proved by anyone other than the cleaning ladies.  I got up, paced the room and then started looking through the clothes in my suitcase.  Yup, there is what will work on that brand new shirt…nice little dark buttons…more than I need.  I cut them all off and went to work.  I used the top of the snaps as decoration only and knit a facing to cover the bottom of them and sew the buttons onto (this way the buttons would remain hidden).  I did not even need to make buttonholes as the buttons fit neat and snug between the stitches on the opposite tabs.  Yay!!!

The above process took from 7:30 a.m. to Noon.  I was supposed to be there at 10 a.m. but without the vest would have been no good and sitting there cussing while working on the vest also = no good.  I have a total THING about being punctual so that added to the feelings of frustration.  However, I was there in just a few minutes and they totally understood.  Shortly thereafter a customer came up and was so enthused with said garment that she insisted she wanted the pattern ASAP so she could knit it on the way home.  Not having my computer, I spent the rest of the day taking yarn orders and writing the pattern out longhand.  Feels pretty darn good when someone likes one of my designs that much!

It was more than humbling to see my work displayed in the booth…all the things that have been created with their inspiration in the last year.  Flock Wooligan is still very popular and some people went on so that I blushed (not an easy feat).  Meanwhile, this company is from Massachusetts and of course has sports team preferences not in accord with mine. While the Patriots were playing, I was gracious…kind of.  While the Giants were playing (my team…GO GIANTS!!!)…all bets were off and the gloves were down.  Then we made the mistakes of discussing Ice Hockey and Baseball…I have to admit it was hysterical to play stupid like I did not know what the baseball team was in Massachusetts (my apologies Donna — the end.).  All I can say is:  we had fun and now that both our football teams are at the SuperBowl — it is on like Donkey Kong!

There is a new hand dyer out there — the company is called:  Baaa! and besides placing a large order with Frog Tree, I also placed an order with this company.  The colors are all beautiful and some (my favorites) are even non-pooling (I happen to like pooling of colors…but not everyone does).  The non-pooling colors had a magic to them.  The secondary underlying colors kind of shimmered into existence in the sample pieces.  My particular favorite color with this ability is called:  Brazilian Emerald.  Make Multnomah in this and you will rapidly see what I mean.  I have a color card and a sample skein at the studio in case you would like to have a peek!

I came home with more orders for sample knitting:  a baby blanket for the well-known and well-loved Steven Be from Minneapolis, two cable vests (by Lisa Ellis and just spectacular) in Meriboo, and another Hearten Wrap.  I also have a new sweater pattern on needles that I am working the details out for…I am working it up in Pediboo (Suzy is working up the worsted version in Noro Silk Garden).  Send me good vibes…it is going well so far.  I still have to complete an Origami Cardigan (by Linda Daniels — this is on Ravelry) in Meriboo…only 30″ to go on the front and one Heirloom baby blanket in Pediboo (quick easy knit by yours truly).  Nice to have work that pays and keeps me busy…and helps with the rent!

We of course all were busy in off moments sharing our latest favorite videos on YouTube.  I was having trouble with my phone so I started by sharing my funny photos and narrating the stories behind them.  I had trouble finding the one Siri spoof video…we randomly played a few…but one was really embarassing…so much so that Sharon giggled till she cried and just hid her head in her arms.  My favorite links are:

My Blackberry is Broken (BBC — The two Ronnies),

The Last Knit,

Patrick Rothfuss:  Guinea Pigs are Fish

and the Siri commercial under collegehumor:  Siri Argument (there are numerous F-bombs at the end which get tiresome), and finally,

Goats Sheep Surfing by bubblescubed.

The second night Sharon, Susan and myself went out together to dinner.  We used the GPS on Sue’s phone…since she could not see the map I navigated and they kept me from walking into poles.  I got us to where the little green “pin” was…however, nothing else was there, including the restaurant.  However, there was a woman and her Pedicab (think bicycle and trawler).  Her name was Zora.  She drove the three of us stalwartly over to the restaurant…which was closed.  I got out.  I guess I thought if I stared at it long enough it would magically open.  I was wrong.  Zora graciously drove us all the way back to where we began with her and them some to an open restaurant of her liking.  It was great.  We laughed all the way.  Admittedly, we had some concerns given the tally of our collective weight…momentum being what it is and the laws of physics and all.  The looks from younger thinner women of less character were just charming…especially given that we had already walked a distance…you could just see it in their eyes:  if those three just walked they would be thinner!  Dearies, we did and failed.  We even watched as an Orthodox Family — husband and wife — burst into raucous laughter at the sight of us.  We laughed back and loved every moment!  We could have easily been our own little sitcom.  We had dinner at a place called:  Sam’s Cafe and I do agree with Zora…it was the bees knees.

Travel Day #2 was…well, just special.  The air traffic was backed up big time at the Phoenix Airport.  When my flight was going to land in Chicago just three minutes before my connection departed I got on line to reorganize my day.  We waited and waited.  We learned to do this in Kindergarden, right?  Everybody was in the same boat, may as well suck it up and deal.  Either I would be able to be rerouted to an airport within driving distance of home or I would be spending the night in Chicago.  While we were all waiting, a very large muscular man gets up, totally bypasses the line and starts screaming at the ticketing agent.  She was just tiny.  I couldn’t help myself.  I cut in and said:  If you have anything to say, go to the back of the line and wait to say your piece like the rest of us.  Then he started screaming at me.  I told him to choose the back of the line of go sit down already.  Most of the people looked pretty shocked, but the two ladies behind me, though red in the face began to snigger.  (He chose to sit down).  Then I made some comments about Kindergarden to shake it all off and get myself calm.  The ladies behind me sniggered more and I turned and we all had a good laugh.  The ticketing agent later thanked me for pulling him off.  I have to admit it was not entirely altruistic…he was slowing her down.

The waiting area at the Newark airport took some finding.  I guess God decided to mess with my head for the fun of it.  There was a sign I followed pointing one way towards the beginning of the terminal.  It said:  gates C70 to C139 this way.  Well, I ran out of effing gates.   I walked back and as I did so became positioned between the first sign (to my left) and a second pointing me in the opposite direction to gates C100-C115.  I took pictures.  I have proof.  Really, I do.  Anyway, long story shorter, the flight home was hilarious.  I had the poor flight attendant in stitches.  Something in me kind of cracked when I went to board with my assigned seat on my boarding pass and the machine said: DENIED.  They did get me on the plane, even with my wide-eyed look of craze.  After that I decided to help the flight attendant point out the exits and floor lighting.  I asked questions.  When there were two empty rows and he wanted me further back in the plane I asked: Why? Because I am Fat?  I thought he was going to die on the spot.  I started laughing and so did the plane.  We had a great time and I made some new friends, Wendy and Cindy.  Wendy has Keen Flowers in Scranton and Cindy (HI ABBY!!!!) has the Ty-Dye Cafe in Honesdale.  They were great fun and always laughed on cue.

Lesson:  Laughter really is the best remedy.

I Have a bunch of photos that will not upload.  will try tonight.  love and laughter, Mary Ellen