I was going to write about my finished cowl, and I was going to write about my attempts to organize my stash. But then I went to Changing Hands to see Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. So clearly, I’m going to write about that.
I signed up to go see her the second I read (on her blog) that she was coming. Seven years ago, when I first started blogging, she was the first blogger I read. I was an undergraduate at the time, so I needed something to read that was not homework, and something that would make me laugh.
More than that, though, this new blogger needed another blogger to read. From Stephanie, I saw what knit bloggers could write about. I saw that to write well, you just have to sit down and write. I saw how she turned things that happened into a story, how she got as much light as possible into her pictures. Her writing was fun to read, so I tried writing about things knit bloggers write about and writing better, tried making stories, and tried taking better pictures.
The pictures were definitely the easy part.
I was a really shy blogger, and stayed that way for years. First I hid behind a nom de plume, then I hid behind a mouse. Now I hide behind my dog (who is little and furry and only has one eye, so she will always win the awwww category more often anyways), but I feel much more confident in myself and my voice as a blogger.
While I was becoming bold enough to *gasp* write as me, Stephanie was watching her daughters go off to university, writing through sorrow, knitting for new additions to the family, and biking across Canada (only part of it but it’s a big continent). Seven years of watching her life unfold, and growing as a writer as a result of her writing, and yet I’d never even heard her talk.
(I could have looked her up on YouTube, but since I started reading her before YouTube was such a thing, it never occurred to me to process her writing any other way than as words on a page)
After seven years of knowing all these crazy personal things about a person who lived on the other side of the continent and in a different country, seven years of her work impacting me without her having any idea I existed, it was weird to think about meeting her. Like seeing your favorite artist in concert, and knowing you will meet them backstage, and wondering how to negotiate the balance between knowing them through their art and them not knowing you.
In my experience, these interactions are awkward. My brushes with fame usually involve me, in a queue or a crowd, spending a whopping total of twenty seconds babbling incoherently in front of famous admired person while they politely sign the thing I’ve pretty impolitely shoved at them. Things tend to go better when I have people like las hermanas to cover for me and say something intelligent to said person.
But Stephanie is a knitter, and a quirky knitter. Surely I could do this. I could bring her something! People bring her stuff like beer all the time. Maybe not beer, but travel-sized Arizona honey, to thank her for coming to our far-off state that is only sort of close to California. And then, when she’d graciously accepted this thank-you, I would tell her how much her blog meant to me as a blogger, and ask if she’d take a picture with Mousie to represent things coming full circle.
In reality, I arrived at Changing Hands. The knitters were noisy and bossy and champing at the bit. I, Miss Introvert, saw no fewer than six people I knew, four of whom I chatted with at length. All attendees checked out one another’s projects–complete and otherwise–touched yarn, sat down in seats so tightly packed that JetBlue would be envious, and there was Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.
She was not so short as her frequent assertions had led me to believe, but she did look like someone who hates public speaking, about to speak in public. Even though we multitudinous knitters continued to stare, she was brilliant, and sharp-witted. She had us all in the palm of her hand before she even started reading from her new book. I really loved hearing her words as she says them, and her awesome Canadian accent (It is amazing the infinite ways which people can speak the 26 letters of the alphabet, and this variety is part of why I love traveling to other places). After two hilarious readings, and an even more uproarious q&a, we queued up–with surprising good manners–for the signing.
It had been lovely, we were all knitters together…
And then suddenly I was standing in front of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. The author who was funny and quick-witted in public as well as on her blog. And I just kind of totally froze.
What happened next is all blurry, but I know a few things
1. I felt incredibly awkward and spoke entirely in two-word sentences
2. She was quite gracious
3. She held Mousie without even asking why I was running around with a stuffed mouse
4. She said nice things about the honey
5. I managed to walk/flee from the store with my book in my hand, which is frankly miraculous
6. She wrote down my blog name
Now I’m wondering what will come up in her Phoenix post. Maybe she will gloss over that strange girl with the knitted mouse and talk about the people who brought the incredible lace bedspread. Or the mom with the cute spodgy baby. Or maybe she will find that sticky note in her bag, and Google the blog, and find this post, and understand.