Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I'm back from sunny San Diego and the winter TNNA show. I always forget how small an industry it is until I go to one of these shows where you can't walk more than 30 feet without stopping to talk with someone you know. Which makes trying to maintain any sort of meeting schedule impossible.

When I go to these shows I like to stay in hotels that are a wee bit removed from the fracas. What can I say, I don't want my colleagues to see me traipsing down the hall at midnight to get ice for my tea milk (how I mourn the loss of the mini-bar, not for the drinks but for the refrigeration).

So, while everyone else was downtown, cheek to jowl at the convention center hotels, I got to look out at the harbor and this quiet marina. The gross national product for at least three countries was floating there in boats I'm sure only get used twice a year.

Anyway, TNNA was interesting. The industry is clearly pulling back after a totally unsustainable period of growth, so things are a bit more tense. You know how it is when the pie starts to shrink, people become a little more competitive about getting their piece of it. I felt for the yarn store owners that were clearly struggling to make prudent buying decisions in the midst of it all.

While last year's TNNA shared the convention center with 20,000 skateboarders, this year we had 7,500 Mary Kay represenatives attending their leadership conference. Which is no big deal except that they all wear the same thing. Black suits (mostly knee-length flared skirts) with dark stockings and decidedly uncomfortable-looking black high-heeled shoes with pointy toes. Which probably wouldn't have stood out as much if they were meeting in some somber city, but this was San Diego. The land of palm trees and pink flamingoes. At one point I watched a marching band (MLK Jr. parade just finished) cross the street while a whole stream of Mary Kayers were crossing in the other direction. Superbowl halftime show choreographers take note.

At the convention center they even had a lifesize photo form of a Mary Kay representative behind which you could stand and have your picture taken. I didn't have the nerve to have my picture taken, but I did take pictures of others. (I now have good blackmail material for Tara Jon Manning and Amy Singer, should I ever need it.)

Probably the funniest moment was when Cat Bordhi and I were eating a delicious Indian meal and the woman next to us turned and asked, "Have you ever considered having a Mary Kay facial?" Cat brilliantly diffused her request and, within a matter of minutes, had sold the woman on going back to the lunch buffet for a bowl of the mango pudding even though she'd already paid her bill and was preparing to leave. Now that's an engaging personality.

Anybody who travels to Portland, Maine, will know that the slightest amount of weather anywhere will cause all flights to be cancelled. So when I woke up Monday and heard that a massive ice and snow front was hitting the entire East Coast, I called the airline and postponed my return. (And yes, the flight was cancelled and I would've had to sleep in Chicago.)

What a joy to have a free play day. I decided to spend it at the San Diego Zoo, the one place I'd choose were I forced to be an animal in captivity. While the "human beings" were probably my favorite exhibit, I couldn't get over the primates. I bet you anything if they were given yarn and needles, they'd be churning out Fair Isle sweaters in no time.

And what ho, knitters, look what we have here. Guanaco!

(Guanacoes? Guanaci?)

All that separated me from one of the softest, warmest fibers on earth was a wall, a deep ditch, and nearly certain jail time. Sigh...

And then it was time to return home and to the reality that winter has finally hit Maine.

Finally, a big thank you to everyone who responded to my inner-struggle post about the nature of this blog and blogging in general. I promise to keep trying to walk the line.

Ooops, I almost forgot! Several of you have asked me how the book is doing. I'm finally seeing the first real dummies. I can tell you two things. First, I'm absolutely in love with this book. And second, Casey is a fantastic editor. See the dedication?

I can only compare this whole book experience to sending your baby off to boarding school. You hand the baby over after spending nearly a year lovingly assembling every cell of its body. And then, a year later, this handsome, smartly dressed little kid shows up on your doorstep calling you "mumsy." That's my kid? I made that? You feel astonishment, a hint of alienation, and a healthy dose of cautious optimism and pride.

So that's where it is now.


purlewe said...

That is an idea! Give the monkey some yarn and some gumption and I won't have to make a fair isle.

Glad you are home safe and sound. The show sounded interesting. And as always, I applaud Cat Bordhi for her diplomacy. She is one amazing woman.

Jane said...

How nice that you got to have an extra day out of the winter weather. I loved your TNNA report for KR, too!

Martha said...

Glad you are back on snowy terra firma ^..^
Glad too that you had a day for some play. Well deserved.
Cat is such a cool presence - good that you had some hang-time w/her.
Jane is on target: I loved the KR TNNA report too.

Margaret said... bar fridges? We Canucks still have 'em in most hotels...Maybe TNNA Winter should meet in Vancouver BC?

As for Guanaco...Guanaci...if the Zoo needs a fundraiser, p'rhaps they could be persuaded to harvest their wool...fibre...whatever...for eager spinners and knitters!


Laura said...

Sounds like you had a great time in sunny San Diego but as always, were sooo happy to get home to Maine.

Wonderful news about the book and may I say, that's one fine looking editor you've got there, Clara!

P.S. Congratulations on the informative and generally great review you did for Allison at Simply Socks.

Bev in TN said...

First time visiting...enjoyed reading your blog. I hope a knitter somewhere takes up the challenge you threw out there...teach our primate relatives to it:-). All the real (i.e., best) people live in Maine (or were born there); that goes double for knitters...IMHO. Me...born in "Stink'in Lincoln".

Linda said...

Isn't San Diego a great place!

Just a few more months and you'll walk into a book store and see your name on the shelves! Maybe it'ss be one of Oprah's picks....

erica said...

TNNA sounds fabulous and I understand wanting to stay at an outside hotel. Yay to Cat Bordhi for her persuasion.
I'm all with you about the primates, think of the amazing potential that could be fundraising for the zoo.

About your blog, I've had similar feelings about ending my blog recently and it's other people who read it who keep me going. So my point is I love reading your blog and would be sorry to see it go, especially after meeting you in person.

vi said...

steal the guanaco, go ahead
I'll help you
i'll wear my BIG purple floor length ( hey you know how short i am irl) goosedown coat.....
they won't catch us
we can always say it followed us home
I do have hay all over most of my coats you know


Sue Woo said...

Hi Miss Clara,
I want me one a them G things.

I wanted to let you know our forum frien CatherineM is in ICU. She had an aneurysm (sp?) but is resting well.

See you at MSW.

Janice said...

I have been on the forum board for over 2 years, and had no idea you had a blog. I will be reading back as far as I can. When is the book due out? and TY for being you and bringing knitters together all over the world.