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Toronto Friday: Bookstore and Pub

Fraepensive.jpgriday Rae and I started out for Toronto to attend Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s Canadian book launch… I took my passport (not required yet but convenient since I have one) and she took her birth certificate. Fortunately, we didn’t need them (yet), we didn’t even need drivers’ licenses to get into Canada. We *did* have a chat with customs as is to be expected. It was not any harder to cross either way, really, than it was years ago. This surprised and pleased me.

Rae said she has encountered protesters before at the border and that day she had a one-hour delay. Here we were just before noon on the Friday of a three-day weekend, and we breezed through. Yippee. Traffic wasn’t bad, either, even in construction zones except the one a stone’s throw from Toronto. Smooth sailing.

torontopadthai.jpgWe got to town, checked in, grabbed our goodies and took off. We had planned to aim for the Textile Museum‘s fabric sale but had not made clear notes as to where that was. The hotel thought it was very near the Indigo (bookstore) where Stephanie was to speak/sign books, so we headed that way feeling perfectly fine that we might miss the sale. We were not in Toronto for fabric, anyway… though it seemed a fun possible way to spend our time.

torontospeechstephanieandsock.jpgWe decided to walk from the hotel (at Jarvis and College) to Indigo (Bloor and Yonge) which was not too far. We really enjoyed the walk, checking out several shops on the way up. There was a shop with very very cool Converse All-Stars of types we’d never seen before… extra tall, checkerboards, prints of all sorts. There were look-alikes of another brand in fuzzy fuschia zebra print that I would have very much enjoyed wearing. We passed the shoes by in the end but had great fun checking them out.

torontospeechknitters3.jpgWe then found ourselves sucked into another cool store with all sorts of imported clothing. I ended up with a turquoise (no surprise) top that looked Indian with embroidery on neckline and cuffs. Very nice. It’s lightweight cotton and I’ll wear it a lot this summer. I knew it would take away from yarn money but I will use the top enough to warrant the detour.

torontospeechknitters1.jpgWe found our way to Indigo just to be sure we knew where it was. They didn’t have any knitters in the seating area yet but we found some knitters in the lobby and chatted with them a while. It’s so cool that if you see anyone knitting in public they are instantly close enough friends to chat with! Instant relationship. Both Rae and I enjoyed that.

We decided we definitely needed food (Rae had a small lunch on the road, I’d just had a big breakfast) so we found our way to an asian restaurant where she had a chicken and rice dish and I had Pad Thai… not too adventurous but they listed the ingredients in the sauce and I knew I’d not have any allergy issues. The food was delicious and they got it to us very quickly. We then hustled ourselves to the bookstore. [First two photos are Rae at dinner and my meal.]

torontospeechblogreader.jpgEven though we were 20-25 minutes early there was no seating left available. We were very close to the front of the standing audience, though, and we could see relatively well. The group around us of course included many socknitters. Rae was knitting a scarf with sockyarn so we figured she could be counted with us, as well.

The guy who introduced Stephanie was a knitter. He said he learned it when he had a certain girlfriend who was long gone but he still knits. I wish I remembered his name… he was very helpful to us for the whole event.

torontospeechknitters2.jpgThen came Stephanie looking sharp in a skirt in her famous “70’s appliance colors” green. She did her hello and took obligatory photos of us holding her sock in the foreground. We all knew this was part of the drill, no problem. After all, we were all taking photos of her, too.

[Next five photos are Stephanie taking photos of the crowd with her sock in progress, three photos of knitters at work while listening to the speech… no, that is not considered rude in this crowd… and a room full of knitters with their hands up in response to the question “Who in this room reads weblogs?” Mind you, Stephanie has made a career in large part thanks to her weblog, and those of us there were glad of it.]

torontospotteddick.jpgShe was funny as usual… real and approachable as usual. What makes Stephanie special is that she shares enough of her human, vulnerable side that you understand that you are not alone in your own vulnerabilities. She’s very talented, gifted with words and timing… but other people are also good at those things yet not approachable. We laughed and laughed… some of the jokes lasted the full 30 hours we were in town, with different knitters bringing them up at different times.

We took turns in line to chat with Stephanie (and get books signed) after the talk, and got out of the way as quickly as we could so that the folks behind us would also get a chance. For the record, there were a lot of us, go look at her photos for proof. Dozens and dozens and dozens. I’m bad at estimating numbers, did anyone else who was there count?

Our helpful Indigo employee told us how to find the local pub where the afterglow was to be held. The pub is called “The Spotted Dick” and yes that spotteddick.jpgsounds funny to anyone without a connection to England. Spotted dick is a dessert with currants apparently… I’d seen a can of it at the local grocery (Meijer) in the International section once and took a photo while laughing out loud. Apparently this dessert is also sometimes called Spotted Dog and there were many images of spotted dogs on the walls of the pub.

[Here I show a photo cheerfully taken by Ali, a non-knitter sitting at the first table… from front to back on right are Teresa, Sarah, Doug (works at his wife Carol’s yarn shop but doesn’t knit), me, Rae (then you see a partial wall). Across from Rae is Cathy and in front of her, Carol of the newish just-outside-of-Toronto yarn shop. Folks we met who are not in this photo are Eden, Helen Firing (published but no blog) and a young lady in Rae’s Gnome Swap whose name I’m forgetting right now.]

torontopubknitters.jpgI’m showing a second photo so you can see how many knitters there were. That cream-colored wall straight ahead is not the far wall, look to the left for another several tables going back further. All people in this photo were with the knit crowd. There was one tiny table and a few guys at the bar who were not in “the club.” The waitstaff were warned but still overwhelmed. Our waitress at least had a good attitude three hours after she was supposed to get off work, sometime after midnight.

I’m also including a photo of dessert in a can here, for the doubters in the crowd. Laugh long, friends, it *is* a chuckle.

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