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October 30, 2007

Don't forget your cat sweaters!

Nashville has been fun ... pictures coming soon, I have about two minutes before I am supposed to be someplace then another place and then another place with some people then finally... the airport, which I am happy to say I am very much looking forward to visiting (BNA: Big Nashville Airport!) because it will take me home to the felines who I hope remember me. And water. It has been remarkably hard to get any water in my body and so I am now a big zitty dehydrated wrinkled mess. Attractive!

But we had a great time last night, and Mike & Dollie were there and so were Chris and Laura and Ernie and Julie from my high school (!!!) and JP, who is so cute, and Aileen and Gussie and The Shrinking Knitter and Megs and Margeaux, who I want to be hugging right now. You have no idea, girl. I am thinking of you right now and will keep good thoughts heading your way.

It was fun! Lex was a good sport taking pictures which of course you can't see since I have not retrieved them off the camera, and apparently my shirt was not Tanya-esque at all, though it was a burned-velvet net thingy so it was... you know. Festive? I just decided to say it was my own personal tribute to Porter Wagoner and call it a day.

But the main reason I am writing is to remind ya'll who have not already entered that the Drunk, Divorced & Covered In Cat Sweater Sweepstakes (both the random drawing and the sweater part) end tomorrow -- Halloween! -- at midnight Pacific time. Get your entries in here.

Comments are closed since I will have no internet access for who only knows how long.

Happy pre-Halloween!

Posted by laurie at 7:25 AM

October 29, 2007

Mouth, not connected to brain. It is a problem. Hi!

I am finally in Nashville!!! Scene of the crimes of my youth! We used to drive up here and try hard to get in trouble but we were a little nerdy for real trouble to befall us, so mostly we did things like tell dumb ghost stories and dare each other to swim in the rock quarry where supposedly men are still to this day sitting in the big industrial machinery that were at the bottom of the quarry when it filled with water. I myself was more afraid of the preternatural "swim in the quarry with your boyfriend and end up preggers" ghost story. Ya'll know of what I speak.

So even though you totally want to watch that cute Sabrina Bryan on Dancing With The Stars tonight, since I am missing it you need to miss it too and come visit with me and chitchat and carryon at Shopryland ...

Tonight! 7:00 PM
Barnes & Noble
515 Opry Mills Drive, Nashville, TN

I will be there and I am on the last leg of the third leg of the tour, which seems auspicious, and so Lord only knows what will come out of my mouth.

It has been trying thus far, what with my mouth being seemingly disconnected from the thinking part of my head...

Totally weirdo thing that came out of my mouth #1:

"I know lots of other speakers here have PhDs I do not know why they invited me. But! I do have a PhD in Drunkenology!"
This was said to an entire roomful of women at a Women's Empowerment Conference in Peoria, Illinois. Why I thought THESE were the credentials to tell a room of people I will never know. Help me.

Totally weirdo thing that came out of my mouth #2:
"I think maybe Roy was reincarnated into a horse."
This one I said in Seattle and the woman who was the recipient of this craziness was kind enough not to call security on me. She just hugged me and informed me she has seven cats. I love cat ladies.

Totally weirdo thing that came out of my mouth #3:

This was said to the lovely, smart, extraordinary Fran Harris, when she told me she'd been traveling for weeks (she has a multimedia empire, and was one of the speakers at the Women's Convention with a PhD). Then she told me how she'd had to spend the night at O'Hare because of a flight glitch. My response? I didn't utter the normal "Oh, that sucks..." or "Oh, how uncomfortable!" No no no. Instead, I said, "Oh my God, that's not glamorous at all. I need you to tell me this gets glamorous at some point. LIE TO ME. LIE TO ME, WOMAN."

Totally weirdo thing that came out of my mouth #4:
"I wish I could have pulled an 'Eat, Pray, Love' but I was broke and living paycheck-to-paycheck in a rented house in the valley and the closest thing I had to a religious experience was when I found a liquor store that delivered."
Again, said to a room full of people. Well, I am just being honest. (Apparently all the media coaching hasn't helped me at all. See "PhD in Drunkenology.")

Totally weirdo thing that came out of my mouth #5:
"I don't need another escort, Kim. I need a sherpa."
Me to my publicist Kim who is the skinniest, prettiest woman and she travels with a carry-on and I think my luggage actually weighs more than she does. In my defense, I have been in three-inch heels for sixteen days now and all my calories are being burned in my ankles so obviously my brain is not getting enough oxygen.

And speaking of three-inch heels...

Totally weirdo thing that came out of my mouth #6:

"What? Haven't you ever seen a fat girl run across a whole airport in three inch heels?"
Said by oh-so-klassy ("I am classy with a K") me to the gate agent at O'Hare when I was begging him to convert me from the dreaded stand-by to the glorious, amazing fully-ticketed passenger. Also, just in case you were wondering, it should not take seventeen hours to get from Minneapolis to Peoria. Really now. P.S. He took pity on the full-figured and I got on the flight. Yay!

So, anyway. Hi! How are you? Seen any good movies lately? Or airports? Because I have seen a lot of airports. I tried really hard to recreate the Senator-Craig-Is-Not-Gay foot swipe/toilet-paper-clean-up foreplay while I was in the Minneapolis airport, but I have germ issues and even my sense of humor was trumped by my deep need to wash hands and expediently exit the Contaminated Place. I am so sorry to disappoint. Maybe I can get arrested by the TSA for a Explosive Eye Cream or the Lipgloss of Last Resort or something.

(Dear TSA, just kidding! So do not want to get arrested and/or lose my Revlon Colorstay lipgloss!)

Minneapolis was awesome, and I got to see Annie and hang out with Minneapolins (yes? no?) and also have I ever told ya'll I have a list of 100 Things To Do Before I Die? Well, I do. And on this list, I want to visit all 50 states and so I got to cross off another to-do: Visit Minnesota! Which is gorgeous and amazing, even flying there is beautiful. I've traveled a lot in my life, I've been lucky, but most of that travel has been to Europe or Scandinavia and I'm slightly embarrassed that I haven't seen much of our own country. And even as you fly over it, it's breathtakingly beautiful, giant unspoiled areas of canyon and red rock and mountain and then rolling plains and trees changing colors and farmland carved out in squares and irrigated in these funny circles that make the land below the airplane seem like a pac-man convention. I feel so lucky to live some place so huge and diverse and surprising. This kind of traveling hasn't been the most leisurely, but it has been fun to see big chunks of my home country, new places I want to return to and spend more time in.

I am one of those dorks who takes pictures from the airplane window. I am all about the window seat! Keeps me from feeling claustro, plus... majestic views from above!

In Minneapolis I was on a TV show where I forgot my beta blocker for the nervousness and was shaking like a leaf:

Me and the gorgeous Corbin Seitz on the set of Showcase Minnesota, on KARE-NBC. Annie said that she and Gerry watched the show (it was live TV! crazy!) and you could see the trembling a little but not too bad. I loved the host, though. Corbin was awesome and she's originally from Kentucky! Love that.

Later we hit up the Yarnery, a super-cute local yarn shop by Annie's house and if you saw me there please disregard the flop sweat, I thought it was going to be a teetiny "Hi! How are you?" thing but it turned out to be an impromptu big reading and signing and I have not gotten good yet at impromptu. I am the sort of person who enjoys knowing what will be happening in the next few minutes of my life (oh, the consternation this causes) and so ... you know. Lord I was shiny. Also you will notice in this picture I am in a blue shirt:

That is big face with pretty Sarah from the Yarnery who is so friendly and cute.

The Yarnery crew!

And later that night for the reading I was in a new, silver shirt because of the aforementioned "sweated nervously through my clothes" issue. For those of you who do not have social anxiety, why don't we switch places? Just for the impromptu stuff? On the other hand, surely I am burning some calories, right? I am going to believe the answer to that one is a vigorous YES INDEEDY!

But oh I had the best time at the Mall of America reading and signing event! Look who it is!!!! Me and Dale-Harriet and her daughter!!!


I felt like I was meeting family for the first time!

The Barnes & Noble event was beyond fun, plus Annie brought her amazing kids Hannah and Max and Gerry even came, too, which was more of an honor than I can tell you. Annie and I have this crazy connection where we seem to be together on October 25th, which is a kind of auspicious day in my history.

Annie and I are very serious people. Yo.

After Minneapolis I flew to Chicago. Rather, I waited in the airport while someone built us a new plane and then flew to Chicago where I had by then missed all connecting flights to Peoria and by the time I got there I was so happy and tired I actually accepted a ride to the hotel from a complete stranger. OH YES I DID. He was nice and did not have axe-murdering credentials, plus he knew someone who knew this other person who knew me and it's a long story but I did make it to the hotel in time to wash my face, get dressed and have dinner with the rockin' Empowerment Crew:

Me, Fran Harris and Kim Weiss and Joy Miller.
Also, doesn't it look like my boobs are trying to make a run for the wine glass?

Kim is my adored and adorable publicist and also the person I most want to do a good job for, she gave the go-ahead for this whole tour thing so you can imagine I want to do well in front of her and not say things such as "I have phD in Drunkenology." I was probably more nervous about Peoria than any other event because I knew she'd be there and I want to not screw up too much and get fired from my own book tour. Although that would make for a funny story.

Me and Kim!

The Women's Lifestyle Show was a really fun event, with over 10,000 women in attendance! There were booths with tons of free swag and I got to watch Kim speak and got to hear Joy's presentation and had the opportunity to hear Fran present, too, which was good because I even learned a few things! (Fran is also an HCI author, and her book is a good read, empowering and not starting with the word "Drunk." I am trying to start an HCI Author Club, but no one seems that up for it yet. Maybe we need like a gang sign or something. Do you think Jack Canfield, dude who was on Oprah, will go for it? If I promise real hard not to spill things on him?)

My hotel room in Peoria was also larger than my entire house and had two bathrooms. Had I been there longer I could have moved in, made friends, and entertained a room of 50 in that suite. AWESOME. I am going to admit to you right now that I used both bathrooms ... just because. I felt bad because I knew they would have to come in and clean two bathrooms when I left but then again, I kind of hope they do that anyway, and I just couldn't help myself. Two bathrooms! I felt like I was royalty. My little house has one bathroom the size of a closet. I didn't know whatto do with myself in such spaciousness. So I washed my hands a lot in various sinks, what can I say.

And now I am in Nashville and ya'll have to come tonight to tell me if this shirt I am planning to wear is cute or trashy, I honestly cannot tell. On the one hand it's a Karen Kane top and her clothes always fit me so well (she designs for women who have these mysterious things called "boobs" that other designers seem to forget some of us have.) And yet on the other hand it seems like it might be a tee-tiny bit on the Tanya Tucker in her rhinestone days, you know? I decided to save it for Nashville because I knew ya'll would understand the Tanya reference. It is so nice to be in a place where people understand the way I talk! And my escort, this fabulous gentleman named Lex, showed up waiting for me at the airport wearing a suit and he even had a pocket square. I am not lying. He is right out of a Harper Lee story, I am in love with him. I plan to get him liquored up after the event and hear many tall tales.

Well, that's all for now, I have to find some caffeine. Thank you so much for coming to these events so far, I was so worried I would be bad at this and no one would stay afterwards because of the "foot permanently ensconced in mouth" issue, but ya'll have been gracious and not minded that I hug your necks with abandon and I thank you so much to each and every person who I've been blessed enough to meet so far. Thank you!

And for you Middle Tennesseans, I will see you tonight! Look for the one in the Tanya Tucker shirt!

p.s. Comments are currently open as I appear to have a good internet connection today. Woohoo! I can't believe I am saying this, but I actually missed the internet. Good Job Al Gore, you invented something I need! Love you! I'm in Nashville... call me Al...

Peoria & Minneapolis pictures on Flickr here >> (I'm still working on the captions)

Posted by laurie at 11:03 AM

October 24, 2007

Thursday in Minneapolis, Saturday in Peoria, Monday in Nashville!

If that isn't three of the most unusual locations strung together in one sentence I don't know what is... maybe throw in a visit to Van Nuys and call it a day!

Here's the schedule:

Thursday, October 25, 7:00 PM

Barnes & Noble
118 E. Broadway, Mall of America, Bloomington, MN

Saturday, October 27, Seminar room 135 at 2:00 p.m.
Women's Lifestyle Show
Convention Center, Peoria, IL
(Tickets available at the door for $8) (You can meet Kim, too, the amazing publicity wizard! She's speaking in Seminar room 135 at 1:00 p.m.) (Also, I will probably be at the convention center all day signing books and chitchatting and carrying on. I heard they had wine.)

Monday, October 29, 7:00 PM
Barnes & Noble
515 Opry Mills Drive, Nashville, TN

Feel free to bring your knitting! I will be very happy to see you, yes YOU, when I am at that place we agreed to meet that one time. Also feel free to bring your questions, I am getting better at that part and didn't even try to hide under the table once at the last event. I have never been to Minnesota or to Peoria! And I am so incredibly excited about Nashville, too, word is that half my high school will be there.

Oh, and thank you so much for the care and concern about the fires and all but I assure you that here in Encino-Adjacent everything is fine and even though I worry about the felines and wish I could make them travel with me in a rolling Cat-Hair-RV or something, they do not miss me at all. They have a full-time sitter who I am sure allows them to jump on the counters, scratch up the sofa and binge on Meow Mix all day. Spoilt rotten, I tell you what. (You have to say it like that, "spoilt" or it has no real meaning.) (Four southerners are shaking their heads in agreement right now.)

Also, there is a thing about my email (again). With the amount of traveling plus trying to retain my actual paying job plus trying to do laundry and sleep and other activities and so on, I have fallen woefully behind once again in the email department. I was doing really well there for a few weeks and was catching up and now, all is lost once again. So please do not feel that I am ignoring your email, I am not deliberately doing so, I am just waiting for miracles to happen. I believe in miracles, people! They could change my email forecast any day now!

Even with my weird email issues, I have always made it a point to read each and every comment and ya'll are funnier than I am so it's very amusing and makes me laugh. But because my internet connection is spotty at best right now and I am not sure I will be able to read the comments and delete the spammy ones and so on and so they are temporarily closed for now. Thanks for understanding!

I'll be back as soon as I can be. If you haven't heard from me in a week, check the shoe stores at the Mall of America... I am just saying is all...

Posted by laurie at 2:05 AM

October 23, 2007

Airport Terror Level Threat Color: Waterproof Barely Brown

The fires scorching across Southern California are scary. I don't want to talk about them. I have to leave my house tomorrow and fly to Minnesota and I am scared to leave the cats with poor air quality and a state that is on fire. So I am not going to think about the fires this morning.

Nope. Instead I am going to tell you about an even scarier thing, one that should put the fear of God and also cosmetics right into you the next time you fly. I am talking about what is clearly the greatest threat to our national security at this time:


Yes. It is the Mascara of Mass Destruction.

I would like to formally apologize to the people who were nearly tragically harmed by this obviously killer cosmetic. It had escaped my makeup bag and somehow in the madness of the past few weeks ended up at the bottom of my handbag, my vast labyrinthine handbag of fabulousness and apparently, terror.

I tried. I tried so hard to assure the TSA screener at the airport that it was an oversight, not intended to divert my plane from its destination, merely a way to get my stupid blonde eyelashes to show up in public.

The TSA man searched my bag for a full twenty minutes for the offending terror tool, and when he emerged, triumphant, thoroughly exhausted and also suspicious of me, The One Who Was Obviously A Terrorist, he held the nuclear mascara of death in his gloved hand and said, "This is unacceptable."

And I said, "Dude, it may be from the drugstore but in consumer ranking reports it is always the clear winner in the mascara trials. I have the Bourgeous Brown Velvet mascara that I got from Sephora for $22 when I though I could buy happiness and let me tell you. It does not work. I need Maybelline."

And he said, "That is not what I meant."

And I said, "Please don't arrest me. Not all of us have naturally velvety brown eyelashes."

Unfortunately, as it turns out, while the TSA has many things such as blue plastic gloves, big x-ray machines and trashcans filled with water bottles, it does not have one crucial component and that is ... sense of humor. Do not joke with the TSA about your eyelashes. You will be pulled aside into a personal screening area where you are fondled and well, actually he was kind of cute so that wasn't too bad, but it really does put a crimp in the time you can spend drinking at the airport bar. I am just suggesting. If it happens to you and all.

But this story has a happy ending because along with the help of a supervisor and another be-gloved TSA screener (plus let us not forget the cute guy whose sole job it is to fondle the mascara-weilding passengers) we were all finally FINALLY able to neutralize the threat by safely encasing it in a ziploc baggie.

I wasn't sure we would survive, but as it turns out what stands between the human race and total thermonuclear annihilation is... the ziploc baggie. Quart size.


I apologize, America. I did not mean to raise the terror threat to Waterproof Barely Brown. I'll be calling a press conference later next week and explaining why I was caught next Friday in the bathroom stall in Minneapolis sluttily applying said mascara to my eyelashes and when doing so conveyed that I was a gay senator from Idaho. Or Iowa. Or somewhere definitely not on fire. I did not even seek counsel.

I have shamed my constituents, my family, and most of all my blonde eyelashes.

I beg for forgiveness. And thank God for the ziploc baggie.

Posted by laurie at 9:55 AM

October 22, 2007

Los Angeles is smokin'


Fire season freaks me out. The fact that I live in a part of the country that even has a "fire season" freaks me out. I love you little California, please stop burning.

I took that picture above from the Jeep of course, I was on my way to the mall to return something (I bought the best Ralph Lauren shirt with a surplice wrap bodice, perfect for speaking in front of a crowd because it is in pit-hiding all black and then when I packed it for the trip last week I discovered it had a hole in the back. Sad. Very sad.) and anyway, the mall in Northridge was rendered spooky and eerie by a fire sky.

Fire sky is one thing you start to recognize once you've lived here for a few years. We may talk a big talk about how we have no weather here in SoCal, but our dirty little secret is the wind. Santa Ana winds, more specifically, huge hurricane-strength gusts that come out of the dry deserts and sandblast the roads, pile leaves in your yard, knock over trees and fan the fires. The fires scare me.

The mall, usually my safe haven in times of sorrow, also scares me sometimes.

(Segue of the year award right there!!!!)

The mall sometimes lures me into its dressing rooms with its promise of cuteness and a vibrating Macy's return-credit card. (I love that Macy's has a 180 day return policy and they can look your purchase up without a receipt. I also love that the one in Sherman Oaks has the Marc Jacobs stuff right next to the Lucky Brand jeans. That's my kind of floor arrangement.)

But sometimes it all goes wrong, for example when you are trying to break out of all-black while still harnassing the powers of sweat-concealing design....


"I'm a designer! I have a great idea! Let's put flame thingies right on the nipplage! That way all signs will point to boobies!"

Yeah, I don't think so.

I may live in a city that is on fire, but I don't need my own nips to be pointed out with little red flames. Yeah. No thank you.

Posted by laurie at 9:31 AM

October 19, 2007

The one where I make up for not writing for a week.... you might want to get coffee.

It's Friday and I'm back home and my cats are attached to my leg right now like I am made of catnip and tuna fancy feast rolled into pajama pants. I missed them and would have brought them gifts of apology but I am so tired I have even lost the will to shop, and you know that is some t-i-r-e-d.

But before I go to bed in the middle of the afternoon (decadent!!! I am defying the laws of sleep gravity!!) I wanted to tell you all that people in the Northwest are very goodlooking and you should go there immediately. No one was rushed and pissed off, at least not by Los Angeleno standards. People are so nice! And laid-back and did I mention goodlooking? Why don't I live there? I wanted to stay in both Portland and Seattle for weeks longer, I didn't get nearly enough. I'm on this insane press schedule that looks something like this: "Wake up at 5 a.m. and try not to make an ass of yourself with many different reporters for a whole day then go read and not barf and also, your Spanx are showing." One of the things I am learning as I go along is that this whole touring thing is not what I expected (in so many ways.) Back when this was all first mentioned to me, I just assumed you flew to a city and waited around all day until your event, then you did your event and went back to the hotel. But instead you actually work all day, going from interview to interview, getting hauled all over town by a complete stranger who has to listen to you say things such as "There is no barfing in publishing. Right?" and also, "Do you ever have clients who talk about cat poop?"

And I got to see rain! And have actual Seattle coffee and mucho vino in Portland which I believe was obvious in my post late last night. I was celebrating making it through thirteen hours of talking to strangers. And apparently I have lived in Los Angeles for so long that I forgot what "cold" meant because I forgot to bring a coat and it was, you know, kind of chilly. But I had my Patons SWS hat and GOT TO WEAR IT FOR REAL (not just pretending in L.A. when it's 68 degrees in a cold snap) and that is all that matters.

So I'm just going to yammer on here, to better prepare you for when YOU go on your first book tour, because me personally? I was the definition of clueless! Like when you do these appearances in cities where Drew and Your Family do not live, you have an actual escort whose job it is to get you to places on time and help you not barf (Oh, sorry! I know that is not part of your job but thank you all the same!)

Did ya'll even know that there was a job called "author escort"? I had no idea! I asked Team Publicity if I could get a male escort (heh) named George Clooney but they said no. I guess they reserve him for special guests. But my escorts Sandra (in Seattle) and Elizabeth (in Portland) were awesome and should have gotten combat pay for all the nuttiness I bring in my wake. And since I can't really take too many pictures while I am reading I wheedled both my escorts to take my camera and snap away. Apparently, not only am I a picture-taking fool, but after some coaxing and promises of wine, I am turning my escorts into picture-taking fools, too! This Flickr thing is the best, I am right now uploading everything there so you can see the awesomeness of the Northwest. (Also, I am so exhausted right now I can't name them all, but I'll go back soon and add titles to the pictures, promise.) (Also, my connection is slow, so Portland pics are uploading one-by-one as we speak.)

Seattle was my first stop and it was AWESOME, that city is beyond beautiful. The plane came into town just as the sun was setting and the whole city was lit up and gorgeous and even though I have flown into some beautiful places in my life, it was Seattle that made me gasp. Also, it was bumpy and there was gasping. Planes are not my thing. I got into the hotel and ate dinner and went straight to bed, because at 4:45 a.m. I had to be awake and curling my hair (rain, why do you not love my hot rolleredness?) and ready to go on scary live TV.

Yes, LIVE TV. I called my publicist in a panic when I found out about the live part. "Are you sure?" I asked. "Have you MET me? Any old thing could fly out of my mouth!" And she said, "I've met you but they haven't, so HAH HAH." But it went well and Joyce Taylor was so friendly she made me feel less like a stressball than usual.

Joyce Taylor and me and we are apparently a hallucination

This is the cutest woman in morning TV: intern Dina Molina who walked me back into the studio and had to assure me over and over I wouldn't barf on camera. Dina, you need to be a therapist because you ROCKED!

Then right after that we were off to another TV station to film Northwest Afternoon, and I think my segment will air on Monday. I do not believe the male half of the interviewing team was loving the Drunk Cat Lady Book but I did the best I could. Also, they were not loving that I wanted to take a picture of the live studio audience:

I can't help it! I have never met a live studio audience before!

Before going out there, though, I was in the green room (which was actually green) with one of the other guests, Beth Holloway. Later after we were out of the green room and actually taping the interviews, I forced her to pose with me backstage after her segment because she about broke my heart in two while she was out there speaking. Whatever you may think of all the news coverage of Natalee's disappearance, her mother is one classy, amazing lady and she has a new book out, and she is lovely and strong and kind in person:

She is an amazing woman. It was an honor to meet her.

After all the Tvness, I got to stop by this amazing yarn shop called Tricoter. Had I known the ladies there were famous knitting book writers, I would have been more shy and tried not to go, but I'm so glad I did because they were fun and fed me apple slices and let me fondle the most gorgeous yarn.

L-R: Gorgeous Beryl Hiatt, cat lady, lovely Linden Ward

Also by this time I have yammered on enough about knitting that my adorable escort Sandra is getting into the idea:
That is cute Julie from Tricoter on the left and my awesome escort Sandra!

And I signed some books there and then Sandra took me off to Elliot Bay bookstore... apparently if you write a book you're supposed to stop in when you can and sign them and then the store puts a sticker on the book saying it's signed, etc. I was nervous, because I had never done it before and Sandra was with me so I asked her what is apparently the dumbest question ever asked by an author, which is, "How do they know it's you? Do they ask for ID?" And ya'll. They do NOT ask for ID! So I was like, "Hey, Sandra, can we say I'm Anne Rice?" and she said, "Well, she's a little too recognizable."

"How about Alice Munro? Can we say I'm Alice Munro?"
"Too Canadian. Your accent will give you away..."
"Anne Rivers Siddons?"
"Honey, just sign your books."

But it was fun, and I so plan on walking into some bookstore in the Valley and telling them I am Anne Rice. Hand me some books to sign!

And while we were at Elliot Bay Bookstore, guess who was speaking!!!


That Is Carl Bernstein! He was promoting his new book on Hillary Clinton. It was like stumbling on a treasure! We stopped to listen for a few minutes, then I had to get to my own reading at the Barnes & Noble on Pine Street.

This is Erin, possibly the cutest, most efficient and professional and fun person I have met so far:


She was AMAZING. I hope someone at Barnes & Noble Corporate knows what a gem they have in Seattle, Erin is one of the most in-charge, totally professional and personable people I have ever met, hands-down.

And Seattle was so much fun, I couldn't believe ya'll came out in force!


I love the Q&A because it's more like a conversation, like just sitting around with the family and telling stories, and in Seattle I talked everyone's ears off because did I mention I was up at 4:45 and also Seattle has GREAT coffee?

Right after the event I left the store and headed for the airport, which was no longer serving food of any kind, but luckily Erin had gifted me a bag of Cheetos and I found myself sitting in the Seattle airport actually being my own stereotype:

Dinner of champions.

I arrived in Portland at midnight and also, Dear Portland Airport: Why do you close all the bathrooms for cleaning at the SAME TIME? I had to practically beg my way into a ladies room, it was so sad.

The next morning I was off to the cutest yarn shop ever, Twisted in Portland. There I got to meet the Portland Oregonian's EXPERT Knitting reporters, Peggy and Mims:


For the rest of the day I went from one end of the city to another for interviews and got to meet some great folks and sweat a lot and not eat a damn thing (so sad) and finally at 6:10 the NPR reporter, Kerri, packed up and I brushed my teeth and headed out for Powell's in ... YES...yes, yes, BEAVERTON.

I had been a teensy bit (read: incredibly very) worried about Portland because every time I mentioned that event one person would comment and say, "I am so happy to meet you in Portland!" and then eleventy-nine people would carryon and moan and complain about it being in the Beaverton Powell's store, and it went on to such a degree that between me and Jen and Kim, Publicists For The Crazy, it became an issue which we began to call "The Beaver Factor."

Because while I myself am a pathological people pleaser and would gladly pack up and move the show to Powell's Whereverland just to make ya'll happy, as it turns out I have NO CONTROL WHATSOEVER over this schedule. And by "no control" I mean "control: so not in my hands" and also "control: merely a Janet Jackson album."

I am not fooling with you. It's not like I am telling Team Publicity to avoid your house because I don't like you. If I were in control do ya'll think I would be running around so much there isn't even time to pee? I'm just lucky to find an airport with a bar serving wine at midnight at this point.

Therefore it pains me each time someone says, "Why aren't you coming to my hometown/house/tailgate party/cat's birthday celebration?" because I myself would happily come to your houses and get you liquored up and read excerpts from the book but in Planet Publishing this is apparently not a cost-effective way to sell books. It is sad because I think we could get your cat hopped up on catnip, too, and call that a day.

And for a control enthusiast such as myself, having no control is frustrating enough without hearing what appears to be every single reader in the state of Oregon complain that to make the arduous journey to The Beaver they would have to find Laura Ingalls' covered wagon, hire a local guide, fortify for winter, cross the treacherous river valley for the New Territory and possibly fall into the same fate as the Donner Party if they couldn't find a fur trading station along the way to shelter them from the coming winter. But isn't Pa hunky all the same? And why is Nellie such a brat? And why are the Ingalls' family suddenly in Oregon?

It started depressing me, thinking no one would show up and get to hear my Beaver jokes. But then I just went self-helpy on my ownself and decided that if only me and my escort Elizabeth showed up for the event, it was part of God's master plan to get me back to the hotel expediently because that is where the wine is. Amen.

Of course I worried and gave myself Beaver Wrinkles (heh) for nothing, though, because Portland ROCKED:


Excuse me, correction. Not Portland. THE BEAVER rocked. I cannot thank you enough for driving out and braving the weather (weather! It was very exciting, and wet) and I LOVED Portland, too, even the Beaver. Powell's is a fabulous bookstore, and people in the Northwest -- at least all the folks I met and saw -- are warm and friendly and polite and just have a good vibe about them, more laid-back, reserved and yet incredibly welcoming at the same time. I loved loved loved this trip. Meeting people seemed so scary but ya'll have been so warm, I'm not sure I can ever tell you how much it has meant to me to finally put faces to names (pdxWoman! Aarwen! Rabbitch!) and to poor Christina in Seattle, I apologize for mauling you with hugs, I was just so damn happy to meet you.

OK, pardon the next part. I haven't slept in eight days, so you know. Emotions: running high!

But all of this stuff I have been doing is like it's happening to some other version of me, maybe Laurie 2.0. I spent a fair amount of time wondering if I would actually be able to do all the things they had scheduled for me, interviews and TV and speaking in front of people and I won't lie to you, I was kind of suspecting that by now I'd be checking into the Betty. But you know what? I did it. I actually showed up.

Part of doing this for me is not thinking it through ... just thinking about the next two minutes of time, not the next two hours or weeks or months. I know in my heart that other people are really good at all this and enjoy it and would stab me with a fork to switch places, and I am not being ungrateful, I have just been plain old scared. My real life is quite small and controlled, I speak to MAYBE three people a day and do my little job and eat my same breakfast every day and love my little new quiet life. So doing all these new things is ... well, NEW. And a little scary and exhilirating all rolled into one. I just try to breathe and think, what do I need to do in the next 120 seconds of my life? And my job is to show up and do the best I can and I hope it's good enough. So I just show up. Do the best I can. Sometimes I have done well enough that even I am pleased, and I am my harshest critic. Sometimes I goof up and could have done better but I'm learning not to hold on to the flaws too much. Sometimes you have to let it go, release the critique, know that just showing up is a good start.

I'm sure if I had it to do all over again I would have been more articulate or worn something cuter or whatever, a hundred times over, but I can't believe I am doing this, and actually enjoying it (OK, not the midnight flying but the rest is great) and it kind of has me in shock.

Right now I am sitting here on the floor of my living room in Encino-Adjacent, with Bob shedding on my foot, I'm home. And I'm wondering ... what else in my life can I show up for that I never dreamed I could do?

If I can do this, what else can I do?

I know it sounds dumb, but I always wanted to try a Pilates class, but I was too embarrassed of my weight, I thought you needed to be skinny to do something like that. Not coincidentally, I thought you needed to be skinny to do a book tour. And I felt really disappointed in myself just a few weeks ago, I knew I could have dieted myself down to a smaller size but I had made a sworn, solemn promise to myself last year that I was never going on another diet as long as I lived. I promised I would treat myself with dignity, and learn about nutrition, and eat healthy foods and do some walking, but I refused to diet ever again. I was tired of dieting. I had to keep that promise.

When I made the decision to renounce dieting, I was the biggest I had ever been, 22 on an elastic-waist day. I can tell you the exact day many months later when I knew my Not-A-Diet was My Real Life, it was a Saturday and I had gone to the mall to try to find something for a date (you know how you always feel prettier on a date if you're in a new outfit?) and I wandered all around the Bloomingdale's and collected a wide assortment of black pants in 16s and 18s, and I went into the dressing room and nothing fit. In a good way. I had been not-dieting for eight months at that point, just plodding along with my nutritious snacks and boring snail's pace of weight loss. I knew it was the best plan for me from a sanity perspective, but I never thought I would see 14 again, not without a diet. Could it be...? Really?

And I just looked at myself in the mirror on that Saturday in Bloomingdale's. I was scared to go back out there and find some 14s to try on. What if it was a lie?

Now I have friends who would fling their tiny, skinny little bodies off the highest building if they ever thought they would one day be as fat as a size 14. I know that. I knew it even then, but for me it was the exact opposite, a thrill, a pants-sized high. I would have done a cheer right there in the Juicy Couture section if I could fit a 14.

I tried on seven pairs of pants and one skirt before I finally finally accepted I was indeed a size fourteen again. Then I sat on the bench inside the dressing room at Bloomies and cried. That unexpected happiness cry, where you shake your head and laugh at your dumbass self for sniffling over something so weird. I knew I was still just a sandwich away from being back in the Women's section, but for that moment I was finally the Average American Size. When you are five-foot-three and as wide as you are tall, being just average sounds pretty effing great. And I had gotten there so slowly, and with baked potatoes all along the way. I kept my personal promise. I had undieted, finally.

Then the tour happened. Because touring authors is expensive and logistically nightmarish, I never really thought HCI would send me off to the airport and want me to stand in front of folks. They saw what happened in New York (recap: Public speaking so bad they're showing a video of it at Toastmasters as a cautionary tale.) But there it was, a phone call from Kim, bookings from Jen, and me staring at myself in the mirror suddenly hating size 14, hating that I refused to go on Slim-Fast for a month, hating that this was what I worried about most. Why of all things was I so worried about the size of me? Why was this the part? Why is it always the one bad thing?

Fat is not a feeling. It is not an emotion. You can be sad about a situation, but you cannot be fat about it. Yet I do think "fat" can be a mental judgement call on our self-worth that we carry around with us, voluntarily encasing ourselves in a self-conscious prison cell, saying "I'll do that when I've lost a little weight..." or "I'll wear that when I'm smaller" ... or my ultimate downfall: "When I am thinner, I will have more confidence to do all those things but right now I will stay home and watch TV and one day, one day, one day I will live my life."

And even though I thought I was too fat, too old, too country, too scared... I showed up. I am showing up. I can't believe this is me. What else is hiding in there, what else am I capable of doing? I used to think I had to be perfect, look perfect, have the perfect marriage, work for the perfect goals, perfect job, perfect demeanor. I gave up on perfect somewhere around the time I started knitting and realized I loved it even though I wasn't immediately good at it. I gave up perfect tension, perfect stripes that had no holes at the join, perfect cables with no holes at the twist. I liked my scarfy imperfections, they reminded me of where I was that day, and I love them, I love being able to like a flaw. I am doing this and I am imperfect, I am a fourteen (and also, I am a fourteen!)

I finally fit in an airplane seat:
This is hard to believe. Also, hard to actually see but I do fit.

I did that. I don't know how. I don't know whose hand is at my back holding me even when I am most scared but I thank that hand everyday, say a little prayer of thanks to whomever, however I am doing all the things I thought I would do later, someday, off in my future life.

Thank you.

And especially thank you to the poor souls who had to go to The Beaver. You know you loved it. BEAVER LOVERS. All of you!

Posted by laurie at 1:45 PM

October 18, 2007

Packing up in Portland

More tomorrow when I am home and have cats on my lap and less wine and so on but OH MY GOD, I can't believe this all happened and was so much fun! I love the Northwest! Plus, I am actually having fun (!!!) I thought I would be melting down in a puddle in the closet by now but instead it's all good... no. It is better than good. It is crazyass great. When you laugh it makes me feel like I made cold fusion out of gum and rubberbands all MacGuyver-style. I love to hear ya'll laugh!

My favorite part is the signings, though. Meeting each person is like a little gift someone is giving me. I hope as long as I live I never stop having this feeling, this surprise, and gratitude, and pure nervousness-also-joy. I never knew there were other gals out there like me. Thank you so much. I mean that.

More tomorrow. Need sleepage. So surprised. Amazed. Now I know why people leave their houses ;)

Is this really my life?

Posted by laurie at 10:56 PM

October 16, 2007

Wednesday in Seattle ... see you Thursday in Portland!

Yesterday I was at work wondering if my laundry was doing itself (the answer, sadly, was no) (also, "doing itself" hahahahaha... sorry, I am twelve) and now I am packing to head off to Seattle and Portland and this is what I have in my suitcase so far:

1 curling iron
1 pair of bronze snakeskin boots
2 cats

So obviously I am really on top of things in the traveling department. Also, if I am not mistaken, the third cat is sitting on the warm laundry in the basket as we speak and covering everything with a fine patina of fur. Does it make me a crazy cat lady that I miss them when I'm gone? That is probably something I should put on my list of things not to tell potential dates.

So, this week brings even more opportunities to say the word "porn" in completely inappropriate conversational situations:

Wednesday, October 17, 7:00 PM
Barnes & Noble
600 Pine Street, Seattle, WA
[ click for Google Map ]

Thursday, October 18, 7:00 PM
Powell's Bookstore
3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd, Beaverton, OR, 97005
[ click for Google Map ]

I really hope to see you there, I'm going to be the one wearing black. At the yarn shop last weekend I wore a not-pit-concealing purple shirt and that was a bad idea. I am just saying is all. Also, how excited am I to be able to wear my HANDKNIT STUFF!!!! It's actually cold in the Northwest and I am prepared with many, many layers of handknit scarves. I hope I can fit everything in the suitcase. ("Yes, I am taking that GIANT suitcase for a three-day trip. It's how much over the weight limit? Really? BUT I NEED THAT POMPOM SCARF.") (etc.)

That is, if I can get the cats out of their new favorite sleeping spot. Just out of curiosity, does a tortie count as a carryon?

Posted by laurie at 9:25 AM

October 15, 2007

Ah, nothing is better than being back home with three cats sitting on your head.

Last night when I got to my house I sat down (flopped down, more accurately) and within minutes had all three felines sitting on some part of my body. It's good to be missed!

Also, in case no one noticed, my boyfriend Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize! Al, you're the hotness! Call me! You know Tipper doesn't love you the way me and three cats can love you. Also, did I mention that I am available? For you? I liked you even back when you were wearing red flannel and not shaving. Remember that dark period? I was there for you! And I really enjoy recycling! Promise!

There was absolutely 100% no wine involved in this picture. My cheeks are merely red from... love. Really.

So it's been a happy and crazy and wine-drenched, luggage-hauling few days, starting off in Los Angeles:

Lord have mercy. Are ya'll in the right place?

And Tevana won the raffle basket:

Then I was in Houston:
Me and my older brother, Guy.

And at Yarntopia with these pretty gals:

I got to hang out with this dude:
We are fun, come visit us.

And eat my pants off at Cracker Barrel:
I would like hashbrown casserole with a side of hashbrown casserole, please.

And hang out with the family:
No, ocifer we have not been drankin. Amen.

This drunken cat hair book is dedicated to you, dad!

Someone got all the cuteness and I am mad as hell at him.


Hello, John Deere shirt and Uncle Skipper!

This is my cousin Rene, who was my best friend growing up and my partner in crime with the haircutting craziness. I missed her so much and seeing her was like opening a Christmas present. Missed you Rene! She has a daughter named Zettie (she is named after my Oma) who I adore and want to kidnap.

And anytime you start feeling like a fancypants book writer it is comforting to know you have brothers who will happily inform you that not only are you the shortest one in the whole entire gene pool of the family, you are also the widest and have a sticker being placed on your back at this very touching moment that says "dumbass."

Between me and Uncle Skipper, I believe we took eleventy-nine bazillion pictures, and so I went and got me one of them new fangled flickery things. You can see all my pictures right here!

Thank you so much for coming to the L.A. and Houston events! I was really scared about the Q&A, but as it turns out the questions and answers are my favorite part of the whole event because I'm so curious what you all are going to ask! So we'll definitely keep up that part, so have your questions ready because this week I am off to Seattle on Wednesday (by the way, the rockstar Barnes & Noble Super Vice-President of Customers and Events and Stuff there is Erin and she is a knitter, I am really excited to see her and ya'll bring your knitting! They have coffee there, too. (I think it is a law in Seattle) and then I am in Portland on Thursday the 18th (the schedule is here with map links) so start thinking of your questions now and we'll just chitchat all night.

That way I can pretend I am just talking to you and not standing up in a room full of people. ALTHOUGH, since ya'll are sitting down, for that brief period of time I tower over you and I am TALL, and really, that is what matters most.

Because I am not short at all. Or drinking. Nope. Not at all.

Posted by laurie at 1:22 PM

October 10, 2007

Thursday night see you in Los Angeles ... Friday and Saturday in Houston!

I cannot believe it is all really happening!

And ya'll, I'm so sorry if all this book stuff is boring and I promise not to blabber on about it forever but it's kind of the most crazy thing ever to happen to me and you know, this is a diary. Kind of goes with the territory. But I solemnly swear I'll get back to coverage of bumper stickers, pictures of the weather man and long involved talks about the thing my cat did that time as soon as possible.

This whole thing is so far out of my comfort zone that I might as well just be abducted by aliens and get the probe over with. Do you think the aliens get you drunk first? (I watched "Independence Day" again over the weekend, I can't help it, I love me some Will Smith.) Anyway! They ("The U.S. Department of They") say that I will get better at this as time goes by so I am hoping that is true, and also feeling sad for the people who have to watch me be nervous and shaking at the events where I am still waiting to get better and also if I hug you inappropriately I apologize in advance!

Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 7:30 p.m.
Los Angeles: Barnes & Noble at The Grove [Google Map]
Reading, Q&A session and book signing

Friday, October 12, 2007 at 7:00 p.m.
Houston, TX: Barnes & Noble on Memorial [Google Map]
Reading, Q&A session and book signing

Saturday, October 13, 2007 at 11 a.m. (until 1 p.m.)
Katy, TX: Yarntopia [Google Map]
We're just going to knit and chat and sign books!

Seeing as Los Angeles will be a group of Stitch 'n Bitchers and also since it's the first one and my adopted home city I thought it would be funny to give away a Divorce Survival Basket! So we're doing a raffle too, and I assembled this basket of nuttiness myself so you know it contains some Patons Up Country. I swear that yarn is the softest wool on the planet. Why did they stop making it? And does this mean I have to obsessively hoard my new favorite Patons yarn, SWS? Oh wait, raffle basket ... it contains:


• Wine -- a very good, sturdy cabernet
• Cheetos -- both crunchy and puffed varieties
• Kleenex
• A pretty vanilla-scented happiness candle
• A signed book and two of my dorky mixed CDs
• The aforementioned Up Country
• More yarn
• And gorgeous amazing hand-dyed, supersoft merino yarn from SpinningYarnsOnline.com. The softness and the colors of this airy, beautiful yarn made me want to keep it myself (oh, and there's a cute tape measure, too, if you're planning to make legwarmers with it and need to measure your legs... I am just saying...)

Gorgeous hand-dyed yarn!

After Los Angeles, Houston is next and you'll know you're in the right place when you see these guys:

This is my favorite picture of my dad and my Uncle Skipper. I love this picture so much, it just makes me smile every time I see it.

My mom and dad are going to be at the Houston Barnes & Noble and ya'll get to meet them -- if they are not in Wal-Mart Jail -- along with my Uncle Skipper and my brothers Guy and Eric (!!!) and my sister-in-law Kelly and my nephew Andrew and my cousin Rene and maybe Aunt Debbie, all I am saying is that we're having our family reunion at Barnes & Noble so if ya'll want good fried chicken recipes and actual confirmation from people who know me that I did indeed make a nature collage out of construction paper and glue and poison ivy, poison oak and sumac, then come on by! Plus Drew will be there and he's so damn cute.

Drew is also under threat of death unless he's taking me to a Cracker Barrel. Hash brown casserole I love you and want to marry you! And Drew and I will both be at Yarntopia on Saturday where you can see my current extremely cheesy knitting project which may or may not contain both the names "leg" and "warmers." I AM JUST SAYING IS ALL.

P.S. Dear Houston, please be not so humid. My hair has trouble on the best of days. Love, Laurie

Speaking of letters... I got several emails last week like this one from Christina:

Hi Laurie, I am planning on going to your Seattle book tour stop. I am wondering how it works. Is it some huge rockstar thing or a more quiet hi, how are ya thing? I feel kind of socially weird and going to a crowded place to say hey to someone who has no clue who I am is feels a bit strange. Is it weird talking to people who think they "know" you? Can you tell me a little about how these things work? Thanks, Christina

I was so happy Christina wrote because I was starting to get a little nervous too. Aside from BEA, I have only been to one book signing in my entire life, and that was when I was stalking Tom Robbins and I even drove to Santa Monica, at night, by myself to attend. Stalk, stalk. (Then I was too nervous to even look him in the eye when I got my book signed! What kind of loser stalker am I?)

Also, on an unrelated note, my mom asked me why I was wearing all black for every event and I was like, um, hello! Flop sweat! (By the way if anyone knows where I can get pants that make me look 40 pounds skinnier, please tell me RIGHT NOW.)

Anyway -- to answer Christina's question, basically I think it's just your very normal book shop event and most of the reading areas are kind of cozy, and we sit in folding chairs and I try not to barf. Then I shake, sweat and say something dumb. Then I get to read (this part I can do, since I actually have read this book once or five hundred times) and I am only reading a chapter so you don't have to worry about having to sit in a folding chair for six hours, promise. And after that if I am not doing the aforementioned barfing, we'll do a small Q&A, then we sign books. (I am trying out this Q&A thing in Los Angeles and if it doesn't go well, um. Maybe not so much Q&A for the future.) (I'm always terrified with Q&A. Please be kind. Also, do people want Q&A? My publicist says yes, and I'm like "What if I say something dumb?" and she's very quiet. What does that mean?)

The book signing thing is the part I've done before and that is the part I am most looking forward to because I get to meet folks face-to-face and I am much better one on one than in a crowd. There's a small line and you write your name on a post-it given to you by folks at the book store, and they stick the post-it to an open page on the book so I do not make an ass of myself and spell names wrong. I can guarantee you I will be so nervous I will probably spell my own name wrong.

You can bring a book if you already bought it though my publicist is getting nervous that no one will buy books at the store so I do hope at least one person comes empty-handed! I am also glad I am not my publicist. Imagine a client whose main issues are sweating and barfing and saying "porn" at weird times.

The signing part is fun because then we can chitchat a little and then the line moves. It's all very new to me, too, but I'm excited, because it *is* exciting. Especially the part where we find out whether or not I barf.

And while I am hoping to return soon to my non-anxiety-pants filled life of cat poop and bumper stickers and traffic, my parents on the other hand.... well. Let's just say that I got THE FUNNIEST EMAIL ever yesterday. Apparently my parents read the comments section of this here website. And one of you fine folks, I couldn't find the comment, mentioned that they had heard of one author whose parents got T-shirts printed with the book cover.

My parents thought that was a brilliant idea and they spent yesterday walking around Beaumont, Texas in these:


OH YES THEY DID! Thanks a lot, website!

Posted by laurie at 8:47 AM

October 9, 2007

Tuesday Top Five-ish

1) Weather makes me hot

There might be some misunderstanding about why I not only watch my man Dallas Raines for the weather but also photograph him on my television set, and that is not because I want to tease him about his fashion choices. It is because I am frankly rather in love with him. Any man who gets this excited about barometric pressure is the man for me:

You the hotness. I the nerd.

2) Minneapolis-St. Paul, this bud is for you
For the folks asking if Paul Magers is still the newsman on Channel 2 herein Los Angeles, well yes indeed!

This face seems to say, "Hey baby, wanna come over and read my teleprompter?"

3) Bob is very cute, and in real life is not this big
The camera adds ten pounds, you know. I feel for the guy. I myself am just positive that every picture of me is from the unflattering "seven extra chins" position but Bob is so fluffy tummy I can't resist (women and their cats, I tell you what). Also, what an excellent paperweight he makes!



4) And finally, Dear Eighties Revivalists: Please stop while you're ahead

This was what I saw in Target this weekend:


I almost fell over in shock and fright and possibly post-traumatic stress disorder-esque flashbacks. Do you have any idea how many of these shirts I had in the eighties? I was at all times a walking billboard for Frankie, who said "Relax!" and for saving the whales, waking up before you go-go, and all other manner of ridiculousness. This was my favorite though, it said "Ban Bold Graphics."

Me, staring lovingly at cake. Mmmm. Cake.

People, stop with the eighties. I love the legwarmers, they're funny. I'm fine with the fact that you people are bringing back big belts (big gals like big belts). I'm not hateful mad about the poufy crap because I just consider it as this season's formal shorts. But if you think I'm going to channel George Michael circa 1984 YOU ARE SADLY MISTAKEN, MR. FASHION. Print that on your t-shirt and smoke it!

(Print that on your t-shirt and smoke it? Someone is on cold medicine. Yup.)

Top five lists don't need five do they?

Oh wait! Here's one final last thing:


Guess that means I need to go put on lipstick and look pretty if the guv'ment is watching ...

Posted by laurie at 6:31 AM

October 5, 2007

Reversible Knit Halloweenie Beanie



This pattern was created primarily because I thought it was funny. I know the world is full of knitters who inspire, or make lovely works of art, or create functional and useful items. I myself make stuff up because I think it is funny and has the potential to make me laugh while stuck in traffic, which is exactly how the Halloweenie Beanie got started.

Originally, I had planned to make a beanie from a pattern that my good friend Allison had written for Mission Falls Wool. But then I figured since I was using orange yarn, wouldn't it be just hee-larious to make a pumpkin hat? And try to figure out how to make a stem while we're at it? So she allowed me to modify it to be more pumpkin-like and share it with ya'll. Thanks, Allison!

Reversible Knit Halloweenie Beanie Recipe

Yarn: Mission Falls. I am using this amazing, soft superwash wool in orange and for the pumpkin's stem, I used a small amount of Lion Brand wool-ease in a pretty heathered green color. I had the green left over from a scarf I made a hundred years ago. This pattern took a little more than one skein of orange, and a very small amount of green.

I had only knit with Mission Falls wool once before and now I'm hooked -- it's soft and so pretty.

Needles: With my SupaTight Knitting Superpowers, I went up a recommended needle size and used a size 9 circular needle (16" circular) for most of the hat and switched to size 9 double-pointed needles when needed during decreasing. Normal knitters will want to use size 8 needles or else this hat will be way too big. For the pumpkin stem you'll need a set of size 10 or 10.5 straight needles.

My gauge: I'm getting 4 stitches to the inch on the beanie. The stem's gauge isn't crucial. It's ... a stem. You know. Organic and shiite.

Other tools: Stitch marker, crochet hook and large eye needle to finish and weave in ends. Cat helper, sense of humor and wine recommended but not necessary.

Things you may find useful when knitting this hat:
• The easy roll-brim hat pattern, the basis of all my hat recipes
Working with circular needles
• A little diatribe on decreasing stitches
• My regular ribbed-brim hat recipe

For the beanie:

1. On circular needles, cast on 88 stitches in orange yarn and join to knit in the round. Place stitch marker at start of round.

2. Knit 4, Purl 4 all the way around to create a ribbed edge. I did this for a little over an inch, or about five rows.

3. For the body, the hat is basically stockinette with a single rib every eight stitches. So you will Knit 7, Purl 1 all the way around for the entire body for until hat measures 6" from base, including rib.

4. The reason this hat is reversible is because when you begin decreasing, rather than knitting two stitches together (as I have in all my other hats) here I decided to Purl two stitches together, which creates a decrease ridge that perfectly lines up with the purl ridges on the reverse stockinette side of the hat:

You can also add a pompom if the curly stem is a tad much for you.

5. Start decreasing by knitting six stitches, purling two stiches together and repeat all the way around the row.

6. For all the remaining rows, you'll knit until you see that purl stitch coming -- you'll see it -- and then purl together the plain stitch before it plus the lone purl stitch, it looks like this:



Or if that's too confusing, just follow this:
Knit 6, P2 together
Knit 5, P2 together
Knit 4, P2 together
Knit 3, P2 together
Knit 2, P2 together

But I found this to be the easiest hat to decrease of all the hats I've made -- you don't need to count to know when to decrease, just look for that purl ridge in your stockinette and you're ready to decrease. Decreasing purlwise (fancypants way of saying "purl two together") is just as easy as decreasing the regular way and prepares you for the pumpkin's stem, which has a lot of freaking purling.

7. Switch to double points when there are too few stitches to fit around the circular needle.

8. Thread large eye needle through stitches and remove from needles. Stitch down through top of hat to secure and keep from unraveling. Finish and weave in ends.

Create the pumpkin's curlicue stem

1) Cast on 18 stitches -- I used a size 10.5 straight needle, you may want to use a size 10. CAST ON LOOSELY. SERIOUSLY.

2) Knit into the front, back and front again of each stitch before dropping it off the left needle. Read this entry for more detail on knitting into the front and back of a stitch. Just keep in mind that for this project, you knit each stitch three times -- once in front, once through the back loop, and finally through the front again. That's why it's muy importante to cast on loosely.

3) Bind off all stiches purlwise. That just means you bring your yarn to the front, purl the first stitch, purl the next stitch, then pass the first stitch over the second like a regular bind off. I find that binding off purlwise is a lot more time-consuming, but it's necessary for this project.

And voila! You have a stem!

This is an easy way to create a knitted curlicue, and I had plenty of help as you can see here:

People, do not make fun of my pajama pants. I have been sick and my fashion sense has been eclipsed by my snot problem. Sexy, eh?



I promise I won't look so waxy and dead when I meet you next week.
Really. Honest. WOULD THE UNDEAD LIE???

Happy Halloweenie Beanie!

Posted by laurie at 6:29 AM

October 4, 2007

Is it Wednesday? No? It's Thursday? Really now.

I have a nasty and completely unfortunately timed cold, I just do not have the time to be under the weather right now! I have work to do! Important work, such as ....

Stalking retail establishments for knitted stuff.
Yes, Juicy Couture is doing knitted stuff with pompoms and tassles again this year but instead of just hats and scarves like last season, this time around they also have these funky knitted bags:


Since this display at Bloomingdales is right by the door and right by the eagle-eyed purse ladies, you know I had to come up with a story for why I was taking this picture. I believe it involved my dying sister who is laid up in the hospital and mere minutes from death but probably would get better if she had a Juicy handbag but of course she needs to pick her own color, can I take a picture? Sniffle?

I am just saying is all.

- - -

There is also the important work of photographing the television set.
Our Dapper Dallas Raines was looking even more festive than usual last night:


I personally love adventurous fashion choices. Especially on our news staff ... I feel the weather is more palatable when explained to me by a man wearing a pimp suit. And speaking of adventurous fashion choices, I forgot to show you my shoes from Saturday night!


It is harder than you may think to get a good picture of your own feet. But nothing says "par-tay" like a pair of 3-inch argyle heels! In other news, it turns out that seven-minute shoes become seven-hour shoes if you drink a WHOLE LOT of wine. After a while, you forget you are even wearing shoes! Or maybe I was not wearing shoes. Was I wearing my shoes? Either way, go team argyle.

- - -

And of course, I have to take groundbreaking photos of ... your bumper:

At least this driver is honest.

- - -

And finally... just so you know the picture-taking gene is an actual node on the strand of DNA, my folks sent me some photos earlier this week that they had taken from inside Wal-Mart.

Well, first, my mom called me to tell me, "Ok, you should know I am in Wal-Mart but I promise I won't cry this time!" which is either the beginning to a really funny joke or is about to become a story about this sad thing that happened to the so-and-so girl, do I remember her? Why don't I remember the so-and-so girl, she's the daughter of the friend they have who I met that time.

But as it turns out, my mom and dad were in Wal-Mart just shopping and walked through the book section and found the book and were very excited and took some pictures, as evidenced by Parental Picture Numero Uno:


OK, now when I first saw this picture, I thought, "Holy crap! I'm stacked between Kite Runner dude and Cormac-I-Was-On-Oprah/Won-Pulitzer" McCarthy. Cool!

Then I saw the next picture my folks sent:


Do you think my mom is going around to Wal-Marts in America and re-arranging the shelves? hehehehehe. Sorry about that Cormac McCarthy! But being as you totally got Oprah Winfrey to fly all the way to your house and also you won the Pulitzer, you surely don't mind being covered in cat hair? By my mom? Do you?

Clearly my parents are my secret weapon against the world. I am planning to let them move through Florida and the southeast coast and deploy them next to Texas and after that perhaps the midwest. If you run out to your local Wal-Mart right now and buy that book, I may even have enough money to bail them out of Wal-Mart Jail where they will surely end up after so much creative re-dressing of the shelves.

I also believe I owe Sean Geary and David Addison a lot of wine for getting that little book on the shelves in the first place.

And when I pay up, you know I will be wearing those argyle shoes.

Posted by laurie at 6:03 AM

October 2, 2007

Fair Isle For Fall (pom-poms for the lucky.)

Ah, October. The time of the year when the air is crisp and fall arrives and we all want to be bundled up in sweaters and cute winter clothes that hide all manner of sins including 42,000 calories in wine ... oh except, yeah, it's still over ninety degrees. Nevermind.

Allison called me from Old Navy last week to inform me that every scarf on display in the store was either covered in pom poms or knitted in Fair Isle or both. She knows I am weirdly fascinated by trends in retail, I just love knowing what people are marketing from season to season. It's one of my little oddities.

So while I was at the mall returning something this past weekend, I made a stop at Old Navy to take a look myself and yes ... it is a pompom, Fair Isle world in retail scarfage this year:

And some place, somewhere, it is cold enough to wear a real scarf...

Lately I've been thinking of trying my hand at some intarsia, but Fair Isle looks so pretty and cheerful and frankly perhaps more do-able, as I have no problem stranding yarn (I don't think I have the dexterity to hold the yarn in different hands. Because ... you know... which hand holds the wineglass?)

About a week ago I got a book in the mail called Inspired Fair Isle Knits: 20 Creative Designs Inspired by the Elements so I pulled it out to check out the patterns inside and found this one that I just love:


Isn't it the cutest kid sweater ever? There are also two great "I am an ADD-knitter and need small projects" patterns in the book, one is a pillow and one features a scarf in pretty reds and oranges, my favorite combo:


I liked that the charts in this book are big enough that you don't have to enlarge them a bazillion times on the photocopier at work (because that's always awkward when your boss walks by, "Hi! Don't mind me! Just photocopying for knitting!") The patterns seem pretty straightforward and cover a pretty big range of skillsets, and best of all the author promises that each pattern is made using no more than two colors of yarn in any row. Since the book isn't intended only to teach Fair Isle as a technique, there isn't any super-detailed instruction on holding the yarn, pictures of stranding and so on (although truth be told I might be the only person who needs that level of detail.) And of course while the authoress herself doesn't mention it, pompoms do go great with Fair Isle! And you know I love me some pompoms.

Since this was a review copy, I'm giving it away to the first person who actually really wants a FAIR ISLE book... and posts in the comments. Good luck!

Posted by laurie at 6:40 AM

October 1, 2007

Dancing With The Stars, Karaoke With The Knitters

There was quite a lively discussion last week about the legwarmer issue, clearly those of us who lived through the most awkward part of the eighties fall into one of two camps: "permanently scarred by the fashion" or "goofily nostalgic."

I would say I am mostly permanently scarred, but on the legwarmer issue (and the side-ponytail, which I will one day bring back! yes I will!) I am goofily nostalgic.

I noticed that I was soft on legwarmers while watching Dancing With The Stars, a show I have only seen in snippets while visiting my grandmother, but for some reason this year I decided to Tivo it and I absurdly love this show. I really love the little vignette they edit together showing the stars working out and learning the dances -- and oh, the legwarmers! I was also incredibly happy to see little Cheetah Girl Sabrina Ryan out there chachachaing her booty off, even though some people -- PEOPLE WHO SHALL REMAIN UNNAMED -- maybe cried at that scene during the first Cheetah Girls movie where Toto the dog gets trapped underground even though it's a Disney movie and you know it will have a happy ending.

But that definitely did NOT happen to me, because boy would that be embarrassing.

Anyway, it was so happy-making for me seeing all those legwarmers that I immediately called my mom (who is a fan of the show) and told her I was going to knit her some legwarmers so she could wear them while watching Dancing With The Stars. I won't repeat what she said to me, let's just say she falls into the "scarred by the eighties" camp and leave it at that, shall we?

But if I had thin legs I would SO be wearing legwarmers this year. I will admit I never lost my secret love of them from junior high when I so desperately wanted to be the ballet dancer in that poster -- remember THE ballet poster? It just showed the grubby, dancing-for-my-life feet of a ballet girl with torn tights and slouchy legwarmers and beat-up-from-passion-of-dancing toe shoes, all ripped and dirty. I had that poster on my wall and stared at it every night, wishing that instead of my compact, sturdy cheerleader physique I had a lithe, graceful ballet dancer's body.

One year in what can only be described as a fit of insanity brought on by sniffing too much of the plastic-infused air inside RAVE at the mall, I decided I wanted my birthday party to have a theme. I came up with this theme entirely for the purpose of showing off my new red legwarmers.

Apparently the theme for my party was "Wear Red And Black And Look Ugly" and it appears the party was held in the backyard in our country of Tragicstan, in the city named Fashionless:


Yes, that's me front and center in my braces, she-mullet and BIG RED BIRTHDAY LEGWARMERS that I wore over pantyhose in Louisiana, in summer. What is most awe-inspiring about this photo is that I actually thought I was THE COOLEST THING EVER and I was so proud of my coolness, I was sure that any any minute Adam Ant would come and marry me and take me out of the hellish world of Laura Ashley dresses and we'd live forever in a legwarmer, pirate-shirted heaven.

I am so happy the internet was invented so I can share my private pain with so many.

- - -

On Saturday night I left my house as a trial run for all the leaving-my-houseness that will happen soon and attended lovely Kendra's birthday party and meet all sorts of new people who I drunkenly photographed and garbled nonsense at, which did not really make me feel more at ease about ever going into public again but hey, I figure it's good to go to a club at least once every three years so that I remember what they at least look like. Yes? Nonetheless, even with the annoying drunken photog, a good time was had by all.

Happy birthday, Kendra!

Posted by laurie at 5:59 AM