I was away for five days for the TNNA trade show, and spent the first two traveling to San Diego on the train with my friend Angela. This train ride was a long time coming. One reason I ended up worn out from so much work travel is that flying produces about as awful an amount of carbon emissions as anyone who lives in a household with only one car that barely gets driven can produce in a short time. There’s no denying that we collectively need to fly less (and yes, that we’ll have to deal with the consequence of the airline industry hurting because of it). I’m not content to say one thing and do another, and decided to prioritize flying to see loved ones instead of to work. I anticipate I’ll take fewer than half the number of flights in 2009 than I took in 2008, and I’ll feel guilt even about those. But anyway—the train!

We started at an hour I like to refer to as the ass-crack of dawn on Thursday, on a bus from downtown Vancouver to Seattle. There, we boarded the Coast Starlight and embarked upon the 35-hour trip to Los Angeles. We shared a 3.5′ by 6′ sleeping compartment that was comfortable in a womb-like sort of way. It was just big enough for us not to feel cramped, and no inch went unused. Our meals were included, and were far better than I’d anticipated. They seat you in the dining car with other travelers, and we made conversation with a couple from Seattle who were introduced to each other with a thousand miles between them by a nun known to each family, with a couple from Tennessee who have traveled the continent by train over the last twenty years, with a 70-year-old woman from Sacramento who is so enthusiastically involved in community life it seems she couldn’t be older than sixty, with a man from Oakland who teaches high-school math and told us about the riots that have recently rocked the city. With the opportunity at every meal to either make conversation or sit in awkward silence, I finally got over my shyness amongst strangers, and felt at ease making small-talk or explaining the Canadian health care system, which was a frequent topic as several people brought up Michael Moore’s film Sicko. I finished my Gathered Pullover [ravlink] (working the neckline no fewer than three times, thanks to Angela’s expert tips on how to fix it). We arrived in San Diego around 1AM on Friday night after changing trains in LA, and collapsed into our hotel room.

My Saturday at the show was like making up for two years of being crazy busy doing magazine work. I spent lots and lots of time with good friends and meeting new people, and got hardly any proper work done. I loved every minute of it.

I had a bit of an existential crisis that night. It was the first time I’d been to the show without a clear agenda. Back when I was freelancing the first time, I was meeting contacts at yarn companies so I could call on them for yarns for my books, and meeting editors and publishers to try to get more work. Then for the magazine I did nothing but an insane amount of work at the shows. This time around, I knew tons of people from all sorts of places, and I found I had no idea what exactly I wanted to accomplish while there. A lunch with Amy O’Neill Houck cleared that up, as I was reminded through our conversation that the best projects arise out of unhindered communication, and the rest of the show flowed smoothly from there. Which is, yes, to say that I do think some great projects will come out of the weekend. More on them when or if they start to materialize.

I did see some pretty great stuff. New friend Tara Jon Manning grabbed my elbow and took me bodily to the Handknit Heroes booth, where the artist (having flown all the way from England just for the show) and writer were launching the first issue of their comic about teenage superheroes who fight evil in handknits. I knew Tara and I would get on swimmingly after that, and we did. And I met the artist, Marc, in the airport on the way home, and we talked about comics, which was pretty awesome. I’m fascinated, see, and hadn’t ever known anyone who knew anything about the art or business. I’ll be subscribing to the comic, for sure.

Rosemary Hill had the projects from her new book at the Interweave booth, and I was amazed by their sheer beauty. On a similar note, I scored a copy of Kristeen Griffin-Grimes‘ new book, French Girl Knits, and it’s the first knitting book in ages that has my heart going pitter-patter over nearly every design. Cecily taught Jacqueline of Soak (yum) and Felicia of Sweet Georgia Yarns how to crochet, which was great fun to watch (I’m pleased with how artfully I passed the teaching off to Cecily, who’s got teh mad teaching skillz). Spending not enough time with Annie Modesitt and new friend Miriam Felton already has me itching for June. Poor Robyn Chachula‘s pipes burst in her house and she couldn’t make it, but I missed her!

As in June of last year, when I first allowed myself to accept exactly how important my yarn-industry friendships are to me, this weekend was about people and love and chemistry. Bolstered by my new-found comfort conversing with people I don’t know, I learned a lot talking to new-to-me friends and colleagues, and I feel refueled and grounded after reconnecting with many I’ve loved for years. After my brief crisis on Saturday, I’m excited to find my new place in the industry, and I know some grand adventures await.


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Is that the tshirt we found in the convention center? The pullover is so beautiful–and a great color for you!

Kim Werker

Thank you! No, this shirt I had in my drawer and should have brought with me to the show. :)


So beautifully put, Kim. Especially about the unhindered communication stuff. That Amy, she is a smarty. I'm glad I got to see you, if even for a brief “caughtcha tweeting!” moment.


Such a great post, Kim. I love how open you are on your blog about your thought processes and ideas – you are so inspiring, dude.


Oh, and I also meant to say… do you have pictures of the inside of the train? I'd love to see what the sleeper and dining cars are like… Where did you hang out all day? In your car? Or in public areas? Did you get off the train at all at stops?

Kim Werker

I have a bit of video I'll edit together. The spaces were so tight, I
couldn't figure out how to photograph it well. We spent some time in
our bunk, as I like to think of it, and also lots of time in what they
called the Parlour Car. We only went to the dining car for meals. Most
stops were too short for us to leave the train, but we did get off a
couple of times.

On 21-Jan-09, at 8:23 PM, “Disqus” <notifications-


Cool. I loook forward to seeing the video.


I feel so bad. I saw you there talking to someone and had to run and never got to grab you say hello. I saw Stefanie, too, but I only yelled at her in passing. I got one day there and as far as your train ride is concerned, once I took that same train from Ventura County to San Jose, California, and it took us 14 hours (when driving, it takes about 6.5). Ugh. I hope your experience was way better. Too boot, they charged 13 bucks for a glass of wine in the dining car. Overall, I liked the experience, but was unhappy when I discovered that freight trains got the right of way and us passengers just needed to sit and wait even though we had our own deadlines!

On the way back, they called us and said that the train was about 10 hours delayed. We cancelled our return tickets and rented a car instead. I wish trains were more convenient. I hate airplanes.

Beautiful coastline, though?


You're shy!?

Kim Werker

Yes, it was a beautiful trip. And we ran right on time. Knowing it would
take so long was the most relaxing part about it. :)

Kim Werker

In a room full of people I don't know, me = wallflower. I'm working on it!


Thought I'd say Hi, I'm a usual lurker. A train trip sounds like soo much fun. i haven't been on train since 2003 and never in the U.S. and TNNA sound great too.

Kim Werker

Thanks for speaking up, Nelly! The train and TNNA were both quite wonderful.
Do chime in again, eh?


Thought I'd say Hi, I'm a usual lurker. A train trip sounds like soo much fun. i haven't been on train since 2003 and never in the U.S. and TNNA sound great too.

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