Wednesday, February 3, 2010

It's Who You Know . . .

As many of you regular readers know, I used to work in New York City at a few biggish publishing houses, the ones that The Devil Wears Prada was emblematic of. There were many high heels and lots of designer clothing, and more than once I spent my lunch hour getting a mani/pedi. Then I had a young 'un and became unenamored of New York enough to consider a move. Once our small family settled in Northampton, Massachusetts (city slogan: "Where the coffee is strong and so are the women"), I did a little of this, a little of that, freelanced, wrote copy, took on a few book projects for authors, and then had young 'un #2. After that momentous birth, I threw my hands up in the air, turned my back on publishing and concentrated on raising two very active boys who were determined to make me lose my mind. Obviously, I needed a hobby. I had always wanted to learn to knit, and I took a class at a local yarn store, where I learned enough to make a sweater — the ugliest sweater in the world, shaped like Michael Jackson's military jackets, sort of, minus the sequins. But I had caught the bug, and I knit like there was no tomorrow. I got pretty good at it, if I do say so myself.

By this time, my older son had entered kindergarten and the younger one was in preschool, and I was a tiny bit bored — I need work to keep my brain from turning soft. As it happened, the world's biggest yarn store is literally in my back yard: WEBS, America's Yarn Store. I happened by one day, ostensibly to buy yarn, and ended up in conversation with Kathy Elkins, the store owner, who very nicely allowed me to work there, despite my lack of yarn store experience. Sometimes karma is nice.

While working there, I met many lovely people, customers and staff, and I came to the conclusion that anyone who likes yarn is okay with me. But one person stood out in her warmth, her humor, her creativity and artistry, and her love of my kids (whom she calls "the burr-heads"), and that is Gail Callahan, the author of Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece, which, to both her joy and mine, releases next week to the world at large.

Gail has become very precious to me, and I've championed this book from day one — which happened to be my very first day at Storey. I felt so out of my league and, frankly, so terrified that I had forgotten all publicity expertise in the years since I'd been out of the publishing loop that it was wonderfully comforting to me that the first person I met at Storey was Gwen Steege, our acquiring editor for crafts and gardening, who, when she found out that I had worked at WEBS, said to me, "Oh, do you know Gail Callahan? I'm trying to get her to write a book for us." Karma, once again.

So please, take a peek at Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece when it hits your store or yarn shop — even if you never dye anything, it's lovely, it's a work of art, and it's my personal touchstone.

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