Road Trippin’ to Salt Lake City

It’s been 17 years since I’ve been to Salt Lake City. The first time was during university when my girlfriends and I drove down from Vancouver through Washington, Oregon, and Idaho to Utah to visit one of our closest friends who had moved to study there. This time, my husband and I drove 17 hours each way to Snowbird, Utah to join about 650 other nerds and Frogpants fans in a mini convention called Nerdtacular.

The first stop was Portland for a quick visit to Knit Purl and Dublin Bay Knitting Co, both of whom carry our yarns now. Knit Purl has a beautifully clean and refined aesthetic — nothing on the floors, everything perfectly arranged and aligned. There is a whole wall of Shibui yarns, and another wall of just Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter and Loft yarns. And in the centre of the shop is a full display of Habu silk, paper and metallic yarns. Dublin Bay is spacious and full of gorgeous yarns, including their own hand-dyed yarn called Solstice and also hand-dyed yarns by Three Irish Girls.

Knit Purl is located right next to a city block packed with food carts. So of course, we had to stop and get lunch at Nong’s Khao Man Gai for their very popular Chicken and Rice. It was so simple — literally a cup of rice with steamed chicken wrapped in a piece of paper with a bit of sauce on the side. It’s something I could eat everyday, it was so good! (But so bizarre that it was served in just a piece of paper!).

We also stopped by to see what all the fuss was about at Voodoo Doughnut. It was the middle of the heat wave and we stood outside in the blistering hot sun for about half an hour, waiting in line to get some donuts. When I finally got to the counter, my brain was so fried I couldn’t make out the meaning of the items on the menu… (like, what flavour is a “Voodoo Doll” donut?? I still dunno) but I ended up getting the Portland Cream (just like a Boston Cream) and the apple fritter and they were awesome.

Driving to Boise, we stopped at the side of the highway to look at a bunch of alpacas and watch the sunset over the wheat fields. The difference between Oregon and Idaho is so immediately distinct. Once you cross the state line, the landscape turns from trees and green to rolling golden hills of wheat and farms. Idaho looks nearly uninhabited except for the patchwork of greens and golds of farmland. Once we reached Salt Lake City, we stopped for a relaxing coffee break with knitwear designer, Miriam Felton, and her husband. It was great to see her knitting away on her new, very innovative, gauntlet design as we chatted. I think her new Modern Colorwork collection will be well received when it launches later this summer.

We reached the Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort by Thursday evening, just in time for the Early Bird meet-and-greet with many of the participants. It was also in good time because later that night heavy rainfall ended up causing a rock slide on the road to the resort that prevented many locals from making it to the event for the Friday morning start!

What is Nerdtacular? It’s kind of crazy sounding, but it’s basically a giant meet-up for fans of the Frogpants Studios network of podcasts. Everyone gathered at Snowbird to meet the people who make these podcasts, watch the panel discussions and live casts, and play boardgames together for the weekend. Nearly everyday my husband and I listen to The Morning Stream, and last year they even played our wedding song request on the show on the day of our anniversary, so we were pretty excited to meet Scott and Brian… and Turpster, Marc and Nicole Spagnuolo, Stephen Schleicher, and all the other producers. Surprse highlights of the weekend included Brian Brushwood‘s insane magic act wherein he stuck nails in his eyes and cut his own tongue off and watching Justin Robert Young and Tom Merritt improv an episode of FSL, a feat of bizarre creativity and comedy. Seeing such creativity in all these people, regardless of what they are nerds about (whether is music or Magic, Star Trek or Star Wars), was incredibly inspiring.

On Sunday afternoon, we drove back in to SLC to do a little trunk show at Blazing Needles. It’s a wonderfully cozy shop that has taken over an entire house in a residential area of SLC… and it has a metal sculpture of knitting needles and yarn outside on the front lawn that can be lit on fire!

I spoke about SweetGeorgia and our studio in Vancouver and we passed around garment samples for everyone to try on and play with. One of the girls at the shop, Danny, even designed a little monster stuffy in our Hummingbird colourway for the trunk show. After the trunk show at Blazing Needles, we returned to Snowbird for one last night and took the last gondola up to the Peak to catch the view of the ski runs and the valley. It almost made me feel like yodeling.

The only thing I bought on the entire trip was a skein of Bumblebirch yarn. It was hand-dyed in Portland and is a soft and squishy blend of Bluefaced Leicester wool and bamboo in a fingering weight.

Finally, we started home on Monday morning and saw more alpacas along the way (sheared, this time). I finished several knitting and crochet projects along the way, crocheting at least a couple dozen more squares for my Summer Garden blanket. It was a much needed time to rest and disconnect after all the hustle of TNNA and the preparation leading up to it. Road trips are fun… all the random truck stops and small towns, the gas stations in the middle of nowhere that gouge you on gas prices, the hours of podcasts and chatting, and oh so much knitting time. Thanks to my husband who drove the whole 35 hours without getting us a speeding ticket. Two things I could have never accomplished.