Foundation and Empire (or… The Toboggan in the Bathroom)

It occurs to me that I have never done any blog show-&-tell about the process that goes into putting together inventory and preparing for a show. Since I happen to be working (and working and working) on precisely that at the moment… well, there you go, blog fodder ready to hand.

Herewith, therefore, the first in a series on Tsock Infrastructure – literally from the ground up.

But first… behold the Toboggan in the Bathroom.

The Toboggan in the Bathroom

If you could see where I live – if you could see how completely flat (though neither stale nor unprofitable) is the ground for many many miles around – the first and very reasonable question you would be asking is, “Why on earth do you even HAVE a toboggan?”

Simple. I live in a Little Red Wagon community – a place where parking and dwelling are far enough apart that moving groceries and/or yarn and/or inventory between house and vehicle is a bit of a schlep. I actually have quite a little fleet of wagons, which competently handle some 90% of all my schleppage… except in the deep midwinter. When the snow drifts hip-deep and the paths lie unshoveled, my little wagon train just ain’t gonna cut it – as I discovered the hard way three or four years ago when I had a carload of food and firewood and literally no way to get it from Point A to Point B.

Enter the cheap plastic toboggan, which saved my bacon, and my milk and eggs and any number of other things, for the duration of that hard winter.

No, I don’t normally keep it in the guest bathroom.

That phenomenon came about organically, in the following manner.

This is the most recent incarnation of the Tsocks booth – Fiber Festival of New England, 2014.

NEFF Booth 2014

See the nice new show floor? It’s made up of industrial-strength interlocking carpeted rubber mats, with this Very Grown-Up and Professional beveled edging downstage…

Beveled Edge

… and I’m here to tell you, it is truly a valued rug; it does our feet and backs a whole world of good, and it really does tie the room together. I love the hell out of it, yes I do.

After two festivals in a row, however, it does tend to bring home a fair amount of fairgrounds with it – dust, dirt, mud, all thoroughly ground in by the tramp of uncounted customer feet.

Don’t want to be coming into Vogue Knitting Live with my floor all grubby!

So this is how I spent yesterday morning.

Washing the Show Floor

Hands. Knees. Bucket. Scrub brush.

Washing the Show Floor

(Note to self: Remember how you were planning to do this OUTDOORS – BEFORE the cold set in? Lay it all out, hose it off, leave it out to air-dry? Yeah, that would have been a really good idea.)

The scrubbing actually goes pretty quickly; this stuff is after all designed to clean up easily. The rinsing is a bit more chore-like; fortunately the mats fit comfortably in the stall shower in the guest bathroom…

Show Floor in Shower

… and as long as I remember to angle them AWAY from me, it goes pretty smoothly and doesn’t leave me unduly sodden. Also, a hand makes a fine squeegee.

It was at the next stage of the operation that I was suddenly and dramatically reminded that the bathroom floor is not exactly waterproof – a quick run down to the basement between batches and… wait a minute, what is that sound of copious DRIPPING…?

Right. That’d be the wet mats leaning temporarily against the bathroom wall, dripping their considerable excess moisture directly onto, and then directly through, the floor. A hand doesn’t make all THAT fine a squeegee after all, it appears.

Brief panicky scramble, followed by sudden light bulb moment.

Show Floor Dripping

Thank you yet again, ever-useful plastic toboggan.

Speaking of ever-useful, a folding laundry rack, lying on its side on a tarp, comes in very handy for the next stage of drying.

Show Floor Drying

(For further off-label applications of this type of rack, stay tuned for Adventures in Skeinwinder Tensioning, coming in a future instalment.)

Only problem with that is that it doesn’t allow for air circulation between the mats. Fortunately, those beveled edging pieces can multi-task with the best of them – every bit as well as the toboggan and the laundry rack.

Show Floor Drying

By this morning, the whole shebang was almost completely dry, except for about an inch at the bottom edge of each piece. The weather was cooperating, for once, so we took it all outdoors for the final stage:

Show Floor Drying

I was out all afternoon, and when I got back at twilight the wind was picking up; we are apparently in for some kind of Winter Weather Advisory of Doom tonight. So I dropped everything and made a beeline for my precious floor, rushed to gather in the harvest before the weather could spoil it. By the time I got there some of the mats were, well, no longer on the porch – but with one perverse little snowy exception they were all nice and dry.

Show Floor Clean and Dry

And clean. Ready to be stacked and packed, schlepped and deployed, for the comfort and delectation of everyone who passes through the booth next week. After which I imagine they’ll be bringing home a fine selection of Midtown Manhattan Midwinter Grime.