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To Your Right, Fainting Goats

Dear Ann,
Well, I’m back. I had a fabby time in the San Francisco Bay Area, including a couple of days seeing the kid-friendly sites of the Wine Country of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys.
As you know, I love me a good Bad Sign. My all-time favorite was a sign that used to be near every cash register at Century 21, a venerable discount department store in lower Manhattan. It said:
COURTESY IS OUR POLICY! If any employee has been particularly discourteous, please inform the management.
(Only if particularly discourteous, see? Do not bug the managment about routine, everyday rudeness. Get used to it! Don’t be such a whiner!)
One of the sights we just had to see, we craved to see, we were dying to see–was the Old Faithful Geyser of California. Not to be confused with THE Old Faithful Geyser. (You know, the one in Yellowstone National Park.) California’s Old Faithful Geyser is a privately owned attraction. It cost us 22 bucks to see it as a family of 4. We figure that the lady who owns it is making a fortune, because she has not changed a thing on the property since 1948, when it was featured in National Geographic Magazine. Wonderful old signs abound. I was in Bad Sign Heaven.
This sign, which appears to have been done by a talented fifth grader circa 1953, is the New Sign. But there is nothing wrong with the Old Sign, not a thing, so they left it up:
Sadly, we live in a litigious society. Every self-respecting Attraction must have a state-of-the-art warning sign:
One of the best things about the Old Faithful Geyser is that Hubby, who rarely if ever travels outside the range of the New York City subway system and has little experience of Natural Wonders, insisted on calling it the ‘Geezer’. The kids were so delighted not to be going to another winery, that they kept chanting, ‘We’re going to the Geezer, we’re going to the Geezer.’
Oh, so you wanna see the Geezer itself, in all its volcanic glory?
The nasty brackish pool teeming with prehistoric lava-loving fish is also a Cherished Family Memory.
Add Fun to Any Farm
Now you would think the Old Faithful Geyser itself, given its faithfulness and its exceedingly bad odor, would be enough of an attraction for anybody’s 22 bucks. But the proprietress lives to enlighten and entertain, so she enhanced the Total Geezer Experience by laying on a fabulous exhibit of
….Fainting Goats. These goats, bless their hearts, have a genetic condition that causes them to keel over when they hear a loud noise. This tendency to faint has saved many a sheep’s bacon. Bless their hearts. Really, bless their hearts.
A helpful article was provided. But, sadly, the goats never left their shed. (Maybe they had fainted.) But the sign was more than enough for me.
Of Course There Was Knitting
Knitting? You want knitting? Although I am no doubt the last person to arrive at the Clapotis
party, I finally started and finished my version:
(The yarn is a posh Great Adirondack blend of alpaca, silk & a dash of merino. Amazing drape. Hotter than Billy-be-damned.)
And I got more than halfway through Poppy by Elsebeth Lavold, in a teeny Tahki Cotton Classic version for Baby Rosie’s 2005 beach wardrobe.
The Easter Egg colorway can only be attributed to my bedazzlement in the hours immediately after the Total Geezer Experience. Hubby had the terrible bad luck of finding a parking space in St. Helena that happened to be smack-dab in front of Muse Napa Valley, a one-year-old yarn store I had never heard of and wasn’t even trying to make him visit. What a wonderful shop, with a friendly artist for an owner and an amazing selection of favorite yarns and books. Imagine finding Rowan’s Harris Tweeds in California! I was allowed only a few blissed-out minutes in this corner of Paradise, and then it was off to more touring.
It’s good to be back, although the signage around here no longer seems as much fun as it used to.
Love, Kay




  1. Wonderful!
    I loved the reference to “restrooms,” particularly since the next line offered additional restrooms, without the quotes. I am completely convinced that the “restrooms” is a two-seater outhouse, and that the restroom (without quotes) has real indoor plumbing.
    And I think I might use the quote from the taped-together sign with my family: “You are not waiting for me to finish shopping in this yarn store, you are watching for a phenomena (sic) to take place at any moment.”
    And…fainting goats? Who knew?

  2. fainting goats! kay, i have just finished re-reading the gorgeous “the very persistent gappers of frip” & found your sign about the goats very scary indeed.
    the Easter egg-Poppy is gorgeous. (for a minute, i thought that the 2 pcs. were Clapotis dishcloths, and my first thought was: ‘She’s gone ’round the bend.’ )

  3. Welcome home! But the geyser is a geezer so the nickname is appropriate. ;)

  4. Century 21 – god I haven’t been there in ages! My dh used to go all the time – I would wait outside for him – I refused that particular discourtesy!
    You are not the last to the Clap party – I’ve got the yarn, just haven’t started yet! Yours is beautiful – and I love the colors in Poppy.

  5. Do you think the geezer is really just a little pump (or a geezer?) under the pond that throws a little “phenomena” once in a while? I love the “sabotage” punishable by a heavy fine or imprisonment or both!

  6. I loved the volcanic mud water, but on closer inspection, I’m guessing the old 5th grader stuck a comma in there to make volcanic mud, water. Much less interesting.
    I have no Clapotis either, but think about it once in a while.
    Glad to have you back!
    Mary de B

  7. You were in the vicinity of the Bay Area, and no visits with your devoted NorCal readers? It’s pretty hard to compete with wine, geezers, and fainting goats…
    And you are far from the last to the Clapotis party–I’m not even done with the setup rows yet.

  8. I am in absolute hysterics. Love the shot of the geyser with the palm trees in the background. Tell me you didn’t pay $22 a head for that visit.

  9. Yes, it was the “RESTROOMS” that got to me as well. As in, “we *call* them restrooms, but you be the judge.”

  10. Isn’t Muse great? It’s my closest Rowan yarn source, and it’s such a pretty shop. Sorry the fainting goats didn’t come out to play–they were in hiding when we visited also. Did you also get to the Petrified Forest?

  11. LOL! Old Faithful Geyer was one of the “Sights” we saw on our honeymoon. I cracked up at the fainting goats, but Hubster was a bit disappointed. He felt that there should have also been two-headed chickens.

  12. Bad signs are the best! I can’t believe they really faint, how crazy. :)

  13. Kay,
    Im sicker than stink and laughing my clogged head off. The only question I have: for 22.00 how long did you feel you had to stay for your moneys worth? We once had to tour the entire House on the ROck in Wisconsin, walking the torturous 2mile path in the near dark house, that smelled of mold and was hotter than blazes, b/c DH said we paid for it and his parents tortured him once.

  14. kay…. what a trooper your hubby was to experience the ole geezer…..(i think i’d stick to the life of new york subways, however.) $22.00 sounds like highway robbery. ah…. but the laughter and the memories….thank HEAVENS you got some serious needle clicking in!

  15. I was at the geezer this fall with my boys! Hubby and I found it more palatable with a little $50 picnic from the Oakville Grocery including a little half-bottle of some chi-chi wine.
    Did you see the llamas? All I could say to myself was “Who’d notice if I gave them a little haircut?.” Who needs Manos?
    Best sign of my spring break: (seen in South Carolina at the Southern States–that’s a feed store for you Yankees)

  16. I live +/-2 hours from Mt. St. Helena and I had no idea that there was a geyser or fainting goats there! I am going to have to gather up a road trip and go visit. Thanks!
    Glad to hear you had a wonderful family trip. And we are glad you are back.

  17. A friend of mine went to Yellowstone NP last year, and showed me photos of the ‘gay-zer’. It drove me nuts, as I am a ‘geezer’ person (such fun to pronounce the word that way). So I asked my husband how he pronounces the word. Answer: ‘guy-zer’. In desperation I looked in the dictionary (Australian Oxford), and discovered all three pronounciations are correct. So now I am just wondering how you choose to say geyser…
    And thanks for another great post.

  18. I have yet to catch the Clap, myself. I am seriously thinking about making myself vulnerable to its powers.
    Glad you had a fun trip.

  19. Aw, Kay, thank Gawd you’re back. Things were getting a little thin around here, what with the complete lack of goat coverage.
    The goats’ little sticking-out legs really say it all. They really do faint, don’t they.
    Your Clapotis looks great, but I must ask: how exactly did you accomplish such a heroic quantity of knitting? A Clapotis AND an Easter Eggy Rosie cozy? Wowee, girl.

  20. OK, maybe Hubby’s not a daft geezer—he was just putting on airs and using the British pronunciation. See here:
    Note that the usual American pronunciation is ‘guy-zer’.
    I have long suspected that Hubby is a foreign spy. Or perhaps just too many repeat viewings of James Bond.
    xoxo Kay

  21. Sigh, I miss Century 21.

  22. We also sometimes use the word geezer to mean a bloke with a wheeling-dealing attitude… not that I’m trying to infer anything about Hubby – just thought you might appreciate a bit of English slang!
    I’m cackling with delight at the fainting goats. Luckily my sister lives in the Bay area so I’ll be able to drag her up to visit them on my next trip. Excellent!
    I’m with the other commenters on Clapotis. You are by no means the last. I have the yarn and only 2 things ahead of it the queue (we’ll leave aside how sad I am to have a queue of projects!)

  23. Thanks for pointing “geezer” out Kay, I was getting really worried then thinking maybe it was just me! (British and proud of it!) I’ve never heard of fainting goats, poor little things. I’m still not sure whether to take it with a pinch of salt…love the pretty dandy if you’re a sheep bit though!

  24. Just wondering about the yarn that might spring from an angora/fainting goat cross….

  25. Wow. I live IN St. Helena and didn’t know that Muse was there.
    My husband thanks you in advance for all the money I’m going to spend there.

  26. I want me one of them goats!
    Seriously, I read the Kent/Roosevelt/Muir letters and I love the husky boys repartee. Maybe I should have three more. NOT! That Muir was a man who knew how to use the semicolon; and I love a well-used semicolon.
    Trance KSH is going on needles tomorrow! Extended Birch life to you, my dear.

  27. i’m really digging the buttonhole bag pattern. you only double the yarn for the base right? the rest is a single strand? tia. i hope i’m not bugging you, having missed some conspicuous faq glaring me in the face… anyway, cute pattern, thanks for sharing.

  28. The late Vergil Lequire, a professor of cell biology and pathology at Vanderbilt University, which is not too far from where we live in Nashville, had some of these fainting goats at his farm, and in 1996, one of his colleagues published an article explaing why they faint. There was an article recently about it in a Vanderbilt house organ. So if curious, http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/reporter/?ID=3375 I actually have been out to Dr. Lequire’s farm once, his wife was good friends with my grandmother, but I was just a kid…and I don’t remember any goats. Useless trivia, I do admit….

  29. Oh MY!!!!!!!!!
    I’m so new to all this and to THINK how close you were….I’m in St. Helena California and you were within a stones throw. and WORST of all – you probably had NO IDEA about the great yarn shop you missed across the street from my little Methodist church :( – I have never been to old faithful…..but then again with knitting and three kids! Sounds like you had fun here in our neck of the state. It must be a sign that the first 2 women I have written to – and the first website I ever found regarding knitting was YOU!

  30. My husband’s grandpa had fainting goats and they’re wonderful! you just yell and they fall over…which might be mean-but if they didn’t like it, you’d think they’d stop being so funny about it! It’s actually our favorite story to tell ‘city-slickers’..they never believe it but we video proof!

  31. i heart fainting goats. thanks for the link!

  32. I’m taking a moment for all the fainting goats that have made my stash possible.
    Fainting goats. Mother nature is a complex and venerable woman.

  33. We have a sign near us on a rather busy country road at a bridge over an unimpressive creek that says:
    Legal axle loads only across bridge.
    Oh, you illegal loads can go anywhere else you want but don’t cross this bridge!

  34. Hey! If you want Fainting Goats come see me next time you come to Nashville (I live about 40 miles south of there). Marshall County is the home of the Fainting Goat. Several friends have them. The second Sat of Oct will be the 3d annual “Goats, Music and More” festival celebrating the fainting goat. A friend and I started it and its gone wild – over 5,000 people attended. Free festival – goat shows, live entertainment, food, vendors etc. Alas, no knitting stores – My LYS is about 45 miles away! More info: http://www.goatsmusicandmore.com or come visit (and bring yarn to bribe me to see the goats…!!!:)!)Jamie

  35. craps I haven’t a clue what it is to give a sense to a notion; the notion of giving sense to a notion hasn’t been given a sense, either in this context or, as far as I know, in any other. (I’ve been told that sense are sometimes given to concepts at Oxford after the gates close to visitors; but that may be a leg-pull.)