Been back from the So Cal trip since Wednesday night but there was hardly time to say, 'gosh I feel jetlagged' before Round Two of Sock Madness kicked off with the pattern dropping in my email box at around 9 pm West Cork time.
The anguish over which yarn to use was more frantic than ever; although there had been a lot of fun in the stash hunting side of the trip, good sock yarns weren't all that easy to come by, apart from the Crystal Palace bamboo and cotton. Oh and while I think of it, did you SEE that Crystal Palace actually came onboard and COMMENTED on my eulogistic praise of their product? Yes, they did, really. Go check back to that posting. I'll wait.
Well, pretty nice, yes? You think I should send them a polite note back, saying I wouldn't be at all offended if they dropped off a GREAT BIG BOX of samples on my doorstep? That's what I thought too.
But back to the sock yarn for Round Two. Eventually Socks That Rock Mediumweight in Nodding Violet was the chosen one, and I got started straight away. This was an interesting pattern, involving lots of complex twisted stitches and yarnovers, but once you got the hang of it, it wasn't too difficult. The jetlag was joined by a furious head cold which got gradually worse as the first sock progressed but since there was no hope of sleep with those two banging cheerfully on either side of the Celtic Memory head, the knitting continued.
Most of the night.
Next day, Sock One got photographed against a forsythia bush which had come into bloom especially for our return.
Still wasn't too sure this was the right yarn for this pattern, but persevered.
One of the less happy things about Round Two is that instead of the group dash for the finishing line, the first eight to go through, it was a one-off against one named opponent. This made the whole thing much more stressful, but fortunately everybody really got friendly and supportive and there was no bad feeling at all - which just goes to show that it's the competitors who make a worthwhile contest.
Finished those pesky socks a little after midnight on Friday and DH, who had stayed up specially, the pet, and him exhausted and jetlagged too, took their picture by the woodstove.
It was nice to get them done, but I hated, absolutely hated beating my opponent (who was after all by this time a friend). It didn't seem fair that only one of us could go through. Maybe I shouldn't be in competitions? Maybe we shouldn't have competitions?
How were the dogs, you ask? They were rapturous to see us safely back, and when they were dropped off by the invaluable Eileen who tends them as her own, Muffy hurled herself at us, her face full of joy.
Dogs are marvellous, aren't they? They always give you unconditional love, and are so pleased to see you return, even if it's only from a trip to the shops.
That's Tasha in the background. She never hurries herself for anything, she's far too much of a grande dame.
There have been some interesting topics posted, both on Knitter's Forum and on the Sock Madness site, about uses for leftover sock yarn (I shudder at the lone correspondent who says she dumps them in the garbage!) There are some fascinating suggestions, from entrelac vests to multidirectional scarves, and a really superb design for Crazy Eights Socks which use anything and everything that you have to hand. There was a lovely design too for a Teeny Tiny Sock which would make a wonderful gift for a friend, especially with a little memento tucked inside.
Here's an apt quote from King of the Tinkers by a wonderful children's writer, Patricia Lynch. It's about a poor widow who knitted to make a living, but one day discovered that she hadn't a scrap of wool left. Her son had a brainwave.
When Miheal was quite a little boy he was always making reins with the ends of wool left over. By the time he was too old for such an amusement he had collected a box of pieces and there they were!
The widow laughed.
'They're too small, Miheal avic. What could I make with them at all?'
But she was running her fingers through the heap, pulling out the longest pieces and winding them as they came, red, blue, black, yellow, white, green, brown. At last she had the biggest ball of wool Miheal had ever seen, and she began to knit...
The story of the pullover of many colours, and the adventures it got Miheal into, make an enchanting tale of rural Ireland. I love the story, and especially I love the idea of his mother making good use of all the scraps.
And now to the stash. The loot, the results of the trip. I had to photograph these myself, as DH was off working, so you'll have to make do.
There are all sorts here. In the middle at the top is some extortionately expensive Great Adirondack fluffy stuff, and to its left, some very gracious Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, destined for elegant Austrian-style long socks. There is Crystal Palace of course, both bamboo/cotton and bamboo/wool, some tofu yarn (or is it soy, I forget), and several unusual confections from the Border Leather Corporation.
Will I try a closeup?
Look, if there is something you really want to see better, let me know and I'll get DH on to the job. OK?
Now I wasn't idle on the outward trip either. I finally finished those cabled socks made from the hand dyed yarn sent by the lovely Ms. Knitingale. I was so bored by the later stages of the flight (almost ten hours) that I even grafted the toes backwards, using a crochet hook which I had, as opposed to the more normal needle, which I obviously didn't.
Here they are, on my spinning wheel. Mad about them, and wearing them right now, as I type.
I have to say I am a complete convert to the Magic Loop system of sock knitting. I had to revert to wooden dpns for the homeward flight and couldn't get on with them at all. They were longer than I was used to, too, and I kept getting tangled up. No, a nice long circular is wonderful, and makes for much faster knitting. Now if I could just find the way to do two socks at once on one circular, I'd be made up.