At time of posting, it is just after eight in the morning here in West Cork - a beautiful spring morning too with fleecy clouds, sunshine, and birds dashing frantically everywhere, some already feeding young, others still searching for exactly the right cosy lining material for their nests. We put out net bags of dog hair and had a wonderful time watching little birds tug and pull and then fly away with clouds of soft fur, bigger than themselves. The young mistle thrushes are almost ready to leave the nest.
This evening the new pattern for Round 5 of Sock Madness should arrive. Any time from midday to 6 pm North Virginia time equals 5 to 11 pm here, so everything must be done beforehand, even to preparing a casserole which DH can dish up as I knit. There are people to go and interview this morning, shopping to be done, perhaps a scrap of housework if there is a spare moment. Whatever happens, I (like the rest of those embroiled in the insanely wonderful lunacy that is Sock Madness) will be sitting by my computer from the witching hour onwards, waiting for THAT PATTERN to arrive. We have no idea what it will be - lace or cables, weird or wonderful - all we do know is that it is likely to stretch us even further, as each round gets more difficult. It's an incredible thing to take part in - if it runs again next year (they'd be truly mad to do it, but I hope they do!), you have to get involved. It will change your life! (Yes, it will impact severely on the housework and day job too, but what do they matter?)
Been preparing for this all week, winding skeins, checking needles, wondering yet again what yarn would be best (how can you decide when you haven't seen the pattern?) Evelyn at Knitty-Noddy gets a special GOLD STAR in my book: not only did she send me the most exquisite skein of Fleece Artist Sea Wool (collective sigh) with amazing speed (anything under a week to Ireland is amazing speed, believe me you happy next-day-delivery gang), she also - you won't believe this - refunded excess postage, since it actually cost less than she had thought to mail it! How many online shops do you know that would do that? Go right over there to Knitty-Noddy this minute and tell her she's wonderful. I've done so already.
Here is the Sea Wool - I think it's the Rose Garden colourway and I can't go look because I have to finish this post before heading off to interview half a dozen people. Honestly, don't day jobs get in the way sometimes! Behind it? Oh I put that in to annoy you - it's my beautiful cone of pure alpaca. Yes, the one I got at the Shed in the Woods That Doesn't Really Exist So Don't Come Looking For It. You can just see it in my profile pic at the top of the page, where I'm clutching a big armful of goodies. Far too beautiful to use, of course - but I take it out now and again and croon over it.
Was all set to use the Sea Wool, but then got worried about the gauge for the new pattern - 7.5 to 8 stitches to the inch, and I'm a bit of a loose knitter. Wound up some Tofutsies and some finer sock yarn I'd hand-dyed in pale greens, and hauled out the Silkwood Bluebell I'd been hoarding for just such an occasion. Surely enough among all of those?
Then a late starter! Discovered that what I thought was a heavier laceweight was really a fine sockweight (are we getting finicky here? Is there a difference between heavy laceweight and fine sockweight? Does anyone care outside the sock-knitting sorority?) This is a very nice blend of wool, angora, nylon and CASHMERE (no, not very much of the last-named but enough to give a silky smooth feel to the yarn). I threw a skein of that into some dye which had steadfastly refused to exhaust itself after 'leventy-seven skeins of other yarns, and hung the light blue result out to dry. I'll wind it up later. Just in case.
And I had another boost to my belief in the essential goodness of human nature. I hadn't traded with Paradise Fibers before, because I was worried about postal charges but I really really needed some Addi Turbo Lace circulars in the 000 gauge and they had them, so I emailed to ask what the mortgage-sized punishment would be for sending these little scraps to Ireland. Well, the lovely Travis responded promptly, and they only charged me $4.95 for posting these. Paradise Fibers, you get my second gold star of the week, and rest assured I will be BACK, you nice people.
(Incidentally, why are there no 00 gauge? Seems odd. Can anyone enlighten me?)
I need these 000s because I have fallen totally and madly in love with the Austrian patterned kneesocks in Socks Socks Socks. I have never seen anything so lovely in my life and I HAVE to make them. I first noticed them on Eunny's site, where she was just as rhapsodic. Trouble is, they have a seriously large number of stitches to the inch and for me to get that gauge I will have to go as tiny as is possible. But they have to be made, no two ways about it.
Oh I finally worked out how to put two socks on one circular - thanks for all the tips and advice.
It didn't take long to suss it out, but in fact I'm finding it a bit irritating. Doable, certainly, but irritating. I think it's slower than using a separate circular for each sock.
In every spare moment I'm still working on the new designer yarn, Bealtaine, or Maytime, which will have to go on eBay this Sunday night if anyone's to enjoy it during May. I'm endeavouring to recreate the fresh greens of young leaves, bushes, trees and new grass, the foaming white hawthorn or Mayblossom, and of course the incredible, heavenly shade of the bluebells which carpet the woodlands during this month which celebrates the Celtic festival of Beltane. Should be done before the pattern arrives this evening...