Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sorry For Blackout, Blame Sock Madness!

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.


Cornflower said...

Your trip sounded great, Jo, but I'm glad you're back. Can't wait to see what you'll be up to next!

Anonymous said...

You didn't tell me about the cabled socks. They are WOW!!!

I love your dogs. That adoring look on Muffy's face as she flies into your arms. Sophie running her little heart out. And sweet Tasha taking her sweet time, but heading for you nonetheless. Thanks Richard for thinking to step back and photo this reunion.

Lovely story of the King of Tinkers.

Before you do socks with the Silky Wool, knit up a swatch. It isn't terribly stretchy. A friend knit mitts with it and they had no elasticity at all, just sort of relaxed into a blob on her hands, but she knits very loosely, so I don't know. Anyone had experience? I used it for my Swallowtail and love it to death, perfect.

Laritza said...

Does that mean that you can not take circular needles in the cabin overseas? I will be going to Austria in the Summer and your comment surprised me. I thought there was not a problem at all!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jo,

Glad you're back from your trip. I think Crystal Palace should send you some yarn for publicizing their stock. For sure, tons of people will now go out and buy their stuff, all because of you!

I have a good mind to stuff all my leftover sock yarn in my suitcase and drop it at your door! I can't imagine ever using it all! I will be making some baby socks, but it is rather a lot of work for not much reward or use...I'm very practical about the amount of work that goes into things. I admire your socks, but am too impatient to ever try something that takes that much work. Socks are utilitarian things I wear on my feet under boots, no one sees them, and they help keep my feet warm at -20 degrees F. In point of fact, I've considered just using the sock yarn, helter skelter to make socks, not particularly caring WHAT they look like! It would use up the yarn, for sure. "Waste not, want not." my husband always say, BORING! Okay, guess I'd best figure out what to make for dinner. Then, DVD and socks...don't have to pay much attention that way to the socks.

I have to admit you've tweaked my curiosity with your circular needles stuff. I'm very happy with four dp's, but maybe I could think about learning something new, old dog that I am!

Elinor said...

WOW, what a haul!!! I too have recently converted to Magic Loop. I have a 7 month old baby and I was so worried about poking her with my DPNs so I grumbled but switched. It will be hard to go back!!!

Anonymous said...

Two socks on one circular can be done -- at least, I've seen photos of it and once a visitor to our weely knitting circle was doing it. I've done 2 on 2 circs, but found the cables twisting between the 2 socks and the yarn snagging the needle-ends. It was nice to know the 2 would match, but I'm not sure it's worth the trouble for me; I eventually gave up and split them onto 2 needles. Magic Loop might be less tangly -- might be worth a go.

And I *love* the sound of "elegant Austrian-style long socks" -- ooooo!

Jackie said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your trip and viewing the photos. All the sock talk almost makes me want to start on a pair...but alas, too many projects on the go.

Peg-woolinmysoup said...

Hi Jo: Just got back from the retreat on Quadra with Shelley of Fun Knits. Her Mom - God love me, I did not get her name, just Shelley's Mom, but she says to say "Hi!". What a fabulous retreat. There will be more on the blog. I had a lot of fun with stash enhancement at Fun Knits and got a pair of Rosewood 5.5 mm straights! I love circs, but sometimes straights are what I want!

Artis-Anne said...

Oh Jo your two are so cute and a great shot of your reunion. I would be lost without our two little monkeys. Wow a great haul there, that fluffy 'whatumacall' it looks divine ; look forward to seeing what you make with it.
Congratulations again for getting through the next round of SM !! I am looking forward to seeing what the next pattern will be ; I did start with circular for this pair but when the needles were listed in numbers I panicked & changed back to dpn,s but guess what , I am knitting another pair for DH this time and I am determined to do them on the circular needle as I swear those bamboo dpn's were instruments of torture for that pattern

pacalaga said...

I tried magic loop and am a convert, myself. I can't even manage with DPNs anymore. They make a lovely display in a jar on my mantle, though. I have heard tell that you can do two at a time in the magic loop style, but you'd need a LONG cable, and I haven't tried it yet.
Congratulations on making round three! Don't worry about beating your competitor - we are/were all good sports in the competition, and it's all friendly and happy.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you had a fantastic trip, and I'm sure the yarn haul will help you reminisce for years to come. :)

Thanks for the excerpt from the storybook -- I'll have to try to track down a copy now!

And I definitely encourage you to push for two socks at the same time. It's the best way to go! I used to hate sock knitting (truly!) because of Second Sock Syndrome, but now I love socks! I still have to play around with ML and top-down socks, but it's pretty easy once you get the trick. Go for it! (It's funny you should mention this at all, since I just recently posted about two-at-once on my blog -- maybe there's something in the springtime air that says "Magic Loop"?)

Cindy/Snid said...

Nice to see you are back and recuperated from Sock Madness and jet lag. Congrats again on making the next round, and for your lovely supportive comment on my flicker post. This has been really fun and I am so glad that I took up the invitation that you had issued to join in. I was fondling some of the Crystal Palace bamboo stuff at my LYS last week, but they didn't have any colors in stock that I was mad about, but I look forward to trying it out soon!

knitspot anne said...

i just love those socks—ms knitingale knows what she's doing alright!

Denise said...

What a wonderful shot of Muffy's face running to see you. She is too adorable.

I cannot believe how quickly you are turning out finished socks! Any faster and you're going to have to wet down the yarn to keep it from igniting from the friction while you knit.
Both pairs look lovely and Ms. Knitingale's yarn is very pretty.

Glad you're back!

Dez Crawford said...

Jo, I just love the photos of your stash and your Tinker story and you adoring dogs and your on-the-plane socks, which I covet madly and deeply.

Elinor, I'm glad you learned a new skill, but countless generations of babies were raised around double-pointed needles and lived to tell the tale! Breathe easy! I think babies nowadays are in danger of dying from sensory deprivation, being denied the normal bumps and scrapes of childhood. :)

Betty, you say that you're very practical about the amount of work that goes into things and you'd be reluctant to make something utilitarian for that reason. I suppose everyone's outlook is different. I just don't think of knitting as "work." It is my pleasure and relaxation, and, in addition to whatever major projects I have in progress at home, I always have a small project (usually socks) in my purse to fill odd moments waiting: waiting for meetings to start, waiting for the dentist, etc. To me, handknit socks are a private little personal secret luxury, not merely utilitarian. They feel so good on the feet whether they are tucked into boots or on display in clogs or sandals.

And Jo, I will chime in with everyone else: Crystal Palace should have you on retainer.

Ang said...

Oh your socks are fab and well done on making the next round of Sock Madness.

I agree, Crystal Palcae should send you a nice big box of yarn!

Wendy said...

go for the blag with Crystal Palace - my DH recently posted a blog extolling the virtues of a brand of shaving gel he recently discovered. He's had an email from the marketing people saying they're sending him a parcel of goodies and then the owner of the company commented on his blog...i'm off to say how much I love Rowan yarn and Namaste bags!