Archive for May 2008

Sugar on the asphalt

May 26, 2008

Pattern: Jaywalker (Ravelry link) by Grumperina
Yarn: Knit Picks Felici (75% superwash merino, 25% nylon), Arugula colorway
Needles: U.S. 1 (2.25 mm) 40″ Knit Picks nickel fixed circular (2-at-a-time Magic Loop)

I thought for awhile there that I’d get this pair done when pigs fly. And — as you see.

After getting almost halfway done with a toe-up variation, only to find the heel method too perplexing for me, I started over from the cuff with the original pattern. That’s a lot of knitting two rows, over and over and over, first one sock then the other then starting round with the first again.  My Ravelry notebook tells me that I started the cuff-down version on April 6 of this year, but after flying through the Sock Wars III socks in a week, two months feels like a heck of a long time to spend on a pair of socks.  These were my on-the-go-knitting; they were put aside at home in favor of scarves and other bigger, more glamorous projects.  So they got one or two rows at a time, when there were spare moments during a busy day, and many days they didn’t receive a single stitch.

But I was in love with these colors. Tone on tone, dark stripe, light stripe, wide and narrow in turn. I wanted these green socks on my feet, in all their jaunty, zig-zaggy glory. It took airborne swine to do it, but they got done. And I’m just as delighted with them as I hoped I would be.

My two-at-a-time methodology was pretty shaky. I ended up with the heels on one side and the insteps on the other, as intended — but I was knitting different rows on either sock by that time, which circumstance, combined with the start of the round in the middle of the foot and the slipped stitch on one side but not the other on each pass, made the foot a constant exercise in reading the knitting.

But frankly, I don’t know why anyone would knit a self-striping sock without this ingenious, bold chevron. It makes the stripes sing, doesn’t it — turning the ordinary into the absolutely extraordinary.

The desire to see how other stripes would respond is almost overwhelming. I could run through all the Felici colorways one after another, and never run out of fascination.

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If only you believed like I believe

May 24, 2008

A little less than halfway through the Clapotis, and the dropped stitches have me in their glamour. It takes me an hour or more to knit the pattern around to another dropped stitch, and every time I pick it up I want to get there just one more time.

I was frankly getting sick of the puddling, pooling mess of this colorway as I worked my way up the big stockingette triangle toward the straight section. It looked like a beginner’s idea of charming country crafts, screaming “homemade” in the worst way — as in “nobody would want to buy this.”

But I persevered because I had faith that the ladders would make the difference. They would break up the random smudges of color and give them openness, air, mystery.

And just look at the difference between the right side and the left side of the photo above. My trust in the magic of the dropped stitch was not misplaced.

I’m a bit under halfway done, and my desire to knit it at every waking moment has taken its toll. My Jaywalkers are so close to the toes — and to being done. If I can get them on my feet, my non-Clapotis knitting will be long-suffering Diamante, which will no doubt provide enough incentive to revive my excitement about worsted weights and back-and-forth knitting.

The perfect way to die

May 17, 2008

Pattern: Detonator (Sock Wars III) by Julie Gardner
Yarn: Southwest Trading Company Tofuties (superwash wool, soy, cotton, chitin), colorway 732
Needles: U.S. 2 Knit Picks Nickel Options 40″ circular (two-at-a-time Magic Loop)

Sox Addict? Yeah, you in Renton, Washington?  Dead knitter walking.

Thanks to the vagaries of the international mails, I had an extra day to finish the toes and laboriously Kitchener them up. This morning I packed them up and ran by the post office on my way to teach the Methodist pastors.

Just about one week of knitting in literally every spare moment, and I got a pair done. That blows the doors off any past sock knitting I’ve done, and I don’t expect to come close to it until the next time I’m in a competitive situation. The pattern was only one size in terms of circumference, with the only variation being in the length of the foot. So since the socks I knit were, shall we say, relaxed on my feet, I suspect they’ll also be roomy on my target’s size 7 feet.

I had to forge ahead with my knitting in the absence of my 2-at-a-time instructions, so when I got to the heel, I did it a little differently than the made-up way I used for my still-in-progress Jaywalkers. I did the instep then heel on Sock A, then the instep and heel on Sock B — meaning that the heels turned out to be on different sides of the cable. But it actually made more sense in terms of going round and round — I would repeat the same steps for both socks, in the same order, rather than doing mirror images. (Actually, in my Jaywalkers, I’ve ended up on different rows of the pattern on each sock …)

Turned out I got my weapon in the mail just in time. When I got home this afternoon, there was a pair of socks just waiting on my doorstep ready to blow up in my face.

Beautiful, aren’t they? And ElectroGirl (from across the pond) included an adorable fuzzy sheep bookmark, which Cady Gray immediately claimed as her own.

It was something of a relief to put them on and find the same relaxed fit as the ones I knit for my target. I wore them while my kids outlined race courses on the driveway on this beautiful spring afternoon. The Tofutsies are light and cool — perfect for summertime wearing. I can imagine a light-as-air lace scarf or wrap made out of this yarn.

I’m dead, and I’m loving it. Time to resurrect the Clapotis.

It’s the thing that creeps into your feet

May 12, 2008

I’m a joiner. Send me a new site or service, and I’ll spend a happy couple of hours setting up an account and filling out my profile.

So I was helpless against the allure of Sock Wars III, the third annual “extreme knitting” competition in which you assassinate your assigned target by … knitting them a pair of socks.  Over a thousand folks just like me signed up for the competition.  Well, like me except that they’re all much faster at knitting socks.

I started knitting furiously as soon as the pattern was released last Friday.  Over the weekend I turned both heels on my two-at-a-time Detonators.  That’s so much faster than I’ve ever knit socks — they usually take me months — that it qualifies as a miracle.

But five-day socks are nothing but collateral damage on the battlefield.  A few speedy, life-deprived knitters whipped out their pairs in twenty-four hours and sent them on the second day of competition.  My own personal assassin finished her weapon over the weekend and sent them today.

And that means I’m dead already.  I might be able to finish my socks and send them to my target before the package arrives in my mailbox — especially since it’s coming from England — but it doesn’t matter.  When you receive a pair of socks, you’re toast.

So the only way to win this war is to somehow arrange for your assassin to be killed before they finish your socks.  And then for the person who inherits those socks to be killed before they finish them.  And so on and so on until you are the last knitter standing.

It’s not so much a war as a series of unlikely lucky breaks.  And they won’t be happening to me.

Don’t you feel like starting something new?

May 5, 2008

The end of school means it’s time to reward myself with a new knit. Well, it’s new to me, anyway.

This is the larval stage of the world-famous Clapotis. Everyone and their sister has given away more of these than they remember knitting. But I’ve been looking forward to its dropped stitch, half-wrap half-scarf goodness for half a year.

And here’s my pair of Jaywalkers — another overexposed pattern — nearing completion. The superconcentrated community of knitters on Ravelry frequently gathers to pooh-pooh these so-called “popular patterns,” the ones everybody’s doing. Many members boast that they’ve never knit a Clapotis or a pair of Jaywalkers.  (Or Monkeys or Fetchings.)

But there’s a reason so many people flock to them. You guessed it — it’s their awesomeness. I am enjoying every second of my summer camp with the popular kids. As they used to say on NBC during rerun season: “If you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you!”