Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sock It to Me 2008

In my last entry, I hinted at Amazing Thread's First Annual Sock It to Me Contest, but didn't give much more info than that. So I thought I'd spend some time explaining it and its history. First off, in the spirit of generosity and holiday cheer, this contest was conceived by Sock Savant Sara. During our SSK (Sit Sip Knit) group's holiday party, Sara told the following tale, which I will try to recall to the best of my ability (but too bad for you if weren't there to hear it in person). Her story goes like this:
One night, very late, as I was tucking myself into bed with a bit of knitting, our fearless leader, Thora Lee, knocked persistently on my door until I answered it in my jammies and handknit socks. Before I could say a word, she breathlessly and urgently commanded me to put on my snowsuit and get into to her car. From my house, we drove as fast as we could to Hubert Humphrey Airport. She was practically dragging me through the snow, she was in such a hurry. Good thing too, since Santa's Super Sonic Sleigh was about to take off for the North Pole. Catching the Sleigh just in time, we were whisked to Santa's Workshop in the blink of an eye. There, we saw a most spectacular sight.

You see what happened earlier was that Elfred and the other elves decided that they didn't want to paint tires on toy trucks anymore. So, when they heard about Amazing Threads and the fun we have knitting socks, they decided to revolt and knit elf socks too. They accumulated loads and loads of elf yarn and were ready to knit loads and loads of socks, but Santa found out. Santa dispatched the Santa Squad to quash the rebellion; they cast out all the elf yarn into the snow outside the workshop and forced the elves to resume painting tires.

We had arrived just as the last of the elf yarn was being tossed. As quickly as we could, we gathered up every last teensy (because elves have teensy feet) ball of sock yarn and brought it here with us today.
With a flourish, Sara opened a gigantic black plastic bag at her feet. Inside was a veritable treasure trove of little paper bags with a surprise mix of elf yarn. As we eagerly claimed our bag of elf yarn, Sara challenged each of us to use the yarn in the bag to make a project... socks, hats, mittens, anything. In March, we would have a contest to determine who won viewer's choice. The winner would be gifted a beautiful hank of sock yarn from Sara.

In order to understand the gravitas of this contest and just how large the pile of yarn in question really was, you have to know the following fact: in the last 5 years, Sara has knit over 300 pairs of socks. The elf yarn is the leftover yarn from these 300+ pairs of socks. As you can imagine, there was lots and lots of elf yarn. To those competing in Sock Wars 2008, you better hope she doesn't enter the contest or you're toast.

The contest is fast approaching and I have been knitting furiously. My pile of elf yarn seems to be growing even though I'm making good progress on my projects. Here's what's left in my elf yarn pile. I've got big plans for these little bundles, but you'll have to wait until after the contest to see the end result. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Now I Get the Sock Thing

For the longest time, I have secretly questioned the common sense of fellow knitters who get completely ga-ga over socks. Seriously, why knit something on teeny tiny needles if really nice ones are easily available at the department store for under $10? After all, don't these knitters know that the average sock (one sock) has 17,000 stitches, bringing a pair to a whopping 34,000 stitiches. That's comparable to a sweater! I also thought the whole "but it's portable and can go anywhere" contention hard to buy... other equally small projects exist, such as baby anything, an adult hat, wrist warmers, small bags, many many small projects. All this I thought until...

Name: My first sock
Yarn: Jaeger 4-ply merino, pink
Yarn Source: Gifted by friend. Thank you!
Needles: US 2 24" Addi Lace and US 2 32" Addi Turbo
Pattern: 5-stitch pattern with mock cable, Sensational Knitted Socks, Charlene Schurch
Comments:I knit my first pair of socks custom fitted for me. These are toe-up using the Easy Toe and Short Row Heel. I bound off using EZ's Sewn Bind Off, which is by far the most straight forward and stretchy bind off I've found thus far. I love these socks! They don't bunch. They don't slouch. They don't get stretched out of shape. OK, I sooooo completely get the sock thing so much so, that I've been obsessed with socks for the last two months.

Name: My second sock
Yarn: Handmaiden Casbah Sock, Bronze
Yarn Source: Amazing Threads, Maple Grove, MN
Needles: US 2 24" Addi Lace and US 2 32" Addi Turbo
Pattern: My own. Modified from 5-stitch pattern socks, Sensational Knitted Socks, Charlene Schurch
Comments: Admittedly, the yarn was initially intended for myself, but when I saw it knitted up I thought it would better suit a more masculine recipient. This yarn is by far my favorite sock yarn. It has a beautiful hand, very soft, and there is a slight sheen. Next chance I get, I'm getting some more. The generous yardage allowed for a pretty long sock, about 3/4 up the calf.

Yarn: Pagewood Farms, Hand-dyed
Yarn Source: Amazing Threads, Maple Grove, MN
Needles: US 2 24" Addi Lace and US 2 32" Addi Turbo
Pattern: My own. Modified from 5-stitch pattern socks, Sensational Knitted Socks, Charlene Schurch
Comments: This was a very generous hank (450m). I still have a good sized ball left. The colors are beautiful. When I bought it I was concerned about possible pooling, but now am happily surprised. It pooled in some places, but not overly so.

With all this sock hoppiness, I've got another FO, but it must remain a mystery since it is for the First Annual Sock It to Me Contest at Amazing Threads. Here's a clue: this is what was leftover after I cobbled these socks together.
I've also started domesticat's Drunken Bees Socks. I really like this pattern so far. I'm using Araucania's Ranco Solid in a pinky mauvy tone with slight monochromatic varegation.

Finally, there is this lacy plum sock. The yarn is Plymouth's Happy Feet. The pattern is from Sensation Knitted Socks, the 12-stitch pattern sock using Oriel Lace. IMHO, these socks are just plum not making the cut. They fit a bit loose so the lace doesn't show well on the foot, which is a challenge since the dark yarn inherently hampers visibility. They are currently in hibernation, but might be taking a dip in the frog pond soon. We'll see. P.S. 20" needles are really annoying. They might soon become really expensive stitch holders.

Snaking Lines, Mall Rats, Free Poodle Yarn, and a Sock Monkey Dress... MOA Knit Out was a Jungle

By now there have been many posts about the Mall of America, a.k.a. MOA*, Knit Out 2008. What many of these post don't tell you is the best strategy for making it through the booths intact and sane. So I will share what the Cadre and I found useful.

1. Have a scout. Ideally, this should be the most energetic and pushy (forcing your way through a pack of mall rats requires both cunning and dexterity) person in your group. The scout runs from booth to booth, meticulously noting which have goodies worth the wait.

2. Talk to fellow fiber artists (not just those in your group) while in line. Aside from the obvious (it makes the line feel like it is going faster), you can learn about what's interesting at other booths, new techniques, or resources. Or in my case, what they wore to prom 16 years ago. I think we segued from the sock monkey dress.

3. Hit the booths early, shop later. You would think that it's obvious, but we were ensnared by Nordstrom and Sephora. Next time, we'll know better.

4. Make reservations for lunch- preferably at Tucci Benucch. If you arrive before lunch and even suspect that you will have lunch at MOA, make a reservation. A hungry knitter who spent hours in line to get free 18" straight US 17 bamboo needles, will without hesitation make use of said needles if asked to wait in another line for hours to get a good meal. Save your energy for knitting: when you first arrive at MOA, head to Tucci Benucch, make a reservation. Come lunch time, order the Chopped Salad (it's the best).

5. Optional: Don't bring your knitting (I know it's shocking). I carried mine around all day and did not knit a single stitch. I was too busy having fun and talking to other knitters who out of foresight or forgetfulness did not have their knitting.

All in all it was a fun and utterly exhausting day with friends. I have no idea who the speakers were, hopefully next year I will pay more attention. Below is a picture of the crowds (all three floors of them).
* Incidentally, in all the other cities I've lived in or visited, MOA denotes the Museum of Art; however, here in the Twin Cities, it is the Mall. What about the art museum: it's MIA... the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Huh?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Life of Four Blackheads

One Asian couple and two black cats: together we are the Four Blackheads.

Up until recently and certainly not since, our adopted feline children, Hex and Jynx, have shown absolutely no interest in yarn, yarn balls, hanks of yarn, nor yarn scraps. That was until the day the Sara yarn came home. My good friend, Sara, gave me 14 balls of two-ply wool boucle. The cats sniffed it. They liked what they smelled, and soon I discovered that they had buried themselves in it. All that was visible from beneath this mountain of yarn were two little blackheads, which quickly retreated when they were spotted. The yarn had been blessed, Hexed, and Jynxed.

Welcome to Hexed and Jynxed: a blog about knitting habits and obsessions. To those family and friends who think I am obsessed with knitting because I read about it, well... what do you think now that I write about it too?