Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Pause

Having finished the Sock Madness Round Two sock on time, I advance! I'm quite pleased, both with the socks and because I really wanted to get beyond Round One. I have a feeling I may not get beyond Round Two, but that's OK, I just wanted to progress beyond Round One.

Echoes FO

The socks are Echoes by Liz Harris, worked in red Fortissima and white Sock-Ease. While I do admire stranded colorwork, I'm not a big fan of socks with stranded colorwork all over because it's always a struggle to pull them over my heels. But there are the happy exceptions. On these socks, I particularly like the tumbling hourglass motif, the way the stitch pattern remains coherent at the end-of-round jog, and the nice framing stitch that keeps the gusset decreases tidy. Clearly a thoughtful, technically excellent design. The yarns are recycled from two other projects, dating from 2008 and 2012, and I'm pleased they could finally be reclaimed and put to use. They work well together, I think.

Echoes wip

The striking stitch pattern seemed vaguely heraldic to me, and I decided I wanted the MC (red) yarn dominant over the CC (white) yarn. It's more usual to have the CC dominant, but I like the results (and of course have to show them off). Here's the leg stranding.

Detail of leg stranding

Because I was speed-knitting, sometimes often late at night, and this week riveted by the news from Paris, sometimes I accidentally reversed the yarn dominance, which is easy to see on the wrong side of the pinstripe sole. (See the red lines among the white?) On some projects I'd feel a compulsion to tink back and fix that, but in this case I uncharacterically shrugged and knit on! For gentle readers unfamiliar with the concept of yarn dominance (some prefer the term color dominance), here's two helpful explainers.

Detail of sole stranding, with change in yarn dominance

Meanwhile, my computer migration is mostly done, but instead of the unalloyed joy of having a fast new computer I have the odd feeling that for a user like me peak utility has come and gone and, like AutoCorrect, future innovations are frequently going to be annoyances. (Although it might be nice to have a car that parallel parks itself.) As if to underscore that, when I was posting photos of Echoes to my Ravelry project page, a requirement for advancing in Sock Madness, the link from Flickr to Ravelry malfunctioned. The workaround I used was acceptable, obvs, but argh.

For observant Christians, today is the pause before the deep dive that is the culmination of Holy Week: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter. For others, maybe there's the hope of landing an invitation to an Easter feast, which this food writer dubs "Spring Thanksgiving." While that's a novel notion to me, this year I'm going to go with it.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Signs of Spring

The signs are everywhere – spring is springing roundabout Exit 151! In celebration, I took my singleton Echoes by Liz Harris, the Sock Madness second round sock, to Branch Brook Park. I never tire of the annual show of cherry blossoms. The sock is pretty nice, too. (That's my sock, but not my hand.)

Echoes singleton with cherry blossoms

Last weekend the indubitable sign of spring was NJ Wool Walk. Pressed for time as I've been, I contented myself with a quick outing to Yarnia, where I filled a small basket with some yarn and other necessities (not shown) and some swag that came with the purchase (below). I got a notions bundle. I do love me some knitting swag. When unwound, the pink mini ball of yarn contained a coupon for 15% off a future purchase.

Yarnia swag

This weekend, given the prevalence of puffy buds on the trees and if the mild spring weather continues, I'd say it will be peak bloom in Branch Brook Park.

Puffy buds

For those unacquainted with the technical terms for cherry blossom bloom stages, here's an illustrated primer (yes, such things exist!). Or in the "Beauty is truth" spirit, maybe it's enough to know that puffy buds = promise of beauty imminent. If you can't make it in person, there's always Branch Brook Park cam. And not to worry, there's plenty of late-blooming cherry trees, mainly with very showy double-ruffled magenta flowers, to come.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Housekeeping

Astonishing to relate, I finished Round One of Sock Madness so far in advance of the April 4 deadline that I've been luxuriating in a week-long patch of free time. It's an unaccustomed freedom at casa Jersey Knitter, where for so many frenetic months my time has been at the capricious disposal of others. It's meant no labored sock knitting during Earth Hour (as in 2009, 2010, 2011, or 2012). Instead, I've been attending to some long-delayed housekeeping.

First, I upgraded my computer from Windows XP to Windows 10. This required a new computer. I have somewhat mixed feelings about this, as the old one is a mere 12 years old and still works decently well for many applications. Although not for certain online functions, particularly secure financial transactions. It's the first time I've replaced a home computer that was otherwise working adequately because my bank insisted on it. (I have a sinking feeling it won't be the last time.) Then again, the blog reminds me the old computer caused a lot of trouble in its day.

Old computer and new computer

Side-by-side, the old tower has rather a busy vibe; the new is spare and (strangely) argyle-y. That said, I do like the new computer. It's fast. That's all I've noticed so far, but that one attribute is so valorized that perhaps it's sufficient by itself. By contrast, the new software has a rather busy vibe. My computing wants are simple and few, at least at the moment, and I've been patiently turning off the many bells and whistles that I'd rather not have. (Cortana was first to go.) Maybe that will change. Watch this space.

The phoenix-like converse to shuffling off my old computer is assessing projects that are not happening, frogging them, and reconditioning the yarn. For example, there's my ill-fated Geology Socks, cast on during airport hell. The yarn really is too dark to show the fancy stitches to best advantage. I really should know better. Bonus: I'm pretty sure I'm going to need a solid or tonal yarn for the next Sock Madness sock.

Frogged Geology Socks

SM Round One concludes on Thursday. I'm guessing the next pattern will drop on Friday or Saturday. In the meantime, it would seem more housekeeping is in order.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Mobile Yarn Shop Socks

It's typical of Sock Madness that while I hitherto did not know what a demogorgon is, I speed-knit a pair of socks called Demogorgon's Lair by Dots Dabbles, trusting that when the madness passes, I (among thousands of other hapless sock knitters) will not have reason to wail, "What have I done???"

Demogorgon's Lair FO

The pattern dropped while I was traveling, of course. Fortunately, I had stuffed the equivalent of the contents of a small yarn shop in my luggage... except for a crochet hook. So while I had ample choices of yarn, of course the pattern calls for a crochet hook to work the Magic Circle Cast On (aka Emily Ocker's CO). Undeterred and working with what else was on hand – a bent paperclip, a ballpoint pen, and some masking tape – I was soon knitting along using one of my favorite sock yarns, Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, colorway 907 Envy in the old put-up.

Demogorgon wip

Charmingly (or perhaps appropriately, I know not), Demogorgon the sock has different left and right legs. To comply with Sock Madness regs, I dutifully posted photos of the fronts of the socks. Thanks to the different leg patterns, to reach the same length the left leg has five pattern repeats, the right leg seven.

Demogorgon fronts

I'd used the left leg lace pattern before for three pairs of shortie socks that also are knit in Shepherd Sock. They're shortie socks to make the most one skein of the old put-up. The oldest pair pre-date Ravelry; all're on the blog here, here, and here.

Queen of the Jungle Stripe Queen of the Jungle Stripe 2 Queen of the Jungle Stripe 3

As Kathy noted, to some eyes the toes and heels of the Demogorgon resemble bewbs and nips. My Frankenfeet can be hard to fit and, sure enough, while the bewbs fit OK, the nips will need reknitting. When I have more time (har!).

It's said the demogorgon lives in a parallel dimension public library (?), which I suppose means my Frankenfeet live in a library. That doesn't sound too bad. The sock Demogorgon's Lair is an inventive and entertaining knit – even more meaningful to members of the fandom, no doubt. For my part, I'm happy to advance to Round 2. It looks like I'll again be traveling when the pattern drops, so I'm stocking my mobile yarn shop accordingly.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Madness I Tell You

Perhaps foolishly, I stayed up late Saturday night to finish the qualifying sock for Sock Madness 13. I'm not quite sure why. I had decided to stay put for the worst of the winter weather, something I'm heartily glad I did, but in consequence foresee extra spring travel and busyness. Nonetheless I finished the pair Sunday morning, and sent off the notification, and in due course was informed I'd be placed on a suitable SM13 team. FOMO, I suppose.

Smock Madness FO

The sock is Smock Madness by Elisabeth White, worked in Socks That Rock Lightweight, colorway Cobblestone County. Shown with counting threads and stroopwafel, of course. Mindful as I am of my mighty heel-arch, I had a bit of trouble getting the smocked stitches not-too-tight, not-too-loose to accommodate fit and esthetics. It's a hazard of the pattern, and while I'm glad I knit this pair and qualified for SM13, I doubt I'll make another. As it is, the socks fit my feet more closely than I prefer.

Smock Madness modeled

Another reason for my all-nighter was I couldn't sleep following Friday's horrific news from New Zealand. The tragedy was custom made for hateful Internet trolls, there's live video and a manifesto full of layered ironic remarks, including praise for the U.S. president, that of course that I won't link. Roundabout Exit 151, police are on high alert guarding against would-be copycats. In Washington, per usual Trump not only denies the threat posed by white nationalism, instead echoing and amplifying nationalist rhetoric. But in NZ the response has been an inspiration for the world, from acts of heroism to outpourings of floral tributes, haka, legislative reform, and outreach to sufferers from the highest levels of government.

Sigh.

So I'm on a Sock Madness team, Happy Hokkaido, and am waiting for the Round 1 competition pattern to drop, while traveling. Madness, but also an undoubted solace in an unhappy world.