Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Madness is Upon Us, Sock Madness that is

Last year around this time, the first annual Sock Madness Competition was held, basically insanely stressful speed knitting of mystery sock patterns. It was so much fun that I signed up again this year. It is a much bigger group this year and the guidelines have changed a bit, but the enthusiasm is inspiring.

My personal first rule was that everything for the competition had to be knit from my stash. The first sock was sample knit in Jitterbug and I wanted to stay close to their suggestions, so I dug through the stash and here's what I came up with, all Jitterbug.
A few days before the pattern was released, the organizers said the yarn should be "scary". Well, that all depends. Personally, pink or blue would be scary, really scary. Hmmm, after looking at my available colors, I decided on Raphael, the one to the right which is balled up, since it was the color of a terrible bruise, shades of flesh and plum and purple, with dabs of red and blue.
The pattern arrived on Thursday and look, my yarn is the color of the Zombie in their photo. So I dove right in.
Ribbed cuff and drop stitch pattern. My yarn pooled more than I thought it would, but I don't dislike it and I think the stitch pattern is simple enough that it's not a big problem.
Here's a leg, knit a repeat longer than the pattern since I like my socks taller. Definitely not going to be able to get two socks out of a skimpy skein of Jitterbug, so thank goodness I had bought two. A lot of people with smaller feet were running out of yarn. Why oh why does Colinette do such anorexic skeins when it is a reasonably expensive yarn?

Now I'm not going to say how far along I am since you never know about the competition. Suffice it to say I am much further along than this photo shows. Unfortunately for me, I'm in the super speed knitters' division and it is almost full. The other three divisions are still pretty wide open, and I know I would make the cut if I'd been in one of them. In any case, since I'm pretty far behind, I dedided to make a sock I would like, so went ahead and added the extra rows.

Being totally sleep deprived these days, I keep falling asleep on my knitting...two rows-sound asleep. Startle myself awake and hour later to find my knitting needles still poised in mid-air. NOT a good idea to start right in knitting again since you will be lost even though you think you are not and totally screw up the pattern. One eight hour stretch when I knew I would be stuck at the hospital waiting looked very promising for sock progress. I packed it up the night before, making sure I had yarn, pattern, extra needles and a tiny crochet hook in the bag. The bag was placed next to my purse to take with me in the morning. I know you can imagine what happened. Yup, I left the bag right where it was and spent the whole day kicking myself. All that said, I quite like this pattern and will be happy to have this pair of socks.
There is a round which will require two colors of laceweight. This is the only possibility that I found in my stash, baby alpaca, but even held together, two strands make a very skimpy yarn for a sock, I'm talking 00000s. If I don't make it through this round, I may skip the laceweight pair.

As for my son's status, it looks like they have found an acceptable marrow donor. We have fingers tightly crossed for the physical and infectious disease testing. More details on his blog.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Failed Search for Mindless Knitting

It has been a while since you've heard a peep from me, gentle readers. The reason is that my son was allowed a bit of sanity break after nearly four months of hospital and he came here. For the full story check his blog or his website, I won't go into all of it here. Just that the bone marrow donor we were counting on backed out after first coming in for their blood draw. I wonder if they realize what it means to us? And to say how much I enjoy his company and being able to do something for him. Even waiting on him pretty much in the bed most of the time, exhausted. Even running back to the hospital every other day for transfusions, lots of transfusions. Life is good.

As for knitting content, I am plugging away on those mindless socks, which ended up not being so mindless, typical for me.

Here is a shot of one side.
And here the other. True color is probably closer to this. Look carefully at the patterns. First it was nice double spirals, neatly swirling around the sock. Changed needle size, the spirals zigged/zagged for a bit and then went backwords. Changed needle sizes again at the heel, what do we get, tidy little candy-cane stripes. Isn't it a hoot?
An eye of partridge heel made lovely little houndstooth checks. We shall see if sock the second is even vaguely related. BTW, Wollmeise on size 0's in my tight knitting produces a fabric I can't even stick a needle into. It's as solid as solid can get. Then still searching "mindless knitting", I started another chemo cap in Calmer which was the fiber of preference for my son. I thought I would just do a simple rib pattern in 2X2, but today during the 6 hours at the hospital while waiting for my son's transfusions, I kept looking at the gorgeous Shedir he was wearing and decided I had to do it again. Now the trick is that Shedir flows out of a 1X1 rib and I have here a 2X2. Think I will do a 1/2 inch or so of 1X1, use the current ribbing as a fold-up cuff which he likes, and perhaps do a motif less of the cabling. Hope it works. Perhaps I should run a lifeline?

Speaking of chemo caps, when we go to the Marrow Transplant Center for Steven's transfusions, there is a basket of chemo caps that someone has made. They are in acrylic, the brightest, hideous oranges and greens. Crocheted, stiff as bricks, feel like Brillo pads. I can't even imagine making such a thing for someone who has lost their hair. No one seems to be taking them either.See this? Gorgeous isn't it. That Celtic Memory wanted to cheer me up and she knows me heart and soul. Oh, wow! This is Blue Heron rayon metallic, two skeins of the scrumptious stuff, just begging to be a magnificent stole. Anne Hanson at Knitspot just came up with another lovely pattern, Gale, and I couldn't resist. Thought it might be that perfect mindless knitting project I keep looking for. Anne thought it would be good hospital knitting. We shall see. That woman is the Evil Temptress Extraordinaire. I want to knit almost every design that she comes up with.

Then today Linda, a friend from Sock Camp, sent a totally surprise package of a wonderful book written by a friend of her husband's who survived leukemia and a marrow transplant and wrote about it. He is now the director of the National Marrow Donor Program. This book went straight onto my bed and I plan to start it tonight. Oh yes, Linda also worried I might run out of sock yarn, so she tucked in a skein.
Let's look closely. Hmmmm, I had never heard of this dyer, Pagewood Farm. The yarn is Denali, 450 yards (Yay!) of 80/20 merino/nylon with a very very nice ply. I think I'm really going to enjoy this one. Sock Madness stash? And it's my favorite color, in case someone doesn't know. Yes, I was very cheered, and very touched by Linda's thoughtfulness. I'm really going to miss everyone at Sock Camp this year. BTW, Linda just rode the rode the Stitch ' Ride train from Sacramento to Stitches West. She overheard a knitter say, "I feel like a one-eyed dog in a weenie factory!" I think I love that expression.

Oh my, Sock Madness 2 starts on Thursday and I'm no way prepared. Everyone else I know (especially Celtic Memory and TayaElaine) has swatched and balled their yarns perfectly divided and practiced their Japanese short row toes and heels. The clues are tantalizing. Cousin Mountain Mom submitted a design. I'm so proud of her. I think it is just going to smack me like a snowball (yes, we had snow this week in Texas, crazy huh?). And this is my much loved step-daughter Alexa who came to visit Steven from New Mexico and couldn't resist picking up big Galatoire. She's not that little and he is that big, probably close to the record for a Persian. It was so nice to see her again.