Thursday, 17 June 2010

So far so good!

You will be pleased to know that sock knitting has been going on here in a big way. Surprisingly, I am even up to date on the 52 Pair Plunge! Last week's contribution was Diamonds and Cables from Wendy Johnson's new and very beguiling book knit in Yarn Yard Clan in the Kale colourway. I'm pleased with the combination of yarn and pattern.

In week three I got a little more ambitious. As part of the Anything Nancy Bush knitalong on Ravelry I chose Virve's Stockings from Folk Knitting in Estonia as I wanted to make something slightly more unusual. I also love the way that the coloured band appears at just the right spot between shoe and trouser.

I didn't have quite enough yarn to make them full knee socks - in fact I am quite pleased with my judgement as I finished both socks with a couple of feet a yarn to spare. This didn't stop me making contingency plans about different colour bands on the toes, however.

I am becoming a little more optimistic about my ability to give this challenge a good run for its money. I certainly have the speed and I certainly don't have to turn into some sort of reclusive sock knitting machine. While I was knitting these I spent four days in Wales and four days at the Isle of Wight Music Festival. Either I am becoming more brazen about knitting in public or it is possible to run a normal life while undertaking this foolish game.
We shall see.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Socks and Drugs and Rock and Roll*

I think it's probably quite common after a long and enjoyable trip but since I came back from my holidays I've been feeling a bit flat. None of my knitting has particularly grabbed me and my spinning wheel has been idle for ages.

Then, wandering around in Ravelry I started to pick up rumblings about something called a 52 pair plunge. After further investigation it emerges that there are knitters who are so dedicated to the knitting of socks that they challenge themselves to knit 52 pairs in a year. Apparently this madness is now in its fourth year. And no, we aren't talking 52 pairs of baby socks which are, they say admissible, we are talking knee socks, colour work socks, complicated travelling stitches. These knitters must never sleep!

Of course it wasn't too long before I persuaded myself that of course it was theoretically possible that I could do this although having checked my statistics the most socks I have ever knitted in one year is 29. The long and the short of it is that I have signed up for the full challenge although of course I hold Rachel at Knittingtastic and Natalie at The Yarn Yard entirely responsible for leading me down the paths of sock madness by signing up themselves.

The Plunge officially started on 1st June and as the completion of socks already complete is allowed I set to with some enthusiasm, digging forgotten socks out from all kinds of nooks and crannies and (ahem) maybe starting a few more just to get my hand in. By the time the plunge started I had counted fourteen pairs on the needles...

I have been thinking about how to approach this task and thought that trawling Ravelry and finding a few knitalongs might help a little as I really do enjoy the camaraderie and company of other knitters engaged in a common pursuit so have devised myself a fiendishly complicated schedule that I will try not to bore you with. Basically, I am planning to finish one pair of socks a week. This week I finished these off.

Yes, I admit, they could be described as 'Low Hanging Fruit' being almost complete plain toe up socks in a variegated yarn but we all have to start somewhere. For the record they are Toe up socks largely following Wendy Johnson's generic recipe in Socks that Rock Lightweight in Flower Power on a 2.25mm circular needle. I have also decided to use the good stuff from my stash to make the task as enjoyable as possible.

Here is a (very) small selection of some of the other things I have on my needles.

Last year I bought this lovely skein of yarn from The Yarn Yard. It's the Woolfest 2009 limited edition in colours that make me think of a Herdwick sheep.

I'm knitting less and less with variegated yarn these days but thought that as it's June (Woolfest month!) it was appropriate to use it as my first sock in the Yarn yard's own 12 socks in 12 months challenge as well as the UK Sock Knitters KAL which requires knitters to knit the same pattern - in this case Los Monos Locos, a toe up adaptation of the ubiquitous Monkey Socks by Cookie A. They have an interesting heel construction so I thought I'd have a go. Here is my progress to date.

I also found a very gentle KAL on the Nancy Bush Knitters forum. Now I am a huge fan of Nancy and am excited to report that I will be taking a class with her at Knitnation 2010 so I thought it would be a good opportunity to try one of her patterns. Having seen a beautiful version by my friend Jacqueline in Melbourne I chose Virve's Stockings from Folk Knitting in Estonia. It is a reasonably uncomplicated knit but the thing I really like about it is that the fair isle band sits exactly where they can be seen under a long skirt or trousers - how clever is that? The yarn that I used is Yarn Yard Clan in a charcoal grey solid colour.

The band is made from scraps of Clan in Botanic and two club yarns, Kale and Purple. I knot this stocking in record time largely due to the fact that I had convinced myself that I was going to run out of yarn before I reached the toe and everyone knows that you use less yarn if you knit really, really fast..... Luckily I made it with a couple of metres to spare.

Moving deeper into my mounting obsession I decided to join in with the Making Cookies Group who have been working their way through Cookie A's book, Sock Innovation and have reached Milo. Recently this skein of apricot Nature's Palette fell into my bag at Loop so at the same time these socks are entered for the Solid Socks Groups June KAL which happens to have reached the colour orange! I know what you're thinking, I'm starting to lose the plot...

I haven't got very far with Milo at the moment but it is much simpler and easy to knit than I expected. The yarn is also very soft and cushy.

Finally, before you decide that I am in the grips of some clinical mania I will show you some progress on the Norwegian Roses Sock that I showed you last week. This is my first attempt at an entire sock in stranded colour work so may take me some time. I am also knitting along with a very relaxed group on the Knitgrllls Group with this one.

I think it's fair to say that I have got my knitting mojo well and truly back - the question is, can it be sustained? Keep checking here to find out...
*with apologies to the late lamented Ian Dury.