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.


Linda said...

Now to me that sounds just scarey to knit that many socks, but i know you can do it and I will be so inspired seeing all your creations! At the end of it you must hang them all out so we can see!

sussexyorkie said...

All lovely patterns, I am looking forward to seeing all the sock production this year. Tropuble is you give me ideas!

knittingtastic said...

You really didn't need much persuading to join the madness and I'm glad you did. Your socks have always been hugely inspiring to me and look at them flying off the needles...I have only just completed half a pair, yes one sock and we are already at the end of week one!

natalie said...

I have finished one plain vanilla sock so far, not very fast. I need people with babies! Lots of them.

LynS said...

Well. Wow. I'm torn between shock and envy. I'm amazed that anyone could even think that knitting 52 pairs of socks in a year is possible, and that you have 14 pairs of socks on the needles, and that you're balancing all these KALS and associations. Do you have a spreadsheet to manage it all? Have you given up work?

I'm envious mainly because you're doing a workshop with my sock hero, Nancy Bush. I want a full report, please. But I'm also envious of your Virve's Stockings, which I love. I've been thinking about these for some time, but doubting my capacity.

And a nice spin off for us followers will be lots of knitting reports on your blog - or will you be so busy knitting you'll not have time for blogging?

Rani said...

I never underestimate the power of a plainly knit toe-up sock. In fact, plain hand knit socks are the first kind that I grab out of my sock drawer on a cold day.

These socks are amazing!! Nothing like setting the bar high, huh. Good luck. I look forward to seeing all of your sock insanity.

Joan said...

I don't knit socks. But I am happy to lend moral support, and will be standing by to help catch the overflow from your brimming sock drawer as the year progresses.

(52 pairs-- imagine that. Madness!)

Kathy said...

Wow. I think I may have knit 3prs of socks one year. I would love to be able to knit an even dozen in a year. 52 would be amazing. Good luck with it, I really hope you can do it.

Aknita said...

Plain vanilla socks are sometimes all a yarn needs. Yours are lovely.

I spent a whole calendar month on my last pair, so I'm more of a 12 in 12 sort of knitter it would appear.

I've really enjoyed reading back through your blog this morning. I haven't visited blogland for a very long time, your Australian trip appears to have been wonderful.

And having trawled right back, I have found the post about your trip to the Welsh Museum and the glaringly obvious so belatedly, very many thankyou's for my lovely Santa Swap present in York.

Roobeedoo said...

My hat is off to you! I LOVE knitting socks but recently so many other projects have distracted me that my poor husband got a single sock for his birthday. I mentioned the 52 pair challenge to him and the look of total disbelief was wonderful to behold!

Cynthea said...

Wheee! I never regret stopping by. What a lovely group of socks. I'm so eager to see the finished stranded pair. They are going to be absolute beauties. Truly inspiring work!

Anni said...

gorgeous socks. Well done on your progress. Lovely to see you on Saturday at Woolfest.