Have you ever had a project – knitting or otherwise – that just doesn’t seem to want to get done? You start off with the best intentions, but every step of the way something seems to be fighting you. Call it Karma, the Fates, the Knitting Gods, the Great Pumkin, I don’t know, but I’m sure that SOMEBODY out there was having a great laugh at my expense over these socks.
Here’s the story.
The family is heading out one day to visit some friends who live about an hour and a half away. I had nothing travel worthy on the needles, so I raided the stash in search of sock yarn. Having knit some socks for myself recently I thought I’d do up a pair for my mom. I had recently acquired some yarn that was just her colours, and from a good and snooty high end indie dyer. One of those yarns that I’d heard a lot about and was interested in trying out. So I grab the skein, and I grab my ball winder and set to work caking it up so I can knit on the way. Joey, who can smell a ball winder in action from 1.5 km away came over to help. By which I mean he took over because he’s pretty greedy about the ball winder. Everything started off well, the yarn sliding nicely off the skein and onto the cake. Then he hit a tangle. Now, tangles are not something we fear around Joey’s House. In a location with as much string-like substances as we have tangles are a regular occurrence. In addition to that Joey has his Black Belt in String Detangling, and I myself hold the Golden Skein of Detanglement as awarded by the Wizengamut. This skein, however, confounded even the two of us put together, with Punky (Paduan Detangler Level 3) cheering from the sidelines. Every time we thought we had it straightened out another knot would form, until eventually the knots were coming faster than untying could happen and the whole thing was just a mess of green spaghetti on the floor. Of course, we persevered, but we were late in leaving, and grumpy too. At that point I really just wanted to chuck the yarn into a dark corner to teach it a lesson, but I couldn’t very well leave it behind after insisting that I needed it in the first place. So I got it a nice project bag, hoping that would cheer it up, grabbed my needles and off we went.
In the car I paused to admire the colours again, and remind myself that I really had been looking forward to this yarn. In the skein – and in the hard-won cake – it looked great; lots of shades of olive, from almost brown down to white.
I really liked it, and in my head I thought it would knit up something like this.
(That’s the sole of the socks btw.)
So I cast on my usual 64 sts for Mom socks and happily ribbed away. I noticed as I worked that the dark green was pooling in a rather unattractive way, but yarn often looks different in the ribbing than in plain stockinette, so I continued on. It wasn’t until we were on our way home that I realized that the pooling was not getting better. In fact it was worse. It was flashing. Flashing like the lights on a cop car. Flashing like bad Christmas decorations. Flashing like the creepy guy in the library. Flashing like a snake. The green was lining up to make a horizontal line that waved back and forth just enough to look like it was undulating down the leg. Feeling certain that Mom wouldn’t want snake socks I jammed them into their bag and buried them in my purse until I had time to deal with them properly. Feeling rather annoyed at having dealt with the mad tangling issue, and then the snake leg, I left them alone for a while and pondered my options. The easiest thing, of course, is just to alter your stitch count a bit and see what happens. I didn’t want to add stitches as the socks would then be too big for my Mom, so I started decreasing. One stitch at a time from 64 sts down to 59, with a bit of knitting between each to see what was happening. More snake, that’s what was happening, it just got a bit wavier… until 59 sts. At that point the green line started to travel across the leg. “Yes!” I thought, “A spiral!”. A spiral I could live with. A nice twisty line of green going around the leg would be fine. So I ripped out all of my other swatch bits, back to the ribbing, decreased to 59 sts and continued on. Take that, yarn! I have mastered your sneaky serpent ways! HA! Ha indeed. I had made a lovely spiral – for exactly one half rotation of the leg. Then the snake crawled back out of its deceiving, phoney vortex and continued down the leg again – but on the other side.
It was time to bring out the big guns. For the next 3 days I tried out patterns that were all supposed to help prevent pooling. I chevroned. I did Feather and Fan. I knit and purled in various combos over various stitch counts. Finally I slip stitched. Ha, naughty yarn, I shall take you down with my mighty slip stitch! You will not defeat me!
I knit the first sock without incident. I did not find the pattern to be super speedy (although it’s dead easy) but I was happy that I had tamed the wild snake. I slogged along and eventually got to start sock number two. Now, you would think that by this point I would have learned my lesson. That I would have just been content that the socks were getting done. That I should have been smart enough not to say “I think this yarn is finally behaving.” as I pulled more out of my centre pull cake. And by “more” I mean that about half of the remaining yarn came flying out of the cake in a giant snarl. Then I lost it. I pulled at the knot. I tried to see the pattern of it, see that one line that is usually what is holding everything together. I couldn’t, so I swore at it a lot instead. Did I mention that I was in public at the time? With Sarah? YEAH. However, one of the advantages of being Canadian – aside from Butter Tarts – is that you can officially swear in two languages. Come to think of it, a butter tart would have been good in this situation. I prefer to do my sulking over sugar. Wait, where was I? Oh yes, the *^$%^$*ing socks (that’s *&%$%^ing socks in french). After my little melt down I calmly put it all back into it’s bag (as Sarah snickered from behind her tea). I took it home and wound it by hand, through another series of unbelieveable knots into a regular ball. Then I ignored it for a while. Once I took it out again it seemed ready to accept it’s fate. Maybe this skein really wanted to be a shawl. Or a hat. Or a monster. Too bad skein, you will be socks if I say you will!
My Mom better like these.
This morning when I got up and realized that the Make Me Mad socks were done, that I no longer had to knit them, that I could start a fresh new pair of socks I hauled my sock yarn bin down stairs into the better light, beside the computer where we have been communing while I write. My stash is not as large as some, but there is some kick-ass stuff in there just waiting to be something. I’ve had a great time shopping through it, tossing it about, looking at stuff. I’ve narrowed it down to three.
On the left, Araucania Ranco Multy, in the charming 318 colourway. Ranco is always a favorite for me
In the centre, yarn I dyed at a Shelridge Farms dye day, on their lovely Soft Touch Ultra base. The colour is Sea Monster.
On the right, some BMFA Socks That Rock in a Rare Gems colourway. Not shown in the picture, this skein has a splash of bright pink in it.
Any thoughts? Pattern suggestions? How’s this? Leave a comment and I’ll send one lucky randomly drawn winner the monster pattern of their choice. To celebrate finished socks!
ETA: This contest is now closed. Thanks for coming out!