What? There's knitting?
This is a sample of my Rutabaga bag from the Spring '07 Knitscene, which I'm making for a class that I'm going to be teaching (on the bag) at Close Knit in June.
I'm using Hemp for Knitting, which is what I'd originally swatched in for this design. It got changed by the Interweave folks to Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, which was great to work with but not necessarily my preference for this particular bag since it's so stretchy (the bag looked great when it was empty but stretched down to the ankles if you put anything in it). I won't profess to know what kind of crazy voodoo goes on at the magazines when choosing their yarn for each issue - I just smile and nod and work with whatever they give me (usually it's just fine, and it wa fine in this case, too - just not my favorite).
Close Knit doesn't carry Brown Sheep, so I got to go back to my original choice, and I'm loving it. I'm not a huge fan of the hemp yarn for garments due to its coarseness (I know, I know, it softens up with washing, but I'm a wuss that way), but it's perfect for things like this. Here's a close-up of the stitch pattern:
It's sort of a smocking, and I'd forgotten how fiddly it is, but the result is spectacular. I love it! And it's fairly fast. It will be nice to have a sample that I get back!
I also got a little surprise in the mail yesterday. If you are a member of the Blue Moon Sock Club and haven't gotten your April package yet, don't read any further! Or if you do, don't blame me for ruining the surprise!
There. You've been warned.
You may remember in mid-March when I briefly mentioned the design project from hell, and then said I couldn't tell you more, or I'd have to kill you. Well...this is the fruit of my labors - the April sock club pattern for Blue Moon Fiber Arts, "Knee High to a Grasshopper". This pattern has a long and sordid history, and I'm so happy to finally see it take flight!
For those of you who aren't members of the sock club, the pattern is a lacy mesh, worked toe-up, with a seam stitch down the back. I first came up with it last summer, knit it as knee-highs out of Cascade Fixation, and submitted it to Knitty. In fact, I should dig those suckers out, since the pattern has FINALLY been published. They've been languishing at the bottom of a shelf somewhere... At the same time, I started talking to the lovely ladies at Blue Moon about designing for them. At our first meeting, they asked me to bring some samples of my designs, and I brought these socks along. Tina and Kaci immediately fell in love with them, and I had to break the news that they were already submitted to Knitty. Tina offered a couple times to talk to Amy Singer and get them "unsubmitted" so Blue Moon could have them, but I was reluctant to do that since I didn't want to tick Amy off.
Needless to say, Knitty rejected them (if you know my history with Knitty, you'll know that I am a frequent rejectee and a never acceptee there), and I started working up a sample in Blue Moon Seduction, as knee-highs. This is the sample that those of you who have the pattern will see in the back (it's in Puck's Mischief, in case you were wondering). First, these were going to be a regular Blue Moon pattern. Then, they were going to be in a book as a threesome (with knee-highs, thigh-highs and regular-height socks). At the same time, I was trying desperately to come up with a Sock Club design for Tina & Kaci without much luck.
In early March, they contacted me and asked if they could use the lace socks for the April sock club. I was understandably concerned about turn-around time, but I didn't have any other pressing stuff going on, so I agreed. The April club also debuted an incredible new version of STR, so it was a VERY exciting opportunity for me! I was waiting anxiously for the yarn, hoping I could get the socks knitted in time.
Assuming they'd send me the yarn as soon as it was ready, I didn't pester them for it. When I got an e-mail from Kaci asking how the socks were coming, I was like, "um, what yarn?" Minor freak-outs on both ends ensued. Fortunately, it's not an unreasonable drive up to their production facility (and it's quite pretty), so I hopped in the car with Owen and high-tailed it up there. Then I spent the next 48 hours knitting furiously. Stupidly, I didn't swatch and assumed that the needles I'd need were the same as the needles I'd used for the Seduction version since it's the same size and expected gauge. In fact, the gauge was the same as the Seduction, but the yarn behaves quite differently due to the silk content (as in, it's much less stretchy). I finished the sock from hell, drove it up to Scappoose, and came home to put my wrists on ice.
A couple hours later, I got a call from Tina. "Um, Chrissy? This sock that you left here? It barely fits on my 11-year-old daughter." #$*@*$^@#*$&!!!!! (That was from me, not her - picture the dad in A Christmas Story down in the basement swearing at the furnace...) Fortunately, the sample I made fit on the mannequin leg well enough for photographs, so I had a week to knit the 2nd, more loosely-gauged final sample sock which I assume will be going on tour with the yarn. This one was much more pleasant, and fit on my foot quite nicely. However, by this time, I was disgusted with the whole process and ready to give up designing all together (I should mention that I was up past midnight a couple nights in a row, sizing the pattern to fit S, M & L). Fortunately, the further I got from that sucky week, the more excited I was getting to see the pattern come out.
Well, it's here! And much to my surprise, the ladies sent me my very own Sock Club kit!
Now, I knew that the yarn was great, but now I know what all the fuss is about with these sock club kits. There are several pages of dyer's notes and foot notes (as in, factoids about feet), the pattern & yarn, and a little mini-skein of "emergency" yarn that you can attach to your keychain. I seriously may have to sign up for the next go-round of the sock club, even though I try not to do stuff like that due to lack of time.
The new yarn is a STR that is approx 80% merino and 20% tussah silk (the ball band adds up to 108%, so I'm not sure of the exact percentages of those two components). The silk dyes up differently than the merino, which gives in the barber-pole effect. Here's a close-up:
Isn't it lovely? I've been stalking the Sock Club blog to see what people are saying about the pattern, and it's been pretty positive so far apart from a couple of people who are unhappy about the "seam" on the back of the leg (which is there because the purse-stitch pattern wouldn't work in the round without it, but I happen to LOVE it - it was modeled after old-fashioned silk stockings, which probably shows up better in the knee-high version than the short version). But, you can't please all the people all the time, which is what I keep telling myself. I hope most people will find it a fun knit like I did. And now that I have my own skein of the yarn, I can knit it up into my own Grasshoppers along with everyone else! I have to say, the thought of the Yarn Harlot knitting one of my patterns makes me a little giddy. I hope she likes it!