August 24, 2011

The Harry Potter Saga Continues...

My favorite part of the sock--and the most fun to knit. It could be rolled
down if one wanted to put several rows of garter stitch before beginning the
I have slaved away at this new sock design for two weeks too long, now. It has become something I think, eat, sleep, and dream about.

It was not supposed to be as hard as I have made it, but that's how I seem to do everything, so maybe the process cannot be helped.  And hopefully the work is paying off.

I have a few preview pictures of the first completed sock, so any feedback will be helpful.

This toe-up pattern consists of a front and back matching pattern with a ribbed separation between the F/B pattern and the sides, which are zigzags.

The crowning piece of this sock is the top, meant to resemble a castle turret, not unlike one that may be found at Howwart's. It is knitted continously with the leg of the sock at the end.

There will be a few charts for this sock. Here is one rough draft:

If you can figure this out, go ahead and knit away. I won't chase you : ) The complete pattern will be out as soon as possible on Ravelry, along with a pdf for the Fountains of Portland pattern. (No, I haven't forgotten that one)

As for my "We're Still Wild About Harry" sock, here are a few pics of the roughly finished product.

Lightning Bolt motif runs down the front
and back of the sock

 Happiest of knitting to you all. Wish sometimes I could do it like Mrs. Weasley. On with the rest!

August 12, 2011

Graph Paper, Dungeons & Dragons and Harry Potter

I want to create a Harry Potter sock design. Oh, I'm sure lots of people have already done this, but I want to try it, too.

From the toe up, you can see
 how many rows it took me to
"perfect" the lightning, avant garde
though it may be.
 My four older children are huge fans and each one of them has a complete hardcover (and a softcover) set of the series. My son even made me (ok, I wanted to...) stand in a very long line at midnight outside Barnes & Noble when the last couple of books came out just so he would have a shorter break in his reading of the stories.

Like so many other families, we have seen all the movies, purchased all the incarnations of the home versions--gift boxes and otherwise--and watched them each several times. My oldest daughter recites them almost as well as she recites lines from The Princess Bride and all the Pirates movies.

My younger daughter, now 11, still dressed as Harry Potter last Halloween for the third year in a row (we borrowed her grandma's old 50's wig--not a replica--which makes a very nice Harry Potter hairstyle. Well, that is, maybe until this last use. Now it more resembles Jim Carry's "Lloyd" character in Dumb and Dumber with the extra short bangs. I wonder if my daughter got hold of the scissors? Hmmm...)

At any rate, I know we are not special. We are shamelessly riding the Harry Potter wave and me saying I want to design an HP sock is like saying I want to dress like Austin Powers for a costume party: it's been done, played, tapped out--the complete opposite of original.

But I don't care.

Grawk Med Weight by Blue Moon Fiber Arts
 The muses spoke to me upon a single viewing of Grawk Fledge and Grawk by Blue Moon Fiber Arts in Socks That Rock. They said, "Hey, you should design a sock in homage to a fad that is so huge, so Not-Indy, so commercial, that your friends might even puke when they see it."

Well, no one will probably puke. I mean, what knitter can puke honestly before Blue Moon or even any good smelling hand dyed wool? I really think that the worst that can happen comes down to a scenario like this:

Me: "Hey, check out my lightning bolt design!"
Friend: "Oh..." voice trails off.... "that doesn't really resemble a lightning bolt...but it's nice."

Or this one:

Me: "Hey, check out my new socks!"
Friend: "Oh, those are nice"
Translation: "It's too bad Janelle doesn't know what she's doing and no one will buy those. But I won't tell her and just let her keep pretending she's really designing stuff. At least she's more quiet and self-absorbed these days and interrupts me less when I try to talk to her."

What may occur doesn't matter to me. I'm doing it.

My most recent attempt at a lightning bolt
 I worked out two of what I thought were lightning bolt designs.  One had a knit between the eyelets while the other did not. I tried out the regular one first, and thought it was too flat.  The more substantial DK weight yarn needed more, well, substance.

I began the second one (yes, in the form of a sock. Stupid, I know, but I just HAD to see it!) and thought it was muddy. The photo on this page is about the 4th incarnation of the lightning and I am likely going back to the first one, and adding columns beside it with baby cables, then entwined snakes.

You know, Parseltongue and all that.

What I think is my final design for the sock
 I think this next time I've got what I want. Do I even know what I'm doing? No. Will I be able to wear these in 10 years? Sure. Right along with my Dungeons & Dragons tee.

August 6, 2011

Then There Was Friday: Sock Summit Lives On

Over the past week, there have been many laments--written, spoken...and I imagine somehow even gestured--about getting on with "normal" life. Everyone seems at least a little saddened to go back to their normal routines, with the excitement of Sock Summit behind us all, as nothing but a soon-to-be distant memory.

But is it?

I, along with so many others Summiteers, left the Summit having had a mountaintop experience. While it could be disappointing to come down to sea level, I decided to try to live through my first week back in real life in a happier state overall--to remember each day that I learned a lot and am richer for the experience, thus salving the sting of the loss.

This worked pretty well overall, but there was occasionally still a little longing calling from far away.

Then there was Friday. Friday wan't great just because it was Friday. There was something more on this day.

I am a hygienist in a really great practice here in Vancouver, Washington. We have great fun day to day and frankly, we have a lot of great patients, many of whom have become my friends. And many of whom have specifically become my "knitting friends."

The knitting thread (or yarn) has become so apparent in our office that we joke about it all the time. The dentist I work for teases that when knitting friends come in it's really hard for me to get their teeth cleaned because we are having such a great time in our comradery.

And it's true. We really have to watch ourselves, or the entire hour appointment sometimes can easily wane as we show and tell projects ( I have a knitting basket in my operatory) and share stories and ideas.

For this entire week, there have been no knitting friends on my schedule at work.

Then yesterday, a patient was placed on my schedule that I didn't immediately recognize. That is, not until she walked in and sat down. I looked down my chair at her feet and saw handmade knitted socks. I audibly gasped.

Some people recognize folks by their faces, and in my profession, we can recognize people by their smiles and teeth. I apparently now have crossed over into yet another arena--for the first time in my life I recognized someone by their knitting.

"My God! Are those knitted socks? With beads?!" My heart was racing. I knew who this was. I exclaimed her name in excitement and all the information I knew about her flooded to my mind. She was a Vancouver neighbor, she knitted all the time, was quite accomplished for her time knitting (not kidding--this girl can create art!), she meets with the Vancouver Mall Knitting group and knew of the same groups here in town that I know of.

And she was at Sock Summit.

Why did we not see each other? We should have talked about this before! When did our groups meets and what were our projects?

She had charts and a sock in progress in her bag with a cute pattern name: "I Love You, Mom" They were lovely heart shaped cables in grey and maroon wool. She said she intended to wear them with clogs. I oohed and ahhhed over them.

We talked on and on about patterns and knitting and the Sock Summit. It was like we were thrown right back to last weekend.

During that Friday afternoon hour, some sort of miracle happend--we cleaned her teeth, did all of our necessary things--paperwork and otherwise--and spent a fair amount of time in knitterly sisterhood. It was like time had slowed down.

Was this some sort of gift for us knitters who lamented the loss of the Summit in our small moment together? Did this happen for everyone somewhere in the world this week?

Whatever it was, it felt like magic. And I hope it happens for you.

August 1, 2011

The Last Day: Bittersweet Goodbye

The last day. Almost always a sad phrase, and saying good-bye to Sock Summit was certainly a bittersweet farewell. Even though people were getting tired, especially the instructors, designers and organizers (and understandibly so!) and attendees were slowly beginning to pack their yarn into their huge pieces of luggage purchased for the sole purpose of toting beautiful fibers back home, we all stuck it out for one last day.

And it was so worth it.

On this day, I spent a little time at the sock museum, which was amazing. There were pieces ranging from today--even as new as "Almondine," which is a new design from Anne Hanson and one we saw in her class--and extending all the way back to around the year 1500--with the exception of a replica of a Roman sandal sock, which I am sure may very well date all the way back to Christ.

The Sock Museum was very well done, in appearance and variety. There were huge, huge socks for display only and socks for no purpose except display and beauty. I would guess these were the sort of thing someone came up with while they were sitting around one day, surrounding by lovely Chilean yarns. The creator looked around and said to herself (or himself, as the time and place may be...), "hmmm...what strange and imaginary thing could this fiber become?" 

My favorites were the very old examples of baby booties, one enduring as a common style from today, while one I have never seen before.

All of the colors, textures and interesting historical information were worth a second--and third or fourth--look. I walked through the museum several times.

It truly was inspiring, as was another pass through the lovely marketplace where people were madly finishing up their shopping before heading home. After all, an event like this one presents a wonderful excuse for spending money. Where else would all of this lovely, high quality stuff be collected in one convenient location?

Before heading to my final class, I headed out to the north side of the building. It was still early and the crisp, sunny air felt good as I made my way to the north courtyard. It may have been my imagination, but I felt the energy of the flash mob lingering there. It was peaceful and energized at once, just what I needed for another class.

I sat on a shaded bench with my book, sketch pads, graph paper, calculator and oh, so many balls of yarn. As I pulled out my paper and pencil, I noticed other people enjoying the sunny morning out in the courtyard as well. People quietly smiled at one another as each new bench-sitter arrived, then went on with their knitting in the serene breeze.

I began working out the math for a design idea for a Harry Potter inspired sock and before I knew it, I was engrossed. Using my hank of Socks That Rock in a dark purple and black colorway (a nearly solid Blue Moon Raven colorway that, to me, whispers : Harry Potter) I worked out some lightning designs and then began working on some sizing before I realized that I had to go.

My class was going to start in about 20 minutes.  It was a class on designing with variegated yarn-- preventing pooling, using stitch designs and sock architecture to their best advantage, etc.--and it was given by my favorite designer, Chrissy Gardiner.

Chrissy's CSK Indie Socks website at
Contains info on her latest project, to be released around
September, 2011
 She was the person who showed me how to do toe-up socks when I hardly knew how to even knit a sock about a year and a half ago. She spoke to me in such a logical and clear way, I was turned on to socks forever. She is modest and brilliant and I couldn't wait to see her.

It wasn't until I sat down in class and began pulling out my sock examples that I realized what an embarrassing Chrissy groupie I was. I had several socks in variegated or self striping yarn in my bag, all right. And they were all her designs. When she wanted to display a particular ribbing pattern from her toe up sock book but had no example, well, I had more than one. I laughed, then dismissed my embarrassment--if I like her, I like her. It's not like I'm a stalker. Yet.

I sat next to a wonderfully enthusiastic girl from Canada, Lindsay, who was hilarious. She ran out of class before the marketplace closed just to quickly buy a Japanese stitch dictionary she had been wanting. When she returned, we opened it and laughed out loud. Some of the stitches were crazy zig zags like the mouth on Domo.

We dubbed these stitches, "Monster Teeth."  We laughed all the way through class, and now I've made a new Ravelry friend.

That was really a theme this weekend: sisterhood in knitting. (Guys, you can be included) Solidarity and energy was to be found around every corner.

As I left my last class, I took another walk to the north side of the building. I spent another hour knitting and looking at my own design ideas, enjoying the gentle summer afternoon. After a time, I realized that I really needed to get home to my family.

I bid goodbye to the magical breezes that lilted and swayed the trees hovering over the park benches and slowly wandered back to the Convention Center. I took a last photo of the lighted sign outside that said "Sock Summit, July 28-31," and entered the building once more. I passed many people rolling out their huge bags. The marketplace was now silent.

I stopped and considered some of the sculpted pieces inside the building. I had seen them so many times in the past at various events. I had always admired them, but today I wanted a photo of them. A record of the moment I saw something new in them: design possibilities.

I walked on past the darkened Starbucks and into the parking garage. There was a group of four people standing outside a minivan.

From what I could see through an open sliding door, the van contained two spinning wheels that took up the center seat, and the rest of the vehicle was almost completely filled with bags of lovely yarns that were peeking out due to straining drawstrings. On the ground nearby, there were several similar bags.

The group looked haggard--eight collectively slumping shoulders--and each one fixed their gaze on the open minivan door. They were all strangely silent. I could see they were attempting to solve an insolvable puzzle:  Four adults, already overflowing cargo, and two apparent seats remaining in the minivan.

As I passed them, they didn't notice me. It seemed that they were underwater in a way, sort of in a dreamlike state.

I went on to my lonely car still thinking of this little group, one of the last in the garage, and I thought: isn't that the way? This has been like a dream. But then all good dreams must come to an end, an awakening.

And hadn't both those things happened for me? A dream and an awakening?

If Sock Summit holds this sort of power for people, imagine what can be acheived next time around.

Hello, 2013. We wait for you. Anxiously.