March 31, 2012

Speaking of Adventures in Sock Design....

The top of "Beadboard Beach Socks"
I was on Ravelry the other day, as I often am, and was snooping around the forums. (I say "snooping" because I was not adding comments, just reading. Maybe it is more like "lurking," but hopefully without the creepy factor.)

In one of the forums, I noticed what seemed to be an off-hand comment within a side conversation about a Martha Stewart contest. This piqued my interest as I used to get her magazine for years and, not withstanding her legal and incarceration troubles, I do enjoy the style of the image they project with their brand. Heck, I myself have definitely made my personal share of her recipes and paper crafts.

I thought about my Martha Stewart crafts from the past as I gazed for a moment at the forum comment, then  I suddenly remembered that I had seen the new Martha Stewart yarn line at Fred Meyer recently, a local "everything" store here in the Northwest. I read on.

There apparently was a contest for the best project made from the new Martha Stewart line of crafty yarns.

I went to the website for the contest and I thought, why not? I have just as much of a chance as anyone else, haven't I? As long as it doesn't take me 6 months to complete something, I might be okay for a contest deadline .... Considering the approximate $2,000 value of first prize, it seemed worth it. I looked up the deadline.

The legal page, or "contest rules" page, for the contest is very long. It's one of those writings that contain very few paragraphs and lots of nearly run-on sentences. It had too many words. In any other type of writing it would be considered grammatically incorrect. In short, it is confusing. I thought I saw a date of April 25, assumed it was the contest deadline, and skipped over the rest. Excited with anticipation, I went hunting for yarn.

Crazy swatch before I got new yarn
in a wool/cotton wosrted weight. MS
offers nothing smaller than worsted.
I started my hunt on the website that had all the new M.S. yarns from Lion Brand. There were a few unusual yarns: one called "Mambo," which I thought looked more like dred locks than yarn, and a "fun" yarn called "Glitter Eyelash." These were not for me. For a moment I wondered if they fit the traditional understated sophistication that the Martha Stewart brand represented, even in color they felt "off," the styles and colors are really pretty wild. The rest of the yarns were more like what I had expected to find: an alpaca mix, a roving wool, a soft wool blend and a merino wool, and all in muted, soft, classic tones.

After poking around the yarns and the "rules" page on the Lion Brand site, I headed to the Martha Stewart website. There were lots of patterns and info there. I searched for ideas. There weren't many sock patterns, so....

I looked at the merino wool. It was the best of what was offered for sock knitting. I quickly sketched up a pattern that I thought might work--I thought it would be fun to try the first thing that popped into my head--after all, what could I lose? I spent a couple of evenings swatching some ideas.

Tried a smaller yarn, just to see the pattern.
 Didn't like the twisted rib on this--looks like
a baby bootie, which is cute, but not for a grown up.
The two colors weren't working for me, either.
I also tried slate on cream, but 1991 called and wanted its colors
back, so that swatch is not pictured. 
Once I thought I had something that would work, I made a few phone calls before heading out to the craft stores.

LYS's would probably not carry this yarn, as I thought it had a "LYS yarn in your big box store" sort of feel to all the marketing, so I did not call any of them. (If any of you are carrying this yarn, my apologies.) Lots of the places I did call--Michaels, Craft Warehouse, etc.--had the yarn, but the folks I spoke to seemed unsure about the merino wool variety. I got a lot of, "Well, I see a lot of wool back there, but I am not sure what kind it is ...."

Pair number one. Very cozy! Made them 14 inches
long to the heel, so they come all the way up to the
So, I headed out to check it out. Already-long story short, no one here in the Portland market had the merino wool. Everyone had the blends and the roving, but that's it. I picked up Debbie Stoller's single ply peruvian wool for about $5 a skein to practice a design and headed back home to my computer to order some yarn online.

As I clicked the "complete order" button at had the best online price at $5.41/skein, plus shipping--I thought I had better recheck the deadline for the contest. After all, I had hastily jumped in to it all. I went back to the confusing legal document, trying to untangle the spaghetti-like writing. The date I had seen earlier, the April 25th date, was the day they would announce the winner! The deadline for submission was April 12. I had been wrong. Worse, I lost about 13 days of knitting. Worst of all, I had designed a pair of knee highs. Even if I finished the sample pattern in the Debbie Stoller wool, I would have to start all over again in the correct yarn for the contest.

I like the decreases on the twisted knit
stitches, but I think I will add
cables on every other rib on the
final version--the decreases on
the ribs almost look like mistakes.
After I swallowed my heart out of my throat and back into my chest, I thought for a second. This current day of reckoning was March 24th. Even if I got the yarn on April 1st (impossible since that was a Sunday, which also meant another weekend was lost for knitting....) I had 11 days to work on the final product. Of course, I would have to recheck the gauge and make a swatch with the new yarn, too, so I calculated the risk-benefit including that information.

I decided to just go for it. It's an adventure and, even if I don't win, I will have a new pattern, two pairs of cozy socks ( I already love the first pair) and only at the cost of a lot of sleep and probably no dinners for my family for about two weeks.

Last look at the post office site showed that my yarn will be here Monday, April.

Taking a deep breath, and here I go! Good luck to any of you doing this, too!

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