Competition Pushes us Forward

Not just in business and innovation, but also in…you guessed it! KNITTING. Since July 15th, I’ve been participating in a community knit-along competition/fundraiser called Tour-de-Sock. Styled after the Tour de France, this competition sets teams of knitters in a speed sock-knitting race. There are six stages that are nine days each, and for each stage, you and the other racers knit one pair of socks. All entry fees for the race go to Doctors without Borders, and the group has raised $32k since it started a few years ago!

The first pair of socks didn’t go so well for me — I finished in the 366th spot (out of approx. 1700 knitters), and my socks ended up not fitting. This is most likely my fault — I decided to make these for my husband, so they are super long, and I even added extra room for the heel, but I ended up making the leg too tight in an effort to have a smaller number of stitches on the needle (so I could finish faster). So for the second sock, I made the smallest allowable measurements. So I’ve got one long and one short sock. *facepalm*

Anyway…for the next stage, which starts today, I’m hoping that the socks are knit top-down. Then I could throw a lifeline in just before the toe, and I could go back later and make them as long as I want.

I’m still waffling on color choices, but as I’ve learned from quilt making, it really doesn’t matter, since things end up looking pretty good in the end. Hopefully these turn out better than the last pair and I will actually feel confident enough to share a photo. I’m thinking I’ll use the Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in Astrid Gray as the main color, and either Esoteric (the dark teal) and Hosta Blue (the light teal) with a splash of Pop Rocks (the pink) or the Astrid Gray with Ink (the dark blue) and Liquid Gold. I’ll go with the first option if it is a more feminine pattern and the second option if it’s a more masculine pattern.

In other news, I am diligently working on Joel’s Forest Moon of Endor socks. I showed him pictures of a bunch of different patterns, but for that pair, I included the name of the pattern. And of course he chose that one for me to make! I’m using Western Sky Knits Magnolia Sock (an incredibly soft 80% merino, 10% nylon, 10% cashmere blend) in the colorway “Creeper.” (This is a Minecraft reference for those of you who don’t know.) I’ve used this yarn before and have even accidentally run the socks through the washing machine, and it has held up wonderfully and is soooooo soft! I’ve got one sock finished and have finished the leg on the second one. This is a super easy pattern, so it’s perfect for when I’m stuck in traffic and stopped at red lights.

I’m also starting a knit-along with my BFF (for 20+ years so far!), who is making her first pair of socks! We are making Please and Thank You Socks. I love the simple elegance of these socks, and I envision making several pairs of these! The pattern also comes with instructions for making them starting at the cuff AND for starting at the toe. My friend is using Nerd Girl Yarns Bounce & Stomp in the Blue Box Exploding colorway, and I am using Madelinetosh Twist Light in Tern. I am stepping out of my comfort zone with these and trying to knit using 9″ circulars. We’ll see how it goes! So far, so good. I’ll definitely have to get my hands used to working on such small needles.

Also, my daughter is almost walking. She has an elephant toy that she walks behind as she pushes it around the house. Knitting time has definitely decreased now that she is mobile. I can knit about three stitches before she gets to the fireplace and tries to open the glass panels (after she crawls over to it, turns around to look at me, shakes her head “no” with a big grin, then turns back to the fireplace). SHE IS SO FAST. And AMAZING. I marvel every day at how awesome she is. Also, she likes to help me knit. 😀

Dreaming in Neon

wp-1485208177913.jpgwp-1485208146587.jpgBright, happy colors have always been my favorites. In particular, I love, love, love neon colors. They seemed to make a comeback in Fall 2012. I remember the day because I went to visit my friend to help her choose bridesmaid dresses, and when we were at the mall, I found this delightfully bright neon yellow sweatshirt and a neon pink purse to go with my neon blue and yellow shoes. I made such good use of them too. Eventually the yellow sweatshirt lost its color and my neon pink purse was retired in favor of a more sensible black purse. Still, I loved them so much.

wp-1485208273398.jpgThe next Spring (2013), madelinetosh, my favorite yarn dyer, introduced their line of neon yarns. Fluoro Rose, Push Pop, Edison Bulb, Neon Lime, and Ultraviolet. Also a variegated one called Neon Crush. I loved them. I bought them all on a base called Feather, which is a single-ply merino wool, alpaca, and nylon blend. My plan was to make hundreds of little “hexipuffs” (hexagon-shaped and stuffed) and sew them together to make a Beekeeper’s Quilt. So far, I’ve made around 35 puffs. I need to get to work on them…eventually. They have since added more neon-like colors, and I am just in love with all of them and have quite a few stashed away.

One way to keep on top of a project is to join a knit-along (KAL), where several other knitters work on the same project. This year, Eat.Sleep.Knit is hosting a KAL for an afghan called Persian Dreams. The afghan is made up of hexagon-shaped tiles, which each have a colorwork design. I’ve done very little color work (the hat I mentioned in my last post and a pair of socks that I never finished) in my knitting life, but I could just *see* the afghan in neon colors.

I had a few skeins of different neon colors on madelinetosh Twist Light (80% superwash merino, 20% nylon fingering weight yarn), so I just needed a couple of complementary colors and a background color. After some input from the lovely Eat.Sleep.Knitters, I decided on a dark gray for the background.

The idea for the KAL is to knit two hexagons each month, then by the end of the year we will have a completed blanket. I got a bit of a late start this month since I was finishing up my husband’s socks, but I did manage to get the first one done, and I’ve already started the second! Each round is new and interesting, and I just want to knit the next one to see how it goes or get to the next color! It’s so nice to have the encouragement and answers to questions from the group of knitters participating in the KAL.wp-1485208360420.jpg

It’s definitely going to take the whole year, so check back to see my progress on this afghan! I am lovingly calling it Dreaming in Neon!

Technicolor Mom: Living Life Without a Pattern – 2016

The year two thousand sixteen brought a myriad of new experiences to myself and my husband (Technicool Dad). From learning we would become parents to growing out of our mid-rise apartment in Midtown and purchasing a home to getting to play a new World of Warcraft Expansion and to meeting our new daughter, 2016 brought so many happy changes to our lives that we felt like we were in a whirlwind some of the time. During the course of 2016, the world changed around us as we ourselves changed and grew, and we made it through the whole time without a pattern or an instruction manual.

Our little girl is nearly four months old now, and we are so thankful to have been blessed with her. Every day we see her making new connections, learning new things, and growing and growing. This morning I introduced one of her Christmas gifts, a toy snail that plays music and lights up whenever it is moved. Within five minutes, she was hitting it to make it light up and sing. Over the course of the last several weeks, I watched her find her hands and gain some hand-eye coordination, and now she is beginning to discover her feet. She has even learned that if she cries in a certain way, mommy will pick her up just because she wants to be held. Every moment of her life has been an amazing miracle to me.

When I was preparing for maternity leave, I hoped to knit a ton and play a bit of Legion while my baby slept. (New moms, am I right?) As it turns out, there was time for none of that, and that’s even with two and sometimes three pairs of hands. It’s ok, of course — as I have settled into mommyhood, I have learned to knit while feeding the baby or while holding her as she sleeps or while sitting with her at her playmat, and phone games have taken the place of PC gaming for now.

In the new year, two thousand seventeen, I hope to continue my knitting, enjoying my family, playing games with my husband and daughter, and writing my own pattern to life. Join me this year as I learn, grow, write, and knit!