Socking it to Sochi

Even to someone who lives in a self-imposed news blackout it hasn’t escaped notice that serious concerns have been raised about the wisdom of holding the 2014 winter olympic in a town in Russia, and no wonder, with Russia’s record on LBGT rights as appalling as it is.

I wasn’t thinking about this, or indeed anything much beyond the beauty of her hand-dyed knitting yarns when I landed on the Old Maiden Aunt Yarns (OMA) site this morning. Where, I wondered, had all these yarns been all my life? Why, I asked myself, had I never taken note of them before?

Not only are the yarns just awesome (and the website is very impressive too, to this newbie) but the lovely personality of the dyer-in-chief, Lilith, comes across clearly in her blog. It was there that I read her post to russia, with love which deals with her dilemma over participating in Olympic knitting-related activities (the “Ravellenic Games”) on the knitting site Ravelry. She says:

as a member of the LGBT community, i’ve experienced discrimination and hatred firsthand, and try my best to actively work for equality. and as a queer business owner, i feel like my business & associated activities should also reflect my personal and political beliefs. i thought long & hard about even bringing this up, as i definitely don’t want to discourage anyone from participating in the Ravellenics, or ruin the experience for you. it’s always so much fun, and i’m really happy that my customers want to participate and compete for Team OMA!! but i also felt that by not saying anything, i was rather letting myself down.

so, here’s what i’d like to propose for Team OMA – for every team member who successfully completes their Team OMA Ravellenic Games project, i’ll personally donate a minimum of £5 to Stonewall UK, an organisation who works towards LGBT equality both within the UK and internationally. i may end up being able to donate even more per person, depending on how many/few of you complete your projects!!

i’ve also created “nothing to hide” (kermit the frog fans should recognise the reference!), a rainbow-hued sock yarn that i’ll be dyeing from now until the official start of the Games in february.

What a superb way of tackling the dilemma. A skein of the wool, nothing to hide, is winging its way here already (I hope).

Whether I get into the whole “knit a complete object during the course of the Olympics” again remains to be seen. In 2012 I joined in for the first time and made a cardigan which I enjoyed very much and wear frequently. It also, tangentially, meant I saw the opening ceremony which I would otherwise have deliberately missed and found it to be rather inspiring.

The uncertainty hasn’t stopped me from looking at possible patterns, though. I’m inclining towards the aptly named Victor (from the recent book Op-Art Socks by Stephanie Van Der Linden) with the spirals (which, with a stretch of the imagination might resemble the Olympic rings) in a deep shiny black.

What is certain is this won’t be my last acquisition of Old Maiden Aunt Yarn.

Advertisements

Sock-knitting OMG

Remember Kaffe Fassett’s fabulous Design Line colourways for Regia sock yarn? Six different colour combinations which knit up either in stripes (“landscape”) or marl (“mirage”)?

I’m making a pair of socks for my father in mirage earth:

p's sock 1

Beth‘s been using landscape twilight for her jaywalkers.

Well, seems Regia have just released a new set of yarns by Kaffe Fassett – Design Line Exotic Colors.

exotic socks

Six new palettes, and just look at how they knit up.

exotic!

“Self-striping” seems an inadequate term for that patterning.

I wonder whether the box shown on this site is for shop display purposes or a kit for purchase containing two balls of each colourway. Unfortunately I don’t speak a word of German so can’t understand the text on the page, but the latter wouldn’t surprise me at all given the popularity of the first edition and the fact that it is being sold in complete sets (although not in wooden boxes – and no cheaper per ball than buying them individually).

Also I’ve just discovered that it’s possible to buy transparent wellington boots in order to ensure that the beauty of your hand-knitted socks is not obscured even in wet weather. OMG.


Sockage

The sock family.

My father looks as though he has elephantiasis because his sock was retrieved from the laundry basket and he insisted on putting it on over the thick one he was already wearing.

FirstSpawn’s sock has a huge hole under the heel (not visible in this picture) because he’s been wearing it almost constantly since he got it, half the time sliding around on wooden floors without shoes on. He has ordered me to darn it. I have ordered him to take more care of it.

The next sockage will be long ones for my father probably based on this golf hose pattern which dates from when he was two years old.

It is, in our collective experience, quite true that hand-knitted socks are warmer and more comfortable than shop bought.


Matching

j's socks

So clever this modern wool. One ball per sock, bog-standard basic pattern but funkadelic wool makes it look like fairisle and they even appear like a properly matching pair. Being DK weight (ie thicker than that of the other two pairs) they’re knitting up like shit off a shovel. These are birthday-Christmas-thankyou hiking socks for J, our new-year hostess.

Third pair of socks in less than a month. Where have they been all my life? Still, better late than never. The structure of them is so pleasing. Everything divisible by four. And no seams to sew up at the end, all marvellously 3D and sculptural by virtue of the nest of needles.

Next project has to be bed socks in the cashmere yarn I got in the summer sales. It’s a rather nasty colour, but it’s the warmth that’s the point. For ME. Because my feet get horribly cold in bed in the winter, and if I don’t make them soon winter will be over.


Miscellany

The other night I dreamt that the second and third toes of my right foot fused together into one toe. The same was happening to the corresponding toes on my left foot but I managed, painlessly I think, to peel them apart before they fused as seamlessly and irrevocably as the others had done.

Also in the same phantasmagorical interlude Maizy had open heart surgery and I disturbed her as she was coming round from the anaesthetic, her entire body a mass of huge stitches, she was in pain and I was told to leave because it was my fault. It was also revealed that a dear friend from university was best friend to a former colleague whom I disliked intensely; from this latter I learnt, in the dream, much about my own lack of humility, overabundance of judgementalness and the importance of right livelihood.

The foot thing is highly likely to be related to the current sock-knitting and the acquisition of a pattern for a knitted tabi, the Japanese foot-covering with a separate big toe designed to be worn with thonged shoes and traditionally sewn from cloth. Could the multi-pierced Maizy be traced back in some way to the weekend’s re-encounter with the nightmares in stitches of Louise Bourgeoise?

Or perhaps the whole technicolour experience was due to the consumption of an entire family-sized packet of jelly babies shortly before going to bed. They, after all, have fused toes and are no doubt full of enough noxious chemicals in sufficient quantities to disturb the brain chemistry of even the unsusceptible let alone the susceptible to such imbalances.

It is only recently that I have been able to look a jelly baby in the face, much less insert one into my own. As a very small child (probably between the ages of three and six) my father used to drive my brother and I for what seemed like several days across the country to pay dutiful visits to his aunt. My mother, needless to say, refused to go. I hated it. Hours of excruciating boredom on the way there, hours of excruciating boredom once we arrived (apart from the very few minutes of entertainment provided by Billy the budgie who didn’t talk and bit).

Worst of all was the appalling sickness on the way home. I was always sick. I was always sick for the same reason. Because my thoughtless and horrible great aunt always, without fail, gave me a humungous box of jelly babies and I always, without fail, ate them all in the car on the way home. And it was clearly her fault. It was also her fault that my brother didn’t open his box for days, ate them in small but regular quantities and taunted me with his sweetfulness and my lack thereof for weeks afterwards, which made me very sour indeed towards both of them.

Thinking about this childish shift of responsibility and how prevalent it is in various forms in people of all ages as well as organisations, governments and entire cultures led me to the wikipedia article on locus of control personality orientations which has made interesting reading.

Internals tend to attribute outcomes of events to their own control. Externals attribute outcomes of events to external circumstances. For example, college students with a strong internal locus of control may believe that their grades were achieved through their own abilities and efforts, whereas those with a strong external locus of control may believe that their grades are the result of good or bad luck, or to a professor who designs bad tests or grades capriciously; hence, they are less likely to expect that their own efforts will result in success and are therefore less likely to work hard for high grades… Due to their locating control outside themselves, externals tend to feel they have less control over their fate. People with an external locus of control tend to be more stressed and prone to clinical depression.

Indeed. It’s something else I feel shifting.

So what else? I’ve been doing a great deal of knitting at home, on the bus, in cafés, round at friends’, whilst listening to an unabridged reading of Emma etc. I’ve added a widgety bit of javascript to the sidebar showing recent projects and their progress. Down on the right, below the twittering. A piece of gorgeous goodness from Casey the code monkey at Ravelry.

My father seemed highly gratified with his birthday socks; I started a pair for myself, one of which posed with some art at the weekend; started and finished a very pleasing beret and finally, finally, just a few minutes ago, sewed in the last end of the Austenesque. I’m thinking of modelling it and asking Neha to take a celebratory picture of it when we meet up what is now later today. But I think I need to get hold of a corset first, somehow.

So in the absence of a picture of the charming garment here is a picture of my charming creatures being aaawsome. Taken by the charming and aaawsome Alistair. On his iPhone. Jealous? moi? overcome with uncontrollable capitalistic acquisitive gadget lust? No, no. Of course not.

my creatures are aaaaawsome

This is also, incidentally, a wonderful example of how not, according to all the best advice, to write a blog post. But what do I care? I am half-woman, half-vegetable. Curly kale to be precise. And I’m very happy this way.