After the Fall Men’s Knitting Retreat back in September, I staggered home under the weight of one of the most voluptuous goodie bags ever to be seen outside of an Academy Awards gifting suite. Somewhere in the middle, between a handsome book by Brandon Mably and a typically gorgeous skein hand-dyed by the inimitable Rabbitch was a small bundle wrapped in tissue paper.
Inside was a quantity of this:
It’s a blend of merino, silk...and possum. Yes, possum. I couldn’t quite believe it, either. In fact, I recoiled, as this
is not an image that makes me feel all kinds of cuddly.
The yarn–which is called Supreme Possum Merino–comes from New Zealand and was a gift to the retreat from the guy who replaced Kiri Te Kanawa as my favorite Kiwi. (Sorry, Kiri.) James is the proprietor of the Joy of Yarn Sock Wool Boutique in Greytown, New Zealand, and no slouch when it comes to picking out great fibers.
But as my dear grandmother once said to me regarding pickled beets, and as I once said to a Marine Corps lieutenant regarding nevermind, how can you know you don’t like it until you try it?
A short swatch later, I was typing a frantic e-mail to James asking about the immediate availability of more, more, more. This stuff, dear kiddies, is like a kiss on the forehead. Buttersoft, cloudlight, gently haloed. Not quite cashmere, not quite qiviut, but also not quite the same cost per ball as a spa vacation. You have got to try it. (And yes, James sells online.)
I got a second color, an ineffable mauve through which the natural shade of the possum still glimmers. And I decided that the original fuchsia and the mauve would, together, make a fantastic pair of striped socks.
Then I got to thinking, which never bodes well for me.
I started thinking about how boring I was about socks when I first started knitting. I wanted them in blue or brown, I wanted them without patterns, and I wanted them to match.
Gradually, the hoodoo of sock knitting jangled my brain, and I started to imagine what fun it would be to make colorful socks, so I made a pair in lime green. Then I thought a pair of colorful, mismatched socks would be just the ticket, so I knit a pair from a self-striping ball.
And the suckers matched perfectly.
I tried it again. Different self-striping yarn, different pattern, advised by an expert to start the second pair in a different part of the color repeat.
And again, the socks matched perfectly, except for the heels. Heels don’t count.
Here, with two yarns, I could at last control the color changes with an iron fist and force the socks to mismatch. In fact, why not make them mirror images of each other? And call them–Lewis Carroll dork that I am–Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum?
And in what book do the frères Tweedle appear? Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There.
And what is the central motif of Through the Looking Glass? A chess game.
And how many colors in a chess board? Two!
And how many colors of yarn had I to work with? Two!!
Chess board socks!!!! With the colors reversed!!!!!
If you are not quite so confirmed a dingbat as I, you have already spotted the flaw in this vision. If you are, pray allow me to offer this demonstration.
I'm striping them. It's only been two months, and I'm almost three inches past the cuff on sock number one. Hooray for me.
I recently had the great pleasure of talking with Lara over at Crafty Living and the Math4Knitters Podcast, and the episode (number five) is now up if you’d care to have a listen. I promise she’s not nearly so frightening as you would expect someone to be who has put the word “Math” in the name of her Podcast.
In the Shop
Newly in stock: gift enclosure cards and signed prints. New designs are in the pipeline, too. Many thanks for all the positive feedback!
Knittin' to the Oldies
I've just had a curious snowdrift of messages asking whether I'm finished posting about that little stack of vintage patterns that came my way. Heavens, no. But after the parade of toilet dollies I thought we might all need a wee breather, and perhaps a drink.