Still Life from Quimper

Still Life from Quimper
A shot of an almost-completed still life needlepoint

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So very happy you came to visit. Now, pull up a chair, pour a glass of your favorite beverage, and read on about adventures in needlework.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Starting with Socks

So when I arrive at the Mountain, check in, unpack my one meager bag full of all my winter sweaters, and prepare my many, many project bags for the weekend, I always start knitting on a sock.

Why a sock?

Well, for one thing, they're small. They knit up quickly. After the cast on and joining rounds, there's a lot of "mindless knitting" followed by "thinking knitting" followed by more "mindless knitting" followed by "thinking knitting." Then you finish with scrambling to find directions for the Kitchener stitch, and before you know it, you're done with your sock.

I started knitting a sock as my first project at the Mountain several years ago, when I was learning Intarsia in the round for a sock (from the "Socks for Sandals and Clogs" book) and I wanted the peace and serenity of the Mountain to be present while I started on this seemingly impossible adventure.

It wasn't impossible - it was fun, very very fun. Basically what you do is you knit with the background yarn to the pattern, slip the pattern stitches, knit the ground stitches, and then turn the whole thing around, purling across the pattern stitches while slipping the ground stitches. It can be done with small patterns (about 5 stitches, ground stitch or two, and 5 more stitches) but not with 12 stitch beer hat patterns. Those have to be knit flat, then sew up the seam in the back.

But I digress.

So with the wonderful lightbulbs going off above my head as I sat on the porch outside with other knitters around me to ooooh and aaaah at this cool new technique, I found that I was all jazzed from my new learning experience AND sufficiently calmed down from the exciting drive up to the Mountain to begin to knit on something a little more complicated that night after dinner.

And I do mean exciting - I drive a Neon, and there's a reason for it: it is the best handling car, most fleet and easily manuever-able car I've ever driven since I inherited my Dad's Camero in the 80's. There are twisty windy mountain roads all the way up to the Mountain, and yes, I do drive them as fast as my car can handle them. There is nothing like the feel of a great car hugging the road while it is put through its paces and it, too, revels in the feel of doing what it was designed to do.

But I digress. Again.

Anyway, the next year, I brought some socks to knit on, just regular sock knitting ("mindless knitting") in the round to slow down from the drive and mesh with the energy of the Mountain that year. I used yarn I had bought in Dahlonega while touring that yarn shop with some friends, just some simple yarn, and found that this sort of settling in to be just the thing. I could concentrate better, have more mental energy later that evening, and have something to just knit on in between thinking projects.

This year, I continued the tradition with some yarn I bought in Asheville. Asheville is truly a wonderful city for the arts and many people had told me while I was a shopowner (can you say "jealous about weekend getaways??") about Earth Guild as a wonderful shop to visit. While I was on one of my many weekend getaways post-shopowner life, I helped friends with building their Tiny House and stopped for a few hours in Asheville on the way to their Mountain. All of the customers who raved about Earth Guild - they weren't kidding - no matter what sort of handcraft you like, whether it be spinning or basketweaving or knitting, they have the tools and the expertise to help you with your project and get you started on your next. So much creative inspiration, and I'm so glad I was able to spend some time there at long last, visiting a legend.

To help bring my purchase up to the correct dollar amount to qualify for a 20% discount for my entire purchase, I bought some Trekking yarn for a sock. Liked the color, wasn't sure how the patterning would happen, but I needed a sock for, well, for take along knitting. I started it in time for DragonCon last year (now that the costumers are coming full circle with kimonos and steam punk, there is a room set aside for doing one's fiber arts every morning as costume add-ins or just to sit and knit or tat with friends), then brought its companion to the Mountain to revel in the energy there:

It's got very pretty shades of blues with lots of dark purples for contrast. I've worn it once to work - I buy sandles these days especially so that I can wear my socks with them. I'm discovering, though, that I need to knit socks with gussets in the front to compensate for the difference in size between my ankles and my calves. I do like the length and the marbling of the color.

Here's the companion (not quite completed) with the yarn info. I think you can get a better look at the quality of the coloring with this shot.

The needles are, yes, aluminum, but they are my grandmother's. While I've given away her other aluminum knitting needles to a good cause, I've knit most of my socks with these.

And that, dear readers, is why I knit socks at the Mountain. I'm concentrating pretty hard on very complicated projects and on wonderful conversations, and sock knitting brings just enough *brain sigh* energy to the weekend that I can relax while I'm there.