07 June 2010

Monkeying around

Some time in April, I saw a post on Ravelry asking if anybody would be willing to make socks in exchange for sock yarn.

Anyone who knows me in the real world knows that the last thing I have time to do is make socks. Plus, I have several things on my needles for other people. One of them has lingered there for two years.

So, of course, "I can do that," I thought.

Funnily enough it was a kind of "aha" moment. I still think of myself as a beginning knitter, a newcomer to the hobby. Not as someone who can knock off a pair of socks in a couple of weeks. But this, I knew I could do. And I was invigorated by the prospect of knitting for a knitter, for someone who would really get it.

The clincher was that she and I have the same size feet (as in, large). It's so much easier to knit socks when you can try them on. (One of my projects that's languishing on the needles is a pair of socks I started for a friend; after I finished one foot, I discovered that the sock fit me, and would therefore be far too big for my friend. I will probably just start over.)

The person requesting this is a talented dyer who wanted a pair of socks knit with her own yarn to wear to a fiber show, and didn't have time to knit them up herself.

The result: I got to knit a pair of Monkey socks with some really lovely hand-dyed yarn in a wonderful spring-like palette, with every stitch a little fleck of a different color.

Green Monkey

I finished one sock and then learned I had to find a new place to live. In a month. Which I did. But it meant the second sock was right down to the wire. I finished it on a plane flight, and express-mailed it to make sure it would get there in time.

Green Monkeys

In the haste of finishing, I overlooked one small detail. I miscounted the number of pattern repeats on the second sock. I knit an extra one. When I realized this I almost cried. It was too late to rip it out and fix it. Knitter's dilemma: do you tell the recipient or not? I decided not to. Somehow I felt it would tarnish the socks for her if she knew they were different sizes. And after all, knitting stretches; both socks fit me perfectly well. I have opted to let her know this way: Angela, if you ever see this blog, my apologies for the mistake, and the deception. I promise if I ever knit you socks again, they will be perfect. But think of this as the endearing detail that lets you remember they're hand-knit.

It would behoove me to post pictures of the gorgeous yarn I got in return for doing this project. Unfortunately, it's in a packing box, along with the rest of my life, on its way to my new home.

But I did get a picture of the new sock with a Monkey sock I made about three years ago out of Koigu PPM. The pair has held up really well, and given me a real appreciation for this pattern. (The new socks were knit with size 1 needles - 7 pattern repeats for the leg and foot, where the old ones, on size 2 needles, took 6. But both fit equally well.)

Monkey Meeting

22 January 2010


I cast on for Bitterroot on a Wednesday night, although (because?) I had other things on the needles I needed to finish.

On Thursday I learned that the son of close friends was killed in the earthquake in Haiti.


Funny I never finished this post, which has been lingering in my "edit" box for months, perhaps because it touched on weightier subjects than I really felt like going into.

It was clear to me, though, that the shawl was meant to go to my friends as a remembrance of the child they lost, or simply as a hug. It seemed all the more predestined when I took another look at the epigraph that opens the pattern, which is about a grieving mother.

Bitterroot, unblocked

Knitting it was certainly a way to work through my emotions about it. And the yarn reminded me of the person who died: bright and vivid and unusual, knitting up like a flame.


What struck me particularly was the way that the uneven, handspun yarn knit up into a fabric that was much stronger than the sum of its parts: all the thick and thin bits evened out into a shawl that was strong and bright. Something there about the way that memory glosses over life's unevennesses until we're left with something much firmer than it seemed at the time, and the ups and downs that once seemed so important (my yarn is breaking!) don't really matter. A parable of human relationships.

BItterroot, complete

This shawl was a big part of my winter, and then was finished, and transformed from its chrysalis-like unblocked state into a wide-winged butterfly, and sent off to my friends, who said (perhaps tactfully) that it did bring comfort.

Edited to add: I see that this post went up with the date I originally started it: January 22. Today is June 3. That's indicative of the speed of my knitting life these days.