Sock Madness 8, Round 3

Round 3 was pretty interesting this year.  First off, there were the specs, which had everybody talking way back in February before we even knew in which round they were going to be used.

  • Yarn: Knitting Goddess merino/nylon 2 x 50g, Knitting Goddess mini-skein set in Rainbow 7x10g (C1-C7)
  • Needles: US1/2.25mm circular needles or dpns, US2/2.75mm circular needles
  • Gauge: 9 sts per inch in stockinette with smaller needles, 9.5 sts per inch in linen stitch with larger needles
  • Notions: eight 3/10-in (8mm) flat buttons, 2 matches

Eight colors for one sock?  And what on earth are those matches for???

Well, the colors turned out to be for things like this:

20140418 SM8 Round 3 cuff

And this (see how the colors make little dots on the heel?):20140418 SM8 Round 3 heel

And this (look at all those ends!!):20140418 SM8 Round 3 WIP

As for the matches, they weren’t actually part of the socks. They were just placeholders used to keep the buttons from getting sewn on too tight:

20140418 SM8 Round 3 matchesAfter watching 3 episodes of Vikings, 18 episodes of classic Doctor Who, 7 of episodes Game of Thrones, 3 episodes of True Blood, the Thomas Crown Affair, A Knight’s Tale, and Pacific Rim; and knitting during one doctor’s appointment, a day at our Foster homeschool co-op, waiting at cheer practice and a therapy appointment, a little hanging out with friends, and a lot of listening to Kender screaming, about 29.5 hours of active knitting overall, I give you the completed Round 3 socks, Rainbow Pipes with Linen Stitch:

20140418 SM8 Round 3As of today, we are nearly two weeks out from the pattern release, and we are still waiting for 69 out of 286 knitters to finish this round.  Brian is teasing me that we’ll be doing Round 8 in August, and I’m starting to wonder if he might be right!  I just hope there isn’t any active knitting for me while we’re away next month getting Kender’s dog.

Sock Madness 8, Round 2

 20140324_233516I finished Round 2 of Sock Madness 8 last night.  This was only the second time I’ve had to break out my size 1 needles (the smallest I really use) since switching to lever-style knitting.  Not only was this sock knit very tightly, it also had cables. Lots of them.

20140323_140020Doing knotwork at such a tight gauge is very, very hard, putting a lot of pressure on both the needles and my hands.  You can see that my Signatures are not quite 100% straight anymore.

20140325_214549That’s okay, though. They are still the best-performing needles I’ve ever used.  They just fit my hands, now.

The family was awesome and supportive, as always, and Caitlin in particular earned some extra allowance for stepping up and changing Kender, putting the other kids to bed, even cooking dinner one night!  All in all, I think I spent about 26 hours knitting this pair, through 17 episodes of old Doctor Who, 8 episodes of Game of Thrones, 7 episodes of Cosmic Journeys, and 3 episodes of Vikings. I also took the socks to one spaghetti dinner fundraiser and one Pure Romance party.  That’s a lot of knitting for this early in the competition.  I hope that future rounds are not quite so bad.


Speaking of “getting things done,” my persistence is starting to pay off in the knitting department. I am down to only fourteen works-in-progress (WIPs).  Yes, this is progress. I have severe Attention Deficit Knitting Disorder.  It’s only by the skin of my teeth that I have avoided landing in the pit I found as a child. I was always wanting a new ball of yarn, a new pattern pamphlet, a new set of needles.  By the time I was 12 or so, I had a 24″x24″ cardboard box in my closet full to the brim with abandoned things, and the whole thing was so hopelessly tangled that you could pick up whatever was on top and everything in the box would come with it. Discovering that was a wake-up call, and while I’ve always continued to start new projects relentlessly, I’ve been a bit better about not destroying what gets left behind.

It’s been worse with the knitting, though.  I want to knit all the pretty things, with all the pretty yarn, all the time! Several months ago, I actually looked at how many WIPs I had, and it was another wake-up call.  There were more than 20! I determined not to start anything new until I had gotten that list pared down.  It’s been torture, and I’ve had a few setbacks, notably with the footies.  I have made progress, though.  If you look at my project page, I have nothing left that just needs blocking.  I finished almost 1/3 of my open projects.  Go me!


My lovely daughter models for me sometimes.

One that I finished last week is the Thorny scarf.  This was knitted with sequined silk yarn that I got for my birthday. It came out a bit shorter than I was hoping, but with a shawl pin it will actually make a very nice neck scarf.

lace beltThe second project I finished yesterday is this lace belt. It is intended to lace up the back with ribbon, so once it finishes drying, it will be good to go! Although I will be sure not to wear it over anything white…

Time to Reassess

We just spent a wonderful weekend at Michigan PaganFest with our friends. This was my second year to attend the festival, but the first time I’ve spent the whole weekend there, and the first time the rest of my family came along.  My mother offered to come with us, so we were able to use her camper for some of us to sleep in and for cooking.  Camping with all of the kids, especially Kender, was interesting, but it was nice to be there for the whole festival, even if I missed a few bits.  Now we’re back home, and back to the real world, going from a weekend of relaxing and drumming and chanting and singing and just spending time with friends and family, to the place of chores and work and money and obligations.  I spent the drive home trying to catalog all the things I have on my plate.  Let’s see if I can sort some of them out here.

For myself and my spiritual life:

  • My daily practice of prayers, meditation, religious study, and blogging.  I keep falling off course with this, and once again I have to pick it back up.  I’m slowly learning not to tear myself down because of my slips and lapses.
  • Knitting and crochet, which bring me happiness and relaxation.  Well, it’s relaxing when I’m not in a competition, anyway!
  • Exercise.  My current plan is to buy a new bike (to replace my running), and to continue ramping up a new bodyweight strength program.  My feet are barely letting me walk these days, never mind running again.  Anybody want my 1:00pm start time for this year’s Warrior Dash?
  • Music.  I have determined that I need to bring more music back into my life, and it needs to be more than singing along with the radio.  Whether it’s playing the piano, continuing my exploration of the djembe and bodhran, or finding a way to sing with others, I need to do more of it.  I brought home to myself this weekend just how huge a part of my life music used to be, and how much it has disappeared since I had kids.  That needs to change.

For my children and my home:

  • Homeschool is ongoing.  Because we spent a large chunk of the past couple of years unschooling, and we started a new school year with a new curriculum in February, I feel better continuing to do school through the summer, taking shorter breaks for camps and vacations instead of stopping for the whole summer.  I’ve had a lot of trouble finding the time to do any schoolwork with the littles, or check the schoolwork of the bigs, in between everything else going on.
  • Kender needs his video made for 4 Paws for Ability.  This is technically not due until 6 weeks before our class date, but practically speaking it needs to be in as soon as possible, so that the trainers have as much time as possible to get a dog best suited to Kender’s needs.  I need to continue to find ways to keep the cameras rolling to catch all those special Kender moments, and get them turned into something coherent to send in.
  • I need to run yet another test on Kender’s GPS tracker, which has never worked properly.  Even though this would be a hugely valuable tool if it were working properly, it keeps getting knocked down to the bottom of my to-do list, at least in part because talking with the tracker company makes me feel like I’m talking to “customer support”, and not in a good way.  I need to run a side-by-side test with my Garmin and this GPS, so the company can see how far off their data points are and why we are not using the device.  Deadline for this is ASAP, because the company guy is waiting for me to call him back.
  • I need to prepare class materials for the Foster homeschool classes I am teaching this fall, Braille I and Viking History.  Deadline for this is October, when classes start again.
  • My garden never did get finished this year, again.
  • I always feel obligated to bring in some money, somehow.  I am currently working (slowly) on a gorgeous TARDIS ball gown for a friend of a friend (deadline: ASAP, as the dress is prepaid).  I also need to stockpile items to sell at a vending table at ConVocation.  I need to reserve that table, along with my hotel room, and I need to save up the money to pay for going to ConVocation next year with at least my oldest kids.  I also need to check on the possibilities of a table at the Witches’ Ball, and definitely at next year’s PaganFest.  In the meantime, I have some ideas for items that could be put on Etsy as well as selling at conventions, if I can just finish the design and make some prototypes.  Oh yes, and there’s the laundry list of things I’ve been asked to sew for friends that I haven’t gotten to yet!
  • I’d put in here that I need to do better at taking care of the house, keeping things clean, staying on top of discipline, etc.  But really, I don’t.  What I need to do is get over my perfectionism and find the love and joy in the way things are.  I have so much to do already.  There is no reason to expect my house to look like Martha Stewart’s, or my children to be little angels.  I tell it to other people all the time, and now I need to internalize it and believe it for myself.
  • I need to get the older kids ready for camp, making sure they have all the supplies they need.  This usually means buying large quantities of socks to replace all those that have gone missing throughout the year, and padding out supplies of shirts and shorts for the older kids.  We’re going to continue working on our one-bag packing skills for camp.  The sticking point is laundry, as I don’t see them being allowed to wash and hang-dry their own laundry every couple of days, but we can work on compact clothing supplies, at least.  Deadline is July 14, when the girls and Jarod leave for Bear Lake.

It looks a small bit better when laid out like that.

Sock Madness

zipsockDid you know that there is a world of competitive knitting?

There is Sock Wars, a knitted version of the Assassin game where you “kill” your target by knitting and mailing them a pair of socks.  This has been played online with lots of variations for a decade or more, as far as I can tell.  I personally have never found a game in time to play, though.

There is Nerd Wars, where teams of knitters choose projects around a certain theme (you can guess what Team Browncoats knits the most of!) for points. There are Guild Wars, Hat Wars, Glove Wars, you name it.

And then there is Sock Madness.

Sock Madness has been going on for 7 years now.  It started out as a Flickr group, but moved to Ravelry a few years ago when that forum became available.  Sock Madness is a competition of speed and skill.  There are seven rounds, and the pattern for each round becomes progressively complex.  Knitters are divided into teams based on skill and speed, and a decreasing number of the fastest knitters from each team move on to the next round.  Only the first place winner of the final round gets a prize, although other prizes are awarded randomly during the competition (basically “we think you are cool” prizes, as far as I can tell).

I actually found out about this one in time to join in this year, so I did! I discovered a fun and completely novel aspect to knitting.  Sock Madness 7 started out with over four hundred knitters this year.  Round 1 placed a little over 40 knitters each on seven different teams.  The participants all contribute by sending donations to the moderators and offering up prizes.  The moderators assign prizes to the winners, and notify the donators of who to send the prize too, so there is not much centralized shipping.  Everybody who signs up can knit round 1, which is the qualifying round.  Those who finish round 1 in two weeks get placed on a team and can progress.  Those who get at least halfway done by the deadline don’t get a team, but they do get the patterns by email so they can knit along and cheer.


I found out in the warm-up round that it took me about 16 hours of actual knitting time to make these socks.


Round 1 wasn’t so bad.  I knew I had two weeks, and that wouldn’t be a problem, so I just made my sock my primary project that I worked on whenever I was knitting.  I qualified onto a medium-speed team.


Things started to ramp up with Round 2.  Now speed really counted, and I found myself staying up late knitting, spending all day knitting instead of doing chores and schoolwork.


Each round still usually lasted about two weeks, as we couldn’t move on until the full quota qualified from each team, including the slower teams.


My finish times dropped from 4 or 5 days down to 2 or 3.


Then it got real.  The last three rounds this year happened very quickly, as the moderators were anxious to wrap it up and get on with their summer.


Round 5, the zipper sock, was released on a Wednesday, and I had it finished by late Friday night, with knitted-in zipper and cables and bobbles and all.


Round 6, the swirling vortex sock, was released the following Thursday, and again I had it finished by late Friday night.  Now I was starting to lose some sleep, but there was no rest, because Round 7 hit very, very early Sunday morning, and I knew the competition was going to be fierce.  The knitter who maintained a solid lead throughout the final rounds, who I have affectionately dubbed Crazy Dutch Lady, had consistently been finishing in sometimes as little as half the time that I did.  But Round 7 is completely different.  Round 7 was colorwork.  ALL the colorwork.  5 color cast-on, stranded garter stitch, spot intarsia, high legs (this is a problem with stranding because they have to go over your heels and stranding doesn’t stretch well).  Maybe I’d have a chance, but I had to be on the ball.  I loaded myself up with coffee pods and hot pockets so I wouldn’t have to cook.  The family knew they were on their own.  I was up at 5:45am, scarfing down a quick breakfast and some coffee before the pattern hit my mailbox at 6:30am.  And what a pattern!

labyrinthine sock

The 5-color cast on took me 4 hours.  By the time the afternoon rolled around, the stress of the missed sleep, the constant knitting, and the pressure of watching Crazy Dutch Lady continue to amaze me took its toll.  My hands started to shake, and I had to take a break for a nap.  Two hours, and I was back up, but I was still slow.  Before I went to bed for good at midnight, Crazy Dutch Lady posted her first finished sock.  I was only at the heel, and I knew it was over.  I got up and started knitting again the next morning, but it was too late.  Crazy Dutch Lady posted the finish before I even finished the heel of my first sock.

labyrinthine progress

What a crazy ride!  It was a ton of fun, though. I certainly don’t feel bad about losing.  I got all the way to the finals, and life did get in the way a bit on round 7.  I have all these beautiful hand-knit socks now, and I’m considering ways to show them off.  We’ll see if I’m up for entering the madness again next year for Sock Madness 8.

Who am I kidding?  It’s a competition; of course I’m in!