Monday, December 25, 2006

First Pair of Big Black Socks is (are) Done!

After my inauspicious start, I finally finished my first pair of BBS for Socks for Soldiers. Not even that, the socks survived their brutal machine wash and dry, in on regular cycle in hot water followed by a hot air dry. Whilst all this abuse of socks was going on, I had to repeatedly assure my own socks that they would never be so treated, and that this was for a good cause, as the U.S. military no longer allows washerwomen to accompany soldiers into the field to do their "smalls" in the nearest body of water. And, let's face it, when you're spending your days avoiding IEDs and automatic weapons fire, the last thing you probably want to be doing when you finally get some off time is delicately handwashing your own.

So. The socks are done and came out of the dryer feeling as nice and thick and wanting to be put on as they did when they went in. I made my sock band:

and wrapped the left-over yarn around a card to send along with the socks, along with a needle and some of the woolly nylon reinforcing thread. Here's another photo, this tie of the socks (I just realized you can't see the two BBS because I stacked them up to take this photo), along with the band and one of my own socks on top for comparison - it still makes me crack up at how big they are, and I didn't even knit the gianormous size!

Mike had already settled himself in for the evening when I took this sock photo awhile ago, so I spread a towel out over his tail to provide a plain background for the socks. Mike stared at me the whole time, perturbed that I was not taking a photo of him. So, here he is, Mr. Bah Humbug himself, on Christmas Day, 2006:

My thanks to Sandra David for the yarn I used to make these socks.

Some Fun Stats

Cost of Yarn: $21 +taxes and shipping

Total length of sock: 27"

Number of rows (11 rows/inch): 297

Number of stitches per row (excluding the additional sts around the heel gusset): 80

Minimum number of stitches in one pair of Size 9 BBS: 23,760

Number of hours to knit the socks: I didn't keep track! Knitting a similar pair of socks for myself (simple K1, P1 leg over 48 sts) usually takes me about 12 hours. I'd say the BBS socks took about twice that, not counting the time spent frogging and re-knitting on the first sock.

Whew! No wonder my hands and eyes were tired when I finished!

If you'd like to tire out your hands and eyes, too, for a worthy cause, please join Socks For Soldiers.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Socks for Soldiers, Part 1

As in, I finished the first sock!!!!! Woohoo!

Of course, I have another sock to make to mate with it, but I am desperately hoping that I don't end up fighting my way through it as I did this first one, and that the remaining 1.5 balls of yarn behave themselves.

I've never had so much trouble with any of the socks I've made. And, I've never made such a BIG sock! Here's a photo of the complete BBS (big black sock) with one of my own socks on top:

One intrepid Socks For Soldiers listmembers waited until her family was asleep one night, and then pulled one of her BBS over a liter soda bottle to see if the sock, only 3.5 inches across the leg when laying flat, really would stretch to fit a muscular calf. It did, stretching to 13.5 inches! God bless K1, P1 ribbing!

My BBS is knit in Dale's Baby Ull, with black wooly nylon used to reinforce the heel and the entire foot, as well as the toes.

Without further ado, off I go to cast on the second sock!


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Sock it to, uhm, whomever

Helloo? Anyone there? ::tap:: ::tap:: Is this thing on?

Oh, hi! Long time no see! It has been over a month since my last post - and I just realized that I still have a couple more scarves to send off to

I spent much of the month recovering from the October full of introductory classes at the Red Cross to learn about the different type of disaster response services they provide to the community (all free, and all paid for by donations, not by any local, state, or federal funding, with very little going to paid staff, as there isn't much in the way of paid staff, most of the day-to-day work, training and emergency services being provided by trained volunteers) and doing some volunteering myself.

I also got reacquainted with my inner drunk and scofflaw, doing DUI and traffic violation role plays at the Public Safety Training Center in November. For a couple of nights in December, our victims, er, recruits, er, students were park rangers who were completing a law enforcement course for rangers. I did drunk and stupid one night, but the second night I did high risk traffic stops, which involved three rangers and lots of weapons, including the gun (disabled) and knife (rubber) I got to stash in my car and on my person.

All I will say is that there are an apparently infinite number of ways to have your wrists cuffed that hurt! And, well, some ways that don't, or at least not so much, including the time I was able to get out of my cuffs while I was biding my time in the back of a patrol car.

I now have the reputation of being a pleasant drunk who slips her cuffs. Oops! Well, better they learn on me than make that kind of mistake when taking down a truly dangerous person.

Anyway, during this month or so that I've been not writing, I have been working on socks.

I finished these two, one a Regia stripe, the other KnitPick's Sock Memories in the Hawaii colorway. Needless to say, I will not actually be wearing them both at the same time:

I also went to work on my first Socks for Soldiers socks. SFS sends hand knit boot and leisure socks to our men and women in the service, mostly, at this time, in Afghanistan and Iraq. The boot socks have to be black, though a pair of white is okay only when worn underneath--and completely covered by--a pair of black ones. The black boot socks have to be BIG, both in the length of the leg and a little generous through the foot to compensate for shrinkage that will happen to socks washed rather less gently than us sock knitters at home usually wash our own. Black boot socks knit in finer (thinner) yarn can also be worn as dress socks. SFS knitters can also make leisure socks to send along for off-duty times.

Along with the sock pairs banded with size, fiber content, and optimal care information, we send along some darning yarn and needles, just in case.
SFS's founder, Kim Opperman, also stuffs the sock boxes full of all sorts of goodies wanted by our servicemembers deployed far from the comforts of home, like toothbrushes, sunblock, lip balm, snacks, gum, instant drink mixes, etc. The SFS list has a wide range of men and women sock knitters on it, some brand new to sock knitting, others long-time knitters. Some have spouses or children in the service, including in Afghanistan and Iraq. Others, like me, just want to support the folks there on the ground, regardless of our political beliefs or feelings about what the Administration has or has not done.

If you'd like to help SFS out, check out the SFS site. No problem if you aren't a knitter: cash donations help pay for shipping the sock shipments, and donations of the types of toiletries and sundries (or cash to purchase them) included in each shipment are always welcome. You can contact Kim through the SFS website to find out more.

Anywaaaay.... Ya'll have some sense of how long I have been knitting socks, and how many pairs of socks I have knitted (rough estimate is 50+ pairs). So, plain, simple sock making is not difficult and generally no brainer enough that I carry a sock-in-progress with me whenever I go out. So I do not understand why knitting this one SFS sock has been such a hellish experience!

Forget that I had to rip it out and start anew 4 times - that was just a working out of gauge and fabric-feel. But between stitches getting weirded up (how badly can one mess up K1, P1 rib, I ask you?!) and the ball turning into the Ball From Hell, requiring SIX hours to untangle over the course of two nights, well, it is no surprise that I haven't even finished one leg yet!

That's as of last night. I actually stopped working on it for two nights because no matter how perfect the stitches were when I finished working on one needle, by the time I got around to it again (I use three needles, plus a fourth to work with), the last several sts on the needle were twisted, and managed to drop down several rows while I tried to correct them. After spending more time correcting than I was knitting, I decided the project needed another rest.

So I worked on some other socks:

Lest there be an LIS entry without a cute animal picture, here's one I took on the skid pan on one of my drunken nights:

Let's see how this rather light close-up looks:

And, finally, m'boy Mike. He has become resigned to the shorter days insofar as he no longer stomps into the bathroom and demands a 5 PM bath every night. But he is insistent on some cuddling every afternoon, something that has been hard on my hands. So I got us this lovely manly fleece blanket (2 for $10 at Walgreens).

Now, what's funny is that MIKE HATES PLAID. If he sees anyone wearing plaid, regardless of the size of the pattern or the colors, he freaks out. I don't know if the dark green on this blanket is dark enough that he hasn't really seen the black cross-striping, or in The World of Mikey's Brain, he is the only one who is permitted to wear plaid, but he hasn't freaked out when looking at it, nor does he mind me petting him through it, and he clearly isn't bothered about sleeping under it.

G'night, Mike.

Hello, SFS big black sock #1.

Update on SFS: I finally got that last inch done and worked the 2.5" heel and finished turning the eye-of-partridge heel! Whew! Only had to rip back once, when I was part way through the heel turn, when I found I'd dropped a stitch several rows back. Sigh. Tomorrow: the gusset!