Posts Tagged ‘Vexing Socks’

They’re here!

Thank you for joining me on my design and publication journey.  The Vexing Socks are now available on Ravelry for $1.99 (or free for this week only, if you use the coupon code below).

VexingI’ve had a great time designing these, and I want to thank all my Ravelry testers, lambie, Mahgret, FugueStateKnits, Annewswissknits and ginnynd25 on Ravelry.  Some of my testers did drop out due to time pressures and/or frustration with the testing process, but I think I’ve learned some valuable lessons in how to run tests in the future, and the pattern is more clearly written thanks to their feedback.

I want to thank all of my blog readers as well.  The socks will be free through October 24 (EST) with the coupon code Calvert Crossland.  If you use the coupon code, please favorite and/or queue the pattern as well.


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Just a few days after talking about not wanting to overshare, I’m back, hopefully not quite oversharing.  There are some changes coming in my life, small changes which might possibly be the start of something big.  I don’t want to give out too many details because I might jinx it… it might not be the start of anything at all.  If it is the start of something, it could, very likely would force me to rethink the way I blog, to redefine (or possibly really define for the first time) what I’m blogging for.

Something happened this week.  Something small, but exciting.  It really shook me up in a not-entirely-bad way, and brought me face to face with some deep seated fears and insecurities which I hadn’t had to deal with in a long time.  I’m not going to say much more about it, except that I did not back down.

I did not back down.

Peace Corps News

In addition to the not-talking-about-it stuff I got a call last night, from Abby, around 7PM my time (11PM hers).  Actually it was a ring-and-hangup, which is the signal that I am to call her. She’s living with a new ‘host family’ in Senegal, the food is unfamiliar, they’ve changed her anti-malarial meds and she was feeling really, really bad.  I knew I was going to get that call sooner or later, but I guess I was hoping for later.  I think I handled it pretty well, and she was able to go back to bed.  (Yes, she’s in bed before 11 these days, they work the volunteers pretty hard…)  I’ve gotten two pictures of her departure from the States and arrival in Senegal, but nothing of where she’s living now.  I just keep telling myself she’s doing fine, and I think I almost believe it.

Enough of That “Real Life” Stuff, How About Yarn?

I need to follow through and set up my Ravelry store.  Once I do that, I’ll publish the Vexing Socks pattern and put a (limited time) coupon code here on the blog.  I’ve been dragging my feet long enough, so consider this my public commitment to get the shop up within a week.  I’ll test it out with a free pattern, then post the socks.

Huh.  Should I change my Ravelry name to match my blog?  Or do Ravelry stores have to match the user name?  Need to find out…

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win the Mooglyblog Yarn Happy giveaway.  I joined their Cast Off Chemo giveaway (13 October), the $200 worth of yarn from Swans Island giveaway (drawing date  unknown) and a drawing for 2 skeins of Evonwee yarn (3 November) and a skein of Willow Daily DK yarn from Kangarth Knits (20 October).

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Sheep and Wool Festival

Linked BorderI was only at the Festival for one day this year, but it was a very good day.  I had a lovely time.

I saw some marvelous knitting, as you can see from this really delightful linked border,  There were some absolutely fun shops, such as the yarn bus here.


There were also so many marvelous festival goers, the sheep to shawl competition, shearing and sheepdog demonstrations, and of course all the marvelous food vendors.

I have to admit, however, that I mostly go for

The Loot!

SWF loot

I got Hitch from Cooperative Press.

Flying Goat TapestryBrowns and Orange tapestry mohair from Flying Goat Farm.  I know, I know, Mohair and I have a problematic relationship, but I have a real weakness for local vendors at the S&W, it was just $5 a 100 yard skein and, besides, the colors are just so vibrant and amazing!

I’m thinking of a stranded hat here, with the orange just popping out.

Spinaway Farms BoucleThis wasn’t the only mohair bargain which suckered me in.  Early Sunday afternoon, the proprieter of Spinaway Farms booth must have seen me coming, because he put up a sign declaring all his boucle yarns at 50% off.  I scored 200 yards of mohair boucle for $6.  How could I walk past that?  The website isn’t operational yet, and he hasn’t got an entry in the Ravelry database yet, so this years festival is presumably one of his first venues.  Very exciting.

Montdale MohairI also bought a wonderful skein of worsted weight yarn from The Cavey Family Sheep and Wool company.  It’s 80% Montdale, 20% mohair (yes, I know, it’s a trend) and died orange with “Gaywood Wattle Bark”.  It’s about two shades darker than the Swanns Island fingering I got last month, I’m thinking co-ordinating hat and shawl.  They Cavey Family also doesn’t have a Ravelry presence, or even a web site.  She said she has a shop in her home, hours by appointment.  If you’re going near New Windsor Maryland you might want to give her a call at 410.635.2459.  Tell her I’m the woman who said she’ll enter something from this in next years contest, and that I said hi.

BOTI yarnLast, but not least, I picked up some yarn to knit a replacement “Bigger on the Inside” shawl. (It’s a sad story, I must have left it at a restaurant on the way from here to Ohio last year, when I was getting the younger child from school.) This is from Ashton Studio Arts, whose online store is currently down, but also has an Etsy shop,   This is another shop in the home.  I actually drove by there once and couldn’t find the place, because it’s not only in state, it’s a short drive from my home.

So, yeah, I scored lots and lots of good loot.

The Competitions

I entered three items in the skein and garment competition this year, and won a ribbon for each.  I have to admit, I’m walking about six feet off the ground right now.


Playing to the Judges doll cowl – fourth place ribbon in “Knitting for Dolls and Bears” category.  The judges really liked it, but thought that it should have been blocked.

Vexing Socks – fourth place in the “Socks – Commercial Yarn” category.  The judges liked the design.  Thought that the fairl isle technique was good, but that the top was stretched out, and that they showed signs of being worn.  Should have been washed out and blocked.

Tam of Rassillon – first place in the “Garment with more than one color of commercial yarn” category.  The judges liked the color and the finish, and said it had a beautiful hand.

So, yay!  Go me.

Blog Contests and Yarn Giveaways

I didn’t win the Expression Fiber Arts April giveaway, the Messenger Bag from Lisa Bogart or the Merletta from This Knitted Life.

I entered the May giveaway from Lisa Bogart – a cute scissors fob (30 May).

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V is for…

V is for Vexillology

This is a follow-up to the M is for Maryland post, but it should be clear enough even if you don’t read that one first.

Vexillology is the study of flags.  My husband is an amateur vexillologist*.  He is a member of NAVA (the North American Vexillological Association) and a former list master of the FoTW (Flags of the World) mailing list.  As of this writing he ranks third in the QuizUp “flag” category in Maryland.

One thing I’ve learned, living with a vexillologist, is that it’s always worth while to look up.  This is not only a good habit to get into for spotting flags, it’s also a good life lesson in general.

Vexing Socks

Yes, I did start the test knit for the Maryland Flag socks.  I have four wonderful knitters working on it, and now that we’re a week into it I’ve had to make two revisions.  Both involving mistaken numbers.  I’m glad it’s underway at last.

*In case you are wondering, there are professional vexillologists.  At least two currently living, and one deceased.

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M is for…

M is for Maryland Flag Socks

The flag of Maryland is the only state flag to be based on English heraldry. It is a combination of the coats of arms of the Calvert and Crossland families (Cecil Calvert, the founder of the colony, had the right to use his mother’s Crossland arms as well as his own).

During the civil war the Union recognized the black and gold Calvert banner, but the Confederate sympathizers in the state used the red and white Crossland banner. After the war, Maryland veterans from both armies adopted the quartered flag to represent a reunified state, and nation.

Maryland officially adopted the flag in 1904.

VexingI finished the Maryland State Flag socks, and am running a test knit for it on the Free Pattern Testers group in Ravelry.  If you’d like to knit the socks from the raw pattern, and get a copy of the pattern once it’s finalized, that’s the place to go. (post updated to add the link)

I’m a bit nervous.  This is the first pattern I’m actually planning to charge money for once it’s all good to go.  I’ll be selling it on Ravelry, but it’ll either be free initially or I’ll put a coupon code up on this blog for the first little while.  Watch this space.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win the Grand View Farm giveaway. I entered a drawing at Trion Designs for a copy of Knitpicks Golden Morning pattern collection (17 April).

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K is for Knitting (no surprise here)

This one is more or less a catch up post WIPs and Queue.

Current Projects

I’m almost halfway through the knit on, beaded border for the Belle Greene shawl.  I’ve slowed down quite a bit, because my LYS tells me that the blocking wires might not come in for a month or more.  Normally that wouldn’t be a thing, but I can’t enter it in next years MD S&W contest if I finish it before this years festival.  So I’m slowing down a bit.

Blue Short Rows

Just starting to turn the heel on my TARDIS socks.  It’s another no-wrap short row method, one which uses 1/2 the stitches rather than 2/3 of them like the Sweet Tomato Heel does.  I’m liking it so far, but we’ll see how it looks when done.

Laminated FootprintI finally got around to laminating the footprint, because I was carrying it around in the project bag.  That’s now safely back, tucked  into the Cat Bohrdi book I’ve got the chart all printed out, so ready to go.

Not a knitting project, but for the sake of completion I’ll mention that the pocket market bag is coming along nicely.  I should be running out of the blue just about the right time.  Worst case,  the mesh will be one round short…


I haven’t started on the Cthulhu dice bag yet.  I’m delaying because I think I migTiger Lilly Swans Islandht incorporate some leftover Atomic Limon from the Belle Greene shawl…  The next project after that will be either the beaded cuff kit from Laura Nelkin, or a shawl in some Swans Island fingering weight merino.  I’ve got the second Very Busy Monkey Scientist collection, and there are a couple of those which would look wonderful in Tigerlilly colorway.

Sheep and Wool Projects

Doll CowlEven though it looks like Belle Greene won’t make it to S&W this year, I’ve got a couple of others which will.  This little guy is basically playing to the judges.  The featured yarn this year (eligible for a special prize) is Leicester Longwool, and I had just enough stashed to make this little doll cowl.  Since there’s also a special prize designated for knitting for dolls and bears it seemed like a good plan.

Naturally, I will enter the Vexing Socks.   Yes, I did finish them.  There will be another post focusing on them later this week. I know it’s not amazing workmanship, but I’m really proud of the design.  Tam of Rassilon

I’ll also be entering the Tam of Rassillon, which is made of Maryland wool from Blue Faced Leicester sheep.  It’s not the breed of the year, but they don’t announce that very far in advance…

So that leaves three entries rather than four.  I’m OK with that.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win the Moogleyblog Fiber Artsy giveaway, or the Made of Change crochet hook giveaway, or the Stana’s Critters giveaway.

I entered the Fiber Flux $50 Knit Picks gift card giveaway (19 April).  A drawing for a $100 Darn Good Yarn gift certificate (30 April).  The Red Heart Dream Yarn Package from All Free Crochet  (including reflective and bulky yarns) (4 May).  The Ficstitches Crochet Kit giveaway on Mooglyblog (16 April).  Finally, a bottle of maple syrup and a skein of yarn from Vermont Grand View farm (today).

Whew!  That’s a lot of giveaways.

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Anatomy of the Flag

MD Flag banners

Vexilogical note: The Maryland flag is the (heraldrically correct) fusion of two English family banners.  The banners themselves date to pre-colonial times, and Maryland’s original Governor (George Calvert, 1st Baron of Baltimore) had the rights to use both.  The Calvert was used by Maryland since it became a state, and confederate sympathizers adopted the Crossland banner during the civil war.

The current flag, which includes both, was first adopted by Maryland veterans from both side, as a gesture of reconciliation.

Calvert Chart

Well, I think the charting is done now.  As you can see, I ended up going with gray grid lines (because otherwise the black was lost), and both thicker and darker indices every five stitches.

Since the chart is 37 38 stitches across, and the socks are 84 stitches around, there is a border between the front and back repeat of the chart.  At first I thought I’d just stripe the two colors, which was way too busy.  The next thought was to use just one color for the field.  This would be doable for the Calvert, but Crossland would be totally lost.  So now I’m going to play with one color, textured background.

Only had to frog back four and a half rounds this time…  For those who are keeping count, the frogging part was done with much less sighing and invection than the graphic design part.

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Well, the tomato hat seems to be a success (hopefully I’ll get a picture of the child wearing it), and the tomato heels turned beautifully. Back to sock design.

I’d forgotten what my graphics arts ‘process’ is. Apparently it involves a lot of sighing and gibbering, and telling the computer to do what I want it to do. No, seriously, I have to send my family out of the room so they don’t keep asking if I’m all right, and suggesting that I have a nice cup of tea and a sit down.

I ended up downloading a macro for GIMP which let me put a grid over an image.  I layered it upon each of the banners, then copied grid sized squares from the underlying image, and pasting them to make a more pixilated image.  Exported the whole thing to .png file, imported it into a spreadsheet to add numbering… and it just occurs to me that I need to add heavier lines to mark off every fifth space (for ease of use).  Yeah, it’s enough trouble to fiddle with that I should really consider making it available for purchase when done.  Fortunately, Open Office exports to .pdf, so I could do the whole thing as a Ravelry download (fiddly charts and all).

Unfortunately, I miscalculated the number of stitches in the flag chart.  I had noted it as 37, but it works out to 38, so there should be 84 stitches in a round rather than 82 (given decisions I’d made earlier).  This is actually a *much* better number to design with, especially when it comes to the Sweet Tomato heel, but it left my actual socks a couple of stitches off.  Easy enough to fix, and the final pattern will be much friendlier.

No pictures this time, but I think I’m more or less on track.

In other news, I’m thinking of entering the Carina shawl in the Howard County fair.  Need to decide pretty soon, since the deadline is the end of July!

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Well, I’m beginning to build momentum on the Maryland State Flag socks.  I had to rip out the toes and start from scratch, because I used too few stitches the first time.  I’ve been trying to document everything (because if these turn out as great as I think they will, I might try to sell the pattern on Ravelry).

I’ve finally gotten to the point of turning the heel.  Because I never can make myself do the same thing twice, I’m using Cat Bohrdi’s Sweet Tomato Heel this time.  It’s actually pretty intuitive once you’ve got it going.

Unlike my try at short row heels on the After Summer Merrily socks, this technique isn’t too ‘visible’, even on the wrong side.

Tomato Heel

See?  A nice, even, minimal line of teeny-tiny holes.  Yay!

I wasn’t too sure about memorizing how to close the short row turns, but it’s pretty easy once you remember that there is one of those ‘gaps’ to be closed on each side between the first (instep) and second (heel) needles.  So you woogie the stitch before the gap when you start out, close all the gaps until the first needle, knit the instep, then woogie the stitch after the gap until you’ve worked to the middle of the sole needle, then knit around twice and go for the next wedge.  Simple enough.

I think I’m going to need a break once the heels are turned, just to get my charts straightened out and my head pulled together.  Fortunately, my daughter has asked me to knit a baby hat for her boss’s son’s first birthday.  She has an internship at the University of Delaware’s farm, and has her heart set on a cute tomato hat.

I’m torn between going for the cutest one I can find and something more botanically correct.  In either case I can’t imagine it will be more than a couple of days interlude.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win the Harrisville Design yarn giveaway.  No new giveaways this time around.

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My begonia shawl is done, in all its frilly wonder.  I managed to finish it just in time to get points in this round of Nerd Wars.

In case you don’t recall, this was the yarn I got from Bohemia Fibers, custom dyed to match the colors of the Mystic Mountain portion of the Carina Nebula.


OK, it lacks the orchid tones, but the green/orange thing works well, and I like the way the pattern swirls.  Not too busy after all, but we’ll see how much I actually wear it now that it’s done.

I’ll be knitting the Maryland Flag socks for a while.  I had to rip out the toes (started with too few stitches for his feet) and have finished the increases (he has long toes!) I’ll be doing circular stockinette for a while, the aim is to wait until I’ve at least reached the heel turn before I start a second WIP, but if I get really bored I might start something before then.

Blog Contests

Didn’t win the $25 of Quince and Co from Design Diary, and there’s no word yet about the sweaters worth of watershed from the Harrisville Design blog.   No new contests this time.

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