Rail Against Random

  I typed here for a good long time trying not to get random with it, and failed rather miserably.  I’m busting a move to get ready to go to Detroit this weekend, and I’ve just realized that my expectation that I’m going to manage everything on my to-do list is about as crazy as that impulse I get every now and then to start a sweater because I’m cold. Ever get that one? I get cold and then instead of going up to the sweater box and pulling a finished one out, I go stand in the stash like I’m going to be able to knit a sweater fast enough to solve the problem of being chilly right that minute. Magical thinking.  In the end, I decided that I am going to be a little random, and there’s nothing I can do to prevent it. I have too many things to tell you that have nothing to do with each other.

1. After perusing around for appropriate prizes, I used a random number generator to choose three names from among all those who emailed me, the first takes Gold: 

A beautiful skein of handpainted cashmere from Handmaiden, here in Canada, which I’ll bundle together with a signed copy of Free-Range Knitter: The Yarn Harlot Writes Again (which is really my old book, now out in paperback, which is sort of cool since I never had a book come out in both hardcover and paperback before. It’s not in the store yet, I have some advance copies.) and be mailing off to Lexyjane, who didn’t finish her Olympic project due to an injury, but typified the Olympic spirit by dong her level best.


A signed copy of the book along with this skein of yarn, which is the new STR colourway for the Knitting Olympics called "going for gold", goes out to Lynn W. (Chalicewitch).


No picture, but Karen M will be telling me her favourite colour and getting a surprise along with the book, I hope she likes it. 

A thousand thanks to the almost 2000 knitters who sent an email. You guys are what makes it fun. 

2. The sweater I started may be terminally ill.  I’m considering taking it in to knit night tonight and seeing if anyone else feels the love.  Could be they’ll get a boatload of yarn to go home with.  I must have been drunk when I bought this.  It’s beautiful yarn, but it’s not me, and this is my second attempt to love it without any success at all.  Sometimes it’s a good idea to let it go before the resentment builds and you end up in a dishonest relationship with yarn.

3. Sadly, due to an absolutely unavoidable crappy thing, Anna Zilboorg won’t be able to join us to teach at session one of Sock Camp this year.  This is pretty much heartbreaking to me because she’s – well.  She’s Anna Zilboorg.  Let’s just leave it there.  Happily, the planet has provided a silver lining, which is that the inestimably fabulous Janel Laidman is going to come teach stranded colourwork for socks instead, and that’s pretty darned far beyond awesome.  There’s a few spots left if you think so too.  (I think session two might be full.)  I’m looking forward to it in a way that’s both unreasonable and unhealthy, but hey.  That’s sock camp.

4. I totally did finish my February self-imposed-sock-club kit, and even managed to do so before it was too far out of February. (March 3rd.) This month a drew a baggie containing STR lightweight in Jubilation, and a pattern that I’ve loved for a long time, the Feather and Fan socks from Socks Socks Socks

Over the years I’ve knit this pattern at least five times, and it never disappoints. (Except that I change the heel a bit.  I’ve got a thing.  I like ’em a certain way.)

That’s two months, two pairs of socks, and the goal to have an even dozen at the end of the year doesn’t seem all that crazypants.   

5. I bet you thought I didn’t do the February socks because of the Olympics.

6. Ha.

7. That would have had more emphasis if I had finished them in February, I know.

104 thoughts on “Rail Against Random

  1. Great socks! I was afraid to ask if you were actually wacky enough to do them during the Olympics. I think I was afraid you would say yes!
    P.S. Lovely prizes!

  2. You’ve finished your March socks ALREADY? Yowzah!
    Oh, btw, thanks to you I’ve been bidding determinedly on Dale Vancouver pattern booklets on e*ay. Not as determinedly as the people who’ve been winning them, though.

  3. Dude (if I may call you that) You TOTALLY finished those socks in the month of February (with some creative calendar license). If February had 30 or 31 days like all the other regular months, you would have been right on schedule. Thanks for blogging about this so I can quit har.

  4. I see you’ve still using your old heels. I thought you might ne putting “sexy” heels on all your new socks? I’m putting a whole new foot on all my socks now – Pyroclastic by Marlowe Crawford. The absolutely best fitting foot bar none.

  5. I hope Anna Zilboorg is well. I met her at the Sock Summit, and like her a lot.
    You’re right about the sweater. Instead of making both you and the sweater miserable in a doomed relationship, it’s better to let it be happy with someone else. You, of course, have your Olympic maple leaf sweater to keep you cozy.

  6. Sorry – my computer is acting up and pausing – I meant to end that comment by saying I can quit harassing you.

  7. A self-imposed sock club kit is brilliant – this involves stash diving and monthly output? I like it! Beautiful socks!

  8. now I don’t feel so bad for how random my fiber life is. spin, dye, wash fleece, weave, warp, help a friend warp, knit, sort the stash, rearrange the looms, stack the looms, be grateful I only have one wheel, weave, knit…

  9. ummm – magical thinking, huh? Could it be that we peruse some of the same websites that are non-knitting related? I have completely abandoned the “magical thinking” but never heard the term until the last couple years. Great socks, btw.

  10. Lovely socks. I may have to start my own sock club to knock down the sock yarn stash.
    I have to quit knitting for others….

  11. Friday’s Mom said exactly what I was going to…March 3rd is the equivalent to February 31st. If February was a NORMAL month, you totally would have made it. So congratulate yourself for getting them done on time. And those are BEAUTIFUL socks!

  12. Love the socks. I think it is great that you got them done, by asking about them in February, I was just encouraging you to meet your goal! 🙂
    2/12 done, I think that is fantastic and I have to agree with Friday’s Mom about the February socks being done on time! I can’t wait to see the March socks. One of these days I am going to attempt socks… maybe I should make it my goal for this year. (I am still a novice)
    Although I am very disappointed that I didn’t get a prize, I think it is great that you take the time to do this for all us knit olympians!
    Keep up the great work!

  13. OK, I’m confused. The beautiful socks you showed today are for February or March?

  14. I like my heels the same certain way you do, however I knit toe-up 2-at-a-time on two circs. Love your socks.

  15. Stephanie, I noticed you also omit the garter ridge between leg and foot on those f&f socks. I never understood that particular design element. Must try that sock again — although I am not gifted with tiny feet, so everything takes longer. That’s my story, anyway.

  16. It’s okay it took till March 3rd. It doesn’t help that over history poor February had it’s days stolen away. So if you consider that February should have 30ish days, then you made it in my opinion!

  17. My theory is that you figure you will be knitting so fast and furious on that sweater that it will warm you up that way.

  18. Beautiful prizes, lucky winners, gorgeous socks!
    Your blog is one of the highlights of my day. No pressure…

  19. Oh how I love Hand Maiden and Fleece Artist!!!!! Feather and Fan looks like a great pattern. I might have to try that one once I finish sock#2 of my 4th pair of Lenores. I’ve got into a rut. Mind you, I knit Cascadia and Flabella as an Olympic project. How much Dream In Colour Classy do I need for the sweater? I’ve ordered the pattern, but it won’t be here before I leave for Toronto on Thursday morning. Cheers and red wine, Hazel.

  20. You have to stop teasing us about things that are not turning out right and then not posting a picture. It’s not polite, frankly. I would like to see a picture of this poor, maligned sweater. I feel sorry for it.

  21. Beautiful socks and very karmic balancing gifts-top notch! Let the list go and just worry about getting your knitting packed (priorities, right?) and getting some sleep before traveling. Sock Camp, ahhhh, I hope they still are having sock camp when I’m employed and can afford it. Safe travels

  22. Yay! Glad you’re staying with it!
    I’m doing a 12 projects/year, inspired by your “own sock club” and I’m 2 for 2 so far too. I made a change of plans and doing “finish up or frog” March tho–tired of the piles of nearly finished stuff lying about.

  23. I so hear you re: starting a sweater because you’re cold even though you have a drawer (closets) full of perfectly good sweaters. It makes sense to me! (But then, I’ve been told I’m not a good person to go to in order to be talked out of a knitting project. Hi. My name is Sue and I’m a knitting enabler.)
    #6 – sheer love!

  24. Well… I managed to LOOK at my knitting today… *snicker*
    I was once hit with the need to knit a scarf (cold weather, night shift), so I dropped what I was doing and started digging around in the stash. I probably would have cast on right then, but the pan of milk on the stove decided to remind me of its existence by boiling over. Duh.

  25. Have fun in Detroit. I’m sorry I’ll miss seeing you, but some of my friends are going to be at the library. I hope you’ll have a chance to ride the People Mover and see some of the city. Michigan is having a tough go presently, but we’re not out yet. Congratulations on the paperback!

  26. Showing us that STR olympic colorway is just not nice. How the heck am I supposed to afford that after just placing an order for my first handcarders yesterday? hmph.
    Beautiful socks and we would have expected nothing less! 🙂

  27. How kind of Amazon to remember I already bought Socks Socks Socks. That is a gorgeous pattern, might have to get back to socks.

  28. Speaking of unreasonable and unhealthy, that describes my love of feather and fan. Don’t know what it is about that stitch but I love it.
    Do you have a favorite stitch pattern?

  29. Oooooh, those are beautiful socks. I could make them next! Love feather and fan and I’ve got the book already. Of course, then the rest of the “make it next” pile would be jealous.

  30. If February hadn’t been skimping out on days it would have had 31, and March 3rd would have been Feb.31. So by that logic, you DID finish them on time. 🙂

  31. I love that you start sweaters because you are cold. I have been known to pack sock yarn on trips, instead of socks.

  32. I wish I was in your knitting group, and not only because I’d have a chance a sweater’s worth of beautiful yarn!
    Besides February being short month, you didn’t finish the January sock till Feb 2, so you got a late start. Not to mention knitting a *whole sweater* in there, so you totally made it. I couldn’t even finish my *one* sock in 17 days.
    Speaking of sweaters, did you finish Wild Apple? I don’t recall seeing pictures of it.

  33. aw man. I had convinced myself that I can’t do patterned socks with patterned yarn, and here you go making something look awesome. Sigh. But.. hm. actually that looks like self-striping, and I think my kibosh is on variegated. Will I ever learn the fine points of matching yarn to a pattern???? I suspect not. *sniffle*

  34. Beautiful socks! As I’m practicing getting argyles right for the TKGA masters program, I will be lucky to get one sock per month done, but that wouldn’t be a bad goal. Thanks for being the inspiration that you are – and for visiting our blog. Team Alaska knitters are honored.

  35. Can’t believe you knit those socks! How do you do that?! So, is Detroit the start of a new book tour? I hope so. I will be only one hour from Detroit & unable to attend because I will be caring for my very ill mom. COME TO WEST MICHIGAN (Ludington has a great yarn shop) for a different view of the Great Lakes State.

  36. I’ve missed you the last few days. I’m really addicted to your blog, I check it several times a day. I just love the way you write(also the way you knit). By the way, do your hands ever hurt you after a marathon knit? Mine do. If so, what do you do for that?

  37. Congrats to the winners!!! Stephanie if i may say those socks are simply beautiful!! Love the yarn!! What is the new book called? i am so excited!! Much love to you and yours
    P.S. As you prepare for Detroit remember that it’s cold and to bring a sweater!

  38. Maybe you should go ahead and do December’s socks now…just sayin’ But come December, you might thank me!

  39. From the winner of first prize, may I say how absolutely grateful I am. I was so happy just to have the opportunity to take part, but that cashmere! Wow. I’ve never knitted with cashmere before.
    I just feel like squealing. Thank you.
    Your socks are beautiful.

  40. Lexyjand… My Olympic project, which didn’t quite get finished yet is a cabled scarf in wonderful green shades of that same cashmere – bought at LettuceKnit! It is the most scrumptious yarn I have ever used… enjoy your prize!
    Have fun in Detroit Stephanie… love the need to knit a sweater because you are cold.

  41. That you knit *anything* (AT ALL) besides that sweater in February, is stunning enough, all on its own. Goodness. You rock, girl!

  42. It may not be crazypants to do 12 pairs of socks in 12 months. But, doing a pair in February AND the Knitting Olympics!? That MAY be a little crazypants. hahaha Of course, you are much more hard core than I am, I aspire to crazypants, Harlot style.

  43. Anything by Handmaiden is going to feel wonderful in the hands and beautiful to the eyes.
    I actually put on a pair of socks today that were knit by me. And it’s all you and your Sock Summit friends’ fault. Thank you, and them, too, so much!

  44. After this post today it is one of those days I wished closer to the knitting action, maybe one day.
    Let another knitter ‘feel the love’ of the the yarn you can’t get close to – it sounds good to me.

  45. I love your socks and the colors are great. I also love your idea of the self imposed sock kit. You totally ROCK!

  46. Steph, you are a knitter after my own heart..I do the same thing..choose another project before one is finished..I am really using some restrain..trying to finish my Starmore sweater before my trip to China..next month..on the side line I have socks calling for my attention…
    Love your socks…

  47. Am also very sad Anna A won’t be at camp she is one very special human being and I was thrilled to meet her at Sock Summit. I thought she was just absolutely brilliant. Janel L will be a fine teacher and I am glad she is coming. I signed up for session one and am really, really excited about the whole adventure. Your Olympic sweater is beautiful and I just love those socks. Thanks for your humor and your knitterly ( is that a word?) talent. Can’t wait for camp, am starting my homework tonight.

  48. It’s the passport thing, isn’t it? Gaaah! That’s keeping me from meeting her locally, as well.
    The world would be so much better if you could just tell customs/airport security/border guards, “Look, I’m a knitter, not a terrorist. Here’s a sock to prove it.” and they’d go “Why, go right ahead, I’m sure you’ll be a benefit to my nation while you’re visiting! By the way, the yarn store in [insert town name here] has great deals on merino.”

  49. I have been jonesing on that Feather & Fan sock pattern for awhile…now to just find where I’ve mislaid…er, carefully stored my Socks, Socks, Socks book.

  50. WHY ARE YOU COMING TO DETROIT? I live in Michigan, not too far from Detroit! I love thinking that I’ll be rather close to you. 🙂
    happy knitting.
    ps. i am addicted to your blog, thanks for that.

  51. Oh! I just used that new STR colorway, Going for Gold, to knit a Baby Yours sweater (my second)! The color was perfect for our university here in Wyoming, and as the dad works for the university and wrestled for it at one time, the choice seemed perfect. We even found buttons with the university symbol on them! (I have it up in my Rav projects.) So what if the baby was a wee girl…Ahem.

  52. Well, since Feb. only has 28 days, if you add 3 to it, that would mean that you finished your socks on Feb. 31, which is totally still in February. Stunning bit of logic, isn’t it?
    Good news, I will finish the pair of socks (tonight) that has been languishing in my purse since last summer. Clears the path for all kinds of new endeavors!

  53. That’s 3 skeins of STR that I’ll have to order once my self imposed yarn drought ends on Easter Sunday. Love your prizes and congratulations to the medal winners. Yeah Team!
    Drat. No Anna. Wooooot Janel. Now if you could just get her to stay for second session. Hint hint.
    Looking forward to April once I get through March. Lovely socks and I know you’ll probably end up with a baker’s dozen pairs of new socks. You’ll sneak an extra pair in somewhere. I know you. Of course you may give them away. Then again you may not.

  54. I love the socks.And the pictures of the yarn. I just started making socks this year and only been knitting for two years. I have to say I love knitting socks for the most part. Although it is a challenge for me to manage the needles. I lost partial use of one hand and it takes me a while to do it but I have finished one sock and almost done with its mate.
    Reading your books and blog help make me laugh want to knit. :0) So thank you.

  55. I am so looking forward to seeing you on Saturday! My friend and I have had it on our calendars for a month now and we are very excited!

  56. I was sitting at work yesterday with a rare few moments to myself, working on a pair of socks for my best friend. (We’re such good friends that she’s overlooking the fact that I’m still knitting her Xmas ’09 socks, but that’s another story.) So I was chugging away at my heel gusset when I was struck with this overwhelming feeling of knitterly unity. That there were many many other people out in the world who were holding their needles and yarn at that very moment, engaged in the same act as me. My fellow knitters were knitting on buses, in waiting rooms, in rocking chairs, in restaurants, or libraries – working on hats or blankets or scarves or sweaters or stuffed toys for beloved babies – it was as if I could feel the yarn sliding through their fingers as clearly as I could feel my own. It’s my hope that maybe one other person felt that sensation in that moment as well. And I also hope that we all feel gratitude for this community that teaches us that a piece of fabric is made up of many many individual stitches, and that it is important to see that it’s only in supporting one another, like stitches on a blanket, that makes for a beuatiful and beloved whole.

  57. Dear Stephanie,
    It is probably presumptous, no, definitely presumptious of me to take it upon myself to say that we all have no problem when you go random. RANDOM IS GOOD! Go for it. We love it. (The same can’t be said about some other so-called knitting blogs I’ve seen that carry on about abcessed teeth or psychotic episodes (of the medical variety) and the associated medications. They should stick to knitting. You can write about anything and we’ll love it!
    Enjoy your trip!

  58. The socks are beautiful. But I’ve always wondered, how do they stay up without cuff ribbing?
    Janet (Not a Slouch Sock Person.)(I guess you could say she’s an uptight person!)

  59. You are doing great on the socks for a year thing. I might be able to get there myself, but only if I decide sometime in the next month to actually finish all of my single socks! Pathetic how many of them I have.

  60. I hope to see you here in Detroit! I’m a very big fan, you really inspire me….love ALL your posts.

  61. for once, detroit gets some GOOD luck — a yarn harlot visit.
    any hope that indianapolis will see you soon, stephanie? the dinosaurs at the children’s museum keep asking me when you’ll do more than just drive by. (i don’t think they expect socks or a scarf or anything.)
    i’ll bribe you with more endangered species chocolate . . .
    and i’m glad “free range” is out in paper now, but i hope there’s also a new book in the works.

  62. The socks are great. The prizes rock. But the sweater, the poor failed (or failing) sweater! You’ve gotta tell us all about it! And about your previous attempt to use the yarn! All the grisly details! Pleeeeeaaase. . .

  63. I too just ended a non-working relationship but with a scarf rather than a sweater. The yarn is gorgeous, the pattern apparently simple, but in practice it was just hell on needles. After I frogged it I made a couple of weak attempts at redemption then put the yarn lovingly into the stash box. It’s okay, we can still be friends, I’ll call….

  64. Gorgeous socks. If I ever get around to the sock knitting again I’ll do that pattern, which is one of my favorites for socks (theoretically). I have used it for a modified scarf, and love the design.
    Magical thinking. I’m all in favor of it. Especially if it lets me win the $200 million powerball jackpot *grins*

  65. Congrats to the medal winners! I’m working on a sweater just like you mentioned–I’m cold, time to knit a sweater for me, my daughter, my son, and his twin, not to mention my husband. And I think I’ve finally found a yarn for one for a friend. Yeah, 4 on the needles, 2 in my head buzzing for attention.

  66. I think that March 3 still counts as February. In fact, I think any time in March would count… if it was May, then maybe not. My yarn was backordered for the Knitting Olympics, but I am making the Keep on Truckin’ Baby Cardigan for my son’s first birthday. I’m almost done.

  67. Uh, could you, like, wear the WHISTLER SWEATER if you’re cold? It’s brand new, fits you perfectly and is beautiful. I’ll be your crowd in Detroit wants to see it – let’s hear the chant, “Whistler, Whistler, Whistler!”

  68. So a while back you said if people got world leaders to hold their projects you would make a donation to KWB – does it count if I got a gold medalist to hold Knitted Audrey Hepburn in a picture?

  69. You are not alone, I cast on 2 sweaters because I was cold. 2 wool sweaters….for Florida. It will probably never be this cold again in a decade. But I will be prepared ( assuming I finish ). Love the socks, at least your feet will be warm.

  70. Technically, you could solve the problem of being chilly right now if you were knitting really, really fast….but, yeah, probably a lot more effective to go get a finished sweater instead.
    Even you can’t knit fast enough to generate that much energy….I think. (But I’ve been wrong about things before.)

  71. I know you are an awesome knitter. I am amazed that you were able to finish that amazing sweater and that pair of socks in almost one month. For some reason I can’t knit a sweater in under eleven months and it usually takes me at least a month to knit a pair of socks.

  72. There is no way on this earth that I can go to Sock Camp. I know this, every year I know this, and every year I wish it were not so. Sigh. Knit a stitch for me. I will be at home teaching myself stranded colorwork for socks.
    Seeing that first prize I really wish I’d entered the Olympics and the contest. There was a project with a deadline that I did stay up late working on while watching women’s curling and did finish just on time on the Saturday morning, but 1) I’d started before the Olympics 2) it was a group project 3) the mad-sprint-to-the-finish part was actually crochet. I have a feeling that trying to get crochet into the Knitting Olympics would be a lot like showing up for the women’s downhill with a Flexible Flyer under my arm.

  73. Though I’m sure I’m not going to get 12 pairs of socks done this year, I am making it the year of the sock. I’ve got two pair going right now (I knit two at once on two circulars so I actually get pairs and not just one sock…:-) Anne Hanson’s Flaming Desire for me and The Sleepy Hollow socks for my friend who blackmailed me, I mean asked nicely, for some. I’m looking forward to your monthly updates!

  74. Did it, did it, did it 🙂 Not for the Olympics, but a pair of socks in four days from dye pot to spinning wheel to needles is not bad. See I could have done it for the Olympics, if there would have been needles… Thanks for the necessary shove to get something out of the ordinary going!
    Now let’s see the next sock patterns, maybe something tickles me so badly that the next pair will be “complicated”.

  75. Oh, what beautiful socks! The idea that I could knit my own socks is what got me started on the idea that I’d teach myself to knit. Unfortunately, even “Knitting for Dummies” is yet a bit out of my league. Someday I’ll master it… someday!!

  76. Considering you were cranking out a Dale sweater in February along with the socks, you did well getting them done on the 3rd. Nice job.

  77. Yay for the winners! Yay for the socks, and yay for random… heck, yay for everything! It’s that kind of day.

  78. In a totally not related topic, but something really cool (IMO) that I thought I would share, our newspaper recently had an article in the Sunday edition about a soldier who knits. He even taught his buddies. I’m not sure if the link will work, but here goes an attempt: knitting soldier article
    *crossing fingers that the HTML turns into a link and not just text on a page*

  79. Great socks – beautiful colors. That Feather and Fan pattern is really excellent. Have only knit it once, but you get a lot of bang for the buck.

  80. Beautiful socks. Who needed them done in February!!! March can still be mighty cold in
    Toronto, right? Have a great trip to Detroit!

  81. February is a short month and so I think this finish is totally fair to claim as the February sock, allowing for more emphasis on that Ha! you offered up.

  82. Have a good trip to MI. I wish I could be there to see you. On the other hand, who wants to go to the mitten state in March? It’s much like going to . . . Ontario in March.

  83. I’m starting to get inspired by this self-imposed sock club thingie, lol. I have more sock yarn that I can knit in a year, and long neglected sock books. Perhaps you’ve got a good thing going here. Just reach in and grab a bag, and knit what ever comes out…I could do that (maybe).

  84. Totally forgot about your sock club with the knitting olympics going on. Good for you for fitting them in. I love the socks. Feather and fan makes the best scalloped edging.

  85. Oh, my goodness. I’m new to blogging, and this is my very first comment anywhere, anytime. I’ve been knitting for years, but certainly have nothing like the skill and accomplishment demonstrated here. I would dearly love to learn fair isle knitting properly- can I learn from a book?

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