Yarnwise, she picked Shibui Sock in a semisolid colorway called "Dragonfly" and Cherry Tree Hill in a Loopy Ewe Sock Club exclusive colorway that I think is a remake of Life's a Beach. I wanted to keep the CTH for myself, because I have a bit of history with this yarn.
Years ago, when Simply Socks Yarn Company opened, I eagerly cruised the owner's slide show of favorite sock yarns. She has updated it since then and the yarn I responded to is no longer there, but she had a gorgeous picture of some light turquoise blue and sea green handpainted yarn that I loved. I ordered it. When it came, it bore NO resemblance to the photo. It was so different that I assumed I made a mistake when ordering. I had an almost nonexistent sock yarn stash back then, and I didn't dislike the new yarn, so I didn't contact the owner about a possible mistake. Months later, Allison wrote a blog post about how Cherry Tree Hill changed their base yarn and the dyes were taking really differently. She specifically wrote about the Life's a Beach colorway and how they had readjusted their dye recipe to get a handpaint closer to the original, and she had the "new" Life's a Beach in stock. I thought about ordering it a second time, but didn't.
Fast forward. I made lots of socks using my tried-and-true Classic Crew Socks pattern from the Earth Guild in Asheville, NC, and eventually became ready to try something new. Charlene Schurch had just released Sensational Knitted Socks, and I had a copy. I decide to try a toe-up sock and to use this Life's a Beach yarn. Then Kristina had a baby. I planned to go to Boston to meet Katie and help out for a few days. I took this toe-up sock with me. I tried to get it cast on before the trip, but I had a terrible time with the provisional crochet cast-on. I probably did it 9 times. I started the sock but hated how the crazy yarn colors competed with the pattern. I only got this far before abandoning it. Later, I frogged it, soaked the yarn to get out the kinks, and rewound it into a yarn cake. It still sits in my sock yarn cabinet waiting for its next chance.
Fast forward again. I re-up in The Loopy Ewe Sock Club for Year Two because Sheri promises semi-solid colorways, and I'm tired of fighting with crazy handpaints. One month a hank of yarn shows up from Cherry Tree Hill, and it looks an awful lot like I remember the original Life's a Beach looking. I decide that this is life's way of tossing me a beach ball, and I am meant to make my peace with this yarn once and for all. I haven't cast on yet, but it seems like this yarn should be socks for me, not my mom. I'm also not sure I'd call it "semi-solid," but whatever. In Carol Sulcoski's new classification, I'd call it a "muted multi" - but we didn't have that language then.
Enough about the yarn. Suffice it to say that I chose to knit Mom's Christmas 2009 socks out of the Shibui Dragonfly because Life's a Beach and I still have unfinished business. Now to the pattern. Mom expressed interested in (links are to Ravelry):
- Conwy (Nancy Bush Knitting on the Road p. 22)
- Baby Cable Rib (Charlene Schurch Sensational Knitted Socks p. 33)
- Diagonal Cross-Rib Socks (Favorite Socks p. 77)
- Undulating Rib Socks (Favorite Socks p. 93)
I decided that #4 looked the most interesting to me. I knew immediately that I would have to modify the pattern, though, because Ann Budd (the designer) says she got 9 stitches per inch on a US 3 needle (3.25 mm) with a Fortissima Colori yarn. Ummm, that's a really fine gauge with a really fat needle. She must knit really tightly. I knit a gauge tube with the Shibui and had to fight a little bit to use my normal US 0 (2.0 mm) needles. I moved up to 2.25 mm needles and the yarn seemed happy (I also tried 2.5 mm and it was not happy). I got about 7 st/in. So I used the trusty old Classic Crew Socks pattern formula to figure out the cast-on number with my gauge and my mom's ankle measurement. It said I should cast on 56 stitches.
56!?! That seems LOW, even after I take into account that I usually cast on a lot (68-72, even 75 once). The undulating rib stitch pattern is divisible by 6, so I compromised and cast on 60 with a 2.25 needle. I also did some Ravelry reading and decided to use different techniques for the double increase and double decrease called for in the pattern. I knit a few inches and tried it on myself - I think it will work. (My mom's ankle measurement is very close to mine, so I can use myself for fittings.)
Are you still with me? If you are, I commend you. You must be a sock nut or else just have a lot of time on your hands. I did all that and started the sock. It took me a week to get this sock going. But do you see what I see? *&$#ing pooling!!! with a semi-solid yarn, which I thought was not supposed to do this!!!
Oh, well. I guess it just goes to show that a handpaint is a handpaint, even if it's painted all in the same tone. This is going to have that barberpole stripe going down it if I continue as I have begun. If the sock was for me, I would turn back and do something else. I suppose I should knit a bit more and ask my mom if she likes it.