Sunday, October 08, 2006

Socktoberfest comes to Yo La Tejo.

While every other knitter in the country knits away on warm wooly socks, anticipating frigid temperatures, I am merely awaiting a break in the heat so that I can turn off my air conditioning. Waah, waah, I know what you're thinking, cry me a river, so it's year-round summer where you live, poor thing.

I miss the seasons! Here in Austin, there's only two: summer and Christmas. Having grown up in the northern climes, I don't miss the blasts of freezing air coming off of Lake Michigan, but I do long for the crisp days of September and October. So I joined Socktoberfest, hoping that at least knitting socks will create the illusion of oncoming fall days.

By the way, Chicago peeps, what's going to pass for Oktoberfest in the Loop now that Berghoff's is closed? That was one of the best parts about working downtown; sitting in my office on Dearborn and Adams, listening to German accordions and drunk businesspeople whoop it up in the post office plaza, and going downstairs at lunchtime for some beer and bratwurst.

UPDATE: I got a comment this morning that this post was excerpted on a Berghoff's memorial blog...go check it out for a fun picture of Oktoberfest happening around the Alexander Calder sculpture!

Although I have to say, we had some very tasty beer brats at the Texas Barbecue Festival today. A handful of meat purveyors from throughout central Texas got together to sell their wares at the farmer's market and so we sampled, and sampled, and sampled...that was some good eatin'! Anyway, the brats come from Shiner, which also produces what is commonly considered to be the state beer. As it so happens, Shiner is hosting Bocktoberfest (I know it sounds funny, but because the beer is Shiner Bock they had to get clever with the name). All I gotta say is, thank goodness those German immigrants came to Texas.

Uh, got a little off track there, didn't I? Without further ado, here are my Socktoberfest questionnaire answers:

When did you start making socks? Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class?

I started knitting socks on the car trip to Big Bend in March 2005. I'd bought a skein of Lana Grossa Meileinweit Cotton in some pretty sorbet colors, and wanted to teach myself from one of those Leisure Arts books.

What was your first pair? How have they "held up" over time? What would you have done differently?

Those Meilenweit socks were my first ones, and I can safely say they were NOT a success. Pretty colors do not ensure a good sock, and neither does a lacy cuff, especially for your first pair. I picked the pattern because I liked the lace, but I didn't check my gauge, and when I finally got to the stockinette part of the foot and realized that the fabric was a bit loose, I was too far along to want to rip it all out. I finished them, but they're really too baggy to wear anywhere but to bed.

The other bad part about that experience was that I was knitting a lace pattern with thin cotton yarn on metal dpns. Can you imagine the nightmare? The headaches? The needles kept slipping off and I vowed never again to knit a pair of socks. Time healed my scars (or at least dulled the pain), so when I began my Cascade Fixation socks, it was like a miracle that the yarn stayed on the needles. I know better now about a good match between yarn and needle, and maybe about gauge, too. I would have knit these on size two or size one birch or bamboo dpns.

What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?

I've knit with the Meilenweit, Cascade Fixation, and Hill Country Yarn. The Meilenweit Cotton is the plaything of the devil, but I love both Fixation and the Hill Country Yarn. I made my Sockapaloooza socks from the latter, and am now knitting with Hill Country Yarn in the University of Texas colors, burnt orange and white. Not my favorite hues, but it's amazing what wool can do for your appreciation of a color.

Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?

I've only knit on DPNs, although I keep saying I'd like to learn a different way. I'm comfortable with the dpns, though, and ever since I bought the Brittany birch dpns, I don't imagine I'll be ready to change anytime soon.

Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)

I don't know. I've only knit three pairs of socks, and I can't honestly remember how the heels went.

How many pairs have you made?

Three. The baggy cotton ones, the Fixation Broadripples (love those!), and the Sockapalooza Rib and Cables, which I have to confess, I don't think fit my sock pal. I never saw a picture of her modeling them, and now that I've started my second pair of Rib and Cables, I think the gauge was way too tight. I had to go up a needle size for the second pair. Sorry, Sue! You deserve a do-over.

Thanks for coming up with the questionnaire, Lolly! If anything, I've learned that my sock knitting experience is paltry and I have quite a ways to go. I'm planning, in addition to the Longhorn ones, socks with some lovely alpaca Laura gave me and some green superwash I won in Ashley's Guess the First Day of Snow contest last year.

In order to supplement my education (ahem!), I finally went and bought Knitting Vintage Socks. Hooray! There are so many beautiful patterns in there, and I can't wait to explore the intricacies of a French heel versus a German heel.

Did someone say German heel? Pass the Shiner!


At 5:14 AM, Blogger Jenna said...

Knitting Vintage Socks is suuuuuch a great book - you'll have 10 pairs under your belt in no time!

At 5:59 AM, Blogger Stephen V Funk said...


There is a link to this post at The Berghoff Memorial Blog. If you would like it removed, please let me know.

The Berghoff Memorial Blog is a place to share stories and memories of this beloved eatery.

Cheers and auf wiedersehen.

At 6:15 AM, Blogger Jennifer said...

You'll love that book! Sensation Knitted Socks is a great one too.

My husband was in Austin last week and said it was so hot! He said it was a nice town though.

At 7:01 AM, Blogger Laura said...

beer and brats! yum!

KVS is a great book...even just for the reference stuff at the beginning. patterns are pretty too, esp. for solid yarns i think.

you know, i recently saw a pair of hederas knit in alpaca and they were really pretty. i have some alpaca that cat sent me, and i think i'll be using that pattern. socks + lace = happy!

At 11:09 AM, Anonymous amanda cathleen said...

loved reading your sock history! There is a yahoo group for knitting vintage socks if you want to join that. Great book : )

At 11:24 AM, Blogger Kodachrome Knits said... and bratwurst. Makes me wish it were the weekend again already, and not Monday. And how uncanny is it that I was knitting on my first pair of socks on my trip to Big Bend & Marfa! Ha!

BTW: you mention you're not really a fan of orange, so my question is this: what colors do you like? (This may have something to do with the delay of your Hemingway-prize package. Doh!)

At 8:47 PM, Blogger janna said...

Oh, yeah -- I get so homesick for Illinois during the fall. I miss crisp days, and leaves changing, and going to the orchard. But, like you, I also don't miss snow, and scraping ice off the car (although I do miss "snow days"!)

At 3:37 PM, Blogger msubulldog said...

I'm glad you're finally using that Texas yarn! (and secretly sorta glad you kept it for yourself and didn't send it off to your pal) *grin* Can't wait to see some Longhorn socks! :)


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