Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hibiscus for Hope Button - now available

Amy made this lovely button to share with all Hibiscus for Hope knitters and supporters.

I have to say that I am delighted with the enthusiastic responses for the pattern and all the lovely examples of Hibiscus socks that are popping up on Ravelry, and for the warm and generous the support everyone has shown for this fundraising effort.

I've received a tremendous outpouring of support for the walk and also many notes from people about their own battle with cancer or that of a loved one, and some about their loss of close friends or family members to cancer. I wish you could read some of the moving personal stories people impart in the messages with their donations. I will try to figure out the best way to share them here.

P.S. Please stand by for further action here regarding the KAL and related contests (yes, my darlings, there will be prizes). I'm a bit behind on my plans for this, occupied with some personal events at present that require all my immediate attention and have assumed slightly overwhelming proportions:
In short, I am trying to (a) plan my wedding, (b) train for a 60-km walk, (c) unclutter my home life, and (d) sort through 4 years of financial records for tax returns, all in the next two weeks.

Monday, August 11, 2008

KnittingAlchemy's Hibiscus for Hope Socks

MezzoDiva has gifted me with an invitation to guest author this blog and I’m only too happy to oblige. I’m sure she’s working hard to get ready for her 60K walk/run in September, a Herculean effort for a great cause. I thought I’d share a day in the life of my Hibiscus for Hope socks. I’m knitting them up in Crystal Place Yarns’ Maizy, which is 82% corn fibre and 18% elastic nylon. It’s soft and stretchy and yummy.

MezzoDiva developed this pattern from one by my stitch & bitch buddy, Rebecca, who designed the beautiful Agatha shawl. I fell hard for that one too, MezzoDiva. Anyway, Hibiscus for Hope is the sexiest sock pattern I’ve ever seen with its sensuous angles and its luscious laciness, and I can’t wait to finish mine. Click here to make a donation and receive this pattern.

Hibiscus for Hope Diary: August 10, 2008

Yesterday, my husband and I decided on the spur of the moment to rip up to Jasper for the afternoon. Jasper is four hours away in the Rocky Mountains. It’s been twenty years since we saw Jasper and we were both very excited to be going. The drive up and back afforded me hours of time on my socks. I had one toe done and was keenly working my way up the sock toward the pattern part.

Sixty stitches, round and round on my two circs. The views were stunning and the needles were flying (except when I discovered the hole I made with a yarn over…I’ve been doing a lot of lace work lately…these yarn overs seem to be involuntary…in fact, this is the second perfect little hole I’ve created involuntarily on these socks, but I digress).

There I was, singing along to the radio, knitting away, enjoying the feel and colour and action of every stitch, watching as the prairies turned to foothills, the foothills began to be dotted with small rocks here and there, and suddenly seeing and being in the middle of the mountains. The beauty and sheer size of these rock formations really take your breath away. They remind me that I’m but a small part of this earth. They exude a solid strength and I take great energy from them.

Back to the sock. It was around the time that the prairies turned to foothills that I reached the point in the sock where I could start the patterning. How exciting! When I reached into the Ziploc bag that held the sock accoutrements for the pattern I realized the pattern was sitting on my dining room table at home. Sigh. I had pulled it out of the Ziploc bag the night before to read ahead in the pattern and had forgotten to put it back. In our spontaneous dash out the door I didn’t give it a thought. I had the Ziploc baggie with the wool and partial sock in it. I threw in an extra ball of the yarn because I wouldn’t want to run out. There was paper in the bag but it turned out to be a Movie Gallery print out. Isn’t that the way it goes? Throw in a Crayola “burnt orange” for marking rows and you’ve got the full domestic picture.

Luckily, I brought back-up knitting. I worked on the Victorian lace scarf I’m making for our adopted daughter who lives in Inuvik. In winter, the kids wear their parkas in school all day because the building can’t be heated enough. She’s actually a friend of my daughter’s but we love her too and consider her one of our own. The pattern is “Scarf with a wide and handsome border,” found in Jane Sowerby’s Victorian Lace Today. I’m knitting it with Fiddlesticks JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk in the colour Jade.

In Jasper, we did the stroll down the main drag where all the souvenir shops are and I was a very good girl. The only thing I bought was a pretty bag for my knitting, and it was 50% off. (The Ziploc bags work great but the statement they make really isn’t me.)
After our stroll we had a lovely dinner of rainbow trout before setting off home. The sun behind us lit up the landscape we drove through making the drive home as lovely as the drive up. I continued to knit the scarf until the sun went down.

My Hibiscus for Hope socks’ journey will continue. I may print out a few extra copies of the pattern and place them strategically in both our vehicles, in my purse, in my knitting bag, and anywhere else I may be inspired to look for it the next time I leave it sitting on the dining room table.

Best wishes to you MezzoDiva in your walk, and thanks for championing this important cause.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A little Hi(biscu)story

Are you sitting down? Good.
Because I have a shocking confession to make:
It's my pattern, but it's not originally my design.


I was fiddling with ideas for the pattern off and on since mid-winter, but to no satisfaction. Though I unwittingly managed to reinvent any number of lovely sock patterns that are out and about these days (aaargh!), I just wasn't able to make any of my original inspirations comply with my requirements for a new pattern that would: keep the basic construction of the sock fairly simple so that sock-neophytes won’t be scared off, but hopefully introduce some new structural ideas to a few people in a simple and fun way, while letting an intriguing but still easy to accomplish lace do most of the talking so that sock-experts will want to play too.

I did give it several valiant tries, but frankly in recent months all my creative juices were flowing in musical directions, all my brain cells were otherwise occupied and in overdrive (preparing for the then-upcoming opera performances) so that all I could do competently with sticks and string was knit rounds and rounds of mindless stockinette. Even the simplest short-row toe was truly a challenge because my brain was just too full.

Meanwhile, way back in Januray I came across That Logan Chick's gorgeous Agatha shawl on Etsy, and I fell hard. I was completely enthralled. I immediately ordered the pattern (as well as a couple of her beautiful beaded shawl pins). Though unable to commit to a shawl project at the time, I was nevertheless besotted, completely under the spell of that pattern, unable to stop dreaming about it, scribbling its name lovingly in the margins of my opera scores, sketching its motif in my diary...

In late spring, as I wrestled with the umpteenth idea for my 2008 Knitters for Knockers sock, I started tinkering with ideas for using the Agatha shawl motif in a sock and couldn’t think in any other direction. After much frustration (and the near demolition of a perfectly lovely skein of Fleece Artist sock yarn from frequent ripping and reknitting and ripping and reknitting...) it occurred to me that really I was (oh, fer heaven's sake, again?!) trying to reinvent and codify something that had already been created beautifully by someone else - and I love her version of it so much that I could never be content with any poor imitation I would make.

I wisely decided to put it aside and sleep on it.

I woke up the next day and realized I'd been operating under a false assumption. I mistakenly believed that because it’s my fundraising program, I have to be the sole designer (pardon the pun) for this endeavour. Of course my ego was egging me on, whispering insidiously that I had to come up with something brilliant and beautiful like last year's pattern Campanula for the Cure and I had to do it all by myself.

Well, I'd been reading a lot of Eckhart Tolle lately. Somehow, his words of wisdom afforded me just enough detachment to see through the egoic trap of my non-existent dilemna. Aknowledging the simple yet profound error in my thinking was quite liberating! (Though I am still sheepishly succumbing to an ego-driven desire to state that I bought the book last year, before the big Oprah-induced phenomenon, but I had a few other books on the night-table ahead of it and I only got around to reading it this spring).

I promptly sat down at my computer and sent an email to Rebecca, the brilliant creator of that shawl I love so much, asking her to be my guest designer for the Knitters for Knockers 2008 campaign and I'm thrilled to report she was happy to oblige! Rebecca not only generously allowed me to borrow the motif, she pointed me to her own prototype Hibiscus sock AND graciously sent me her notes (for a size 11 sock - gulp!) and all her charts.

I must admit the road from there to a clear instructive pattern for public consumption that would allow most sock knitters to make their own was still a long and occasionally arduous one as the conceptual steps were easy to imagine but a lot harder to articulate. But now that it’s done, tested and vetted by my faithful team of experts, and revised and edited to within an inch of its life and mine, I am SO proud to reveal it to you in all its glory.

I know I am biased, but it's a beautiful sock pattern and I hope you'll love it as much as I do. If you're intrigued, please sponsor me now for the 2008 Toronto Weekend to End Breast Cancer. I'll send you the pattern as soon as I get notice of your donation. Or, better yet, go check out Knitters for Knockers, and join us for for this profoundly empowering life-altering experience.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Can't wait to start!

When I saw the pattern, I used it as an excuse to buy both "Socks Soar on two Circs" and "New Pathways" from KnitPicks (40% off all books until the 8th). I'll be knitting this one in gloss burgundy. I love the pattern, and it's a more satisfying knit knowing that the money I'm paying for such a beautiful pattern is going to an excellent cause. I still have one of my campanula socks to knit, but they're such *satisfying* knits that I take my time. I can't wait to get my needles and such, and will try to get pics up as I go along!