Lessons Crossing the Continental Divide

Sometimes it's the impulse buys—the ones you look at afterwards with some regret and think, "What possessed me to invest in that?" . . . the ones you relegate to your Ravelry "Trade/Sell" stash, where you hope you'll be able to recoup at least some of your investment but, instead, they sit for months with absolutely nobody expressing interest of any kind—sometimes it really is those buys which result in the most satisfying projects.

Such was the case of my Maizy. What on earth was this die-hard wool enthusiast (i.e. me) thinking when I popped those two little skeins of 82% corn fiber / 18% elastic nylon into my basket?

I'll tell you what I was thinking: "Co00000ol... Corn yarn...." (Read that line with a note of Homer Simpson's "Mmmmmm... Floor donuts..." and you have a pretty clear image of the fiber-induced stupor into which I must have fallen.)

So the Maizy sat for months and months. I would gladly have passed it along to someone else, but nobody would have it. And then, while packing for one of our camping trips this summer, I realized I would be finishing one project before we returned and needed another to have at-the-ready. Short on packing time, the Maizy called to me for several reasons:
  1. I had already identified and printed a pattern—one that had been designed on the yarn by the yarn manufacturer, so I trusted I wouldn't need to stress about running out of yarn the entire way through the top-down construction;
  2. The yarn comes in center-pull put-ups, so I didn't have to reskein it;
  3. The pattern calls for US2 needles, which I viewed as a welcome relief after the long work on my recent stretch of ultimately disappointing US1-needle sock projects this summer; and
  4. Because I wasn't overly invested in wanting these socks to turn out brilliantly, I felt comfortable using them for an experiment... these would be my first-ever project knit entirely Continental, which I blogged about previously in Old Dog.
The result?

My Continental Maizy Lace Socks:

Pattern: Maizy Lace by Cathy Hannigan (for Crystal Palace). The free pattern is available via Crystal Palace.
Materials: Maizy, Neptune 1009, 2 skeins
Needles: US 2 / 2.75 mm
Started: August 1, 2008
Completed: August 12, 2008

Although they were the last of 3 pairs I completed for Summer of Socks 2008, with all the crazy stuff going on in my life this last part of the summer, I never posted them for the final raffle.

I worked these socks top-down, two at once, using Magic Loop. The pattern's not written for Magic Loop, but translates easily.

The simple yarn-over lace features pairs of offset diagonals that don't quite form a perfect inverted V but are perfectly charming, nonetheless.

The heel was written for a simple slip-knit stitch, which I exchanged for Eye of Partridge. I ask you, is there ever a time when Eye of Partridge doesn't make a more interesting choice?

Despite the stitch modification, I did not modify the garter detail flanking the heel flap:

Talk about charming! I may start adding this detail to all my socks from here on out. It creates a lovely frame for a more finished looking heel... and while I point to no higher authority upon which to base this next claim, I could swear it makes the heel fit more snugly. Of course, it may just be the elastic nylon that draws it in.

Overall, the socks fit very well given the pattern's not written for a customized fit.

And while I often find multi-colored yarns obnoxious for their striping and pooling effects—a feature which many people seem to turn a blind eye to in their enthusiasm for the caché of hand-dyed yarns—I actually like the way the colors played out in these socks. No complaints!

Even the Continental knitting went remarkably smoothly. In fact, I think these were one of my quickest knits of the summer. I still instinctively saddle-up Western style, but I became highly proficient at Continental on this project—both knitting and purling (on the heels)—and I'll challenge myself to more Continental knitting in the future.

Maizy is really spongy, and it's splitty in a not-very-splitty kind of way (if that makes any sense). It did take a few inches of knitting to get used to it, but once I did, I found working with the Maizy rather enjoyable. I'd even go so far as to say I'd prefer to work with Maizy again over cotton—cotton just doesn't have enough give to give me a pleasant knitting experience.

And now, a request for you:

Anyone out there know anything about the manufacturing process for Maizy yarn? I'm interested in the environmental impact... You know: just because something's predominantly made from a natural fiber doesn't mean the processing required to turn that fiber into knit-able yarn isn't loaded with so many harsh and damaging chemicals as to make the whole natural-implied labeling laughable. If you have any information about this process or can point me to online resources, I'd be grateful!


Vtknitboy said...

hi zhenya! nice to read your posts. i have the same question about:
kollage milk yarn

i know soysilk is a by-product from tofu making. i know nothing about the process or use of energy it takes to make any of these. i have emails out to kollage from like 3 weeks ago with no response. hence, i just bought lots of roving from vt and new england people at the vt sheep and wool festival today! all locally grown and cared for. fun!

ChelleC said...

Lovely socks. And I know exactly what you mean about those yarns that you wonder "why did I ever buy this?" and then have a delightful surprise it knits up so beautifully.

Virtuous said...

Glad they worked out! The socks came out great!

I was just wondering about you! SO good to hear from you!