Challenge Socks #6: Mermaid With Golden Hair

I can't believe it's May, let alone mid May!!! April practically flew by, with C's big birthday party, a lovely and long visit from my mother-in-law, the start of a wonderful new job, and more bouts of viruses running through the family than we ever imagined possible in a mere thirty days! May, too, is flying, with Mother's Day last Sunday, my birthday last Monday, and J's birthday today. These are busy, busy times! And in case you were wondering about whether I was still making progress on My So-Called Sock Challenge, I do have something to show for my long-finished March efforts:

I call them Mermaid With Golden Hair because the first line of "Mermaid Song" from Andrew Lloyd-Webber's Aspects of Love ran through my head practically the entire time I knit them. I can't remember the last time I even thought about that musical -- maybe a decade ago?

With these socks, the story is all about the yarn. Oh... My... Goodness! I can't say enough about how I love it!

It's Lollipop Cabin's organic, single-ply sock yarn, from right here in the Pacific Northwest. From their own PR: "Organic Wool Sock Yarn, individually hand-dyed using rain water collected from a wee little cabin located in the Pacific Northwest Cascade Mountains." 

Quaint, no?! Makes me want to go cuddle up with my knitting in that wee little cabin and listen to the rhythm of the rain beating on what I imagine to be a perfectly musical little tin roof before it tumbles into a rain barrel to be collected for dyeing!

I stumbled upon this yarn back in January, when my Mom was visiting. We spent a few days driving around to yarn stores, hitting not only our old favorites but also spreading out to catch some we'd never been to before.

The biggest score happened January 7 at Country Yarn in Snohomish. The shop doesn't have a website, but here's a link to the basic business info. Country Yarn is a real treat for the spinner, as well as the knitter, with a more extensive spinning selection than I've seen locally anywhere but at The Weaving Works -- and certainly a larger and more interesting selection of hand-dyed spinning fibers!

Among other things, I picked up enough Lollipop Cabin yarn for two pairs of socks (the other will be in lovely peaches), and my Mom picked up enough for a pair, herself.

You can get a visual inkling of just how cushiony, springy, densely wonderful this yarn is by looking at the bind-off edge of my socks. See how nice and round and tall the edge stands up? That's all the yarn's doing -- no photo styling!

Compare to the pursed-lip bind-off edge on the Jealous Zigzag socks my sister sent me last month (Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Superwash) -- which are still getting heavy wear in my sock rotation -- or the similarly flat Fascine-ation socks (Koigu PPM) finished in February -- these socks are positively bursting with body!

Plus they are soft, soft, soft. And as I knit, I enjoyed the slight stretch sensation. A thoroughly enjoyable knitting experience!

Be forewarned if you're a fan of the highly processed: you will encounter little bits of VM in your Lollipop Cabin yarn. No biggie. It's not enough to be a nuisance. Just pick it off as you go.

The angle of this picture really highlights the golden tones:

I love this stitch pattern. You've seen it before on Aesthetic Entanglementz with my Pink Pagewood socks back in December 2008. It's a simple, 1-row, twisted knit rib worked over a multiple of 6 stitches, and I know you'll love it, too, so here it is:

Twisted Rib: K3, P1, K1tbl, P1

You'll notice that although it's made up of a completely symmetrical stitch pattern, the rib looks asymmetrical in the fabric. This is because the twist effectively nudges its stitch to the left a bit. I think it elevates the interest of the humble rib to a greater sophistication. It works equally nicely in a sleek trouser sock or a thick jeans sock. And if you're not a fan of swatching, you don't need to swatch the rib separately from stockinette to be assured of fit!

As you know, I never tire of the Eye of Partridge stitch on my heels. It's so pretty, and the stitch feels even in the back of my socks rather than ridged, like you get with the slipped rib stitch.

I realized in putting this blog together, though, that my sister and I do our heels slightly differently -- even though she also uses my MUMTU pattern. Here's the link to a picture of the heels she put on my Jealous Zigzag socks. Can you tell what's different?

That's right: I put Eye of Partridge on the heel extension (that little triangle-shaped area on the bottom), in addition to the heel flap; she doesn't. There's no right or wrong here -- it's just an example of how people develop their individual ways of doing things. She wears her hand-knit socks every bit as often and hard as I wear mine, and as far as I know she's never had to darn a heel, either. 

One last thing about the Lollipop Cabin. Our County Yarn shopkeeper, who knows the dyer, said this yarn is guaranteed not too pool. You can be sure my ears perked up at that! Now, I am realistic. I know that pooling in socks is as much a factor of gauge and stitch count as it is of some property inherent in the dye work (although I also think hand-dyers can do a better job mathematically predicting probable round-repeats so as to avoid the most unsightly pooling for the majority of sock knitters). I know that some pooling is bound to creep in. I just hope that it's not obnoxious. How did Lolllipop Cabin do?

Pretty darned well! The patterning remains even -- without being icky-stripy -- in all but one area: the gusset. That's the only spot of pooling ... and it's not surprising that the color would sit differently in this area since it's where stitches get increased.

So a big thumbs-up to Lollipop Cabin!

Best of all, I think there's enough yarn left to make a follow-up pair for C, my own little mermaid with golden hair. She'll be thrilled!

My So-Called Sock Challenge Tally (through 4.14.11):

Total: 6 pairs in 4 months

The Details:

Pattern: Mash-Up Magic Toe-Up Socks (designed by me)
Started: March 1, 2011
Completed: April 14, 2011
Materials: Lollipop Cabin Softsock, 2 240-yard skeins, colorway 1804i
Needles: US 2 / 2.75 mm
Gauge: 7.5 st/in
Primary Stitch Count: 60

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