For the curious, here is how much I can knit in one week when confronted with hours and hours of software training. Add on three hours of TV (yes, I am one of the three people in the United States still watching Workout) to turn the heel, and voila – two-thirds of a sock. Specs: Trekking 107 on size 0 Addi Turbos a la Magic Loop. Want to play along at home? Couldn’t be simpler: Cast on 64 stitches, rib for one inch, increase to 72 evenly (i.e. once every 8 stitches) in the last row of ribbing, knit in stockinette for 6 more inches, make Sherman heel. I do use a row counter while Sherman-ing to keep track of how many unworked stitches I have on each side, but you may have better powers of concentration than I do. After the heel, I’ll most likely decrease to 68 or even 64 stitches for the foot, because my feet are tiny, then do a round toe at the 7.25 inch mark for a total foot length of just over nine inches. Then, because that’s just the way I am, I’ll do it all over again for my other foot. [Note that this assumes I already know the number of cast-on stitches I need because I know the number of stitches to the inch I'm getting - if you're thinking "Hey, that sounds easy, I'll just jump right in," you might want to knit a gauge swatch first. - Ed.]
I do feel a sense of urgency here, because these socks seem to have gone missing. These Cherry Tree Hill socks are also AWOL. Sadly, my anal-retentive side doesn’t seem to include “sock organization skills” – I have no idea where they might be. The bottom of a suitcase? The back of a drawer? Either way, fall is coming, and I am pretty much sockless. So this Trekking pair is part of the “sock me up” plan – when she was in Ann Arbor, Stephanie reminded the knitters present that she finishes several pairs a year simply by having a sock handy when she’s faced with waiting time. I certainly have waiting time; I should have more socks. Also? I should obviously have a sock search party.
There were so many people at the Ann Arbor Public Library on Sunday that latecomers (or those who simply wanted to sneak in a side trip to Zingerman’s, like my friend Jen and I) watched Stephanie on TV in the fourth floor conference room. On TV. The view was pretty good from what I referred to as the cheap seats, but I still turned to Jen and said “I think I’ve crossed some sort of line when I drive a couple hundred miles to watch knitting on TV.” Heh. Between the hundred or so knitters and spinners in the conference room and two hundred downstairs at the talk itself, I think a Stephanie Pearl-McPhee book signing now officially qualifies as its own traveling fiber festival, albeit one at which Stephanie is the only vendor.
I was shocked that Steph knew who I was: I guess it’s all the stalking of that sweater that shall not be named. That, and the discovery of our mutual dislike of batwing sleeves. She called me a celebrity; I should have pointed out that even on my best days I can’t get people to stand in line to talk to me, but I just laughed instead. I set aside my Midwestern reticence (the same politness that doesn’t allow me to call someone after 9 p.m., ever) to ask for a photo, which also qualifies as a Retro Rib progress picture (I’m in the middle, the only one not holding a Pearl-McPhee sock) – it’s all foot, all the time now. Jen is holding Stephanie’s other traveling sock, because you can’t take a picture without knitting in your hand if you’re with Stephanie. I’m sure both of Stephanie’s socks are done now – if I didn’t know better, I would say she and Mrs. Weasley shared the “it just knits itself” gene.
But it occurred to me – that’s the beauty of something wacky like driving a few hundred miles to watch a knitting talk on TV. All of the knitting I saw didn’t just “knit itself” – it was made by hand. Someone wanted to make it, picked up needles and yarn, and went to work. Those crazy beautiful lace shawls, the multitudes of socks, the felted bags didn’t just pop out of a shopping bag; they were made by someone who cared about making them. I don’t love yarn or patterns indiscriminately, but just thinking about how much work went into all of those finished objects makes me love all kinds of knitters just a little more. Even if they’re in love with entrelac, or batwing sleeves.