Saturday, May 19, 2012

All About Socks

Oh, the knitting. The bright side of having all of my spring classes canceled is that I've had more knitting time than expected (although still not enough--never enough). If you've known me for more than 20 minutes, or even if you're the stranger who was staring at me in Saigon* the other day, you know that I'm a little bit obsessive about knitting socks. I've heard of toe-up socks, of course, but in my three-ish years of obsessive sock knitting, I've only done cuff-down and I've always wondered if I was missing something. When I saw a toe-up sock pattern book on clearance it was like a sign from God that it was time to learn toe-ups. Or a sign from the manager of that bookstore. Whatever. When life hands you a really cheap toe-up sock book, you learn toe-up socks. So I cast on my first toe-up in late March and have completed two pairs since then (although not the first pair), and I figure that gives me the right to an opinion. 

I should probably make sure my next socks aren't purple.
I can't say that toe-ups are going to be my go-to method of sock knitting. Some of the things I like best about sock knitting are negated by working toe-up. When you're working a sock cuff-down, you get the ribbing out of the way right at the start, but in toe-up, the dreaded ribbing comes last, and that makes that last inch of sock really seem to drag. Another bonus of working a sock cuff-down is that you do the pattern repeat all around the leg, and then when you get to the foot, you can stop working the pattern on the sole, so suddenly you're moving a lot faster. It's a nice little burst of speed that you lose when you're working the other way around.

On the other hand, there are some pretty awesome aspects of working a sock toe-up. Most obviously, Judy's Magic Cast-On really is magic! I swear! As impressed as I was when I first learned to turn a heel, this is how impressed I am with the Magic Cast-On. Plus it's fun to do--as are most magic tricks, I suppose. I'm also pretty impressed with Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off. It is really surprisingly stretchy, a rare example of truth in advertising. I was about to give up on toe-ups all together because the three bind-offs I tried from the toe-up sock book were all too tight. And then Jeny came along and saved me from myself. I hope someday when I grow up I will have a knitting technique named after me, too.

So, no, toe-ups will not be my go-to method, but it's a technique I'm glad to have conquered so that when a special design I just can't resist comes along, I'm ready for it. And what type of design is so special that it can't be resisted, you wonder? I'm glad you asked.

This type:


This pattern is called "Covered in Butterflies" and it's by my own personal knit-designing friend, Drew Hayes. I just want to establish right now that I have met Drew and he is my friend and we have had real in-person conversations and have drunk beer together and played Scrabble and everything. I need to get that in writing because someday Drew will be famous and no one will believe that a designer of his stature would ever bother with some amateur like me.

This is exactly the type of pattern I love to work. The lace is fairly complicated and kept my attention, but it was repetitive enough that I had it memorized by the time I finished the first foot. So the design was engaging and entertaining, but I didn't have to constantly refer back to the pattern. Perfect.

Click to see a larger picture of the pattern.
I even eventually fell in love with the teensy cables on the cuff--although not until after I had muttered some very impolite words about poor Drew, which I'm glad he was not in the room to hear.


I am not generally a fan of cables, and little-bitty cables in Regia, which refuses to be cabled without a needle, are not likely to make me more amenable. But after I finished the first sock, I couldn't imagine this design without cables. The cables suggest vines, which complements the butterflies perfectly. Plain 2x2 ribbing would just be dull and wrong. So as much as I dislike cables, I have no choice but to admit that they are the best and only option on this sock. It's a testament to Drew as a designer that he realized that.


As far as I know, Drew hasn't made the pattern public yet, but I hope he will. In fact, I encourage all of you to bug the living hell out of him until he does ("JustDrew" on Ravelry). The world needs to be Covered in Butterflies!

Update 6/8/12: Drew has put the pattern up for sale. The Ravelry link is here. Go there. Now.

*Saigon the Vietnamese restaurant in Wichita, Kansas, not the formerly-known-as city in Vietnam. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Magic Happy Fun Time Cabinet

This afternoon I became the proud owner of a magic cabinet. Some people might think it's just an antique kitchen cabinet my stepmother decided she didn't want anymore and gave to me. But those are silly people, because it is really a magic cabinet. Wanna see?

From the outside, it looks like this: 



But on the inside it looks like this: 

 

See? Yarn magic. 


Friday, May 4, 2012

Why I Stay

Thursday, May 3, was a hard day. It was the day that the United Methodist General Conference considered the language in our Discipline related to homosexuality. Candace Chellew-Hodge does her usual excellent job of explaining what happened here.

I am nowhere near Tampa, Florida, where General Conference is taking place. All I had to do was check in on Twitter and the GC blog periodically, but my stomach was in knots most of the morning. I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to be in that room. Nor am I gay. I can't imagine what it must've been like to be a gay person, a person who has faith that our church is ultimately a place of love, and to be told yet again that her life is intrinsically wrong. I won't pretend to understand how that feels.

To be clear, the church's official position, the position reaffirmed Thursday morning by a vote of 368 to 572,  is that homosexuality is "incompatible with Christian teaching." In other words, the official position of my denomination is that it is a sin to be gay or to engage in homosexual relationships.

My denomination is wrong. Being gay is not a sin.

I keep having to remind myself of my reasons for re-joining the United Methodist denomination. I actually have a list of reasons for joining a Christian denomination in general and the United Methodist denomination and my particular congregation in particular, none of which I'll bore you with. Today, the pertinent question is why I stay. I have zero interest in participating in a group that institutionalizes discrimination and bigotry. So why do I continue to contribute "my time, my talents, my gifts, and my service" to an organization that espouses an understanding of human experience that is so completely opposed to my own?

Part of the reason is stubbornness. It would be a hell of a lot easier to run off and join some other denomination that has already dealt with or is well on its way to dealing with equality, or even to be one of those "spiritual-but-not-religious" people who get to sleep in on Sunday mornings and never have to go to committee meetings. But I am a fifth-generation Methodist, a United Methodist born and bred. Not surprisingly, there are some specific elements of the United Methodist interpretation of Christianity that speak to me louder than any other denomination.

And I flat out refuse to cede my denomination to the bullies and the bigots.  

(I was amused and horrified to read the comments on an article headed by a photo of a woman pressing the ends of her rainbow stole to her eyes as she sobbed; one of the commentors was downright gleeful that the LGBT activist "bullies" didn't get their way. For the record, bullies aren't usually the ones who end up crying.)

The other part of the reason I stay is because I have to--have to--stand with the gay and lesbian members in my denomination and my particular congregation. If they can stick it out, I can. If they can see value in our Wesleyan traditions significant enough to outweigh the evil that our denomination perpetrates on them, then so can I. If they're willing to stay and fight until we finally fix this, if they have trust that we will fix this, then so do I. If they're willing to bring their children into our denomination, then I have to honor the promise that we all make at our children's baptisms to help raise them in love. And if they feel that they need to move to a different denomination where they don't have to fight quite so hard for acceptance, then I will understand. I will be sad to lose you but I will understand, and I will keep working until you can come back.

I'm not trying to say anything wise here, and I don't expect to sway anyone with this post. I have written this only because it is important for me to say it out loud, again and again:

My denomination is wrong. Being gay is not a sin. General Conference may be almost over for this quadrennium, but we're nowhere near done yet.