I finally finished the Hogwarts socks I have been torturing for the last few months and sent them off to my poor victim with a few other goodies.
I am very proud of these socks. My pal is obviously a Hufflepuff, and I decided to go with two themes - Goblet of Fire, which is the book the Huffs appear in best and most (Remember Cedric Diggory....) and flowers, because Professor Sprout is, after all, their Head of House. The socks are strictly GoF...the top pattern is false flame stitch, representing the Dragon task. The stitches around the ankle looked like bubbles to me, although Barbara Walker mistakenly thought they looked like something else, and I put them in for the lake challenge - Diggory used the BubbleHead charm, after all... and the foot is a mosaic pattern, also BW, called Maze. I'm sure you know why I chose that one.
Knitting it became a little complicated. As it turned out, I got almost identical guages on the upper half of the sock using two entirely different sizes of knitting needles. I got confused. On the first sock I used size 000, on the second, slightly smallish size 0's. I pulled really tightly on the second sock, and you can only see any difference at all if you inspect them with a gimlet eye. I think one ended up about a 32nd of an inch longer. But trust me, I had to LOOK.
The maze portion took a lot of ripping, because the mosaic portion contracts in length, and so to have the top and the bottom of the sock, which was just striped, the smae length, I had to use size 00 on the bottom and size 1 on the top. At least I think it was size one. I would recognize the needles if I saw them again...
Why did this seem to me to be easier, simpler, than just putting the mosaic pattern all the way around? Beats me entirely.
If I did it again I would use an even larger needle on the mosaic, or more stitches, and I would forget the stripes and put it all the way around.
I am tryng to write up this pattern and post it here so that others in the second HSS will be able to use it if they want to. Quite likely no one will be crazy enough, but it was really a simple pattern excpet for the changing needles, and I won't try that again... well, unless there is no other way to do it!
I put a knitted purse with a flower on it in the box, along with a pin, the hematite stitch markers you all gave me advice about, two sets of double points, a special stitch holder that has wooden cups at both ends and an elastic connecting them - you make all your needles parallel, and then slip the cups over the ends. Voila - nothing will poke out your bag, and no stitches get lost! I figured out how to make it from things I've seen, and I am so proud of myself! I threw in some yellow sock shaped point protectors was well, in case she likes those better. I also threw in a yellow plastic easter egg with a little bit of yarn for darning...there was not much of the yellow left - and a needle. I wanted it to be super terrific and I don't think I equalled some of the boxes I've seen here, but I hope I did not embarrass myself either, or disappoint my pal. I agree with others here - that would be the worst!
I also got my box from my pal! She is Terri of Terriknits.blogspot.com, and does she know how to pack a swap box!
First, the socks! They are hand-dyed yarn in Gryffindor's colorway, with a lightning bolt of purl stitches down the middle of the front between two rows of what I am pretty sure are horseshoe cables. She designed these herself, and they are perfect - The lightning bolt is Harry's scar, so that covers Book 7, and the horseshoe cables? Well, those are the footprints of the centaurs or the Thestrals, and work perfectly for the movie. Two, two, two perfections in one, if I may murder the old Doublemint gum commercials... These socks went on vacation with her, and I would like to point out a lovely example of interhouse unity - the camel on the postcard from the vacation location is wearing Ravenclaw colors...
I prefer metal needles, and so she sent me the terrific just-about-every-smaller-size-of-needle-you-could-possibly-want set from Susan Bates. There are four sets of needles in there! The package also included a tin of hand cream, a tinned candle, the rest of the wool from my socks, so I can darn them and great stitch markers that she made herself.
The most amazing "Extra", however, is the skein of sock yarn. It is hand dyed by a lady in Wales named Dee, who runs Posh Yarns, and the colorway, which she calls "Deep Water" is exactly what I would have chosen for myself. It is a cashmere blend and way, way softer than you can even imagine I will have to search long and hard before I find a pattern deserving of being knit up in this!
All in all, I have to say that my first swap feels like a great success to me, and I only hope the person who will soon be in receipt of the box I sent feels the same way!