To some sock-crazy knitters, the first of March means only one thing- that the Madness is upon us once again! I’m talking of course about Sock Madness, an annual heated-but-friendly sock knitting frenzy based in the Sock Madness Forever group on Ravelry.
If you’re not familiar with the wondefully niche world of competitive sock knitting, well neither was I until about 15 months ago, when a lovely SM knitter joined our spinning group and infected us with sock fever via project photos of complex, weird, multi-coloured socks with constructions I’d never heard of (sideways!) and featuring mind-boggling detail and fancy stuff with beads. I’d rarely ventured beyond a vanilla sock so this was like…well, a bit like fresh green peppercorn berries in vanilla ice cream with hot figs, an dessert I had on my hols in Berlin this week- intriguing, possibly disgusting, but surprisingly delicious! I made up my mind to sign up and this year for SM10 I found myself doing the same.
Sign ups are through February and the competition gets going on March 1st with the release of a “qualifier” pattern. There’s 2 weeks to knit the socks, and if you manage to knit both then you get placed on a team. The patterns are all designed especially for the competition but are kept top secret. The competition then advances round by round, the patterns get tougher and the competition gradually gets whittled down until only the most insanely fast are left! In the end the winner recieves a stash of lovely donated prizes as well as the honour of being referred to in hushed, reverential whispers for all time :)
Our qualifying socks this year were the SlipStripeSpiral socks by Mylene Pijpers, which was a great plaid-effect 2 colour design I knit with some leftovers. For some reason, my brain had a fixed idea from some other pattern I’d knit that “slip purlwise” meant to hold the yarn in front, so I knit half a foot before realising my sock looked a bit wrong compared to everyone elses! You’d think that I’d learn from that lesson, but maddeningly I made EXACTLY the same mistake in knitting the heel of the round 2 socks, the gorgeous Rose and Thorn socks by Ronni Smith! Apart from that, I was really happy with how both patterns turned out- and especially proud of the new-to-my-socks techniques I learned. From the Rose and Thorn pattern: knitting with beads, a provisional cast on and picot edge, and from the SlipStripeSpiral socks: Japanese short rows. I heartily recommend joining in the competition next year if you love knitting socks and want to challenge yourself in an atmosphere of great support and comraderie :)