Monday, November 22, 2010

Pattern: Toe-Up Fish Scale Socks

These are toe-up socks with an afterthought heel. If you are familiar with crocheted sock design, this should be a fairly basic pattern of 5-dc shells crocheted in the round.

I love the look of shells, and wanted a pair of socks with a shell pattern. Halfway through, I realized that the sock looked like a fish (especially with the wild-colored yarn I chose - some exotic tropical species, maybe?). Turning after the completion of every round provides a slight textured look to the sock.

I used two skeins of Serenity Sock Yarn, thyme colorway. It's a fairly inexpensive bamboo/nylon/merino sock yarn that comes in 230-yd balls. I had bought up a number of different colorways when it was on sale and am now left with some pretty out-there colored sock yarn. I was interested to see just how far one skein can stretch, so I kept working the sock until I ran out of yarn.

Note: I wear a size 6 women's shoe. I tried to write the pattern to be flexible for different length feet, but alterations may be necessary to accommodate wider feet. If necessary, work the toe additional rounds before starting the foot (make sure the stitches around are a multiple of 4).

All stitches are in US terminology.

  • Approximately 400 yds fingering weight yarn (smaller sizes will require less, larger sizes will require more).
  • 3.5 mm/E crochet hook

Shell stitch: 5 dc in next stitch.

Make 2.

Rnd 1: Ch 10, sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc in next 7 ch, 3 sc in next ch. Do not turn; continue working on opposite side of chain. Sc in next 7 ch across, 2 sc in next ch. Do not join.
Rnd 2: sc in first sc, sc in each st to end st, 3 sc in end sc, sc to opposite end, 3 sc in end st. Do not join.
Work 4 more rnds, with 3 sc on the ends. (40 sc around)
Do not turn.

Rnd 1: *sl st, sc, dc, sc*, repeat from * to * around, sl st into last st. Turn.
Rnd 2: Ch 1, sl st into sl st, ch 3 (counts as dc here and throughout), 4 dc into same st as sl st, skip one sc, sc into dc, *skip one sc, shell in sl st, skip one sc, sc into dc*. Repeat from * to * around, join with sl st to third ch of ch 3. Turn.
Rnd 3: Sl st into first sl st, ch 3, 4 dc into same st as sl st, skip two dc, sc, *skip two dc, shell in sc, skip two dc, sc*. Repeat from * to * around, join with sl st to third ch of ch 3. Turn.
Repeat rnd 3 until sock reaches to bend of ankle when stretched. Do not turn on last rnd.

Rnd 1: Base ch/sc 20, skip 5 shells, join with sl stitch to next sc. Turn.
Rnd 2: Sl st in sl st, *sc, dc, sc, sl* across foundation chain, join with sl st to sc in third dc of shell, continue with shell stitch across for five shells, (shell in sl st, skip one sc, sc into dc, skip one sc) 5 times, shell in sl st, join with sl st to first dc of first shell in row.
Repeat rnd 3 of Foot until sock is desired length. If necessary, make 7-dc shells instead of 5-dc shells to accommodate the calf. Bind off.

Turn sock inside out and hold with toe pointing towards you. Join yarn to first dc in the right-hand corner of the heel opening.
Rnd 1: Sc in same dc as join, 3 sc, *sc (dc, sc, dc) together, 4 sc* 4 times, 3 sc, sc 2 corner sts together, sc across foundation chain to last two st, sc3tog.
Next rnds: *Sc across to last two st before corner, sc3tog*. Repeat from * to * in rounds until there are 10 stitches left (5 on each side).
Last rnd: Sl st join the opening closed(5 sl st).
Bind off, weave in ends.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sock Yarn Addiction

I have been going through my yarn stash and I came to a realization: I have a sock yarn problem. I love fingering-weight yarn. I'm immediately drawn to it. I love the feel of it as I work it up, I love the colors, I love how soft and pettable it is. And I love love love the yardage of it. Sock yarn guarantees you the most yardage for your dollar. This does leave me in a bit of a conundrum: I have stashed more sock yarn than I make socks. Before this week, I have made a total of 1.75 pairs of socks (the .75 keeps staring at me, telling me that I should just man up and finish the cuff and heel). When I look for new patterns to work on, I want garments. Shirts, dresses, skirts. These require significant yarn and time investment, and I am afflicted with project-ADD. I have partially completed projects scattered throughout my condo.

But aside from that, I still have mountains of sock yarn, waiting to be turned into socks. Yes, I know I can make other things out of them, but I don't wear shawls, and I have the hat and gloves that I like. But socks... I adore socks. I love knee-high, brightly patterned socks. They keep me warm all winter. I love the whimsical nature of having a spot of color poke out beneath black suit pants, or to complement a shirt paired with jeans. I love the seductiveness of fishnet stockings, and the feel of bamboo or merino against my feet.

In short: I love socks.

So, this winter, I will make socks. I will make socks from already existing patterns. I will design socks based on stitches I like. I will freeform socks for the hell of it. Because I have 20 types of fingering weight yarn stashed that were bought specifically for socks, so socks they shall be.

Once I make a dent in those, then I'll return to the tunic dress that is currently sitting beside my desk chair.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Happy Guy Fawkes Day

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holla boys, Holla boys, let the bells ring.
Holla boys, Holla boys, God save the King!

And what should we do with him? Burn him!

Keep Politics Out of My Fiction

Lately, I've been trying to read some books by some of the newer Baen authors and have found that I just cannot. I have known for a long time that Baen, as a company, leans heavily towards the right but I have (for the most part) not encountered that in their books. This may speak more of the books I prefer than the books they publish. I tend to read more fantasy than science fiction, and don't really care for military science fiction.

But since the founder Jim Baen's death, I've noticed a steady trend of political creep into their books, particularly with their new authors. Has it become a de facto requirement that in order to be published by Baen you have to shout your Republican credentials from page 1?

I read fiction for enjoyment, not to get preached to. I am heavily opinionated and work in the policy world, so I don't need to encounter it when I'm thinking I'm picking up a nice story about a time traveling family. (I nearly threw the book across the room when I got to the line in the prologue "Just thank God for Ronald Reagan." It also didn't help that the writing style was crap.)

While I'm a liberal, I don't want to see politics of either stripe in my books unexpectedly. If I want to read something political, I'll read something political. But don't preach to me or shoehorn in political ideology into a fiction story. I've stopped reading authors I used to love because of their constant soapboxing. I can't read Mercedes Lackey anymore because I felt her books were beating me over the head with the message of how unfit, controlling, or even misunderstanding parents did not deserve their children. I don't necessarily disagree with that but I don't want to read it over and over and over again.

Using fiction books as partisan political platforms ultimately drives away readers. If overdone, it annoys those who share those same views, and angers those who do not. And ultimately, it is completely unnecessary to the plot. The vast majority of books tell a damn good story without having the author's personal political or religious beliefs shoved down the readers' throats. It is even possible to tell a good political story without being partisan. Christopher Buckley, who is a Republican, wrote an entire book satirizing the American political system without once naming a political party.

There are too many lines drawn in the sand throughout our society. In a time when the extremes dominate the conversation, and the idea of "you're either with us or against us" has taken on a life of its own, people seem to have become so entrenched in their own particular opinions, mindsets, and world views that they are unwilling to compromise or even talk. I see it every day around me. I do not need or want to see it in books I read for pleasure.

Baen, of course, has the right to publish whatever they want. Just as I have a right to read whatever I want. Unfortunately, Baen's stable of new authors won't make it onto my TBR list.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Plagiarism: It's What's for Dinner

Earlier today, the internet exploded with the realization that New England cooking magazine Cooks Source is a thieving, plagiarizing, arrogant POS. Long story short, Monica Gaudio of Godecookery learns from a friend that an article she wrote got published without permission in Cooks Source. She writes to the editor and asks for an apology and a donation to the Columbia School of Journalism. The editor, Judith Grigg, classily responds with:
Yes Monica, I have been doing this for 3 decades, having been an editor at The Voice, Housitonic Home and Connecticut Woman Magazine. I do know about copyright laws. It was “my bad” indeed, and, as the magazine is put together in long sessions, tired eyes and minds somethings forget to do these things.
But honestly Monica, the web is considered “public domain” and you should be happy we just didn’t “lift” your whole article and put someone else’s name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me… ALWAYS for free!”

This story gets picked up and blogged, tweeted, and posted about by a variety of people around the Internet with large audiences, including Neil Gaiman, boing boing, and woot.

And this is when it gets interesting, and it is proven, once again, the power of the Internet mob.

On the Cooks Source facebook page, a constant stream of posters are commenting on the wall. And the magazine has helpfully posted shots of all its issues as photo albums. It turns out that Monica's apple pie article was not the first to get stolen. Savvy Internet detectives have linked articles and recipes appearing in the magazine to Martha Stewart, Paula Deen, Weight Watchers, NPR, the Food Network, WebMD, Recipes Today, Wikipedia, CNN, My Recipes... etc., etc., etc. And Griggs' other magazine, Travel Source is full of stolen and plagiarized material too.

People have been contacting the magazine's advertisers, who have been pulling out (and I'm sure, are sick and tired of getting phone calls). The Cooks Source website is down (too much traffic, perhaps?), and now mainstream media is picking up the story.

Without a doubt, Judith Griggs screwed up on the Epic Fail level. I look forward to see how this all unfolds. Which just proves: don't mess with the internet.