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The Tsarina of Tsocks


Art for your Feet
Over-the-top sock knitting kits
with plenty of literary juice....

Tsock Tsarina logo

About Me  

What the Tsarina Tsays
(AKA my Blog)
  • Fall Shows Update - Shark Week at NEFF and Stitches!

    The pre-order/pickup program was such a success at Rhinebeck (thank you to all who participated!) that we are doing the same thing again at NEFF and at Stitches East.

    As before, you can order online for pickup at either event, for any day except Sunday. Some Sunday pickups will also be possible, by special arrangement only. We will also accept pre-orders for pickup of other titles on the same basis - see the relevant order page for details.

    Shark Week Pre-Order for NEFF

    Shark Week Pre-Order for Stitches East

    For those of you who have written recently to inquire about pattern sales and on-line orders, please do take a few minutes to read the updated Shark Week FAQ. We are doing our best to make all of this happen as fast as possible, but unfortunately we haven't yet figured out how to live in anything other than chronological order. For the moment we still are not selling this or any other title on-line, but if you are on our mailing list you will be among the first to know when this changes.

  • Fall Shows 2013 - Shark Week at Rhinebeck!

    It's October already!

    We are whirling like dervishes to prepare for the coming shows; yarn is being dyed, patterns printed, kits assembled; trailer packed - and next week we hit the fiber festival trail. Will we see you? Hope so!

    (Hint: Click HERE to skip directly to an exciting announcement about pre-orders for Shark Week.)


    October 19 & 20
    NYS Sheep and Wool Festival
    Dutchess County Fairgrounds
    Rhinebeck, NY
    Building C, Space 9/10

    November 2 & 3
    Fiber Festival of New England
    The Big E
    West Springfield, MA
    Booth # 467/477 East

    November 7-10
    Stitches East
    Hartford Convention Center
    Hartford, CT
    in Bead Biz booth, # 414/416


    At Rhinebeck:
    • We are happy to say that Josette McWilliams of Enchanted Knoll Farm will be joining us again, bringing a plenteous supply of her famous ooh-shiny spinning batts, as well as hand-dyed top and one-of-a-kind handspun skeins.

    • New in the booth this year: Jean and Esther of Bead Biz, with their wonderful selection of Czech beads and bead kits.

    • Betty Murphy of Moose Manor Hand Paints will be in the usual place, with her lovely hand-painted yarns and fibers, including the magical Mystical Moose color-changers.

    • Jenn Floyd of Holda Fiber Arts will be there with her whimsical stitch markers and row-counter abacus bracelets.
    At NEFF:
    All of the above, in merchandise if not in person; plus Dan Brewer of Gnomespun, with his gorgeous hand-dyed special-breed fibers. (Bead Biz has its own booth, so they won't be in ours, but they'll be right around the corner.)
    At Stitches:
    We will be enjoying the reciprocal hospitality of Bead Biz, so you'll find us in their booth.

    And what, what, WHAT are we bringing by way of Art for your Feet?

    Many of the Usual Suspects - some old favorites, some newer friends:

    (* available in both knit and spin versions)

    • Tsilk Tstocking - both yarn and fiber - in the ever-popular Delphinium colorway.

    And last but BY NO MEANS least... drumroll and foghorn, please... as promised... the official public launch of...


    Oh yes. Shark Week.

    (Link to Shark Week FAQ)

    As you may know, we have been, well, inundated with queries on this one. I am reminded of that old joke about Adam seeing Eve for the first time and greeting her with "Stand back, honey; I don't know how big this thing is gonna get."

    So... ON THE ONE HAND... we have been preparing around the clock, and we are bringing more than 20 times as much stock for this title as we normally would for any other.

    But... ON THE OTHER HAND... even with the trailer groaning under the unaccustomed load, that still translates to a limited supply.

    We are expecting - dare I say it? - a bit of a feeding frenzy.

    And therefore, in an effort to distribute the insanity a little, we are trying an experiment: making a limited number of kits available for pre-order and pick-up. What does this mean?

    It means that you can buy your kit now and avoid the Saturday morning rush. If you've pre-ordered we will have your name on a list and your kit set aside, so you can pick it up at any time on Saturday without having to wait on line or fight through the crowd. Please note that this is for PICKUP AT RHINEBECK ONLY; these kits will NOT be shipped. We're serious about this. Kits that are not picked up will be released back into inventory, and refunds for these will be issued immediately, minus a 15% re-stocking fee. (I hate to do this. Of course I know that there are such things as Circumstances Beyond Your Control, and I don't propose to penalize anyone for that. This is intended purely as a deterrent for anybody trying to pull a fast one.)

    And yes, that's SATURDAY ONLY. For those who can't be there on Saturday, we will also accept a limited number of pre-orders for Sunday pickup. To arrange this individually, please contact us via e-mail at sharkweekpreorder@tsocktsarina.com, and we will do our very best to accommodate you. (Similarly, if you already own the pattern from club or fund-raiser, and are looking for yarn refills, please let us know at the same e-mail address. Again, supplies will be limited at first, but we will certainly try our best!)

    We are turning out kits as fast as we can, but - see above re Adam - we have no way of guessing how long the supply will hold out, so please understand that for now we must insist on, and enforce, a limit of one kit per customer. (NB if you are picking up on behalf of someone else, that is fine, as long as the someone else is the actual purchaser.)

    Pre-orders are currently open for Rhinebeck only; after we get back from there and assess damages we will be doing the same thing again for NEFF and Stitches, as long as supplies hold out and/or can be replenished.

    For Saturday pickup at Rhinebeck only...


  • Art for your Feet Tsock Club

    Sign-ups are now open closed for the 2013 season, which begins shipping shortly.

    Entries on the waiting list will be carried over to the notification list for 2014.

  • Shark Week Benefit for Hurricane Relief

    Shark Week is early this year: By kind permission of the 2012 Tsock Club, the pattern for Shark Week is available for download, for a limited time only, at an outrageous price designed to benefit survivors of Hurricane Sandy.

    Details, with many heart-rending pictures and anecdotes, on my blog here.

    Update: Fund-raiser is now closed. Many, many thanks to all who participated, raising over $23,000 for the two charities! Watch this space - and/or my blog and/or my Twitter feed and/or Ravelry - for final report and for results of the prize drawings; I'll be posting these as soon as I'm out of Pattern Purdah for the current design-in-progress.


    An Open Letter to Shark Lovers

    If you're here because of Shark Week, thank you - and please go HERE for updated info, and my latest heartfelt outpouring, on that subject.


    Behold, the Tsarina appeareth in KnittySpin, in the Deep Fall 2011 issue of Knitty. Go here to see my new pattern, Glomerata.

    And then go to Moose Manor Hand Paints to buy the Tsarina's Tsilk Tstocking yarn in the "Delphinium" colorway. (Why yes, this IS the first time this yarn has been commercially available... in fact, it's so new that there may be a tiny shipping delay while we finalize the ball-band!) Or if you want to spin your own, run do not walk to Gnomespun for a braid of one of his lovely downs-breed sock fibers in "Lobelia" or "Platycodon" or "Balloonflower."

    We will of course have both in the booth at Rhinebeck, which brings me to the next exciting announcement:

  • RHINEBECK!!!!!

    New York Sheep & Wool
    Dutchess County Fairgrounds, October 15th and 16th.

    Come and visit the Tsarina's court in its palatial new digs in Building C, spaces 31/32. We will have the first re-releases of some old favorites, some of them in new as well as familiar guises, and a few new and intriguing items to whet your appetite for Future Tsock - not to mention opening sign-ups for the Tsarina's Tsock Flock Club 2012. (Previous club members, watch your inboxes for those first dibs - coming any day now.)

    That's our Grand Re-Opening moment, and we'll be doing all sorts of cool new web things to match. One convenient way you can stay tuned:



    The official hiatus isn't over yet, but there's some devilment afoot. (Hah. See what I did there?) In celebration of Sock Summit, the Tsarina announces the latest monstrous creation of a decidedly Abby Normal brain:


    Fronkenshteek may well be the craziest development yet in the growing field of modular and communal sock knitting. There is a reason it was NOT chosen for the Fleece to Foot challenge at this year's Sock Summit... but the boldest knitters will not shrink from it. That's you, right? (Yes, it is. There are half a dozen KALs sprinkled all over Ravelry, including a big hilarious international one with teams swapping segments by mail. Also - watch this space for the Fronkenshteek video, coming soon to a YouTube near you.) Go find out.

    The Full(ed) Story: Fronkenshteek on the Blog

    Fronkenshteek on Ravelry

    Fronkenshteek is available NOW for download from my Ravelry store.

    Show me your steeks at Sock Summit! I'll have my scissors ready.

    Sock Summit 2011
  • Re-tooling Hiatus

    The Tsarina is currently in retreat, re-tooling in preparation for the launch of her New Empire, which will feature wonderful new designs on equally wonderful new yarns in even more wonderful new colors. So kits are currently unavailable, but we hope to have all the previous titles back in circulation well before the end of the year, by which time we will also be preparing to launch the new edition of the Art For Your Feet Tsock Club. Stay tuned!
  • About the Tsock Kits:

    The "Art for your Feet" Tsock Kits have been admired, knitted, and/or blogged by the Yarn Harlot, Lucy Neatby, Cat Bordhi, Sandi Wiseheart, and the Twist Collective. The designs are original and shamelessly over-the-top, stopping at nothing in the pursuit and enhancement of the theme or joke, form following function to its logical extreme and beyond. The kits are not necessarily for the faint of heart: with the one notable exception of our gentle and seductive "Tsocks 101" kit, every one of them presents exciting (and yes, occasionally maddening) challenges for the knitter. If you thought socks were all the same, if you thought they were dull and repetitive... think again. If you thought you'd seen it all where sock architecture and patterning are concerned... take a closer look. The Tsarina of Tsocks unhesitatingly invents new structures and stitches when she needs to - but never for their own sake; always in service and in scale to the all-important theme. These are socks that will keep you awake, stimulated and thinking; this is knitting on the edge of your seat.

    Each kit contains a pattern booklet and enough of our custom-blend wool/silk sock yarn to make a pair of socks in Women's Medium or Large, depending on kit size (custom-size skeins and pattern modifications are also available - please don't hesitate to ask!), as well as all other materials that may be called for by the design (such as beads, buttons, ribbons, skeinlets of laceweight, etc.). Some kits are also offered in Spin-Your Own versions - for these we supply the same blend of fiber, in the same colorway(s), but unspun. Some kits come in multiple colorways or "flavors." Much of the yarn and fiber is dyed by Elizabeth Murphy of Moose Manor Handpaints, but we will often feature "special guest-artist" indie dyers for particular kits.

    The booklets are 5.5" x 8.5", comb- or spiral-bound so you can use them like flip charts. They are copiously illustrated and include complete tutorials for every technique called for, as well as thorough explanations of the designs and themes; each is a theme-driven masterpiece, as well as a small master class in technique and fit. Pattern stitches are written out step by step but are also charted; you'll find the charts and a glossary of abbreviations on cards at the back of the book, so they can be removed and used separately if you like - placed on a chartkeeper, etc.

    The Tsarina's special custom base yarn is a 4-ply blend of 70% superwash wool and 30% silk, spun to a high hosiery twist so it is both resilient and durable without sacrificing softness, and has beautiful stitch definition. The wool is grown and the yarn spun in the USA, to our exacting specifications.
    Typical gauge is 8 sts x 12 rows = 1" on US #1 needles.

  • A Tsampling of the Tsocks:
    (Click on any thumbnail or title for details and photographs.
    Please note: Most of these are posts from my blog; a few are from my old web site, so they may contain obsolete information as to availability; this will all be updated in the course of 2011.
    A complete listing of designs, with links to comparable pages, can be found on my design page on Ravelry)

    The Abbey
    The Abbey An abbey! Yes, it was delightful to be really in an abbey! But she doubted, as she looked round the room, whether anything within her observation would have given her the consciousness. To an imagination which had hoped for the smallest divisions, and the heaviest stone-work, for painted glass, dirt, and cobwebs, the difference was very distressing.

    Blessed Thistle
    Blessed Thistle The tender-hearted artichoke dressed in its armor, built its modest cupola and stood erect, impenetrable beneath a lamina of leaves, burnished to a pomegranate glow. And then one day, with all the other artichokes in willow baskets, our artichoke set out to market to realize its dream; life as a soldier....

    Daughter of the Regiment
    Daughter of the Regiment Meet Marie, the adopted daughter and spoiled darling of the Magnificent Twenty-First; every inch the Napoleonic vivandiŤre, from her dainty little army boots to the brass buttons on her jaunty military jacket.

    The Firebird
    The Firebird It can light a dark room with the brightness of its plumage. It kills deathless demons; it restores the dead to life. Capture the elusive Firebird; hold it fast until it promises to stand your friend. The journey will be long and the obstacles daunting, but the magical creature will bring you good fortune at last.

    Full Fathom Five
    Full Fathom Five

    ...thy father lies;
    Of his bones are coral made.
    Those are pearls that were his eyes;
    Nothing of him that doth fade
    But doth suffer a sea-change
    Into something rich and strange.

    Golden West
    Golden West Now - let's talk business, just you and me. What are you, Jack Rance? A gambler. Johnson? A bandit. Me? I own a bar and a gambling den, I live off whiskey and gold. We're all the same! All bandits and cardsharps. Well, then - hereís my stake. Iím offering you this man - and my life! One game of poker! If you win, you can take him - and me. But if I win - on the honor of Jack Rance, gentleman - then this man is mine, MINE!

    The Green Fairy
    The Green Fairy The man let the water trickle gently into his glass, and as the green clouded, a mist fell from his mind.
    Then he drank opaline.
    Green changed to white, emerald to an opal: nothing was changed.

    The Lord Chancellor's Nightmare
    The Lord Chancellor's Nightmare But this you can't stand,
    So you throw up your hand,
    And you find that you're cold as an icicle,
    In your shirt and your socks
    (The black silk with gold clocks),
    Crossing Salisbury Plain on a bicycle.

    The Nine Tailors

    Quantum Paratsox "You have seen the puzzle of the Paper Ring? Where you take a slip of paper, and join its ends together, first twisting one, so as to join the upper corner of one end to the lower corner of the other? The Ring has only one surface, and only one edge. The Sock is just like that, isn't it? Is not the outer surface of one side of it continuous with the inner surface of the other side? Whatever is inside that Sock, is outside it; and whatever is outside it, is inside it!Ē
    RoxieYou know who I mean. Jazz-baby. Murderess. The beauty of the cell-block. That sweet-faced little flapper you want to take home to mother - after you bust her out of the clink. Yeah. That Roxie.

    Sahasrara - Crown
    Ajna - Third Eye
    Vishuddha - Throat
    Anahata - Heart
    Manipura - Solar Plexus
    Svadhisthana - Sacrum
    Muladhara - Root

    The Snow Queen
    ďAre you still cold?Ē she asked. She bent and kissed his forehead with a kiss colder than ice, and the chill of it shot straight to his heart. Though his heart was ice already, her kiss made it colder still. For a moment he felt he might die of it. Then he felt better. After a while he didnít even know he was cold any more.

    Tsocks 101
    Tsocks 101Not a sock knitter yet...? You WILL be assimilated, and this is how.

    Just you watch. We'll make a sock pro of you yet.

    Two CassandrasApollo, my destroyer, for you have destroyed me ... Have I missed the mark, or, like true archer, do I strike my quarry? Or am I prophet of lies, a babbler from door to door?

    When I was young,
    at my motherís breast -
    Sing ho! for the wind and the rain -
    A vintage wine was my sole request,
    For the rain it rainíd and rainíd evíry day....

    York and Lancaster
    York and Lancaster
    And here I prophesy: this brawl today,
    Grown to this faction
    in the Temple garden,
    Shall send, between the Red Rose
    and the White,
    A thousand souls to death and deadly night.

Copyright © 2006-2011 Lisa Grossman. All Rights Reserved.