Fantastic Vision

Here we have yet another instance of everything old being new again, but in this case the old is older than usual… because it dates back to the days before I was a Tsarina – indeed, before I even realized I might be a Tsarevna.

Some of you may recall at least some part of the original Tsarina Tsaga – how the then Tsarina-To-Be first encountered the then Yarn-Fairy-To-Be by winning one of her auctions on eBay. An auction for yarn; yarn to make a pair of socks. Not even Tsocks, way back then! merely socks… though I suppose you could say Proto-Tsocks. Because that was the beginning of it all – and this, updated and adapted, is that very sock – now a Tsock. Club Tsock #2 for the 2010 Tseason: “The Lord Chancellor’s Nightmare.”

“The Lord Chancellor’s Nightmare” is of course inspired by the patter song from Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Iolanthe” – these are indeed the very socks, “the black silk with gold clocks,” that your well-dressed Chancellor will wear to cross Salisbury Plain on a bicycle.

Jen has been after me to Tsockify this design for almost as long as we’ve been working together… and at last I have knuckled under. Actually, what I really said was, “Hey, if you are willing to dye all that BLACK YARN, who am I to argue?” And incidentally, if the sight of a skein of all-black sock yarn makes you wince, just consider this: the original (a Big Birthday gift for my father) was worked in 2/18 Jaggerspun Zephyr – also black – on US #000 needles. (I’d tell you the gauge, but I’ve blocked the memory. Probably at least 14 SPI.) It had a total of 36 clock faces, nine on each side of each sock, and I was heartily tired of chain stitch by the time I was done embroidering over them.

The updated version is a little kinder and more reasonable, I think; it’s done at a normal sock gauge and only features three twist-stitch clock faces per side.

Those clocks are, of course, the primary joke of the design – a knitter’s pun made fabric. The socks themselves are a model of restrained Victorian elegance, just the sort of thing a Susceptible Chancellor might wear, and most of the textured patterning on them is quite normal – unusually for me, I’ve taken most of it right out of stitch dictionaries and applied only minimal tweaking.

But… well, it is a nightmare, after all, so what more absurdly natural than to replace the traditional stocking clocks with literal clocks?

They’re done in a twist/cable pattern on both sides of each sock, and then the outlines and hands are embroidered over in gold silk. (What time is it in your nightmare? What time, indeed. Or what times. Any times you like. This one, for instance, is my usual bedtime. It’s a nightmare, and anytime goes.)

The original sock was worked toe-up, with a short-row heel; this one reverts to the tradition of its period and is worked cuff-down, and features a patterned flap and a reverse-stockinette gusset with daintily cabled edges.

The four narrow gold stripes in the textured cuff are taken from the sleeve of the Lord Chancellor’s traditional costume. If a Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court can imitate that detail… so can I.

And as usual… there’s an optional fillip on the toe. If you’re going to cross Salisbury Plain on a bicycle… you may as well flaunt the bicycle.

Flock Folk, commence stalking: “The Lord Chancellor’s Nightmare” shipped yesterday.

‘Tis the Season

No, no, not that season, though very definitely a season to be jolly: the time of the spring wool festivals is very nearly upon us!

Here’s the plan as I know it so far. First of all… I’m planning to go to Connecticut Sheep & Wool this Saturday. In a purely unofficial capacity, you understand – money in my pocket, a fleece-purchase accident waiting to happen. Then on the first weekend of May comes Maryland Sheep and Wool. As usual, we do NOT have a booth there, though not for lack of trying… but if we really really really really have our act together (ha) there is a slight chance that we will head down that way on a whim and a chance and a wing and a prayer anyway… and who knows what might happen. Or not. Further updates as events warrant.

As for the DEFINITE VENDING SCHEDULE, it’s the usual, and boy howdy are we looking forward to it.

New Hampshire Sheep & Wool Festival
Hopkinton State Fairgrounds
Contoocook, NH
May 8 and 9
You’ll find Holiday Yarns in the Hood Arena building – not sure what number (they moved us unexpectedly last year), but we won’t be hard to find. You know – just look for the 27 legs.

Massachusetts Sheep & Wool Festival
Cummington Fairgrounds
Cummington, MA
May 29 and 30
You’ll find us in a tent on the West side of the main drag.

Come and say hello. Hug. Hobnob. Schmooze. Catch up. Buy. You know the drill.