Buh-bye for now, Pattern Purdah, and I don’t even care if the door hits me in the ass on my way out. I’ll miss you. NOT.

Yes, the revised files are uploaded and the printing is in progress, and I am now FREE to focus on the next crisis, whatever it may be – and first, before its waters close over my head, to show you Club Tsock #2.

So here she is, the pearl and the pride of the Magnificent Twenty-First – Marie, the Daughter of the Regiment:

We’ve already stipulated the whole thing about opera being silly, right? Right. So I can spare you some of the backstory of the regiment’s dramatic discovery and adoption of a baby girl abandoned on a battlefield Somewhere In Prussia, as well as the convoluted ins and outs of a plot that takes our heroine (through a suitable complement of mistaken identities and motives, as well as of high C’s on the part of the tenor) into, and then out of, and then back into, the arms of the poor but honest local swain Tonio, as well as into, and then back out of, the aristocratic arms of the Marquise de Krakenthorp, who coincidentally and inevitably turns out to be her mother. I want to focus instead on Marie herself, as she appears in Act One, a diamond in the rough, in the characteristic costume of the Napoleonic vivandière.

She wears these dainty little black army boots…

… which lace up the front in the new-fangled fashion of the early 19th century. I had some fun researching this; not only did I ascertain that this type of lacing originated in 1780 and made an impressive fortune for its inventor, I also found out that shoelaces are no exception to the rule that there is a Foundation-of-Civilization theory for everything under the sun. Let no one ever say that sock design is not an educational field!

(Incidentally, I am reliably informed that there are a number of important military regulations about which lace must cross over which, depending on what branch of the service you are in, what rank you enjoy, and so on. On this point I have – frankly – copped out, and have simply written the pattern to cross the laces in the direction that I found most straightforward to knit. If any such regulations actually did apply to vivandières in Napoleon’s Grande Armée during the dawn of boot-lacing, and if I have violated same, I hereby offer my humble apologies to all military and costume historians.)

There is some question as to which type of vivandière Marie actually is – the way she boasts about her experiences in the battlefield, it certainly sounds as if she was the practical kind that tended to the wounded in situ, not just the sort that dispensed creature comforts in the canteen. So I’ve dressed her accordingly.

The costume of the vivandière is fairly practical for its time; of course it doesn’t flout decency to the extent of dispensing with a skirt altogether, but it does shorten the skirt considerably, giving place to trousers worn underneath (supposedly this foreshadows the Bloomer, but let’s not go there).

Marie’s trousers are a nice regimental red, with natty blue braid at the hems and side seams…

… and the short full skirt is made to match:

This is as good a place as any to remark that in theory this sock is pretty much invertible. Having done a toe-up design for Tsock #1, ordinarily I’d have made some effort to make Tsock #2 cuff-down, or at any rate something other than toe-up, for the sake of variety. I ended up deciding against that, however, for one reason and one reason only: though the Skirt Hem would be a good bit simpler to work if the Skirt were built from the waist down, using increases and bind-offs instead of cast-ons and decreases to create the pleats… I think overall the Skirt LOOKS neater this way. So the execution of the Skirt Hem frankly constitutes a bit of a challenge – as my poor test knitter can bear witness, having had to swatch no fewer than FOUR different techniques, two of which actually appear in the pattern. (Any club member who likes a different type of challenge is more than welcome to work this sock from the top down, or from the waist down, or perhaps from the knees down.)

The jacket features the reverse color scheme – it’s blue with contrasting braid trim in red, and it’s made of rough woollen cloth…

… with a high collar…

… bright brass buttons, and a placket that tapers to a feminine point over the skirt.

The jacket is becomingly snug, and can be unbuttoned if necessary for ease of putting on and taking off.

So that is our girl, and if all goes according to (rata)plan she will be headed shortly for a mailbox near some of you. Our hope is to get her into the mail before we have to pack up and light out for the Sheep and Wool Show territory… which brings me to some overdue announcements (I trust you notice I am not even saying anything about updates to my poor neglected web page, which I believe is an excellent candidate for Next Crisis on the To-Do List), to wit:

Where We Will Be!

This weekend Jennifer and I will be at New Hampshire Sheep & Wool – same location as last year, i.e. Building 28, Space #30. (I think that’s right! there was some confusion last year because we weren’t listed in the booklet, not to mention that it was a time of great confusion anyway, but I believe that’s all been ironed out now, and I believe the Vanagon is no longer part of the picture, so I hope I’m not jinxing anything by saying that we have a reasonable expectation of being where we need to be when we need to be there.) If memory serves it’s called the Hood Building, and we’ll be there under the spiffy new Holiday Yarns banner, and if you’re anywhere in the area you should TOTALLY come and visit and hang out and hug… and even buy stuff.

(We will also be at Massachusetts Sheep & Wool, two weeks later – I’ll post another heads-up about that as we get closer in.)

Hope to see you there!

P.S. Just catching up on the comments, too – ef the crick don’t rise between now and then, I’ll tell you about the Goose tomorrow. At the rate it’s raining right, now, the crick actually MIGHT rise between now and then – but let’s hope not.