The Boid

You wanted to see the boid?

Here’s the boid.

I had a time getting him to that point, I can tell you. Have I mentioned the multiple froggings? No? Well, these sculptural jobbies, where certain elements of the shape have to fall in certain locations on the foot… they’re tricky. You need to be able to plot them out ahead of time in three dimensions or you’re nowhere.

This was relatively easy when I was planning the twining serpent for Cleopatra – I put on an existing sock that was knitted at the same gauge (I used Oktoberfest, which is relatively straightforward) and just basted a piece of waste yarn into the path I wanted the snake to follow. I then carried that sock around with me as a template and worked from it. It was a pretty simple matter to count rows and stitches and place the transition points right where I wanted them. I did have to do one major frogging on grounds of stoopididity, but after that it was fairly plain sailing.

Problem with Firebird: I don’t HAVE another sock knitted at the same gauge.

So I took an old el-cheapo sock and put it on my body double AKA the Grossman Gam, and basted on that, figuring I’d pull the sock in progress over it now and then and get the body outline placed that way.

Problem with that: the gam is not only smaller than my real foot, it’s also soft and squishy, and getting the sock on and off it is a major production. And I found I wanted to test the outline at EVERY pattern row. I was spending half my time just tugging it on and off and futzing it into place.

I scratched my head about this for a while. What else do I have lying around here, I asked myself, that is foot-shaped and reasonably firm?

Finally it hit me.


At first I drew it in eyeliner pencil, but that had a nasty habit of smudging and getting wiped off. So I broke out the Sharpie and gave myself a proper template tattoo.

Worked a treat. I could try on the sock before every pattern row, and even take progress pictures while I was at it, almost without breaking stride.

In the long run the only real problem with this scheme was that I wasn’t careful enough in checking the outline for accuracy against the original sketch. It wasn’t until the sock was finished that I took a cold hard look at the prototype and realized how I’d exaggerated the curve of the neck. In my eagerness to get the sock to match the lines on my leg just so, I had frogged and re-knitted so many times that I simply lost sight of the fact that the lines on my leg didn’t quite match the shape I’d planned for in the first place.

Oh, well. That’s what the SECOND sock is for – right?

And you thought I never made the second sock. Ha. OK, so I haven’t absolutely finished the second sock here – there’s still the flame picot hem and the embellishments left to do. But I have corrected the silhouette – and the corrected silhouette is reflected in the chart.

I’ve done something newish and differentish (for me, at least) with this design – on the body of the bird I’ve eliminated the layout of individual stitches and just given indications of the demarcations between pattern stitch and plain areas and what needs to happen at those spots (and yes, I’ve done the same for the instructions). Like programming for exceptions only. I think it makes for a more readable pattern, because instead of having to count every stitch of every row you just look at where you are and follow the outline accordingly. (This is a particularly crafty strategy on my part, because it also reduces the likelihood of MY miscounting or mistyping the number of stitches in every section!)

We shall see whether or not the club members agree with me in the final analysis….

Some details:

Some of this embroidery is optional – hell, almost all of it is optional. When I finish sock #2 I’m going to eliminate the tail outline and probably some of the work over the feathers as well. But for the prototype I wanted to illustrate all the gaudy possibilities.

This basketweave on the body is optional too. I probably don’t need to tell you why it’s there or how I feel about basketweave stitches these days. I totally love the way it looks – to me it’s vaguely oriental and phoenix-ish and also slightly pin-feathery at the same time, and altogether I couldn’t be happier with it. But it isn’t very stretchy, and it occurs in a part of the sock that needs to be plenty stretchy. There’s a goodly chunk of pseudo-gusset to counterbalance it (cleverly decreased out at strategic hidden points in the body outline), but even that may not be quite enough for the really high of arch – so I’ve proposed seed stitch as a possible alternative.

How much do I love having the talon overlaid on the short-row seam? Ridiculously much.

The new version has a longer, steeper beak than this, and more room for the back of the crest to extend behind the head. But I’m fairly pleased with the fierce beady eye.

Still, after the assembly-line activities of the past few days I have to confess that right now my favorite pictures of this sock are… these:

I may have missed my calling as a sardine-packer. Thank you, USPS, for coming out with the New Large-Size Flat Rate Priority Mail Box exactly when I needed it! By the time all was said and done, my friends, I had filled two of those and an auxiliary envelope with THIRTY-SIX POUNDS of patterns and related paraphernalia. I realize I’ve already mentioned that circumstance, but… I’m here to tell you… dat’s a lotta boid.

So anyway… The Boid is on The Wing (yes, yes, I know, ain’t that absoid – I thought the wing was on the boid) and I’m hoping it reaches Jennifer some time tomorrow. Speaking of sheer poundage… for anyone who missed this stage of the proceedings, the yarn did reach her on the 22nd, and if you want to see what 500 pounds of undyed sock yarn looks like, you know where to go. She has been elbow-deep and hip-deep in the dye pots ever since – remember we’d been yarnless for more than a month by then, a month during which kit orders and yarn orders just kept coming and coming. Between that and the club kits, I’m not sure when she gets her next scheduled nap. I have to admit I feel a certain amount of survivor guilt about taking mine tonight.

But… not enough to stop me.