The Joy of Socks

i love making socks. I always try to have a pair on the go. For me, they are the perfect portable knitting project. 

A sock project fits neatly into a small pouch you can carry round with you. I have many specially designed sock pouches (and I find them all but irresistible, particularly in bright and geeky fabrics) but the one I use most at the moment is a make up bag I got free as part of a Clinique Bonus Time offer. 

That portability is a great advantage. Socks have become the thing I reach for if I’m leaving the house and want to take some knitting with me. Lace is similarly compact, offering a lot of knitting bang for its weight, but its complexity and the long rows are much less practical for knitting in the pub, on the train or in dim light. Socks are things you can pick up and put down in short bursts and yarn robust enough to survive the wear and tear of shoes can survive being taken out and about. 

I knit during my book club. It helps me to concentrate by keeping my fidgety fingers occupied. The non-knitters in our group think this kind of multi-tasking is some kind of witchcraft. It’s not, honestly, it’s just the result of long practice. My fingers can move on automatic pilot. I once knitted most of the body of a sweater on autopilot. In black 4ply yarn. In the car. In the dark. But it was stocking stitch, and with stitch markers in place I just kept pootling along, knitting entirely by feel.  

The pick-up-and-put-down approach means progress can sometimes be a bit slow. The second sock of my Shur’tugal socks took most of the year they were on the needles, simply because opportunities to pick them up proved to be few. 

So, when I knew I was going to be going to EasterCon last weekend it was going to be a perfect opportunity to make progress on my Jane Bennet socks. 

During the opening ceremony on Friday they looked like this: 

  

And by Monday night they looked like this:

  

That’s a lot of progress over just one weekend, and I was only really knitting in the back of panels (I read while I was travelling). I was not the only one crafting while I was there. I saw a lot of knitting and crochet going on, and even a couple of people cross-stitching, though that’s much less portable. 

Appropriately enough, the yarn I’m using is a skein I bought at WorldCon in London last year. It’s from Germany, and has been hand-dyed using natural plant dyes. The pattern is one of Rachel Coopey‘s, from the second volume of Jane Austen Knits. It’s very quick to knit, and easy to memorise. I’m expecting to fly through Sock 2 over the next few weeks. 

The dilemma then will be which pattern to pick next … 

EasterCon 

Last week I decided at very short notice to go to Dysprosium, the 66th EasterCon (the BSFA’s annual convention). I’d been in two minds about it, in part because I’ve been a bit underwhelmed by BSFA events in London and I wasn’t going to know many people there. Events like this are always much more fun with friends. I lucked out in the end, and some old friends of mine who live nearby booked at the last minute, and there were a few other people I knew there, including my comrade in Musketeer-love from my book club. 

I had a wonderful time, mostly dashing from programme item to programme item, but it did force me to accept that I don’t have the stamina to commute to stuff like this any more. If I’m going to go I need to commit to it and book a hotel room. That much excitement, so many interesting programme items and so many people have left me exhausted. And that’s without the whole cognitive dissonance of going from a creative, playful environment back into the office. 

So, before the magic fades, here are some personal highlights. 

The invasion of the cat people. 

There were a lot of people wearing cat ears, thanks to the lovely people at Genki Gear. I was one of them. 

 

 

Seanan McGuire

She was horribly jet lagged (“I can see time!” “You are all lizards!”), but gloriously entertaining on every panel she did. She’s a favourite author of a friend of mine (though I have never read any of her books), so it was really interesting to hear her speak. Never have I seen anyone get so excited about necrotising fasciitis. 

The dealers

I spent a lot of fun time visiting the dealers. There was some amazingly creative talent there this weekend, and I succumbed several times, including to a purple top hat. 

One of the highlights was hanging out with Doctor Geof, who drew my portrait and enrolled me in the First Tea Company.  

 

He has some wonderful steampunk inspired art and collectables. Check out the posters, in particular.

Free books!

Gollancz must have been clearing out their stockroom as there were free books galore. I probably got my membership cost back just in free books. 

Playfulness 

There is something wonderful about being surrounded by people enjoying themselves in creative play. There was fabulous cosplay. There were inventive and funny panels too. My favourite was the late night bar argument that turned into a programme item on which was best, Thomas the Tank Engine or Ivor the Engine. (For the record, Ivor won, largely because of the poor health and safety record and endemic bullying culture in NWR, whereas Ivor has a dragon for a friend and is allowed to go to choir practice.). And there was wild speculation, like Charlie Stross wondering if the Dangerous Dogs Act applies to werewolves, particularly given its requirements for muzzling and castration. 

And a lovely man let me hug his Catbus. 

  

So, will I go again? Probably.