Pattern: Walking Through the Maze Gardens, by Meagheen Ryan
Yarn: Yummy Yarn Studio 80/20 BFL/nylon, in Pomegranate
Needles: 2.5 mm / US 1 1/2
Extra goodies: 8/0 Delica beads, in Strawberry and Raspberry, added using a 1.3 mm / US 10 crochet hook
Full disclosure: I actually finished these on day 5, not day 4, but at the end of day 4 there was really only the toe and four rounds of the last foot repeat to go, so I figured I'd just push through and not stop for the day 4 progress photo.
These socks were the code name Bravo socks, and the supply lists indicated that we would need 500 beads for this pattern. When I first saw that number, my eyes may have bugged a tiny bit. 500 seems like a really large pile of beads! I first imagined a pair of socks that were encrusted with beads, and the thought gave me some tiny doubts as to whether I really wanted to participate in the Tour. Bling, bling, indeed.
As you can see from the pics, it turned out to be not at all what I was imagining. In fact, it's pretty easy to scatter 500 beads over a pair of socks without the things turning into beaded boots of glitz. Here, I just did a bit of math:
On the back of each sock: 80 beads
On the front of each sock: 180 beads
Total per sock = 260 beads
Total for the pair = 520 beads
Yup, I used a few more than the supply lists indicated, and once the pattern release date approached - maybe even once the pattern was released - we were told that beading all the way down the foot would, depending on foot length, take more than 500 beads for the pair. My feet aren't that long, but my preferred sock gauge is tighter than patterns tell me to use, so I needed to go a half repeat longer than the Tour-mandated minimum, which boosted my bead consumption a bit.
Of course, one could not put the beads on the foot, just on the leg. But the ones on the foot were worth bonus points in the Tour! So, away I went.
Not that the two bonus points do anything to my overall score to scoot me back to the front of the pack or anything. Still, I felt compelled to do it.
I really enjoyed knitting this pattern, even if it wasn't the zippiest thing - there are no 'rest' rounds (read: knit or purl the whole way through), so no matter where you are, you'll need to either cable, or place some beads, or do both. Which is fine, it's just that I felt that I never got any real momentum going with it. I did work the cables as little two-stitch cables, not as twists, but I didn't use a cable needle to do so.
My beads were a bit closer in colour when placed on the stitches compared to when they were in their little bags, so my checkerboards are subtle. I can still see the difference between the two, and suspect it's apparent enough to others as well, but when the light hits the beads just right, the shininess just overrides the colours.
The yarn is a skein that I picked up from the dyer directly, and I'm not sure how readily available it is, but I was curious to try a yarn that wasn't merino. My initial attempts to work it up were not terribly successful, with gauge issues all over the place, meaning I would get denser fabric than I wanted, and a smaller circumference than I needed. (Yes, I could have corrected the problem by changing my needle size, except at the time my needle inventory was a bit more limited - I didn't have 2.5 mm DPNs.) I am happy to report that it worked well with this pattern.
We'll see how I feel about the beads once I've worn the socks in shoes. When I put them on to snap these pics, nothing seemed poky or scritchy - though the beads did catch a bit on my toenails if I wasn't a bit careful pulling them on. I may be singing a different song, though, once I've tried to put a shoe on over top.
So. Stage 4 is done. Stage 5 begins on 11 July. That's um, a week from now.
Don't worry. I won't be bored. There may be a new video game knit starting up tomorrow or the next day.