April 6, 2008

Time Off for Good Behavior

As a thank you for using him on the sale and purchase of our houses, our real estate agent gave us a two night stay at the Montage in Laguna Beach. Holy crap, you guys, this place was sa-weeet!

Our balcony

The view from our balcony

We went down on Thursday and came back Saturday. It was a heavenly little getaway for Chris and me. We soaked up enjoying a last vacation as just a twosome.

It's about a one hour drive away. But we had these nightmare visions of me going into labor and us being stuck on the freeway in rush hour traffic for, like, four hours, trying to get back to our hospital here in LA. Thankfully, that didn't happen.

The service was absolutely outstanding. Every single hotel employee we ran into was extremely friendly and helpful. Upon check-in, they brought us complimentary champagne. When they saw that I'm pregnant, they came back with sparkling cider.

Of course, I was knitting. The Sock Madness round two pattern had been released on Monday. I had gotten in some good knitting time on Monday, but not as much on Tuesday and Wednesday. On the drive down to Laguna, I was working on the leg of the second sock. By the time we got there, I didn't have a whole lot of energy for much more than sitting on our balcony. So I knit while enjoying the view, the sound of the ocean, the smell of the sea air mixed with flowers... it was wonderful.

As the sun began to set, we saw little bunnies come out on the grass. There were tons of them. They're probably the scourge of the grounds keepers, but to us they were completely adorable.

After a delicious room service breakfast on Friday morning, Chris and I went out exploring the grounds and took a short walk on the beach. It was too chilly for our delicate SoCal constitutions to entertain going in the ocean or pool, though there were people doing just that. Instead, we walked around bundled in sweaters and enjoyed holding hands and hugging for warmth.

I did not bring the sock on our excursion. I didn't even think about it, we were having such a good time. Until lunch. While having a lovely meal at the pool side grill (even this place was pretty schmancy), curiosity began to creep in. Using Chris' iPhone, I checked the standings and saw there were only five slots still open in my division. A competitive fire was re-lit within me.

We returned to our room and I basically spent the rest of the day working on the sock. It was actually perfect, as my energy was quite low by then anyway. Plus, after the baby comes, long stretches of uninterrupted knitting time will be hard to come by.

When I finished the sock, Chris took a picture with his phone and e mailed it to me. I then went down the the hotel's business center and got the picture up on Flickr and sent off my finished e mail to the Sock Madness Mistresses. Phew!

It's quite a cool pair of socks. The pattern is called Reversai because the socks are completely reversible. (It's currently only available to participants of Sock Madness, but I believe the designer will be offering it for sale later.) We had been told the test knit sock was made using Socks That Rock Lightweight. I've never knit STR Lightweight, but I do have some in my stash and I was planning on using it. However, when I saw the pattern started "Cast On 72 stitches...," I knew the STR would make a sock too big for me. So I used some Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (Glenwood colorway) and size 0 needles, instead. Now, 72 stitches of Lorna's Laces on size 0 needles with a knit/purl pattern is slow going for me. But the effort paid off, because I'm quite happy with the results.

I doubt I'll ever make these socks exactly to pattern again, but I can definitely see a modified version in the future. I think the charted pattern in a solid or semi-solid darkish colorway would make very handsome man socks. I'd probably do a flap heel and stockinette foot instead of the garter stitch short row heel and foot. I will say, of the garter stitch short row heel, that it was the least troublesome short row heel I've ever worked. I usually get quite frustrated with holes in short row heels, but the garter stitch is very forgiving.

Working the garter stitch foot was kind of annoying, but I'm wearing the socks right now and I'm happy to report, they're very cushy and soft. This is one of the things I really like about Sock Madness. It forces you to knit patterns you might ordinarily pass right over. In doing so, you may find that you really like a technique or design element you wouldn't have considered appealing otherwise.

Plus, you get a new pair of socks in about five days.