New Second Quarter Challenge for You!

dsc02491Yesterday I noticed that the lilacs in our backyard were starting to come out. I love lilacs.  I’m not a big “purple” person, nor do I like candles/perfumes/soaps scented like flowery things, but I do love lilacs themselves. My grandparents planted lilac bushes all along their driveway when they first moved into their home years and years ago. dsc02494(Here’s a post that I did about their house. It is in a very desirable town and was eventually torn down and the lot turned into a McMansion.  Sad to see that happening on their street. But a couple of my lilac bushes were transplanted from their house, which is fun!) I knew that the forecast for today was for freezing temperatures and snow, so I went out and cut some of the lilacs and put them in a vase of water. The nice thing about cutting lilac branches off each year to enjoy, is that the bushes just get fuller and fuller with each subsequent season. It did indeed snow big fat flakes today and I’m sure the rest of the lilacs are goners.  I’m glad to have gotten one vase full, anyway. (Click on the photo to enlarge it, and make sure your “scent button” is turned way up on your computer. Wait – you don’t have one of those “scent buttons”??  Bummer….)

It’s time for a new Quarterly Challenge! If you’re on Ravelry, I shared the new challenge on the Loopy Groupie board on Saturday. The challenge for you this quarter is to knit your own version of “Masterpiece” socks. Pick a pattern that challenges YOU. (Note – the degree of “challenge” will be different for everyone, since we’re all in different stages of technical skills our knitting. It should push you to do something harder than you have done before in your sock knitting.) The other qualifier is that you must use solid or semi-solid yarn from The Loopy Ewe. I want these wonderful patterns/stitches to really POP, since you’re going to go to all that work!  (Check out this blog post for a comparison of doing a pattern in a multi-colorway, versus doing it in a solid or semi-solid. While I love the first two socks, I have to say that a fancy pattern shows up better when there aren’t other colors competing with the design. It’s even more apparent in person – and when you click on the photo for a closeup.)

Here are some yarns that you might want to check out:
Araucania Semi-Solids, Cherry Tree Hill in Fingering Semi-Solids, DK Solids, Regular Solids, and Sockittome Solids, Dream in Color Smooshy and Starry, Dye Dreams Comfy or Dream, Indigo Moon. Louet, S.R. Kertzer, and The YoYo String and Fluff Sport and Fingering.

Of course there are several companies who do both multi-colorways as well as solids/semi-solids.  Look for the solids/semi-solids in:
Claudia Hand Painted, Colinette Jitterbug, Crystal Palace Panda Cotton, Lorna’s Laces, ShibuiKnits, and The Sanguine Gryphon.

And I know that many (many, many, many) of you already have a great solid/semi-solid in your stash that you bought from us and haven’t used yet. So do some stash-diving first and see if you can find something to use up!

Patterns? We have patterns! We have a large Cookie A order coming in about a week, but many of you have already ordered Sock Innovation from Cookie. (If you  haven’t, you need to. The information she shares is just as good as the patterns. And don’t forget that Wendy’s book, Socks From the Toe Up, comes out on the 14th – mine is already on pre-order at Amazon!) You’ll also find some challenging patterns in any of the lines we have, as well as free online patterns all over the place.  Pick your own “masterpiece”! (Hopefully, a 12-18 months from now when we do another “masterpiece” challenge, your skills will have progressed and it will take on a new meaning, once again.)

Note: We’ll vote on First Quarter Challenge/KAL winners later this week. Get your photos uploaded to the Photo Gallery and watch the blog for more details soon.

dsc02496Tonight is opening night for the Cardinals here in St. Louis. We’ve been having lovely 60-70 degree weather on and off for a few weeks and today, it snows. Crazy weather. In other crazy news, here are the two ducks who have decided that our backyard is the place for breakfast. They come most every morning. Since the pond in our neighborhood is 4 blocks away, I can only assume that we have the best tasting birdseed between here and there. Or else we have the friendliest birds, who are ok with sharing their food. The cats just see it as two more “toys” to watch from the window.

Sheri sowhatpattern/yarnareyouthinkingyoumightdoforthechallenge?


  1. Ooh, lilacs! Not warm enough up here in Chicago yet for those…lucky you!

    I already know what I’m doing. Firecracker. In Shibui, I think–I got some red just to do the pattern a while back. Yum!

  2. Lilacs!? I don’t even have daffodils yet, only crocuses. It’s not fair!!!! I haven’t decided on a pattern yet. Although I am currently knitting Wendy’s Loopy Laces which I bought from you.

  3. When we were looking for houses in Boise we drove down a street that was almost solid in lilacs along the property borders – light and dark purple and white – needless to say we moved to that street and I am awaiting our buds to show. We are a very smelly street in the spring!

  4. I know it’s spring here in northern California when the wisteria on the street around the corner from our house pops – omg it’s just gorgeous and it makes me SO HAPPY every time I drive down that street.

  5. I love lilacs too – always have. This is the year that I’m putting at least one lilac bush somewhere in my yard. I may have to put more than one – some in front to pretty it up and one in back where I can enjoy it. 🙂

  6. Ooh, maybe one of Cat Bordhi’s new “architectures” would be good for this one. Cookie’s patterns are beautiful, but I don’t think they qualify as a challenge for me. I just got that Indigo Moon in Weld that I can’t wait to knit up!

  7. I’m thinking of doing “Kristi” from Cookie A’s new book in DIC smooshy Chinatown Apple or DIC Starry Cinnamon Girl. Happy Opening Day…

  8. Thank you for give me a reason to knit wendyknits’ Sunflower socks “out of queue.” I love this pattern and want to knit it next but have been debating since I have others queued and kitted. I’m thinking DIC Butterpeeps but don’t hold me to that. I’m going to select yarn while at Fling. I’m working on building my solids/semi-solids stash…

  9. I need to think a bit more, especially about the pattern, but I think I have some Aracunia that has the same color shading as those lilacs you’re boasting about. In my neck of the woods, the earliest bulbs are barely poking up their leaves. Lilac-colored yarn might just help with the fickleness of spring.

  10. I’m so jealous about your lilacs. We’re not even into forsythia yet. Pussy willows, anyone?

  11. Oh beautiful Lilacs I wish they were in my yard. Not much of anything is out around here. But we do have piles of tree branches on our front lawns. Due to ice storm in
    December. Waiting for town to take. I mean like whole trees,lost quite a few. Spring must be right around the corner, I keep telling myself. Hugs

  12. Such an interesting challenge! The socks that I started on February 3, Caoua Coffee’s “Lohengrin” in ShibuiKnits “Finch”, would be perfect–except that I’ve been working on them for several days already.

    So I think that I’ll try Stephanie van der Linden’s “Es duftet nach Lavendel”, from her book *Socken aus aller Welt*, in Jade Sapphire “Robin’s Eggs”. The pattern isn’t as complex as the “Lohengrin” pattern, but it’s written in German, so that’s the “masterpiece” challenge for me!

  13. I’m thinking Baudelaire as of right now because I love Cookie’s patterns and this is the only one that is toe up (my preferred method)

  14. Lilacs are my favorite – like you my grandparents driveway was lined with lilac bushes and the one in my back yard came from there. It’s a little early here but I did notice that the one’s here on campus have buds on them. Hopefully the sleet & snow we had yesterday didn’t harm them.
    I must give this challenge some thought, I’m still waiting on Cookie’s book and Wendy’s book isn’t out yet. I’m thinking that the challenge for me will be to finally knit a pair from the toe up – I think I finally figured out the toe part – I’m hoping Wendy will be able to teach me how to do heels from the bottom up at Spring Fling.

  15. I hope you don’t mind. I just used one of your lilac pictures as wallpaper. They are my favorite flower and here straight north of you, in Davenport, Iowa, ours aren’t blooming yet. We lost most blooms due to freezing for the last couple of years. Hope to enjoy some this year. Thanks for the picture. If I imagine hard enough, I can smell them!

  16. sheri-
    What beautiful lilacs you have! I for one, LOVE purple and flowery, smelly stuff. My DH calls it “chick smell”. 🙂 Anyway, thank you for sharing your wonderful flowers with us as well as the link to the story about your grandparent’s home. Do you have pictures of the doors in your house? I was just wondering if WH was able to get them to fit.

    Also, I too, have memories about my grandparent’s homes. My maternal grandmother sold her home, where we spent New Years, 4th of Julys, and various Easter vacations baking and coloring Easter eggs. I was mortified when the new owners painted her living room bright orange and green – bad call. The good call came with the addition of another bathroom. The place only had one originally! However, I can relate to those childhood memories. 🙂 In the end, I was fortunate enough to get her china hutch. It is nothing fancy but special to me since she stored my play china tea set in it and brought it out when I came to visit.

    Thanks for sharing memories.

  17. I love lilacs, too, and ours are still a couple of weeks from flowering. The thing I like about cutting them (aside from the way they make your whole house smell) is that you can cut a few clusters, stick them in any vase, and they look great. For those of us who are flower-arranging impaired, that’s a definite plus!

  18. Hmmm…. Just got Cookie’s sock book…. Now I need to go stash diving. 🙂 Though I might need to acquire something solid or semi-solid. Not sure.

    We have ducks in our back yard, too, but the lake is only a block away, so we can see them. And here in Chicago, as BFF Liz said, no lilacs yet, but my tulips got snowed on this morning. 🙁

  19. Slipstitch Ring socks from Cat Bordhi’s New Pathways for Sock Knitters, Book One, in Fleece Artist Merino 2/6, Aegean and Peacock. I’m cheating a little by using Peacock — not exactly a solid or semi-solid, but I’ve never done a colorwork sock before, so that’s my challenge. Wish me luck! Cables are a breeze for me (I learned to do them before anyone told me they were hard), so is lace, but colorwork?!? Eeek!

  20. Hmm, reading Cookie A’s patterns are a challenge for me as it is! Knitting them would be like climbing Mount Everest. I think I will join in this KAL, if only to challenge myself. And the pattern in question is Pomotamus. Yep, that one. Will have to dig the Loopy Ewe stash to see which yarn would work best.

    Do you think the pattern will be okay in Cascade Heritage Socks colourway Bark?

  21. I love lilacs, too…We have needed to do some pruning on ours, it is not a tree that is interfereing with the electricity poles at the back of the house…and the flowers are too high for me to reach…takes special lopping shears at this point and my husband to do the cutting. He brought some in this week…love the scent.

    I’ll have to check out the Ravelry/Loopy challenge. Sounds fun! I have wendy’s book on order, too…may find something perfect to try.

  22. We don’t have lilacs but we do get those little wild violets in the lawn, followed by tiny wild daisies. They come in about the same time as the forsythia. Now all the fruit trees are blooming, so we’d better not get any more frost!

    I’ve got Wendy’s book on order, think I’ll wait till it gets here before I commit to a pattern, since I am a dedicated toe-up kinda girl.

  23. I had 2 licac bushes in Rocky 1 of which was huge full and absolutely beautiful when in bloom. The other one, thanks to Brian’s ex-wife chaining a dog to it, was half dead and didnt bloom for a couple of years. It took me 2 years to get the poor thing trimmed out and cleaned up before it would bloom again. 2 yrs ago it had a few blooms and then last year it was full of the sweetest smelling lilac blooms I had ever smelled! We are planning to bring part of it down here later in the spring after it has finished blooming and also are gonna plant several lilac bushes for my mom who loves them as a partial thanks for all the help they have given us the past few yrs.
    I have DIC Smooshy Lipstick Lava and a few other Semi solid/Solid yarns I could use for the challlenge so now will have to go through my p;atterns and find one (or more) to knit up!

  24. My hubby gave me a vase of grape hyacinths for our anniversary, which for some reason remind me of the smell of lilacs. It is wonderful to get home from a long day and have their perfume filling the air.

    Sadly, I want to do this challenge, but don’t think I have enough yarn for the socks I want to do. The latest VK has these glorious thigh-high lace stockings, which look like they would be so much fun to wear! Payday is only a week away!

  25. Love the lilacs. Reminds me of my childhood home we have lilac bushes on a fence running the full corner of our property. The smell was incredible. After I married I lived in AZ for 30+ years where you can’t grow lilacs, too hot. I’m now living in WA and hadn’t thought about lilacs until now. Thanks for a solution to my back fence plantings…

    I’ve been doing socks for quite awhile, but usually just striping yarns, no patterns. I’m going to try the Nine-To-Five Socks by Nicole Hindes… The pattern is more than I’ve ever attempted. I’ll be using Dream in Color Smooshy in Spring Trickle….

  26. I’m so glad someone got to enjoy their lilacs. Mine were just barely buds, several weeks from blooming, but since it was 25 last night and will probably be colder tonight I’m writing them off for this year. Oh well, I got a few things covered, so hopefully I won’t loose my bleeding heart blooms.

    It would be great to be able to search for solid and semi-solid yarns on the site. I spent way too long looking last week for some for Sock Madness.
    I still love and collect the wild colors, but it’s the semi-solids that keep coming out to be used.

  27. I’ve been doing some designing recently, and am working on a pair called “Leafy Columns” in Claudia “Jungle”. The skein I have came from TLE, but it’s actually more of a semi-solid than the color on the website. Can’t wait to show it to you.

    Our lilacs are covered with buds, but so far they are smart enough to stay shut in this cold weather!

  28. Yikes, Lilacs!!! I awoke to snow nd not even the daffodills will bare their heads. I’m wearing my husbands jacket and knit wear becasue I washed all of my last weekend and packed them away, determined there would be no more cold weather. Oh well, I like knitting when there is snow on the ground.

  29. Hmm, how fortuitous that my order of Aracunia semi-solid arrived yesterday — and I’ll be doing Cookie A’s Twisted Flower Sock, which I’m adapting to toe-up. That is, once I finish the Viper Pilot socks I’m doing in DIC Smooshy. Ah, stash! How I love thee.

  30. Sheri, this is the post I first read when I stumbled onto your site. Was I googling antiques or yarn? I can’t remember, but I do remember how cool it was to hear of someone else who loved old, sentimental family treasures. And oh yes, had a great yarn shop too…

  31. Thank you for sharing the lilacs. They are one of my favorite spring flowers and don’t grow in the deserts for Arizona. I can only enjoy them through pictures like yours.

  32. Yay, spring is on its way! As for pattern ideas, I was thinking something with a cable or two. I’ve only done one mock cable before and this would be a way to challenge myself.

  33. I’m thinking about making some mosaic socks using light blue and black Aracaunia yarns, or that ever beautiful (but techinal) Bayerische Socks by Eunny Jang. Hmmm….tough decision.

  34. Oooooo…those Lilacs are beautiful!!! Speaking of purple I have decided to use my Yoyo String and Fluff in the People Eater colorway for the 2nd quarter challenge. I plan on using it to make Monkey by Cookie A. Seeing as I have only knit 1sock of a pair in a pattern before this(tidalwave pattern) , then this will definitely be a challenge for me.

    Now if you could figure out some way to get a smell button manufactured on my computer, that would be great! Mmmmm, lilacs!

  35. I just ordered the HJ Aran Clog Socks and the Louet Bright Red to knit them with. I’ve never tried a sock with a pattern so hopefully this isn’t too hard. I have done cables before though. I’m excited!

  36. I love lilacs and old houses. Sigh. I’d be feeling very bittersweet too. (But not the invasive kind!)

    May I create my own pattern? I’ll make it seriously a pain in the neck, I promise.

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