IT’S… ALIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!!!!!!

Igor: Dr. Frankenstein…
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: “Frohnckenschteen.”
Igor: You’re putting me on.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: No, it’s pronounced “Frohnckenschteen.”
Igor: Do you also say “Froaderick”?
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: No… “Frederick.”
Igor: Well, why isn’t it “Froaderick Frohnckenschteen”?
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: It isn’t; it’s “Frederick Frohnckenschteen.”
Igor: I see.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: You must be Igor.
Igor: No, it’s pronounced “Eye-gore.”

Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks,
“Young Frankenstein”

 
 
 

If you follow any of the blogs/tweets/othermedia about Sock Summit and the runup thereunto, it won’t be news to you that one of the big new Crazy Knitter Stunts for this year is an event called Fleece to Foot - you know, like Sheep to Shawl for socks - and that the challenge pattern for said event is the result of another competition called Design for Glory. (If you’ve been living under a rock and either of these facts IS news to you… go clicky on the linky and get edumacated. It’s OK - I’ll wait here.)

And once you know those two things I doubt it will come as a shock to you that I submitted an entry in the latter. (I’d be competing in the former, too, but alas it conflicts with my teaching schedule, so instead I’ll be cheering intermittently from the sidelines.)

The design met with some extremely gratifying private praise from the ST folk (actually - not all of it so very private, if you follow them on Twitter), but ultimately… it did not make the cut. (Though in fact it makes eight cuts itself - but oops, I’m getting ahead of myself.) I think I know why. I have to confess I knew all along it was kind of a long shot. It’s - OK, now prepare for a shock, because this is, you know, totally out of character for me - it’s slightly, um, crazy? over the top? maybe even a bit… scary?

Yeah. A bit scary. And it SHOULD be scary, because it is after all a little monster. And now, O intrepid and adventurous knitters, my little monster can be your little monster too: behold my latest mad-scientist creation, Fronkenshteek.

Fronkenshteek

When I read the rules for the Fleece to Foot challenge, the word that leapt out at me in huge flashing neon letters was “PAIR.” (It appears in bold-face. Twice. So somehow I have a feeling this was not a matter of chance.) Now, in my line of work I knit a lot of individual prototype socks, and I can get through one sock pretty quickly. But I am not immune to Second Sock Syndrome. Making the same thing twice over is already a challenging proposition for many knitters; the idea of doing so in the kind of rapid succession called for there is, well, gulp-inducing at best. So I set out to reduce that burden to the degree possible. The result: a PAIR of socks divided into five segments, each of which (except for a little connective tissue here and there) is KNITTED ONLY ONCE. It’s done in five different ways - one for each segment - but in each case each member of the team is working both socks simultaneously.

Fronkenshteek

For maximum speed and efficiency, all segments are worked in the round - even those that will be seamed at the assembly stage.

  • Segment 1: Both cuffs are worked together, as one long ribbed cylinder divided by a round of waste yarn.

    Cuffs

  • Segment 2: Both ankles are worked together, as one wide steeked cylinder.

    Ankles

  • Segment 3: Both insteps (actually not just the instep but the band that goes around both foot and ankle at that point; a piece I think of as the “Ace Bandage”) are worked together in a vaguely Albers-esque center-out squarish configuration. Steeked, of course.

    Ace Bandage

  • Segment 4: Both feet (from toe to Ace Bandage) are worked together, double-knit one inside the other, in the immortal parlor-trick style of Tolstoy’s Princess Anna Mikhailovna Drubetskaya.

    Double-Knit Foot

  • Segment 5: Both toes and both heels are worked together - sideways - in one lumpy steeked piece, vaguely oblate, that looks a bit like a collapsed tennis ball or a deflated starfruit.

    Starfruit

Then the bits that call for cutting are cut…

Cutting the Ankle Steek

Toe Piece Accordion

… the bits that call for raveling are raveled, the bits that call for joining are joined…

Toe Pinned

Toe Semi-grafted

Sole Graft

… and finally the Bermuda Triangles that provide ease for the instep are knitted - individually - in situ.

Lower Triangle

Assembly Schematic

The resulting socks are relatively simple-looking; they derive their chief visual interest from the contrasting lines and angles of the grain of the fabric.

Directional

(I also used contrasting yarn for the joins on one of the prototypes, with a satisfyingly Frankensteinian effect.) But they’re a comfortable fit, yea even unto the seams under toe and heel. They are fearfully and wonderfully made; an ode to the Process Knitter, or rather the Team of Process Knitters.

Think of them as Performance Art.

Now… you don’t HAVE to make these babies as a competition event; you don’t even have to make them as a team. It’s perfectly possible for a single knitter to do the whole thing on a normal sort of schedule. But half the fun is in the collaborative choreography - especially when you get to the assembly stage, which is not unlike a knitters’ version of Twister. (Heh… am I dating myself?)

Of course there may be just one problem with that: Who gets to keep the socks? Simple solution: Just do it five times, rotating roles. So every member of the group gets to make all five segments… no member of the group has to repeat a segment… and every member ends up with a pair. Hey, it could happen.

See, this whole thing got me thinking (and you KNOW how dangerous THAT is) about knitting as not just a fiber art but also a social phenomenon. As you may recall, until a few years ago I thought of knitting as a purely solitary pleasure - or near-solitary, anyway, since the only other knitter I knew, and knitted with, was my mother. After her death it was just me, and I still loved knitting, but I didn’t have a whole lot of momentum for it, and it kind of got lost in the shuffle for a while. Until one fine day I stumbled across the Brave New World of knitting on the internet, and suddenly I realized with delight and astonishment that knitting is not solitary AT ALL, not necessarily. No! Knitting is a GROUP activity if you want it to be - both virtually and in meatspace. And… I want it to be. Hey, knitting in the twenty-first century is the personification of the Global Village!

More than ever now, thanks to Ravelry, my S&B is wherever I am - in the sense that anywhere I go I know I can find my people and we can have a great time knitting together. But more literally, my S&B is my weekly meetup - local people whom I first met through Ravelry but who are now my real-life friends, live and in person. More marvelous still, several members of this group are now part of the shiny new Tsock Team, because it turns out that when you need help and support and special skills, all you have to do is click your heels together three times and murmur, “There’s No Place Like Home.”

And get this: members of that same group are teaming up even now and preparing to cast on Fronkenshteek. I’m as psyched about this as if I were up for a Nobel prize, because this design is my CELEBRATION of Social Knitting, and every group that takes it on as such is joining in that celebration. How cool is that? THIS is what it really means to “knit two together.”

So now I’ve put the pattern up as a downloadable PDF in my shiny new Ravelry store (we’re also planning to kit it up at Rhinebeck time, but I just don’t want to wait). Yup, my first (but not my last) pattern for sale via download. See? I’ve got a Buy Now button and everything!

And here’s the deal: I WANT YOU TO SHOW ME YOUR STEEKS!

Bring them to me when I’m at a show - hell, accost me in the street if you happen to run across me - and cut them with me. Cut them in my booth, I dare you. Or hey, if you like I will cut them for you. If you’re too far away for that, send me pictures of steek-cutting in progress. One way or the other, I’ll make it worth your while, see if I don’t.

Why should the sweater knitters have all the fun? Who says they’re the only ones who get to have that little thrill of fear and that big badge of accomplishment? This design includes a whopping EIGHT STEEKS per pair - show me a sweater with that many, right?

So look here: If you’re coming to Sock Summit… and if you cast on now… you can come and find me there (I’ll be all over the map, most of the week) and…

SHOW.ME.YOUR.STEEKS.

I promise not to go anywhere without my scissors.

Angry Mob

33 Responses to “IT’S… ALIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!!!!!!”

  1. Ryan Says:

    I think you may have an abby normal brain.

    I can just hear you at the Grand Fronkenshteek Event:

    “LIFE! DO YOU HEAR ME? GIVE MY CREATION… LIFE!”

  2. LindaS Says:

    Sounds like fun - I won’t be there, though, and steeks scare the crap out of me. Steaks, on the other hand……never mind. I’ll be looking to see some updates and pics!!

  3. Filatura Says:

    Don’t know whether this is engineering or architecture or inventioneering, but I love it.
    And I say “ptui” to fear of steeks.
    And I think I want to make these in Technicolor, with the Ace bandage in Ace bandage color.
    Great start to the new era.

  4. Kate Says:

    Those are so COOL!

  5. Lisa Says:

    You’re a lunatic….Just the best kind of lunatic.

    I’ll admit that when I cut my first steeked sweater, I did it at a new-to-me knitting night. I had done a practice swatch at home, but thought that chopping a sweater in half, in front of a group of total strangers, added a bit of spice to the occasion.

  6. Tan Says:

    Yes. You are quite mad, but a genius. I bow down in complete reverence to your genius. I’m sure the only reason it didn’t make the cut is that they didn’t want 250 heart attacks as all those first-time steekers took scissors to their knitting. I think I will have to make myself little labels so I can remember which is what. Love love love!

  7. Faith Says:

    I love you.

    Ovaltine?

  8. Caroline M Says:

    Steeks in socks? I’ll give it a go.

    Mine, all mine bwahhahaha

  9. Marcy Says:

    Oh, sweet mystery of life, at last I’ve found you!

  10. chalyn Says:

    wow. there are a large number of things competing for my time these days, and most of them are sadly unrelated to knitting. when i have time for a knitting life again, these tsocks will need to be a part of it.

  11. Karen in McLean Says:

    Brava, BRAVISSIMA!!! [Standing ovation, shrieks, piercing whistles, stamping on floorboards, Roger Daltrey screams his finest scream, Maria Callas replies in kind, TWO Chilean volcanoes erupt]

    They’re great, just great.

    Cheers, Karen

  12. Erica Says:

    How fun! All I can think is how cool they would be in multiple colors; like stained glass. Five different skeins would make five sets of socks that are all related but slightly different in where the colors fall.

    Or how about 5 different fairisle patterns? If it’s knit in the round, it’s just begging to be fairisle…

  13. AnotherJoan Says:

    Holy Frankarama!! and on my screen, with the close-up and all, it looks as if you are cutting the steeks with my garden clippers!! When the dust settles around here, these are on my list!

  14. Liz Says:

    These socks are awesome. Oh, and thank goodness for the online knitting community!

  15. mardi Says:

    I read that you got Honorable Mention. Nicely done!

    But…Nine Tailors is STILL the best one.

  16. Bluebunny Says:

    I am intrigued by this most fascinating of creatures. err creations. ike Erica says above, I couldn’t help but think how fun these would be in different colours - and what a fun way to use up leftover sock yarn!

  17. Jane Says:

    You have the most interesting mind….

  18. Melissa in Oklahoma Says:

    Genius. Shear genius, that is…

  19. Lynne Says:

    I’m speechless…

  20. Lise Says:

    Holy moly you are a mad genius! I LOVE these socks! So geeky, so quirky, so wonderfully different. Cannot wait for Sunday’s class!

  21. Nancy Says:

    I was hoping you had designed for this challenge! (And I was pretty sure the result would be very cool.) Great design and it looks really interesting to knit!

  22. Sharon Rose Says:

    You are the BEST - I love your crazy brain. Can’t wait to see you at Sock Summit!! Do I get to rub you again? :)

  23. Lia Says:

    THAT IS SO INTENSE. I have this skein of Sweet Georgia in Botanical that I was debating what to do with, now I know!

  24. Sally M Says:

    Holy Mother of Wool. You.So.Crazy. In the best possible crazy mad designer way.

    I am also in the multicolor camp….I see a kit that will “create” the five fraternal Fronkenshteeks, please? I will so buy that kit. Maybe even two of them.

  25. Carol Says:

    SO COOL!
    A team of 5 could make 5 pairs of socks …
    Each team member could knit a complete set of sections; each member uses a different colour; exchange pieces so each member has pieces for a pair of socks with each section being in a different colour; all 5 pairs will be related, but none identical! Each team member would know who had knit what section, by the colour.
    Team members could be geographically anywhere! I just need 4 more …

  26. onafixedincome Says:

    A quick fix I’m amazed nobody else ‘got’…. that conversation (walk this way and look)…lol.. was between Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman, who played Igor.

    These socks inspire me…to run screaming for the nearest can of Super Restitch! Steeks, indeed…I can barely manage Ye Plain Sock!

    Genius. Insane, but genius. :)

  27. Nancy Paris Says:

    Hello Lisa,
    I was in your class at Sock Summit. Be still my heart. I absolutely loved the class and all your work. Thank you.
    You asked us to email our interpretations/sketches and I finally got my ideas scanned, but I can’t seem to find an email address. That is why I am writing here.
    I was the person who did the silly one, in color, with tiny purses all over them, made specifically for the fashion diva 4, 6 year old who enjoys dressing herself (and it shows). I’m sure you have seen these girls. Hell, you were probably one yourself.
    Anywho, I just need an email address, I don’t think one can do attachments with this.
    Fondly,
    Nancy Paris

  28. Frank Lippa Says:

    Hi Lisa.
    This is absolutely apropos of nothing to do with socks, but I dunno of any other way to contact you!

    I’ve been researching the genealogy of a bunch (collective noun) of Hefetzes living in Eastern Europe between 1860 - 1900 for the last few years, and I wonder whether you have picked up a few snippets of information that might enable me to knit together (I’m trying so hard!) the relationships of those that immigrated to the USA around 1900 - 1920.

    I’m particularly NOT that interested in the descendants of Ruven Heifetz, but am greatly interested to learn whatever I can about his parents, his siblings and any others in this group, at around that time.

    It’s really wrong of me to encumber this blog of yours with any more information. I think that you’ll now have access to my email address (I’ve given it, as requested in your blog). I live in a small town in the beautiful Dandenong hills outside of Melbourne, Australia. I think that we are hugely, distantly, inconsequentially - but strangely, deliciously - related.

    I’ll be very grateful if you’d reply to me in this regard.

  29. Crafty Manolo » Abby… Something Says:

    […] Over the summer, the insanely talented and wonderful Tsarina of Tsocks posted the images and instructions at her blog. […]

  30. Shells Says:

    Knitting these were absolutely the most fun I’ve ever had while knitting. Thank you for being such a genius. If you happen to want to see my steeks (since I am too far away to find you anywhere) they are here. http://ravel.me/Shells/csygi
    And again. Best. Knit. Ever.

  31. The Tsarina Tsays… » Blog Archive » CANDYGRAM! Says:

    […] While you’re waiting… maybe you’d like to amuse yourselves by taking a look at Fronkenshteek. That one IS available as a PDF download, and I’m here to tell you it comes from the same […]

  32. The Tsarina Tsays… » Blog Archive » Notes From the Cutting Room Floor Says:

    […] whys and wherefores, etc. You’ve probably heard me rant about this before, in the context of Fronkenshteek, but I’ve never been one to let that stop me. The really important point is that the sweater […]

  33. Miri Says:

    I generally don’t like the idea of steeking - why cut something you jut spent hours making? Why not just knit it the shape you want in the first place? But, I like the unusual. And these are unique. And the steeking here is just kind of fun and interesting. I think I am kind of late finding your site. There are a BUNCH of patterns here I LOVE. Just when I was kind of winding down the sock phase…. my interest in socks has been revived. I will be buying this pattern, and several others of yours too, as they become available. Though I prefer just patterns to kits (so I can maybe use some of my stash… OK, HOARD), Some of the ones I see for sale on Ravelry are the whole kit. So, will have to decide if I want to buy the whole kit, or wait and see if you start to offer the pattern itself as a PDF. Thanks for all the fun patterns. I just wish I had found your site sooner. :)

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