Atsockalypse Not

Remember back in 2012 when everyone was on about the Mayan Apocalypse? that is, the end of the world, which the ancient Mayans had supposedly forecast to coincide with the solstice on December 21?

At first blush, this seemed an enticing tsubject for a tsock.

It didn’t take much more than superficial investigation, however, to determine that the ancient Mayans, in developing their extraordinarily rich and complex calendar system, had forecast no such thing; that in fact what they had predicted was merely (hmmm - perhaps “merely” is not exactly the mot juste here) the transition from one great age to another, the end of the 13th Baktun and the beginning of the 14th.

At first blush, this seemed an enticing tsubject for a tsock.

But wait - there’s more. It turns out that the iconic image usually associated with the Mayan Calendar - you know the one I mean, yes? - is neither.

Calendar Stone

That is… it is neither Mayan nor Calendar.

It’s not entirely unrelated, however.

It is, in fact, the Aztec Sun Stone.

Now there is an enticing tsubject for a tsock!

Sun Stone Cover

Though not exactly a calendar, as such, the Aztec Sun Stone does feature symbols that represent the various time-keeping entities common to both cultures, and the deities and creatures that govern them.

Central among these, and decidedly more Aztec than Mayan in the fierceness of its implacable expression, is the face of Tonatiuh, god of the Sun.

Tonatiuh Stone

Like the Aztec Sun Stone, the tsock begins with the Face of Tonatiuh; a disk worked flat - though in fact it is anything but flat. It is heavily textured, with a protruding tongue shaped like tecpetl - the flint knife traditionally used for human sacrifice - and beads and ornaments and ears and hair worked in relief.

Surrounding the Face of Tonatiuh, picked up in its selvedges and worked around it medallion-style, is Tonalmitl - the Rays of the Sun (in Nahuatl, tona = sun; mitl = arrows; literally, then, Sun-Arrows).

Sun Medallion
Guess who forgot - thrice - to pin out and photograph the Sun Medallion before continuing to work the tsock? Yeah, that’d be me. Then again, behold proof that I actually knitted TWO complete tsocks. Almost three, in fact.

Where a conventional medallion would be flat, however, the octagonal Sun Medallion has an exaggerated increase ratio, making it gently hyperbolic, so that it conforms to the top of the foot, with Tonatiuh supplying ease for the instep.

Gently Hyperbolic

The structure of the sock is then built around the Sun Medallion, beginning slightly above it and working downward, using several different attach techniques for picking up stitches in selvedges. The two widest rays of Tonalmitl point directly toward the heel;

Heel Ray

… the two succeeding facets form the edges of the sole, and the shallow curve of the last two facets blends smoothly into the toe.

Edge by Toe

Atop all this - where of course it belongs - is Ilhuicatl, the Heavens.

Ilhuicatl appears around the border of the Sun Stone itself, and is composed of three main elements. At the top, a row of stars shines from the night sky; below this, the symbol of the planet Venus, illuminating the daytime sky, alternates with flint knives that represent the beams of the sun.

Side of Sun Stone


The knitted version of Ilhuicatl is part of the cuff; it folds over a foundation of twisted ribbing to crown the sock.


So this -

Sock from Right

- is Tsock #5 of…

Sock from Front Against Sky

… of…

Sock from Back

…yes, well… 2012. I am reminded of Douglas Adams subtitling Mostly Harmless “The fifth book in the increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhiker’s Trilogy.”

Sock from Front

And of a friend of mine who is fond of pointing out that I have an anxiety-prone tendency to experience, in terrified anticipation, “ten out of every three” crises. (The inside of my head is NOT an easy place to live, I can tell you.)

Sock From Outside

There is no getting around it: New year or no new year, in my calendar it’s still 2012. It appears I could learn a thing or three from the ancient Mayans, or indeed the ancient Aztecs.

(End of the WORLD? Hah. Not even end of the YEAR.)

I was right about one thing, though. I predicted the 2012 season would be one hell of a roller-coaster ride. And there I’d have to say… naming calls. It sure has been that, beyond anything I could have imagined.

Chichen Itza with Tsock

And it ain’t over yet.

“Sun Stone” is in the mail now, I am happy to say.

And I have plunged straight into Tsock #6. Because even in my wacked-out Groundhog-Day world… 2012 can’t last forever.

12 Responses to “Atsockalypse Not”

  1. ProgrammerAtArms Says:

    I particularly like the last photo.

  2. Kassandra Says:

    Be still my Ancient Alien conspiracy theory heart! Yet another tsock success. Commence mailman stalking nao.

  3. Caroline M Says:

    I’m a natural worrier. I try very hard to recognise when I’m doing an impression of a hamster in a wheel, round and round the same scenario. It’s not easy to step away from the what if’s and accept what comes.

    I love the way that the star pushes the heel out - very clever.

  4. Pauline Says:

    I love this sock, it is beautiful and I am moving soon to Tucson, AZ so could I belong to this group and join so I can get the patterns as well as knitting them.
    Pauline Bezette

  5. Lolly Says:

    I adore that sock pattern! How awesome!!! I want one!

    and yeah, worrying is part of the human condition, at least as much as that references me specifically >.

  6. lilibean Says:

    Beautiful and hilarious (both the sock and the blog post), a combination I have come to expect from your work. I should have known the theme for this sock wouldn’t be as simple as the winter solstice.

  7. Lynne in Florida Says:

    I have to wait a whole YEAR for this? Put me on top of the list to buy it when it’s released to the “general public” PLEASE!!! This is another of the great socks.

    Why Kukulkan (Quetzalcoatl)? Other than, of course, it’s probably the best known image of Mayan culture - outside of the lightweights that have adopted the Aztec Sun Stone as the “Mayan calender”? It does have a linkage of sorts with the sun, of course - the serpent slithering down the side of the pyramid to meet its head at the bottom on the two solstices.

    You have managed to tie a whole BUNCH of related concepts together in one sock, though. You haz the awsums!

  8. Lynne in Florida Says:

    Just realized - nupps??? How FUN!

  9. Melissa in Oklahoma Says:

    Thank heavens tsomeone with a little gravitas has told the truth about the doggone Aztec Tsun Tstone! All year long I would wail, “It’s not even Mayan for cryin’ out loud!” to no avail. I’m glad they believe you!

    As always, the tsock is intriguing!

    Brava! Or Ole!

  10. Karen in McLean Says:

    Superior work, design, color, yarn, explication, just superior! Zaphod has requested a pair for himself.

    Cheers, cheers, do carry on!

  11. Patricia Carter Says:

    What a great tsock!

  12. Kate Thomas Says:


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