Today is my dear Dad's birthday and we've just got back from a wonderful trip to London to meet up with my parents and my sister and her husband (it's a meet in the middle kind of effort) and celebrate in style. Thinking about it, the last time that I was actually with my Dad on his birthday (as opposed to leaving noisy renditions of Happy Birthday on his answerphone) must be 11 years ago when I was still living at home, which suddenly seems an awfully long time; and makes today all the more special.
We celebrated with a trip to the theatre yesterday to see the Russian Ballet of Siberia dance The Nutcracker and a fantastic family Sunday lunch today. The ballet was beautiful with very clever costumes including a corps of snowflakes in white tutus, sparkly white hats and pom-poms strung along their arms so that when they moved it looked like flakes falling - lets hope the outside world takes the hint; it's been threatening to snow all day and we've had a couple of good flurries but nothing seems to settle for long. Perhaps we will allow it to hold off long enough to ensure that Mum and Dad make it safely home and then let loose overnight. H wants 6 feet of snow so that we can have a snow day because all the offices will be closed. While that would work for me, I haven't yet dared remind him that he works from home!
Anyway, now to the good stuff; the birthday knitting. It is with a slight sense of deja vu that I show you this year's top secret birthday socks - Start Point II:
Recognise the pattern? Possibly a little like these ones? Last year's birthday socks.
Without wishing to be indiscreet, it appears that last year's socks (beloved by my father) met with an untimely reduction in stature in the washing machine, and whilst he claims that they are not ruined, my sources suggest that this is not the case and that they might be better repurposed on a teddy bear.
The yarn is not identical, this is an Arucania multi whereas last year I used a semi-solid. Both came from my favourite sock yarn enabler and I think that the gentle multicolours look just as good in the pattern; the Lighthouse Gansey socks by Anne Hanson from Knitty.
Having knit this pattern four times now (two pairs of socks) I cannot fault it, although I should point out that this time round I substituted a standard square toe straight after the ribbing, rather than following the pattern, because that gives a better fit for this recipient. That's why the toe looks less pointy in this year's pictures than in last year's - it isn't just the magic of sock blockers.
Once you get past the lantern pattern it is extremely straightforward, essentially just a ribbed sock, but I do think that it is worth putting in the extra fussiness with the garter stitch borders to the heel because it gives it a very smooth pick up after you turn the heel.
My top tip for the lantern pattern itself is to remember that you are trying to apply a p2, k1 repeat with a central knit stitch. If you are expanding the lantern then you include an extra background stitch in the lantern every other row. So to read the pattern from your knitting, if you have two purl sts on top of each other in the rows immediately below, you need to start 1 st earlier with p1, k1, (p2, k1) repeated until the centre stitch, knit it and then knit the mirror image. If you have only one purl stitch below then start immediately on top with (p2, k1) repeated, knit the centre stitch through the back loop, and mirror image.
Bringing the lantern back to the point is much easier because you use one less stitch every row.
If you can get your head around this then you can read the knitting rather than the pattern which is great because you knit two lanterns on each sock and it's very easy to skip a row on the second lantern because you think you've knitted it when in fact you've only knit it on the first. Don't ask me how I know!
Despite essentially being a repeat sock gift they were much admired and I think there were hankerings for changing into them straight away but there wasn't quite time before lunch!
So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD - I'm glad I got to share a wonderful day with you :)