Toe-up socks and Arnold Palmer

Quick life update: it’s summer where I am. And so before it gets too unbearably hot to even think about knitting, I decided to sneak in one last cozy wool project: toe-up socks!

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If you’re rolling your eyes thinking, ‘great, ANOTHER pair of socks,’ you’re wrong! These are toe-up socks (not to be confused with to’ up socks, of which i have several due to how vigorously i pull the heel of my socks when they slip), meaning that they were knit from toe to cuff rather than the other way around. The main advantage to this method is you avoid the dreaded gusset hole that results from picking up stitches from the heel (*knitters collectively shudder*). And as someone who abores holes and was bhored of the typical sock pattern, I thought I’d give it a try.

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IMG_4705Turns out, toe-up socks are amazing! Not only is the cast-on ingenious and completely invisible (i used judy’s magic cast-on and can attest to its supernatural properties), but I ran into absolutely 0 holes when I turned the heel! For those of you looking to try some toe-up socks yourself, I found this pattern to be helpful, though nota bene I adapted it for a larger shoe size and took out the cables.

IMG_4938Here’s the recipient of my first ever toe-up socks: Eli, my friend with simultaneously the largest feet and smallest mouth of any man I’ve ever met (seriously, i could’ve made like, 50 booties with the amount of yarn i used on him).

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IMG_4928And in return, Eli made me a bowl. That’s right, MADE me a bowl, like out of clay and a wheel and a kiln (i believe in that order). The last time I tried my hand at pottery was in 6th grade, when I planned to make a really nice jug for the dinner table and instead ended up with a 4 inch tall bright green tube-y thing (more of a thimble, actually), and then it broke into several pieces, which my sisters perpetually gifted to me for my birthdays thereafter.

IMG_4947Definitely better than a 4 inch thimble.

IMG_4791As most of you know, last weekend was July 4th (more commonly known as 6 days before july 10th). But more pertinent to me, last weekend was also a gloriously free 3-day weekend. And I love gloriously free 3-day weekends. If you’ve ever talked to me about the art of cafeing, you know how I relish huge swaths of unscheduled time. It’s like Tetris, and I take all my favorite activities–crosswords, biking, knitting, Hearthstone (jedbartlet#1497 add me)–and arrange them into a neat little grid.

So you can imagine how unexpected it was when I found myself driving through Bemidji at 4am Friday morning, because in a brief lapse of character, on an adventurous whim, I decided to spend Independence Day with my friend’s family, on their farm, in northern Minnesota (by far my tamest moment of spontaneity ever. next to that time i bought 9 pounds of wheat germ on amazon.).

IMG_4779I’d be lying if I said I went the entire 15 hour drive without any reluctance (or a rendition of my critically acclaimed poor unfortunate souls). Being with a ton of strangers who love each other more than they love me isn’t exactly my ideal social scenario, and while I always wanted to visit the romanticized rural life I had imagined in my head, I’m a city boy at heart, and I knew I’d be so much more comfortable walking through a used bookstore somewhere down the street from some mom-and-pop coffeeshop. I even packed my cafeing materials (crosswords, book, a small knitting project, and iphone charger for extended hearthstone pwnage) in case the opportunity arose, a spare moment away from awkward introductions and debilitating conversational pauses.

IMG_4796So, the weekend came and went, and as a retrospective optimist, I’m happy to say that things didn’t go all that bad. As luck would have it, sheer curiosity of the novel environment superseded any potential social anxiety. I was so fascinated with grain bins and augers (hands off the pto) and the fact that people have beer and pie for breakfast (my body demands granola) that there was little time to worry about anything else. And on July 4th, when the onslaught of white, conservative strangers arrived, things went off without a hitch (save one questionably racist conversation, but i’ll let that slide). We sat around and ate (i met a man named dellbert), enjoyed a hay ride and a bouncy castle, played cornhole (dominated) and cribbage (also dominated), and before I knew it, the day was over. People left, and, surprisingly, I was sad to see them go.

IMG_4776As a San Francisco native and Chicago resident, I innately thrive in a city. I’m used to crossing crowded streets with my headphones on and walking from shop to shop with just a backpack and phone for directions. And though it was my first time stepping foot in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, there was something familiar about this past weekend. I spent it sitting on the porch talking to people, and then sitting on the porch not talking to people. I learned to ride a tractor (dominated), and then when I was done with that, I burned tics for a while and played with a dog. And then after that, I sat some more, drinking Arnold Palmers and listening to Dellbert talk about social security. There was an abundance of slow, low-stress (and often high-caloric) activities to do, and an even greater abundance of time to do them. All I had to do was Tetris them together.

I was in Minnesota for a measly 72 hours, in which time I did no actual farm work (except the tic burning, which i consider a husbandry must). But from the little I’ve experienced and seen, I’ve concluded that my affinity for the state–or at least the reason why Independence Day 2015: Roseau Edition was such a whopping success–stems from the fact that Minnesota is, in a way, a cafe. A great, big, Republican, cafe. Or maybe cafes are just hip, Wifi enabled microcosms of Minnesota. Either way, did I gain 10 pounds in rhubarb pie? Probably. Will seeing another Dairy Queen make me sick? Definitely. Am I glad I went? You betcha.

***The state motto of Minnesota is ‘L’Étoile du Nord,’ which is French for ‘The Star of the North,’ and its state bird is the common loon.

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