The Quest.

Well friends, it looks like I’m all caught up on my handspun! It feels good to have all that backlog disposed of. Of course, I’ve been creating a new backlog of knitted things while I’ve been tidying up my spinning, so there’s still plenty of blog material percolating in my skull. Today, I’m going to tell you about my Epic Quest!

It began with one boy’s love of a terrifying marine arthropod, and one girl’s obsession with the perfect present. It began with the mantis shrimp.

Let me tell you a few things about the mantis shrimp.

The mantis shrimp has 16 different color receptors in its eyes. Humans have 3.

The mantis shrimp has crazy claws that it uses like little guns. It can move them so quickly that it creates a shockwave by boiling the water around its claws. (you know, if it fails to kill its prey by bashing it with 1500 newtons of force.)

Their claws are so strong and so resilient that they are being studied in order to create more effective body armor.

I don’t remember where I first learned this stuff, some article somewhere, but you can see these and many more mantis shrimp facts in this comic by the Oatmeal.
Long story short, the mantis shrimp is awesome, and Greg LOVES the mantis shrimp. Like really loves it and follows research on it and it’s probably his favorite animal.

In a mostly unrelated fact, Greg is very hard to buy presents for. It’s not so much that he’s picky, though he is a bit picky. It’s more that he is the type of person who appreciates every thought that went into his gift. He will happily listen to me explain my whole process in getting the gift, because that makes it more special to him. He realizes when something is unique, and takes excellent care of all of his presents. In fact, he is an ideal gift recipient, because you can safely give him a gift that requires a lot of thought and effort and customization, because he will REALLY appreciate all that went into it and love it to bits.

However, since that is the case, the bar is set rather high for gifts. I often make his presents, because he loves handmade stuff. Gifts from previous years include a stuffed Weighted Companion Cube from the video game Portal, a Link doll from Legend of Zelda, and a stuffed Gir from Invader Zim. (I sewed all of those, and while my sewing skills are complete ass, the workmanship on those is lovely because it was primarily done by hand.) I’ll show pictures later if you guys want to see. He has been the recipient of several scarves (one that required something of a mini quest to achieve.) a crazy goat balaclava, and the first pair of socks that I ever knit. I also knit him a sweater once when I was really stressed out, and although it’s a crap sweater, he still keeps it safely tucked away in a drawer and pets it sometimes.

All this is just to say that Greg is an awesome person to knit for. As a knitter, I really couldn’t ask for a better boyfriend. However, this Christmas he really got the shaft. I had an awesome gift in the works, an awesome mantis shrimp themed gift.. And I had so much commissioned knitting that both Greg and my dad got pushed to the bottom of the pile (sorry guys, I love you.) However, here’s how it went down with Greg’s present.

The yarn came first, and it was a thing of myth and legend. I’ve always been a big fan of Cephalopod Yarns. They do nice yarns in pretty and unique colors, and the marine animal theme they’ve got going on is totally awesome. Imagine my surprise when I found out that they had a mantis shrimp yarn! However, it is very rarely in stock, so I stalked it, and I waited. Eventually victory (and the yarn) were mine! (that’s a link to the longer version of the yarn hunt story.) That was just the beginning though. Then there were the hours spent on Ravelry, trying to find the perfect pattern for a brightly colored, variegated yarn. I didn’t want the yarn to do any stupid pooling or anything weird, so I needed something that would blend all the colors together. I finally settled on the Leyburn socks, because not only do they pretty much always look cool in variegated yarn, the little x’s look a bit like coral polyps and I wanted to keep the undersea theme going. Now, don’t get me wrong, these socks are brilliant and I love them. However, I didn’t realize that every fourth row is a slipped stitch row to create the pattern. What this means is that for every four rows you knit only three add any length. For men’s socks, this means a LOT of knitting. So the socks took a little longer than I was expecting. However, they turned out just beautifully. Want to see?







Forgive me for completely overdoing it with the pictures, but I LOVE these socks! They are just so beautiful! I used a new heel pattern too, it’s called the reverse round heel, and it basically has a short row heel encased in a gusset! Fancy! The pattern of these socks isn’t very stretchy, so I knew that I would need the gusset to help get them over his heel. Greg loves them! They’re a merino cashmere blend, so they feel very luxurious! They’ve still got a bit of nylon to help them be durable though πŸ™‚ They’ll help keep his feet nice and toasty during our crazy Boston winters! I’m actually really sad that it took me so long to finish them, because he really could’ve used them all dang winter! However, he should still get some use out of them, because winter ain’t done yet (alas.)

Here are the specs!
Pattern: Leyburn by Minty Fresh
Yarn: Cephalopod Yarns Skinny Bugga! in Mantis Shrimp.
Needle: US size 1.

I even had a bit left over! I’m saving it for my eventual Beekeeper’s quilt. (and any possible sock repairs in the future.) These are almost certainly the best socks I have ever knit.



  1. I loved hearing about your quest and of course that it was successful. The socks are great and look so comfy. Congrats on an awesome present and a wonderful job.

    • Thanks! The hunt was definitely half the fun πŸ™‚

  2. The socks are wonderful! I love seeing funky sewn toys so you should definitely post those (:

    • I may need to do a group shot. There’s a LOT of them!

  3. These are gorgeous; I love the pop of color!
    I have knit Leyburns twice, once toe up, once top down. The top down pair (mine) eventually gave out where the heel met the leg; I used a non-superwash wool and eventually they shrank enough that I blew out the heel trying to pull it on. Oh, well, they were nice while they lasted.
    Also, it’s funny that you mention the 3/4 length difference while knitting this pattern. I hadn’t thought too hard about it, but yes, you’re really only getting 75% of the credit for your knitting. I designed a shawl with a lattice pattern in it, and I also knit a version that was stockinette instead. Sooooo much bigger! Math. It keeps me on my toes…

    • I definitely need a pair of Leyburns for myself. The pattern is brainless but turns out beautifully. I only figured out that the slipped stitch pattern was slowing me down because I was completely baffled by why the socks were taking me so long!

  4. Q – Totally wonderful socks! Perfect pattern and perfect yarn. You are so lucky that Greg is knit-worthy, alas, my Hubs is not! 8-( What a totally perfect sock model! Love the leg sticking up in the air. Got my giggles for the a.m.

    • I told him that I wanted everyone to see the pattern and the cool heel I did, and he agreed provided I got his model ship in the picture. LOL.

      • LOL! Love it!

  5. Jen

    What a fun and entertaining blog I’ve just tripped across. πŸ™‚ I love finds like this …

  6. These socks look GREAT! My boyfriend always says not to make him socks because they’ll just get messed up and smelly 😦

    • These socks can go in the washing machine! And you could always make him some thick, sturdy boot socks for winter. If you use a heavier weight yarn they work up really quickly, and they are so cozy!!

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