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I Knit Around

Monday, October 10, 2005

Socks, Pumpkins, and Folkcat's Flying Leap

Socktoberfest 2005 Update

Sock Experiment 5 (SE5) is progressing nicely. I've completely fallen in love with the toe-up sock with the short-row toe and heel! I can't believe that I only cast on for this on Wednesday, and by Sunday evening I had a completed sock.

SE5 - Completed, but not right
SE5/S1 Complete
That sock was not without its problems, though. I used the entire ball of Lion Brand Micro-Spun yarn, and the leg came out about 2 inches shorter than I like.

There was also an issue with the thickness of my ankles. I'd mentioned the other day that this was the spot I was most likely going to be frogging back to re-do - well, I was right.

The problem is that my foot is 10" long. It's 10" around the widest part of the foot. But my ankle is 11" around. Which is why, when I continued through the short-row heel and up the leg, I wound up with the stitches at the front of the ankle area looking stretched out sidewise, and the whole ankle/heel area feeling tight.
SE5 - Stitches stretched out across ankle
Too Tight at the Ankle
The tight ankle area is probably also what caused the sock to bunch up where the 2x2 ribbing began.

SE5 Bunching at front of ankle
Bunching at the Ribbing
So, after celebrating the speed with which a toe-up sock can be accomplished, I did as I had anticipated I might, and frogged back to before the problem area.

SE5 frogged back
Try Again
This continues to be a rapid sock. I made an appropriate number of increases before the heel to allow for my thicker ankles, and I've gotten far enough to be into the short-row heel.

SE5 w/ color block heel in progress
And We Progress Again
As you can see, I've decided to use some color-blocking at the heel to help extend the yarn so I can get the leg length I want. I'll use the fuchsia for the cuff as well.

Pumpkin Chunkin' in Greenfield

A little to the west of us, along Route 31 in the town of Greenfield, NH, there's a little farmstand that has gained quite a reputation.

Somewhere along the way, the Seigars family, who own the Yankee Farmer farmstand, thought they'd attract business in the fall by building a trebuchet, and hurling pumpkins across their field into the woods. Thus was the Yankee Siege Trebuchet born.

Their strategy was a success. Starting each autumn in mid-to-late September, you can find the folks winding up the massive machine (35- to 45,000 pounds, they estimate) and hurling 40 lb. pumpkins hundreds of yards into the woods. Demonstrations happen about every 20 to 25 minutes, from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and this is completely free to attend.

The Yankee Siege Trebuchet at Rest
The Yankee Siege Trebuchet at Rest
Gryphon and I try to get out there to see it at least once a year. Of course, this year I've got this new "Knitting Around" thing that I'm doing - so here I am, knitting beside the Yankee Siege Trebuchet.

Folkcat Knits Around at the Trebuchet
Folkcat Knits on Wearable Hug 12 at the Trebuchet

To give you an idea how the trebuchet works, basically, it's a huge lever with a counterweight on one end. This sequence of pictures shows it being armed - in otherwords, the counterweight, which is the big bucket-looking thing at the right, is loaded with 11,000 pounds of rocks.

Arming Sequence 1Arming Sequence 2Arming Sequence 3Arming Sequence 4Arming Sequence 5Arming Sequence 6
Arming the Trebuchet
An engine is used to winch this massive weight into the air, then the team who operates the trebuchet uses a pin to lock it in place.

Launch Sling in the Trough Beneath the Trebuchet
Inspecting the Load
A wooden trough below the trebuchet is used to lay the sling into, and a pumpkin is loaded into the sling. The trough will help to keep the path of the sling straight when the trebuchet is fired.

Pumpkin in the Launch Sling
Locked and Loaded
The Siegars use ordinary everyday pumpkins for their ammunition. For the demonstrations, they often use something in the 40 pound range. They also enter a competition every year, the World Championship Punkin Chunkin in Delaware, where they are the current title holders - as well as the World Record Holders - in the Adult Trebuchet division of the competition.

In competition, they say that they (and most competitors) use a special variety of white pumpkin that has a harder shell. This has less chance of exploding in the air under the extreme G-forces the action of the trebuchet applies. For practice, though, they do use the standard orange pumpkins we're all familiar with.

The Target Castle
A Look Down Range
The "target" is a little castle they've built at the top of the hill, beyond the pumpkin field. It's in front of an unoccupied woods, which is a good thing - I've never seen a pumpkin land short of the woods, and any houses in there would be in danger.

When they're ready to launch, a little speech is given about the history of the trebuchet. Then, one or two lucky children chosen from the audience get to pull the rope, which pulls the pin, which releases the trebuchet arm and flings the pumpkin into the distance.

Kids Pull the Trigger Rope
Children Pull the Trigger Rope
The first launch we saw on Sunday, the pumpkin exploded in the air like fireworks. The pieces, nevertheless, flew a great distance.

Pumpkin Shrapnel
Pumpkin Shrapnel
These chunks were lying on the ground over 400 feet from the trebuchet, just short of the castle.

Folkcat Gets a Bigger Adventure Than She Expected

Truth in Blogging Disclaimer: The following segment, while fundamentally true, does contain a small embellishment for the sake of entertainment. The photos were all taken on site at the time of the event, but one has been slightly altered in Corel Photo-Paint for the sake of illustration.

It is left to my discerning and intelligent readers to sort out fact from fiction, and to enjoy the tale in the spirit in which it is intended.

Gryphon and I could have been content with the Knitting Around picture we already had, and the story thus far. But we're getting bold in our Knitting adventures, and so we took a bold step. We went up to the man in charge of the day's activities, explained my knitting pictures, and asked him, "What's the most interesting picture we could take that your insurance would allow?"

Imagine our surprise when he answered, "How'd you like to sit in the sling?"

Yowza! He didn't have to ask me twice!

Folkcat Loaded for Launch
Ready for Launch
We watched them winch down the trebuchet arm again, and they put the sling into the trough. I walked under and sat myself down, then carefully arranged my knitting and started stitching.

Mere moments later, the rope was pulled, and I was on my way!

Folkcat Flies Through the Air
Look! Up in the Sky! It's a Folkcat!
The trip was so rapid that I hardly had time to enjoy the scenery before I landed, safe and sound, atop the walls surrounding the castle.

Folkcat Landed on the Castle Wall
Takes a Licking, and Keeps on Knitting
I'm not sure where I picked up the pumpkin shell on my head, but that's okay. I had a fun ride!

Well, that's the Extreme Knitting Around for this week. Now I just have to decide - what will top this?

Thanks for reading - safe knitting to you all!

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