Each year I participate in a little knitting competition called Sock Madness. It had brackets. It has speed. It has Norwegians. Everything a good sport should have. The premise is fairly simple. Qualify (by knitting an assigned pattern in two weeks) and then knit your way through each assigned pattern as quickly as you can to beat out the other people on your team. The first year I participated there were four teams. This year there are ten or eleven. My team is somewhere in the middle. We are all "average speed" knitters. I'm supposedly matched with other knitters who knit about the same speed as I do. The nice thing about this competition is that it is one of the friendliest games I've ever been in. People cheer you on and encourage you when you get down.
The current sock was supposed to be knit on size US 0 (2.0 mm needles). I made it half way through the first sock before I had to quit and frog it (I had a missed cable and the small diameter needle along with the very rigid fabric made my hands ache so badly). I have since recast on (recasted on? recast onned?) the sock on larger needles with larger yarn. It is going a bit more smoothly this time. I'm hoping to make it to round five this time. (I have never made it past round four.)
I used to knit with size 0 needles all the time, but in the past few years I have found that they don't play nicely with my hands. I also have problems knitting with needles that are too large (size 13's, 15's, 35's). I guess my hands prefer my 6's, 7's, and 8's. I guess I should be knitting more sweaters and fewer socks. Every year when sock madness comes around, though, I can't not knit with them. I have to know what is in store for this year's patterns. We've had zippers, buttons, funky vikkel braiding cast ons, socks knit side to side, tape (!), and the dreaded nupps (two row bobbles for the non-knitters). Each year when you think that you have knit all there is to knit someone comes up with a new technique that, well, knocks your socks off. It's fun and I love the people I have met in this madness.
It's too late to sign up this year, but head over to Ravelry and check the group out or go to the patterns and search for Sock Madness patterns. They are fresh, unique and down right fun.