I'm starting to think about Christmastime and what kind of hand-made gifts I can bestow (force) upon my family-members. In 1998 everyone received exotic hardwood picture frames. The year 2001 brought a six-piece set of mosaic glass ornaments, each reflective orb weighing in at a hefty two pounds. Shipping was astronomical, but the project kept me out of malls and held my attention for a good few weeks towards the end of November. If this project goes well, 2007 will be all about socks.

First, I needed to make a "test pair" to find out if I could realistically make everyone a pair of socks in under two months. If anyone remembers the Knit Cap Incident of Project 9, they'll be thinking I should consult the professionals, which is why I signed up for a Sock Class at close knit ($45, 2140 NE Alberta St., 288-4568, closeknitportland.com). The owner, Sally Palin, stocks a bounty of beautiful yarn, hip books, and unique patterns. You'll also find local, hand-made must-haves nestled in every nook and cranny. Project bags, jewelry – even hand-blown glass knitting needles! Two hours every Tuesday evening for three weeks and I will hopefully walk away with a pair of comfy wool socks.

I shopped for supplies on the Saturday before the first class. Adrienne, the clerk, located the pattern ($4.50) and helped me pick out my gear— size 6 double-pointed needles and 230 yards of "worsted weight" yarn. Adrienne recommended a few yarn options ideal for sock making in regard to washability and thickness, in a range of prices.

I picked a blend of blue, white, orange and brown variegated ArtYarns Supermerino (100% Superwash Merino Wool) that reminded me of an OP T-shirt my brother wore in the early '80s. That kind of nostalgia doesn't come cheap – $8.75 per 104 yard skein. But here's the deal: I was going to invest at least six hours of my time in this project, probably more, so why use a yarn that wasn't going to give me a thrill while working on it and wearing the final result? I grabbed a pack of bamboo double-6s ($7.75), three skeins of yarn, and hit the till. As a card-carrying class member, I received a 10 percent discount on everything!

Next Week: Class 1

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