The project ground slowly to a halt as I realised that I was probably not going to have enough yarn to complete the socks, as I had not allowed for the extra yarn that is needed with stranded knitting.
After finishing the first sock and realising that yarn was disappearing faster than I expected, I weighed the sock, weighed the leftover yarn, ummed and ahhed, then stuck the project in the bottom of the project bag and forgot about it. Head in sand stylee.
The main problem was that one of the yarns was now discontinued (doh!) and the other is not easily available in the UK. The grey Jaeger Matchmaker Merino 4ply is a delight to knit with but discontinued, the orange is Jawoll sock yarn, also fab to knit with but a bit elusive - even in IKnit where I bought the first ball, they are very vague about when new stocks will be arriving. Although they are very certain that they will be getting more.
After the first sock had spent a few months languishing at the bottom of the knitting bag, I resurrected the project and decided that I should make an effort to make progress.
First step - get me some yarn!
This is where I really love Ravelry.
Step 1; search out who's got the right yarns in their stash in the appropriate colours.
Step 2; Narrow it down to people in the UK, and if possible, anyone who has it on offer for sale or trade.
There were at least half a dozen with the Jaeger, just a few with the Jawoll.
Step 3; the unsolicited begging letter. Take a deep breath and send private messages to a few likely candidates - some turned out to have used the yarn already or had it earmarked for an ongoing project, but I happened upon two lovely Ravellers who were happy to sell or gift me the yarn. The pictures of the lonely first sock proved useful in arousing the sympathies of these kind individuals.
Step 4; the deal!
Gabriella, aka YowlYY on Ravelry was the source of the Jaeger matchmaker. Having agreed a modest price, including postage, and then having been unable to post the package immediately because of other commitments, she kindly agreed to deliver it in person after a work trip to London. She then insisted on bringing me chocolate to make up for the fact that I'd already paid the postage! Who was I to refuse :-) This was great because it gave us the chance to meet in person and to make a proper connection. I got to admire her Loop purchases, and we had a very pleasant chat for an hour or so.
Clare aka GingerknitsUK on Ravelry was the source of the Jawoll. She refused any payment for the third of a ball she had leftover from her gorgeous socks and we also arranged to meet up for the deal - at the fabulous Thai Cafe near my office in Pimlico in London. Clare and I met briefly last year at one of the open days at the Vauxhall City Farm, so it was great to meet again and spend longer chatting and getting to know one another and finding out what she's up to these days. She can tell you more about that, and I believe she has some fab news to share soon so check out her blog!
With the Ravelry yarn hunt working out so well, and two new friends made, I felt bathed in sunshine and kindness and wanted to show my appreciation somehow.
What to do?
My first move was to give a modest donation to Ravelry in thanks for the fab service the site provides us for free. While I know it's a proper commercial venture with advertising and all that, able to make money out of our very presence and the shopping we love to do, it really doesn't feel like I am being exploited at any level - quite the opposite in fact.
My second move was to pay the love forward, by donating to p/hop. Not only is this a great idea benefiting one of my favourite charities, but also the philosophy behind it fits perfectly with what I wanted to express.
Two individuals who were practically strangers to me had been kind enough to help me out, being generous not only with their stashes but also with their time and friendship. The hours of pleasure I got out of the process was not just the knitting pleasure and the joy of being able to finish the socks, it was the pleasure of spending time with two lovely Ravelers, and the warm and fuzzy feeling I get every time I think of how it all worked out.
If you haven't done so already, please drop over to the p/hop site and see what it's all about. There are some great patterns available for a donation of whatever you can afford, and you can find out more about how MSF is making a difference around the world by providing emergency medical aid to people affected by wars and epidemics, natural or man-made disasters, or those who have no access to healthcare.