Ah those net curtains did twitch, indeed!
But right in the middle of the desolate paved area, the previous owner had lifted the slabs to make a hole for his whirly washing-dryer, which he took with him when he moved out, leaving a metre square of mud.
After an exciting experiment with an 8-foot high artichoke, which looked like something from Little Shop of Horrors, I made my neighbours' day by filling the hole with Oriental Poppies, which self-seeded to spread to every garden for miles around. Consider it to be a generous gardener's gift. I loved those flowers! They were so incredibly bright red with searingly blue-black centres. Very Georgia O'Keeffe. I wish I had a photo.
Sadly, they refuse to grow in my windswept Scottish plot.
So when I saw this yarn, I had to have it, for nostalgia's sake. My daughter saw the "Gothic Yarns" label and she had to have it. So that was her birthday sock choice sorted! But this is my third attempt at finding a pattern which works with the yarn. I'm a year late with these socks!
I tried Wendy's Diagonal lace sock but it didn't look right. Then I tried the Staccato Sock, and it was better, but the combination of the stitch pattern and 2mm needles was making a terribly inelastic fabric.
So here, at last, is Chouwa from "Knitted Socks East and West". Much better! There's the wavy feather and fan up the leg, self-striping rather nicely, and then a plain foot to let the colours sing their hearts out. 2.5mm needles allowed the fabric to "breathe".
I have managed to knit these without my daughter seeing, so they will be a surprise birthday present in June - woo hoo!
Chouwa from Knitted Socks East and West by Judy Sumner
"Gothic Yarns" sock yarn: 75% wool, 25% polyamide. It's a thin, not-very-soft yarn. Lots of yardage (473 m in one skein, I believe) so I had a fair bit leftover despite these being quite long socks for a UK size 5 foot. I chose it for the colour, so I won't complain.
The Chouwa pattern is well-written and straightforward: top-down, with a roll-over cuff, a feather and fan lace interspersed with simple cables (which don't really show up in this colourway), normal heel-flap construction and a plain stocking stitch foot and simple flat toe.
Would I knit this pattern again? Yes, I will keep it in mind to tame a contrast-y narrowly-self-striping yarn, even though I know a plainer colour would show off the cables.
Would I use this yarn again? Um. Probably not, if I didn't already have another skein in the stash, again chosen for its colour, which is "black overdyed purple", another daughter-friendly shade, especially with its name "Twilight"!
Verdict? A very quick and satisfying knit. And I still like the colour.