So, last year I was introduced to Sock Madness. Sock Madness is an annual event, held on Ravelry. The madness starts in March, and runs through late May/early June every year. It is a seven round competition.
All the patterns are mysteries, and usually increase in complexity as the competition progresses. Before the start of the competition, a list of yarn suggestions/requirements and notioins for the patterns is released. Last year, notions included 14 buttons for one sock pattern, and 2 4" zippers for another pair of socks. Before each round, the pattern specs are released to the group (handpaint vs solid, single yarn vs multiple colors, etc) and within 48 hrs of the spec release, the mystery pattern will be released.
For the first round, there are no teams. A competitor must finish the pair of mystery socks within 14 days of the pattern release in order to continue on to the next round. Thereafter, all competitors are assigned to a team. Each round after the first, the fastest knitters to complete the pattern continue on, with fewer and fewer making it to the next round. For the final round, the faster knitter from each team is competing representing their team for the win. The teams are assigned based on level of knitting experience and relative speed of the knitter. This way, the slower and less experienced knitters are competing against each other and the blazing fast experienced knitters are competing against each other.
Last year, there were around 300 competitors. This year, over 500 signed up, from all over the world. In round one, if a competitor fails to complete the socks in the allotted two weeks, but finishes one sock (or through the heel turn if knitting TAAT), while they can't continue in the competition, they do get all the patterns for the rest of the rounds.
Last year, I made it to the fourth round I think. I got behind and disqualified on that round, as I was travelling to Ireland for a CME conference and got bumped. I learned lots of new techniques, including how to make a zipper a knittable object, and a new type of heel.
The first pattern for this year's competition was released yesterday morning. Since I know I have time, I'm not sweating these. I cast on first on double points, then frogged that and went to TAAT on two circs. I like doing my socks TAAT if at all possible, because whatever I do to one sock that way (including minor changes in gauge), happens to both socks at the same point, so they feel the same while wearing them.
In the Ravelry Sock Madness group, there is a thread for the Treehouse, where members waiting for the next round go to relax and "play" with each other (virtual playground), there is a story line in another thread that is contributed by many. There are cheerleaders and prizes and good friendships, along with knitting learning. The designers really outdo themselves to come up with something new, unique, challenging and playing field leveling for this competition, and the moderators, Julie and Zemy, are amazingly awesome!
Let the madness begin, and I hope to get one round farther than last year!