Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My View of Sock Wars 2006

Sock Wars is now officially over, as of November 24, won by the deserving Heraldis. It was supposed to be a frenzied knit-off by whoever was left alive and Yarnmonkey. But in the days approaching the end of the war, 80+ warriors were still alive. Yarnmonkey was contacted for a proposed extension of the end date, but she decided that everyone should send their socks to her, and the first to reach her would be declared the winner, and all of the socks would be donated to charity. That's a nice thought, but after staying alive for over two months and knitting multiple pairs of socks, hard-working warriors wanted socks of their own. So Yarnmonkey changed the rules (ahem) and decided that the first person to send her a postcard in the mail would be the winner. She's in Ireland. At least people wouldn't be spending a fortune on sending socks. Heraldis won by sending a bouquet of flowers by Interpost. An inspired idea.

I believe there are still 80+ warriors out there waiting for their socks, desperately trying to reassemble to arrange to make that happen.

What follows is my review of the Sock Wars, written the day before I heard of my brother's accident:

It's official. I have met my untimely demise in the Sock Wars, taken out by these objects of beauty:As you can see, the socks were far too big and slipped down to my heels whenever I even slightly moved my foot. No amount of blocking would have made them fit. I even offered them to my mom, whose wears shoes 2 1/2 sizes bigger than mine, and she also had the same problem. So my socks of doom quickly became these piles:The chart that the Sock Wars hostess, Yarnmonkey, provided gave measurements far too big to fit the sizes given. Chrissy had the same problem with the socks of doom that she received. I had to modify and shorten the measurements for each target that I took out.

I am now going to show you the classified documents that I wasn't able to share with you during the time of my covert missions. Surely you understood my need for secrecy. Even now, in the wrong hands, these papers could still be dangerous.

The Dossier (created by me, since most participants never received one):
Top Secret
Sock Wars Dossier

Your target: Katrina, AKA Force of Nature

Target complains that her given name was a beautiful moniker until some genius decided to use it to name the most destructive hurricane to hit the U.S. She claims that the next person to say “Oh, you mean like the hurricane?” when she tells them her name will be dealt with in a most un-knitterly-like manner. Because of this, she has become a loose cannon and must be taken out.

Do not let her small demeanor fool you. She is a serious warrior. Her destructive knitting powers are very strong, witnessed by at least two fallen Sock Wars comrades beneath her. (RIP Mamie and Hat Lady).
Update: The agency has since learned of Moa's destruction at the hands of Force of Nature. You must shoot to kill.

Warning: Target is not above using chocolate to get her way if given the chance. DO NOT GIVE HER THAT CHANCE.

You must use the weapon that accompanies this dossier to destroy this target. It is the only weapon found to actually pierce her armor. The seductive draw of the merino wool is too difficult for even a seasoned Secret Agent like Force of Nature to resist. Her specifications are: US5.

When your mission has been completed, send arsenal to:
Katrina Cunningham
Portland, Oregon XXXXX

Good luck, Warrior. Be safe.

This message will self-destruct in 10 seconds.

My obit, posted on the Sock Wars Forum:
Top Secret—For Your Eyes Only

This communication is provided to inform the agency of rogue agent Force of Nature’s demise. She was taken out by the able hands of Abby.

Before she was eliminated, she snuffed out agents Mamie, Hat Lady, and Moa.

A moment of silence for these worthy opponents, if you please.
I created my own dossier because my eventual assassin never received one either. She had emailed me saying she was next in line to take me out and asking for my mailing address. She said she was going to use some yarn she already had to start knitting a pair of socks for me.

Well, my secret agent radar couldn't help but be suspicious. After all, I had never heard from my original assassin, so it was unknown whether she had started to knit a pair of socks for me, and if so, where they were in the chain. But being a rogue agent myself, having had to solicit the mailing address from my own original target, I sympathized with the position of the person emailing me.

I started to fire off an email with my mailing address to her when my radar went haywire again. Two things went through my mind: #1 is it gonna be yucky yarn, since it's just what she's got lying around? and #2 who's to say that she hasn't already started knitting my socks?

Now, I'm not accusing anybody here. But war can do funny things to people's minds. I was just trying to be a smart agent, like the manual outlined in my secret agent training. (For the record, my assassin is a minister--or was that another red herring??)

Since these were unusual circumstances in unusal times, I offered a compromise: would she allow me to mail her a dossier that contained my mailing address along with yarn of my choosing (not yucky being a major factor)? I would even knit a few rows of ribbing on the first sock to get her started, so she could have the experience of receiving an actual dossier and socks in progress. (Yes, I would be eventually contributing to my own destruction, but at least it would be nice yarn.)

Really, I had her against the wall and she was a good sport about it. I wouldn't have refused to give her my mailing address, though I'd heard of that happening in the course of the Sock Wars. I just don't play that way. I guess if I wanted to be stinky I'd have told her to take her chances by emailing Yarnmonkey for it and hoping for a timely response. But she agreed to the compromise and I sent along package (with chocolate for her trouble), by Priority Mail with delivery confirmation, no less.

And now I've received my Socks of Doom in return.

Here are my official observations on my participation in the Sock Wars. Note that these opinions are mine alone, and offered as such.

Let me see if I can summarize quickly the guidelines of the Sock Wars. Each participant would receive a dossier with their target's foot measurements and mailing address. They were then to knit a pair of socks as fast as they could and mail them to their target. When their target received the finished pair of socks, they were to post their death on the forum and send the socks they had been working on to their assassin to finish. If they had already sent their socks to their victim, whoever had socks in progress to finish should send them up the chain to whoever was still alive to finish. Confused yet?

I want to say that I had a blast doing the Sock Wars, and would participate again in a heartbeat. When signing up, I figured that there would be mass confusion, and that it would all eventually self-destruct. I was not far off in that assumption.

First, on the day that Sock Wars was to begin, the hostess, Yarnmonkey, lived in an area that was hit by hurricane Gordon. Imagine the irony of that: I was signed up as Force of Nature due to the unfortunate naming of hurricane Katrina, and a hurricane delays the game.

Due to the hurricane, very few participants actually received dossiers. The rest of us were left to dangle in the wind with no information. Yarnmonkey eventually posted a master list of participants and their shoe sizes and email addresses (!) on her blog, which we were supposed to wade through to find out who we were knitting for, and email our targets to ask them for their mailing address. Let me ask you this: how cooperative would you feel like being if it meant your imminent destruction? Did I mention that this list was in no particular alphabetical or chronological order, and that there were 772 participants?

Yarnmonkey removed the master list from her blog after several complaints from people unhappy with their email addresses being displayed on the web. I was one unfortunate recipient of email spam due to this listing, as I'm sure other participants were.

So now that the master list was removed, it was back to square one for people who didn't think to save the list. That is where some computer-savvy souls took control and created a spreadsheet of assassins and victims. Without this, everything would have fallen apart.

Yarnmonkey was MIA again after removing the master list. We all wished her well and wondered about her safety because of the hurricane. She turned out to be fine. But I do have to say that I really expected much more involvement from her than I have seen so far. Yes, she had this wonderful idea and she organized the list of assassins. You can't predict forces of nature, and I'm not criticizing her delay due to unforeseen circumstances. But she disappeared from September 22nd to October 16th when she finally posted on her blog again with some vague mention of the Sock Wars. I will quote directly from her blog:

"Well now my warring lovelies. Having stared over the edge of the combined insanity of work and the sock wars hoo-hah, I took off for a couple of weeks there and am back in the world of the normal again. I have been reassured to hear from participants who are friends of mine that the carnage has been continuing well without me."

Umm. Oookay.

She also said that her previous email address was "kaput" and provided an alternate. As of this writing, there have been exactly two posts on her blog since then, and neither mentions the Sock Wars.

She may be doing some emailing behind the scenes, but I would have thought that she would be much more active on the forum, especially now when questions like "how long should you wait before declaring someone a deserter?" and "I received socks in progress, but was not sent enough yarn to finish them, what should I do?" need answering. Those left alive have become rogue agents, stumbling along to find their own answers.

If I sound too critical, let me clarify: I love the idea of the Sock Wars. I appreciate Yarnmonkey's idea. I can only imagine how difficult and time-consuming it would be to organize so many participants. Maybe Yarnmonkey didn't expect as many people to sign up as did. This being the first go-round there were bound to be kinks. But I really thought she was going to be much more involved in the whole process than she has turned out to be. I think that if you're going to put together something this large, some attentive management is definitely in order.

I've heard this said before about the Sock Wars, and it bears repeating: this was one of the few online swaps that you were actually rewarded if the person assigned to you decided to drop out or disappear. It only prolonged your life in this game. And every participant receives a pair of socks. How cool is that? (Provided that the socks fit, of course).

Again, if there is ever a Sock Wars 2, I'd be the first to sign up.

To sum up:

What I loved about Sock Wars:
*the competitive aspect
*the covert nature of the competition
*meeting some really nice people
*the sock pattern itself
*driving my friends and family crazy by constantly talking about the Sock Wars

What could be improved:
*more attention and involvement from the organizer to resolve inevitable issues.

And those opinions, my friends, is why I became dangerous to the agency and had to be destroyed. By brilliant, but alas, too big pink socks.

1 comment:

msubulldog said...

I'm so glad you decided to post this! :) It was an interesting read. Too bad there was no big fight to the finish, though. It would have been awesome to see how many pairs of socks the winner would have actually had to knit! *grin*