This post is part of the Tuff Socks Naturally project, an open, collaborative project exploring more sustainable alternatives to superwash and nylon in sock yarn. You can join in on the discussion on this blog or on the blog of the fabulous Rebecca at Needle and Spindle or on instagram using the hashtag #tuffsocksnaturally.
In preparation for our trip to Japan, needless to say I did some serious knitting planning (despite knowing that it would be high summer, humid and HOT in Japan. Do I need to explain to any knitter who is reading, the need for knitting in airports, train stations, on planes, and on the Shinkansen (bullet train)? Of course not. At one point in the ten hour trip from Australia to Tokyo, a flight attendant said something like ‘now you’re really getting somewhere!’ I guess progress must have become visible… by the time I reached Kyoto one sock was complete and I was knitting the second.
Here, on a bus in Kyoto (enter in the middle of the bus, exit at the front, and pay with exact change into a machine as you get off! Compare what I do at home: enter at the front, buy a ticket from the driver as you enter if you don’t have a prepaid ticket, leave through the centre door).
Then, knitting with a set meal. In Japan, I had a lifetime highlight number of mystery meals–where I sometimes did not know what I was eating before, during or after eating it! Delicious but mystery items abounded for me. In this case, the small round dish on the left contained what looked like grey stem tips and buds. Terrestrial plant? Seaweed? I have no idea. Imagine how readily I picked these up from the liquid in which they were sitting beautifully–all the more graciously when it transpired that they were surrounded by (I assume they produced) a slippery-slimy-gelatinous substance. And they were sitting in vinegar, so slurping them down didn’t seem right either. Another mysterious-to-me Japanese food.
This meal I bought when I went to see the Master Indigo dyer’s studio. I walked ten or twenty kilometres most days and this was a twenty km day. I often had the idea that I’d just catch a bus back, but would always be curious about things I could see further up the road or wonder what was around the corner. In this way I walked huge distances some days! This day I eventually settled on a cosy, homely looking cafe. The woman running it looked at me with some concern when I arrived, and indicated I should wait (she was going to get her phone). We had a conversation about the menu (two main dishes) with google translate and mime. Big serve or smaller? I said big. She let me know she thought that was the wrong choice. I took her advice. She was right! This plate had pickles, potato salad, seaweed and whitebait… leafy salad… and so on.
Here, knitting in an okonomiyaki restaurant as the chef creates dinner in front of everyone in the restaurant–a maximum of about 12 at any one time–being charming and entertaining as well as making a fine meal.
This sock is a combination of a eucalyptus-dyed merino-silk commercial yarn leg and a handspun, logwood? sanderswood? dyed handspun Suffolk foot. It works for the one who knows–the wearer–and as a result there will be more Frankensocks! The knitting of these socks led to all kinds of entertaining nonverbal and no-shared-language interactions as I was watched knitting at Nijo Jo Mae castle in Kyoto by a small child from China who had to ask a woman who might have been her mother a lot of questions and watch me a lot, while she used her battery operated fan. And by a gentleman at the same spot who was highly entertained and pointed me out to a woman who might have been his wife. But there were also knowing nods from older women on buses.
I can only apologise for this gloriously random selection of photos in which the colour is pretty sad… but the socks have gone to their happy new home and these are the remaining portraits…