Tag Archives: gifts

A sock spurt, at last!

There has been a long period with little sock knitting. My life has changed so much that the places I had found in my life to knit socks seemed to have vanished. And in all honesty, there has also been hand stitching, social media, and so forth in some of those crevices. But–things have changed! I think it was partly just asking myself why socks had stalled, and realising that I still want to be knitting socks and perhaps I’m a better person when I do!

I delved into the stash and found that I had some Noro sock yarn! There is a lot I don’t like… the fact that the only shop I can go to in person that stocks it never has a lot of choice; the knots; the fact that it’s not plied; the yarn miles; and of course, the nylon! BUT what I fun knit Noro always is. Wild colour stretches that I would never dream up. These socks actually went to the same delightful person as the Grouse coloured pair and I think they will bring her great cheer in cold winters.

Here they are gracing her table moments after I’ve grafted the second toe!! And churned out in no time flat. And with the *cough* insertion of a small amount of handspun to eke out the last of the ball! Greeted with a grin and profound surprise…

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100% wool socks

I have been knitting a lot less since I stopped having a full time paid job. It has been one of the surprises! This post was started over two months ago and yet these socks were cast off two days ago!

Why is it so? I seem more often to be in meetings where my participation is central, and they are more focused than some of the meetings in my paid job were. I travel less on public transport, and use my phone when I’m on a train to do other things–the mix of online communication in my life has changed a lot. I’m back on my bike, which has been wonderful! And–there does not seem to be a great deal of evening knitting time either. Also–there has been more hand stitching going on. None of it is bad, but a lot less socks are coming into existence.

Ironically enough, these socks were finished at a conference where I was invited to speak about having given up a university day job to organise with Extinction Rebellion–there I was, listening to conference papers and whipping through the ribbing, just as I used to do. They are going to a friend whose beloved let me know she found her woollen socks and slippers an immense comfort through last winter.

They are 100% merino, so not really #tuffsocks… but the yarn has a nice tight twist. By a miracle there was a tag in the bottom of my project bag and it said Posh Yarn Elinor, colourway Grouse. I can’t say I love the colourway , though calling it Grouse sure works! I bought this yarn from a destash and this ball made up the weight necessary for free postage. And–every colour has a place. This one has been approved by the recipient, and here they are ready for a winter that feels very distant as this continent is dominated by drought and by bushfire. I was asked to speak at an event on the Gold Coast, and the smoke from nearby fires was shocking.

In the olden days I dipped into far too much of Game of Thrones (which I personally felt was the pre-eminent depiction of rape in popular culture at the time and as rape law was my research field, I believed I needed to watch and understand). Context is everything, and there is a vast land of ice and snow within the world of GoT. However, as an Australian, I would hear the refrain “Winter is Coming” and feel a sense of wild inappropriateness. I do not dread winter. I dread summer, and I fear it more, all the time.

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Needlebooks

I’ve been working on my fabric stash for quite a while, and found I was now struggling to decide what could become bags–and my attention turned to the plant dyed woollen blanket stash. Having made quite a few larger items–the question of what to do with the small scraps arose (inevitably). And so, a very large number of needle books came into existence.

And then some more, and some more. The stash of random small quantities of string went into the mix, and eventually home made string also got used!

I guess I will now have to work on creating some mending kits…

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And Another Apron

Once I finished stitching one apron… I was keen to keep going! I had trouble dyeing my other candidate apron so in the end I cut one from some hemp I had prepared for dyeing with soy milk. Hrm, very stiff for stitching. However–I took it with me for a week in Melbourne and constructed the whole thing by hand, then began stitching for sheer decoration.

Here is the top front, with leaves stitched into it using a variety of undyed threads. And here is the apron prepared for dyeing, with onion shells arranged over the embroidery.

And here it is after dyeing…

And in more detail…

It has gone to one of my beloveds–we make bread together quite regularly and he is often to be seen at our house sporting one of the kitchen aprons.

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Odds and ends socks

Planning for a six week trip, you can bet I packed knitting, socks especially! This is the story of one pair. In the first picture, a miracle has occurred: we have one night in Montpellier, France, and instead of staying downtown we stayed a long way from town (the reasons are complex but the booking has been made in advance from Australia), right near the stadium where the FIFA women’s soccer world cup is under way and our one night is the Australia v Brazil game!! My beloved is a former soccer player, so we had to go. The French couple beside us were charming. Eventually as she high fived my beloved because Australia scored, he turned to me, and said: “so she’s the soccer loving one and you’re the one who knits?” and laughed heartily when I said “You have worked it out–but how?? I was trying to keep this a secret!”

In the picture below, I’m on the train from Montpellier, France to Milan, Italy, en route to Rome. It was a big day, livened up by being mistaken for a man in the women’s toilets in two countries, three languages, three cities. Who can say exactly why this happens–but somehow we got to Rome. These socks began as a bag of somewhat orange leftover sock yarn, left over after pairs I’ve knit over the last 10 or 15 years. Apologies for the refusal of style involved here!

The second image was taken in Rome. I’d been to the Museum of the Liberation [of Rome from occupation by Nazi Germany]. It now takes up a building that was the headquarters of the SS during the occupation. A place where leaders of the resistance were imprisoned, tortured, killed or sent away to be killed. It was both educational and harrowing. I hope that under circumstances of fascism I would be part of the resistance, and I am interested in educating myself about how resistance can be undertaken, how it succeeds, how it is responded to. I wept. As I write, I am watching a documentary about the Myall Creek massacre (of First Nations Australians by white people]. Just to be clear, resistance is not just something that only happened or happens in other countries.

So after the Museo della liberazione, I found a bakery that had a buffet lunch option. I studied Italian for four years in High School in the 1970s and 1980 (! how have I become this much older?) and all I have left, even after a tune up with an online language app, is some words and some transactional communication. I decided to brave it, and through a combination of pointing, asking as nicely as I could, expressing gratitude as best I could, and the generosity of the gentleman on the other side of the counter, I ended up with this sensational plate for a very reasonable price, including a drink and fresh bread. It was the best meal I had in Rome.

These socks have gone to a friend who has told me many times she doesn’t care about colour, just use up the odds and ends! I received her mother’s knitting stash after her Mum died and I could see what a thrifty woman she was. It is not the kind of stash people on Ravelry talk about. It was only stub ends, not even one entire ball. As you can see, these socks are in no way a regular pair. On the other hand, they sure will keep my friend’s feet warm when she is out feeding rescue donkeys these chilly mornings in her gumboots. I understand she received them with chuckling I can hear in my mind! Perfect.

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Dandelion Hankies

Dearest Reader, it has been a long time. I was traveling for six weeks, and managed to create so many posts there were posts the whole time I was gone. And since then almost nothing! I have been feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of catching up or maintaining a sense of timing or order. I think it’s better I let that go, and just create posts in any order that works. There is always a bit of poetic license going on here in any case!

Here is a little make I enjoyed–I could not resist this beautiful print, and I always want to make the best use possible of fabric. So I made three sizes of hanky. One for small people with small noses, and more to the point–small pockets. One for medium size and one in the generous size I prefer.

I love that I have made friends with my roll hemming foot sufficiently that I just make hankies now. Since I returned I’ve been on a roll with finishing things, and I am noticing that so often I stopped something because I was afraid of the next step. It’s a confidence thing. But my skills are actually fine, and where I do not have skill, all I really need to do is spend some calm time working something out, asking for help, or seeking instruction online. It’s good to notice, and I am happy to find that I’m working through a backlog of items in progress. Thanks for reading and thanks for being patient. Maybe you notice that confidence and lack of confidence play a role in your making too? I’ll be interested to hear how this works for you.

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Reverse applique

I have a friend who has made several beautiful reverse applique t shirts with lovely images of plants or insects. Then she made a couple with the Extinction Rebellion logo (a circle representing the earth with an hourglass shape in the centre that symbolises time running out and the urgency of action). I loved them! When she said she would offer it as a crafternoon project I decided to try and give it a go–I guess that was an indication she thought it wasn’t too difficult, where previously I assumed I would not be able to do this.

The hard part for me was getting the image right. In the end, it was cereal box stencil to the rescue.

T shirt from the op shop with a little image on it that I thought could vanish in the process.

I tacked another piece of old t shirt under it and then had a go!

And–result! I made two! And gave them away at a working group meeting to people who will use and appreciate them.

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Pincushion + Cushion

I have tried a few pincushions thinking I’d like to go beyond the commercial ones I own. This one has been so long in the making I’ve lost track of its antecedents on the internets–there is no longer anything like it at sewandso.com.uk. I even completed the embroidery on the top ages ago and apparently squibbed (that is, acted on my cowardice) at the sewing it together stage.

Then my sweetheart requested a very specific cushion and it occurred to me that it was about the size and shape of this rather large pincushion–and so a second item came to be. Two layers of a t shirt that was waiting to become part of a quilt batting. I’m happy that part of the image has lived to see another life!

Small round green cushion with design of a dandelion in black

I’ve also had some fun ripping apart business clothing I will no longer need. It came from the op shop and is a bit far gone to go back there and expect to be sold again. Rather than have it enter waste or rag streams, I’ve converted it to component parts and begun transforming it into bags, beginning with drawstring bags…

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Blue slippers

These slippers (Felted clogs by Bev Galeskas, may her memory be a blessing) have been waiting around for quite a while. Composed of handspun dyed in all shade of blue, mostly handspun and indigo dyed but some unnatural blues too… I grafted the top to the sole one day while travelling and found I did not have the required third needle. Out came my chopstick! The plastic-avoiding cutlery pouch my fairy-goddess-son made me comes with chopsticks rather than a knife and fork, with backup knitting needles as a further advantage!

Lots of blue knitting with live stitches on steel circulars and a blunt ended steel chopstick. Three needle bind off in progress.

Here they are prior to felting with my size 10 feet for comparison.

Very large knit slippers prior to felting, with much smaller shoes beside them.

And here they are after felting and prior to delivery to friends who run a permaculture farm where slippers I’ve knit are apparently in constant use!

Blue felted slippers on a wooden plank background.

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Cochineal dyed Frankensocks

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Back in December, I began another pair of Frankensocks. Merino-silk legs made from commercial yarn, with a tough foot and sole made from handspun Ryeland wool gifted to me by the wonderful Rebecca from Needle and Spindle.

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I began knitting on a day of respite from what was, for my beloved, six weeks of intensively caring for her parents after one more health crisis threw the fragile balance of their lives together into complete disarray. We spent a blessed day and night at the home of one of her precious high school friends. The company was excellent, the conversation flowed freely, and needless to say, they are contemporaries with their own stories to tell about difficult times such as this one. And thus I had a cuff knit.

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That first sock went pretty slowly. Most of the time we were the care crew, I wasn’t able to knit,and needless to say, knitting was not a priority. And so it was January and the first sock was still in progress when I went to Melbourne hoping to be there when a certain babe came into the world. Here I am with a heavily pregnant woman (not in the shot-) at a splendid cafe where chocolate is the main attraction.

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It turned out my cochineal dyeing matched the flowers there one day! A lot happened in the gap between that photo and the finished object–but not one photo of a sock.

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The whimsically cabled leg on the first sock went more or less as usual. But then the second sock. I was knitting the leg on the return trip to Melbourne when my daughter had gone into labour. Almost two days later, I pulled out my knitting as I sat beside her. Nothing about that labour went smoothly or to plan, and on day 3, she finally had pain relief that allowed her to get some rest. While she was resting and the final stage of labour was approaching,  this sock kept me company in the quiet and darkness. I can knit in the dark, but cabling in the dark–not so much. If there was a visit from a midwife involving light, I’d cable. Otherwise, I just knit. As a result, there is a long stretch with no cabling at all. I considered ripping it out, on the basis it had served its purpose.

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But then I thought about the intended recipient, who is one of those awesome humans who have given birth, herself. And I thought she’d likely be happy to have a sock recording this moment in the life of myself, my daughter and her daughter. And so here they are.  #tuffsocksnaturally that accompanied me through supporting my daughter in her courage, determination, pain and joy and the awe inspiring process of birth. I hope the recipient will wear these with a light heart in happy times. But I can attest to these socks being good companions when things are not going to plan and not going easily, when things are messy and difficult. And yet the prospects for the future remain excellent.

 

 

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