Tag Archives: socks

Possum wool socks

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These socks, made from possum wool purchased in Aotearoa/New Zealand, began slowly and suddenly leapt forward when I travelled to Sydney for a family occasion and then a holiday in December.  I think the slowness was due largely to the loss of the previous sock in progress, needles and all. It somehow made me feel like I might be losing my capacities in some way, rather than seeming like an unfortunate accident.  I can’t say why I adopted this kind of interpretation but I hope to get over it!

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Here is the first sock, in the very incongruous setting of a public lecture theatre at Sydney University.  It is in an old building and has all wood seating, all wooden desks and steeply raked benches with wooden doors.  But of course it also now has fluorescent lighting and computer projection screens.  Outside I wandered off and away past beautiful Moreton Bay fig trees.

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Here is the sock in progress beside the beach at Coogee.

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And here is a (random, bonus) rainbow lorikeet in Sydney, sighted when I was out for a run.  I am not sure if this one was feeling bold or sleepy, but after all the times I have tried to photograph one of these birds and barely succeeded in getting a blur in the distance… here it is!

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Some weeks later…

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Here they are in all their dark chocolate brown glory, ready for the feet of my beloved, when the summer ends and the autumn begins to ebb. She tried them on, the day I handed them over (yes, it was 41C) and they came off again pretty fast!!!

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Turquoise socks

Back in the middle of the year, I invested in possum wool sock yarn. I have been knitting away… though I must admit the experience of losing the last pair on public transport has had me fretful for my own carelessness! The second pair are blue.  I clearly didn’t take any really early pictures.

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But here we are on a houseboat, where friends have been working on (above) tea and treats and (below) a puzzle.  I’ve finished the first sock and here is the ball that is to become the second sock.

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The pattern is what my dear friend has named ‘whimsical cabling’.

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To put it another way, I cable when I feel like it, in whichever direction seems like a good idea at the time. 2016-12-08-11-40-03

And now these socks are off to Denmark, where it is heading into winter as we enter into summer.  The world is a rather amazing place…

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Alas, the red socks!

Once upon a time, I cast on a lovely pair of red socks, from possum wool.  They had an intended recipient and unusually, I had told her they were coming.

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Here we are on the way to work on the bus. I am known to some in my workplace as the parsley fairy.

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Here they are on the way to the Newcastle Local Court, out of focus on the window ledge of the plane.  And then, one day I went to a long series of meetings and was one and a half socks in, past the heel and on the home strait toward the toe… I remember seeing the bag with the socks in it on my office desk and thinking I should pack that to take home.  I caught an usual series of public transport home, and when I stopped to change from bus to tram and the tram was late, I got out my knitting.  Well, I would have, but it was GONE!!!!  I know you will understand I hunted high and low and contacted several different possible places a lost sock might be handed in.  But I think I have to face the fact that my one and a half socks, wool, needles and bag… are GONE to who only knows where?  But quite likely, somewhere where those socks will not be completed or warm anyone’s toes, sadly.

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Purple socks

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Remember this skein of hand spun sock yarn?  Suffolk/mohair/silk, three ply.

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It made a perfectly good cake. One day I cast on, on public transport. The train, evidently.

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And then I forgot to take photos for quite some time the next thing you know, here I am ready to graft the toe of the first sock at a conference in Wellington, Aotearoa (New Zealand)!

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Did I mention the wonderful beauty of Aotearoa?

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And then… suddenly there were two. When I was part way through the second they were lost!  Then found again by security and here was a happy reunion a few days later with great relief on my part.

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And now I am preparing to make them into a nice little parcel for a friend with popsicle toes. With some hand twined silk string.

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Slippers old and new

Warning.  This post contains many images created in poor lighting conditions! Apologies in advance.

Oh dear.  A much loved and well worn pair of slippers came back to me from a friend for examination. I thought I would have matching yarn but I really didn’t.  In the end I went for visible mending of this pair and also decided to knit her a new pair. #Menditmay I thought!

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Here they are about to be returned to their owner over breakfast (in May), with big mends in the heels.  The inside sole is black so these darns will be less visible when they are being worn, perhaps!  I cast on the new pair…

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The next step was knitting a new pair.  Two pairs for different people, in the end, and two dinners with associated felting (no end to the thrills when you visit us!)  With appalling photographs to match.  This pair are a rich purple and they are on a blue background, not that it shows.

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They went to a new home with a cherished friend who has been feeling the cold terribly.  She also scored these hand warmers, knit from the remainder of a ball of Noro sock yarn some time ago and awaiting the right moment.  They look better on!

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Then, my beloved negotiated handover of a small pile of pre-loved and partially felted socks that will fit my friend better than my beloved at this stage.  Some required running repairs.

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Some were too felted for anything other than brutal patching.  No way to knit a patch in.  Can’t find any stitches to pick up! Some of these socks were knit before I really understood the kind of yarn that was suitable.  But pairs like this, made from Bendigo Woollen Mills 8 ply alpaca, were such a hit among my friends I made a lot of them anyway.

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I’ve since had an email about blue socks being worn at Pilates class and a photo of my friend’s ankle as she heads out to dinner in handspun, handknit socks!  Too good.  These are the people for whom hand knits should, indeed, be made.  And finally, the friend whose slippers I was darning at the top of the post came over and I felted her new slippers to size.  She arrived wearing hand knit socks… perfect!

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Socks, some more, again, still

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These socks arose from my holiday gift of sock yarn.  Here I am casting on, on the train.

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Clearly I didn’t consider sock in progress shots too often.  This one seems to be another train shot on a sunny day.  The design is Jaywalker, by Grumperina.  One of the designs I can hold in my tiny mind even on public transport.

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And here they are, done and ready to be rolled, tied and delivered to their new owner, a dear friend who I think will enjoy them… the next pair have been cast on from the handspun sock yarn I’ve made recently.  I have had them with me on busy public transport a few times already and in between the people who are surprised to find that anyone can still knit, there was an eye-and-gesture-conversation with some tourists who seemed to be Chinese and who were clearly intrigued, and another conversation with an out of practice knitter who had never seen socks knit on two circulars and who had been planing to cast on a tea cosy for some years without actually managing to do it.  So, my friends, if you are unable to start conversations on public transport, I have a strategy for you…

 

 

 

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Lessons for spinners, courtesy of Noro

This post arises from a pair of socks I just recently finished, in time for the birthday of my beloved fairy-goddess-son. They started off with a gifted yarn, Noro Taiyo S69.  It’s cotton-wool-polyamide-silk.  Something in me just loves a gift from my beloved becoming a gift to our ever growing and beloved friend.  Here we are at the start, on the beach.

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Casting on.  If you look carefully you’ll see that the colour effects for which Noro are famous must be achieved by spinning, while in many other commercial yarns they are achieved by dyeing after the yarn has been spun.

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Here I am making a little progress watching other people swim, unable to remember why I didn’t bring my bathers. Noro is a Japanese yarn company justly famous for the colours it uses and its selection of yarns that feature a sequence of long, changing colours.  As a person who loves knitting socks from their yarn (whilst always thinking that the fibre miles involved mean I should never do it again), I think the experience offers some tips for the spinner who may wish to create her or his own sock yarn.

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On a beach, at a picnic, on holiday. Home grown basil and backyard hen eggs!

Lesson 1: Three plies?  Why bother?  Noro sells at least two sock yarns that are unplied singles, and this is one of them.  Everything I have learned about how to create one’s own sock yarn suggests that a minimum of three singles should be tightly plied together to create a tough sock yarn.

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Lesson 2: Knots?  What is the problem with knots?  Spinners really try to create one continuous thread.  Novice spinners curse when their thread snaps and requires a splice of some kind when plying.  Noro seems not to care.  You can be knitting away and find a knot right in the middle of a colour sequence.  It isn’t joined up to continue the colour sequence you expected, either.  The knot might join two colours together abruptly and disrupt any repeat colour sequence completely. As happened twice in this ball!

Lesson 3: Vegetable matter–just accept it.  Spinning is a craft that should not be taken up by the squeamish. If you are going to process raw fleece, get your tetanus booster and set out squick meter to low, because any minute you will be dealing with grass seeds, chaff, burrs, seeds, dead beetles, sheep manure, mud and, umm, things you can’t identify… and that might be for the best.  Once I removed a dead mouse from a fleece I was processing.  Hand spinners try to remove this vegetable (and animal) matter from our yarn.  So does Noro.  But Noro sometimes fails, and so do hand spinners.

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Lesson 4: Unpredictable colour changes can be perfect.  When I am knitting Noro, there are always times when I just LOVE the colours.  And other times when I wonder how much longer I will be knitting this unpleasant grey shade of mauve.  Perhaps I should  be less judgmental of my own colour choices.  Would I apply the same scheme of judgments?

Lesson 5: Evenness is overrated.  In a Noro yarn, some sections will be at least double or three times the thickness of others, and slubs are a constant.  I still love knitting Noro, and perhaps I could take the same attitude to any yarns I make that are uneven or slubby?

Alert readers will have begun to suspect that I have a plan to spin sock yarn this year.  This is the only way I’ll have locally sourced fibres or naturally dyed socks, or even both at once.  More soon!

 

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Cotton socks

My mother can’t do wool socks.  It took her a while to explain this to me. Partly because the first pair I knit her were made from crochet cotton (because I was ignorant and it was cheap and pretty).  Those socks may have violated some key principles of received sock knitting wisdom, but eventually she told me that they were her favourites, that she likes that they are short, and that she loves to wear them when she gardens.  The more complicated ones I knit from fabulous sock yarns made mostly of wool, she can neither wear nor bear to part with.  But I am glad she finally told me so I didn’t have to foist this curious arrangement on her with yet more unwearable pairs!2015-12-26 11.50.56

Quite some time ago I was wondering what might work for her and looking for a wool free sock yarn I had managed to find in the shop on some previous visit.  There was no more wool free sock yarn to be had that day in that place.  However, I came across this Misti alpaca, cotton and silk blend.  I cast on with enthusiasm, and then they sat languishing for months due to concern that I might not have enough yarn to finish them.  It is hard to say what it could be about a long period in the naughty corner that might cause more yarn to magically appear in the knitting bag, but apparently hope springs eternal!

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These socks came on holiday part finished, and they were completed in double quick time.  They have been handed over and now I’ve even had a cheery text from Mum which shows them on her feet.  She says they fit, and more importantly, that they are comfy!  I am sure  a moment after she took that snap, she whipped them off her too-hot feet and set them aside to wait for winter…

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Holiday sock knitting

There came a point in our Late December-early January holiday travels when I turned to my beloved and admitted that I might run out of sock yarn.  Is this the time for a confession?  I pre-wrote posts that could auto-load while we were gone.  And I brought back a pile of knitted goodies which might take some time to show and tell.

But back to the holiday yarn shortage.  I had all the sock yarn I owned with me, except a mighty skein of handspun sock yarn that is finer than 4 ply (fingering).  I have lost my nerve on that for the time being.  I had reached the end of the sock yarn in my stash. I did have a lot of yarn with me, bound for things other than socks, but still.  I suspect I am harder company in the absence of sock yarn, because my beloved insisted on acquiring more as a Christmas gift, and fast!

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Pretty soon I had worked my public transport app skillz and got us to a yarn shop in Melbourne.  We left with three balls of sock yarn.  Nothing local or naturally dyed about it, ahem. Here the first sock is out at a lunch of kedgeree.

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What a fun knit the first pair were… holiday time is knitting time, so they were finished in Coogee at a friend’s house in super quick time. Needless to say the second pair were cast on without delay.

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And now this pair have gone to live with one of our treasured friends.  You have to love people who get a text message asking if they want a pair of hand knit socks and demanding to know the length of their foot who respond enthusiastically and with the required information.  You know, because socks are such urgent stuff.  In midsummer!

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Whimsically cabled socks

Socks take a little while to knit.  Maybe 20 hours or more of knitting for a pair in 4 ply (fingering).  To be honest, I’m not sure.  Needless to say, I don’t sit down and time myself knitting them. I don’t knit them on a whim, they way I do hats, which just sit about waiting for the right head to come by.  I want them to be well received and they need to fit in more senses than one.  So, a little while back, there was a tracing of the foot.  Then I checked the preferences of the intended recipient, ordered BFL/silk sock yarn, and dyed it with eucalyptus.  To get a good strong colour, I dyed the 100g of yarn in four dye baths.  These socks have travelled, because in those hours of knitting, socks-in-the-making are my constant companions, which is one of the lovely things about them.  I enjoy the knitting, and I enjoy holding the intended recipient in my mind for the time the knitting takes. Here is the first sock, and that week’s reading for theory reading group.

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They came with me to hospital to visit a complicated relative who had a near death experience, twice (she is still alive).  They may not have brought her comfort but they brought me comfort.  The second hospital visit was so dim I did something quite inappropriate and had to rip back a bit.  They have been to some high level meetings.  They came to a very informal meeting with a workmate which was interrupted by another knitter (otherwise, a total stranger) who was beside herself to see socks being knit right there in front of her eyes.  My workmate is a generous man who didn’t flinch!  I have walked along knitting them from my bag.  They have been fondled lovingly by the odd stranger.  I was getting to the heel of the second sock when I went to Sydney.  Here we are in a cafe reading political theory (with relish).

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In front of a sculpture at a university in Sydney where I attended part of a conference where my beloved did a wonderful job of presenting.

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In a hotel room with a banksia cone.

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Waiting for a bus outside central railway station in Sydney.  Ask not what the other people waiting thought of my photographing a sock.  There is a lot going on outside Central at night and no one blinked.

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Almost done at Coogee Beach.

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Maybe you wanted to see Coogee beach?  Glorious!

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Toe grafted and ends darned in, in the Sydney airport.

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Here they are in better light after a nice steam press!

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I hope that they will be snug and long lasting… (non knitters: that is a reinforcing heel stitch you see there).

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And I hope that the whimsy of these cables will tickle India‘s fancy the way it tickles mine!  This design was suggested by one of my nearest and dearest, who first told me about India’s work years before I first saw it.  He was the first to have a whimsically cabled pair of socks made by me… and now there are two such pairs!  It is an absolute delight to be able to turn the generosity back toward someone who has been so exceedingly generous to me.

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