Tag Archives: socks

Indigo and cochineal Jaywalkers


A while back I acquired some merino-silk 4 ply (fingering) yarn to use as a no-nylon sock yarn.


Of course, it all started out white.  Over time, some was dyed in legacy logwood.  Some with legacy cochineal, and some with indigo.  Then I decided on overdyeing the cochineal to create stripes and spots, creating some deep pink-purple and some blue sections where I had tied resists during the first dyeing in cochineal.


There was hospital knitting, nursing home knitting, public transport knitting as ever, meeting knitting.


There was even knitting during an experimental opera!


And now there are socks.  The pattern is an old favourite, Jaywalker, by Grumperina.  It doesn’t stretch much but it stays up and it looks great.


They are destined to be added to India Flint’s collection… bless her creative mind and nimble fingers and keep her toes warm, I say!




Filed under Knitting, Natural dyeing

More socks!

As usual, the latest pair of socks spent quite a lot of time on public transport. This is a local train service knitting opportunity.
2017-06-27 08.17.47

They came on some pretty tired and sad visits to hospital and nursing home as one of my dearests has been having a very tough time and I have been doing what I can to accompany her.  Knitting on public transport was a big help on a few visits when I took trips to visit her and she had already been taken by ambulance to some other place.


Socks don’t care about your worries.  They just keep growing as you keep knitting, and that works for me.


As you can see, it’s another pair of socks made with the same fibres.  And roughly the same size.  And there the resemblances end!  I managed to finish the skein with only this tiny ball of wool left!  But did get two pairs out of my naturally dyed Suffolk handspun.


They have already gone to a dear friend who spends more time in gumboots than pleases her sometimes, and finds a hand knit sock an asset in her gumboot (wellington boot? galosh? wellie boot?  rubber boot? you get the picture, I hope).


None of the pictures really came out right, with some too washed out and some a little overdone.  But I am sure you get the idea!  And in these times of considering mortality and suffering, I thought I would share this little gem taken as I ran through the cemetery one morning.  There were four magpies perched on this statue but two flew away as I approached. Camera shy.  I understand.




Filed under Knitting, Natural dyeing, Spinning

Handspun, hand dyed, handknit socks

Some time back, I embarked upon creating sock yarn from scratch, beginning with scouring, dyeing and combing raw local Suffolk fleece. If you missed the early, exciting stages (yes, that is a joke!) here is a post about the woolHere is one of multiple dye adventures. And the spinning went on at intervals over some months.  It’s hard to make incremental progress in spinning fun with photos!


Here is the first sock being knit at a coffee shop after exercise class, overseen by a dog.


Here is the second sock, almost done on the weekend when I cooked for many friends planting 500 trees on land two of our friends (and their two children, as they grow) are reclaiming, rehabilitating and revegetating with a degree of  care, thought, vision and commitment that is awesome to behold.  I was just too scared of back re-injury to plant.  So made myself a bit useful kitchen handing.  In between times, I knit and chatted with small folk.  I even did the hilarious feat of walking while knitting.

2017-06-14 08.33.26

It was hard to photograph the socks really well.  But there are some nice colours in there!

2017-06-14 08.33.21

And I am a sucker for the ingenuity of the heel arrangement.  The socks have whimsical cables, which puzzled some onlookers and delighted others.  And they are in no way twins, which likewise puzzled and affronted some while pleasing others very much. I’ll be honest, this is not exactly what I intended. But you know–they are fine! And headed to a happy new home as I type.  They will be snug, and hopefully, made as they are from a suffolk/silk/mohair blend and dyed with plants and cochineal–strong and colourful both.  And–there is enough for another pair, perhaps with a toe that, in this context, will not stand out if knit from a different yarn altogether–the finished socks weigh 101g and 89g remains…

2017-06-14 08.33.16


Filed under Knitting, Natural dyeing

Possum wool socks


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!


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.


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


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!


Some weeks later…


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!!!



Filed under Knitting

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.


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.


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


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…




Filed under Knitting

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.


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


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.


Filed under Knitting

Purple socks

2016-03-29 11.37.19

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

2016-05-31 15.53.07

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

2016-06-08 08.57.40

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)!


Did I mention the wonderful beauty of Aotearoa?

IMAG1888 IMAG1886  IMG_20160712_195353 IMG_20160712_195545

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.


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.






Filed under Spinning

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!

2016-04-26 20.45.22

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…

2016-04-30 08.40.39

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.


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!


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.


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.


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!





Filed under Knitting, Sewing

Socks, some more, again, still

2016-02-25 11.33.10

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

2016-03-03 18.05.04

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.

2016-04-09 16.42.34

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…





Filed under Knitting

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.

2016-01-08 19.18.39

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.

2016-01-08 13.11.32

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.

2016-01-08 15.35.28

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.

2016-01-08 18.28.27

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.

2016-02-18 17.24.03

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!



Filed under Knitting, Spinning