Why knit socks?

Some years ago I must admit that I was somewhat baffled by people who knit socks. I was a diehard sweater knitter, socks seemed to be a waste of time. Then for some reason, I knit a pair of socks, and was hooked. I then went through a sock-knitting craze. My life is more balanced now, I have just as many sock WIPs as sweater WIPs. As you may have guessed, I’ve been thinking about socks lately, well, since I put on this commercial pair of “good quality” woolen socks (which were not cheap).DSCF4509“Good quality” is in quotations marks for a reason. I have worn these socks about 5 times and my toe is coming through it (and yes, I do cut my toe nails, sorry for triggering any toe-nail-cutting imagery in your mind’s eye). These cost about the same as good quality sock yarn. Yes, they are thinner, so easier to wear with certain footwear, but what’s the point if they fall apart so soon (not to mention they became very loose and so weren’t even all that comfortable in my footwear). Paying good money for “quality” is a total crap shoot these days since, it seems to me, expensive things tend to be just as crappy as cheap things (yay, low-cost global manufacturing!) So I’m going back to knitting my own wool socks (and for others, I am relatively generous about my socks).

These are the best socks I have ever made and worn:DSCF4507 I even spun the yarn for these! On a spindle! Three ply!! I didn’t have a spinning wheel yet and spun these (superwash wool roving with 20% nylon) on a spindle and plied on a bigger spindle. I totally overspun them (as newbie spinners tend to do) so the yarn is like iron. (I am trying to recreate this yarn for some socks for my hubby, I’m still working on the first ply). They were a bit rough and tough at first but have softened up over the years (yes, years!! at least 5 years of wear!!!) Actually, I just found a small hole on the ball of the foot after taking that photo but will darn it. Which brings me to another great thing about handknit socks, you can DARN them. I hold on to my odds and ends of sock yarn (I have a box full, and few more socks that need darning). But if you don’t keep your leftovers, you can always use another colour, who looks at the bottoms of your feet anyway? (well, aside from foot/sock fetishists).

These are some of my WIPs:DSCF4510 These are all for me (generous soul that I am, I have some WIPs for my hubby, daughter, and niece that I couldn’t be bothered to dig out at the moment). I have several toe-up (two of which are my own patterns), top-down, two-at-a-time (which didn’t help me conquer second-sock syndrome, instead I developed both-socks syndrome!) I’ll get to them… So if you haven’t knit socks yet, I encourage you to give it a try. You might have to buy some new shoes with a bit more room for thick socks, but who doesn’t want to buy new shoes?? Try to find some that also show off your handiwork (Dansko has lots of nice appropriate styles).

In other news… I know I shouldn’t buy any more yarn. Really I do. But I splurged on some Rowan 4-ply cotton to make something from the pattern book Filigree:DSCF4511I bought this from Love Knitting, a UK based company, I believe. You can pay in CAN$, they have free shipping over $50 and it got here super fast, and it was even packaged in this lovely bag! Mostly I bought it because of this:DSCF4512The yarn is made in freaking HUNGARY! How could I resist?

Yay, Spring! :(

Ok, I’m still glad I don’t live in the Maritimes, and maybe this will be the new normal, and it’s only March, but man-oh-man, I’ve had it. I don’t go south in the winter, and one week in Cancun wouldn’t really make any difference to me, so I save that money (for more yarn? more wine? retirement with wine and yarn?). Although the cats feel it is spring, mostly they do this:

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Fire worship. I’m sure this cat threw virgins into volcanoes in a former life.

I am very happy with another cowl I finished. Very Hungarian looking, I think. Parts off my grandma’s pillow pattern, parts I made up to fit a cowl:aDSCF4499It’s a bit smaller than the leaf one, but big enough. I used Kathryn’s merino/cashmere fingering blend and it sooooo soft. I’ve started a different pattern in her singles:aDSCF4498I should have patterns for 4 cowls and a scarf ready by our Wakefield retreat, and a friend is going to translate them into French in time for the Twist Fibre Festival in St-André- Avellin in August. And some “action” shots, haha, mostly SNOW action:aDSCF4502

aDSCF4506Yeah, that sour look on my face is in fact how I feel. Sigh. I know warmer weather is coming, really I do.

I am trying to finish up a sweater for my grandson (since I will be seeing him soon!!!)

aDSCF4496 Just working on the hood, then a big shawl collar and sleeves. It is from a Martin Storey book which has loads of cute kid’s knits. I am using a WAY thicker yarn so had to fudge quite a few things (still working my way through the massive cones of grey yarn I got at Value Village).

And I’ve been working on crochet too, since I want to make something this summer from that book Filigree. It will be a good mind exercise since I already like crochet charts better than written instructions and my instruction books are North American, but the pattern book is British (so double crochet is treble crochet and a single crochet is a double crochet and a double treble is a triple treble etc) and no charts. Gah. I WILL master it.

aDSCF4409 This a swatch I made of different patterns. It’s kind of fun, but man does it eat up yarn. Think I’ll start with a pattern that is mostly knitting with a crochet panel, that way maybe I can get it done before the end of the summer! Summer? what’s summer?

Retreat!

Well, we are gearing up for out little retreat at the end of May (29-31) here in Wakefield. Maureen is deciding on the menu, Kathryn is mixing her colours and I’m writing up my classes and knitting samples. This year I am teaching double knitting (as colourwork) and mending your knitting with the Swiss darning method (or over-stitching). Friday is meet-and-greet and show-and-tell after stuffing our faces over a fantastic dinner. Saturday will be the double-knitting class and dyeing (and more gorging), Sunday you’ll poke a biggish hole in your knitted homework and then mend it (just pretend Frankie put a claw through your sweater like he’s done to me more than once.) (Oh, and one last food-fest at noon).

I will have patterns available, and Kathryn is putting together kits, and participants can dye their own yarn for their future double-knit projects (or for anything they like, I wouldn’t force anyone to double knit, except in my class).

This is what I have been working on:aDSCF4488The yarn in this picture will all end up as samples, and then kits made by Kathryn. The leaf cowl will be written up for the retreat. I am also working on a scarf (with cowl option) and a flowery cowl. All these patterns are based on my grandmother’s Hungarian embroidery.DSCF4492

We have many cushion covers from her and table cloths, but they are slowly disintegrating. So I mostly keep them wrapped up, but thought it would be nice to translate them into knitting. Some of them will only be for double knitting, others I’ll do as stranded knitting also.

Here are the pieces showing the other side. It makes a nice squishy, warm fabric (especially with Kathryn’s yarn!)aDSCF4490I’ve been wearing my proto-type all winter, and it has kept me warm in the piercing winter wind.aDSCF4437We still have some spots available, so if you are interested, let us know and Maureen can send you the information.

Kathryn has been dyeing up a storm. Her yarn went to fibre festivals in Paris and then Edinburgh with La Maison Tricotée, it can also be found locally at Wabi Sabi and at her studio, just give her a shout if you want to come out.aDSCF4410Here is some drying, some waiting to labelled and some bagged and ready to go.aDSCF4403

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In other news, our little Corgi is going home tomorrow. We will miss her, although I suspect Frankie might be relieved to be an only child again. And he can stop eating fruits and vegetables, which he eats now ONLY because she does.aDSCF4435(Notice the bags of knitting peeking out – I have them stashed all over the house. Except in the oven – I still use the oven).

And one last romp in the snow.aDSCF4485 Although I appreciate that I am not in the Maritimes under another 45 cm of snow, I still felt like weeping when I woke up to this. And although I love knitting in the winter, by a cozy fire, it is mid-March and I am heartily sick of it. Hopefully by the time we have our retreat, all this will have melted, but I won’t hold my breath!