Saturday, November 28, 2015


Faute de mieux,  or indeed faute de anything, here are three pairs of blue socks I have made in the last three months.

These were Tom's birthday socks. I knitted them over several evenings watching telly, and when I gave them to him he was genuinely surprised, having been completely unaware of their coming-into-beingness, or becomingness, or whatever. He assures me this kind of obliviousness is the product of a concentrated form of mindfulness, or perhaps mindlessness, conscious forgetfulness, willed nothingness, that refuses to spoil surprises for me in the giving. They are quite a dark blue with dull brown stripes, and knitted from the top down, with a heel flap, in the old fashioned way.

The problem with this method of construction is that you must calculate the amount of wool required and that which thou hast, and decide on the length beforehand. Even with good digital kitchen scales and doing lots of sums, one will inevitably either run out of wool (being English, I still find the word 'yarn' difficult) or have an annoying amount left over. Starting from the toe, however, as long as your know you have enough to complete the foot above the heel, after that you can go on as long as you wish, to the ankle and beyond. But this requires a satisfactory method of casting on the toe, and of turning the heel, which until recently I didn't have. Now, though, I have mastered the figure of eight for the former, and, having paid the princely  sum of $1 for the PDF, the fish lips kiss heel for the latter. The are both rather fun to execute, though I always seem to miscount somewhere on the heel on one sock and have to bodge it to adjust, but it doesn't seem to show too much. 

These were the first, which I decided were too rough and faulty to give away and kept for myself. We always get to keep the mistake/first attempt things, they mostly get quite a lot of wear. These are comfortable.

The socks below are more recent, made for one of my nieces. They are also finished off with a super-stretchy cast-off which looks a bit frilly and weird but really does avoid constrictingly-tight-sock-top misery. One ball each of merino blend fingering and a bit of another colour for the very top, which I'm rather taken with doing lately.

Most of the toe-up socks I've done have tended to be a bit long in the foot, even using the cardboard template trick that comes with the heel pattern; you really have to start the heel sooner than you think. Also, the heel isn't reinforced, as it is with a classic top-down pattern, so maybe they wear out sooner if they're worn in shoes especially.

There we are, so who knew there was so much involved in socks, other than just nipping into M&S or Carrefour or wherever and just buying a pack. At least I can link this post into my Ravelry notes anyway.


Zhoen said...

I am in awe. Learned the value of good socks in Boston, when I wore them out every 3-6 months. Socks rule.

Lucy said...

Thanks Z. you're always good for a compliment on a knitting post!

I think socks were the thing I was most pleased to learn to knit when I took it up more seriously a couple of years ago. They can't really be worked out intuitively and have to be studied a bit, but in general they are always popular and one thing you can't have too many of. They are also good for using up small quantities of wool. Most of them I make are really too thick to wear with any shoes apart from wellie or walking boots, but can be worn indoors inside mules or Birkies or similar, or just as sofa socks, and if they've a good wool content they can be worn for ages without needing to be washed, which delays the wearing out.

the polish chick said...

yes, the learning and paying attention almost certainly guarantees i will never knit a pair of socks. as i'm sure i've bragged before, i can make a scarf, as long as there's wool, provided someone starts and ends it for me.

i love tom's blissful ignorance of his gifts coming into being under his very nose (or would that be above his very toes?), but then i find men have an ability to not notice some very obvious things. sometimes this is a good thing (case in point), and sometimes it means we clean the house more often than they do.

Roderick Robinson said...

A week ago I tried to sell you "nothing" but you weren't buying. Little did I know you'd already been the beneficiary of "willed nothingness" an enormously superior product. Only the French do better with "anéantissement which isn't at all the same but is more attractive because of its syllable count.

Daughter Professional Bleeder, then as now, something of a smartyboots attended school when we were in the US but came a cropper in some kind of intelligence test where words had to be attached to pictures. She said "cotton" while the requirement was for "yarn". The job I held at the time was beginning to disintegrate and my thoughts were turning eastwards 3000 miles. I have to say this minor anecdote intensified the trend; my English English vocabulary was, and would have remained, solid (in fact I was beginning through sheer force of personality to affect the vocabulary of several adjacent US citizens). But did I want to be father to a child with a different vocabulary? Soon after I picked up the phone at work, Joe interviewed me for a vacancy at Bowling Green Lane, Farringdon, and lo the die was cast.

I will pass on your difficulty to PB.

PS: I've worn socks for ages and didn't know they feature heel flaps. Propinquity was no help.

The Crow said...

Because of diabetes, I am fussy about socks. I wish American (or wherever our store buy them) manufacturers would either eliminate the seam across the toe or put it on the underside at the toe-fold, where it wouldn't irritate my skin.

Oh, if only they made socks with tops like you made for your niece! Those look so comfortable, Lucy.

Catalyst said...

I think they all are works of art and perhaps even works of genius. And the blue is beautiful.

Lucy said...

PC - hmm, I can't say Tom is oblivious of the state of cleanliness of the house, only of the workings of the appliances and whereabouts of the products necessary to remedy the situation!

Robbie - 'yarn' is a necessary word, I suppose, in terms of expressing its generic purpose, since 'wool' and 'cotton' designate the fibres of its composition. Your socks are unlikely to have heel flaps, since it is only usually hand knitted ones that do. There is even a special stitch called heel stitch for the creating of reinforced heel flaps. Somehow the other day I found Joe's twitter stream for the first time. He only did it for a couple of years, but it was lovely, like hearing a familiar voice in a slightly different way. 'Apothegms', he described some of them as. I was sorry I'd not seen it before, but it was a poignant treat.

Crow - I'm on it!

Cat - Oh thank you! There are some truly beautiful socks to be seen on the web, (or 'on-line' would be a good pun!), mine are only quite plain by comparison.

Fire Bird said...

Great socks. L is just learning to knit them, and has completed one!