Monday, May 28, 2007

Socks Still Rule!

Safely back from France and rushing round catching up on everything. A lovely surprise was waiting:

This was my prize from Sock Madness, and isn't it beautiful? Hillary had wrapped it so perfectly in tissue, and tied it with a ribbon that had the most gorgeous stitch markers slipped on as decoration. A whole sock-sized skein of hand-dyed yarn, and a bar of Trader Joe's dark truffle chocolate. Now aren't they nice people over at Sock Madness? And is it any wonder that all of us who took part in that insane event are suffering Post-Sock Madness-Blues?

Or we were. Until we heard about The Summer of Socks which the ever-helpful Brittany highlighted on the SM Flickr site. The closing date was May 26 - the very day I arrived back from France - and I only just managed to make it before the cut-off. I think a lot of you got in too, right? Nicely timed to get us through at least some of the anguished waiting for SM 2008. I think I've got the button up on this page too - isn't it weird that enjoying such a basic craft as knitting could be the way into uber-technology? It was a case of 'needs must when the devil drives' for most of us, I suspect, but we're all certainly far more techie than we were BB (Before Blogging).

But The Summer of Socks. It's a three-month knit or crochet-along which starts on June 21, the summer solstice, and ends on September 21, the autumn equinox. There aren't too many rules on this one, and definitely nothing like the same pressure as SM. You can just work on your socks and post pictures on the SOS Flickr site as and when, or you can get all competitive and enter for Most Socks Made, or Socks Photographed On Vacation. And your socks can be knitted or crocheted to which I say hooray! Let's get rid of this sockism and knittism and crochetism. We're all as good as each other. I fully intend to crochet a perfectly outrageous pair that I spotted on the Net - let's see if I can find the link.... hang on a moment. BOTHER! Thought I'd saved it! This will mean hours of trawling, I just know it. Anybody out there remember a perfectly outrageous and luridly coloured pair of crocheted kneesocks? Mmmm, thought not. And you wouldn't come out and admit you'd been looking even if you HAD seen them, would you? COWARDS!

Anyway, socks most definitely still rule all summer long, so that's one happy thing. Since the event kicks off on the summer solstice, it should really be a very midsummery sort of pattern and colourway for the first pair, shouldn't it? Leaves, flowers, trees, magical Green Men hiding in treetrunks? Any ideas welcomed. Any ideas that necessitate the immediate ordering of seventeen additional skeins of sock yarn welcomed even more.

Not that a few skeins didn't unaccountably smuggle themselves on board coming back from la belle France of course. Well not so much skeins as balls - or pelotes as they call them there and why not? Finally managed to catch Guichard Laines in Landevant open as we drove north to Roscoff to catch the ferry on Friday.

It really doesn't look that prepossessing from the outside. In fact you'd drive right past if it were not for the magic icon painted on the wall. But inside - O.M.G. with stars!

In most French yarn shops, you see, the yarns are kept behind the counter and you peer, point, have one brought over for you to examine and decide upon. Not the way your average knitter wants to operate really. But here - they're piled up in these boxes, row upon row, all round a pretty large warehouse, with several smaller rooms off as well.

Richard thoughtfully took a picture from this angle too, so you can see what I hadn't discovered yet. Then, even more thoughtfully, he went back out to the car and had a siesta while I babbled and ran about and pulled at things, and hyperventilated, and babbled some more, and - but you know the scenario. (We should all get scenarios like this at regular intervals in our lives.)

Here is a close-up (took it myself, can't you see the shaky hands?) of some tubs of bamboo/cotton, next to some linen/cotton blends. In PROFUSION. And the sock yarn section. Oh my heart beats suffocatingly even now, just thinking of it. (It was in a dark corner, though, so I couldn't get a very good picture - perhaps just as well.)

I did come out with a few pelotes. Well perhaps more than a few. Well...

Here are the sock yarns. Bamboo in lime, turquoise and navy. Scheepjes in a particularly nice blend of blues and greens. A BIG ball of Online Linie 3 Supersocke 100 in soft pinky reds and greys - what a divine pair of winter kneesocks that will make.

And because I'm always on the lookout for unusual yarns to blend into wicked combinations, here are some I couldn't resist. The three on the left are all Katia Gatsby Lux, a beautiful fine weight variegated iridescent yarn which I hadn't seen before.

It was sad to leave France, where we took a last wander in the orchard with Charlotte and the energetic Bounty before leaving.

Charlotte was wearing the most chic little wool cardigan and when I asked, revealed it was from a designer friend in Paris. Thought so! She obligingly modelled it, unrolling the long belled sleeves so I could see them better.

Bounty thought it was nice too.

I hope we'll come back to Le Chene Vert. The setting is so peaceful, in its ancient orchards, you're right on the edge of La Grande Briere where the traditional flat-bottomed boats can still be seen moored amid the marshes,

and at sunset the coastal salt pans (you can buy Sel de Guerande right on the roadside from the man who painstakingly collected it) take on a breathtaking beauty.

Here are a couple of final images from the trip:

A bluethroat singing in La Grande Briere -

The walled city of Vannes, looking much as it must have done in medieval times -

A magnificent green woodpecker -

and a green lane leading to chateau gates which were once flung open as the lord's carriage thundered through, but now drowse locked and dusty in the summer sunshine.
Enough! There are Aran socks to finish, Ouessant fleece to card, that entrelac stole in Prism (STOP that, get a GRIP will you!) to complete. And so many more new ideas to try out. A la prochaine!


rho said...

ohhhh wonderful pictures -

have you been to Webs yet when you were over here -- if not somehow if it is at all possible I have to meet you when you do go - I think we would have the same reaction ;)

Yippee the shortest word verification in history for my bday it is hdzv

even I can manage that on the first try I am sure!!

and I was wrong -- so now I have a 6 letter one to do.... blah!!!!

Holly said...

Beautiful pictures and a great way to end the trip.

You might want to consider Vinnland off of the Anticraft site. In green it most certainly must be for the Green Man.

Anonymous said...

Loved everything, you manage to give such a "taste" for the things you have experienced on the trip.

But I really have a question for Richard today. How do you get those bird shots? With the hazy green backgrounds that show the birds off so well? I even understand probably the stunning woodpecker, but the background on the bluethroat is beyone me. I'm imagining how heavy your camera luggage must be. And doesn't it take a lot of time to get these shots? Thank you.

Rho, I think this is some quirk of new Blogger. I type in everything perfectly, double/triple check, then hit enter and it doesn't work. Ever. At least until the second and perchance the third try. Sometimes it even erases my comment, which brings me to near tears.

Peg-woolinmysoup said...

Jo - what are you doing with that terribly small plastic basket over your arm? Why not one of those little buggies with wheels that you can push, then stop; it rests on the two wheels and two little 'legs' and you have oodles of room for all those wonderful treasures?
I was hyperventilating and I was only looking at the photos!
Thanks, Richard, for the beautiful pictures of the wild life - and the yarn!

Victoria said...

Gorgeous pictures...looks like your French vacation was just lovely.

Great yarn shop!

Anonymous said...

Welcome home! What a wonderful vacation in a beautiful part of the world - and with a fantastic yarn store too boot!

I goofed and missed the Summer of Socks cutoff, darnit. I'll be lurking, though!

Carla said...

Jo, you might ask about your crocheted knee socks over at Crochetville.

Lesalicious said...

Hello Jo I seen you join CrochetVille and I wanted to say welcome to the board. Had to check out your blog look like your trip was great wish I was there. OMG that yarn shop I wouldn't ever leave it looked to nice to be true. Again welcome to the board and can't wait to see lots of your projects. :)

Traci said...

thank you Jo, for sharing your delightful trip with us and the fabulous photos!
it looks like you'll have a few things on the needles this summer. oh well, life must go on eh?

Mranthe said...

Welcome back! I was so happy to see your name (and to recognize a few other links as well) among the SOS participant listing... I'm quite looking forward to it and, as you say, am on the lookout for a special pattern to start off with, though I suspect I'll stick with knitting for now.

The trip pictures were wonderful -- somehow you always seem to share a sense of peace (well, not sure peace is the right word for a decked out fiber lode... how about sense of well being for that group of shots?)...

Angeluna said...

Here is the Flickr group for the Chevron scarves:

Anonymous said...

Hi there!

I am thoroughly enjoying reading your blog and discovering all your travels. I envy your yarn shopping in France!

My friend Dez Crawford suggested I contact you, and perhaps send you one of my yarns. I don't see a link to email you privately on the matter, but you are welcome to visit me at

Hope to be in touch soon.
Ray Whiting

Anonymous said...

Hi Jo,

I am the person that bought that WONDERFUL cafe au lait yarn from your ebay auction (my friend Kathy paid)I just wanted to say that it and your blog are delightful.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jo!
Yeah, you're right : In most French yarn shops,the yarns are kept behind the counter...and I often feel frustrated. I need to touch! So, once I know well the owner of the shop, you can often meet me behind the counter!
Beautiful pics!

pacalaga said...

May I suggest some Socks That Rock light in Nodding Violet, or Thistle, or Lemongrass for your summery socks? If they won't post to you, lemme know - you can have it sent to me and I'll send it along (scout's honor - I would never risk the ire of the gods of knitting blogginess by doing otherwise!)

Dez Crawford said...

Anther superb travelogue, Jo. What a smashing yarn shop!

If you ever visit New Orleans, I will take you to Bette Borneside's French Quarter shop, where she partially engages in the French tradition, but it's mostly due to space constraints. She keeps a few skeins of each yarn out for viewing and touching, and if you want more she has to scurry into the back of the shop.

As always, stunning wildife shots, Richard. Your bluethroat is lovely.

Beth said...

You asked me about the Brigit socks I plan to knit this summer for Summer of Socks. They are a free pattern available from Socktopia but I could not find a way to link it. It really is a beautiful pattern.

Anonymous said...

what a lovely photo tour of my area ! (I live near Vannes !) and this time i'm definitely convinced Landevant is well worth a 40 minute drive !!! Thanks !