Wednesday, November 07, 2007

One Small Step For Socks...

But it was a very decisive step. New wandering around shoes were required - the kind you can lace up before heading off into the woods, galloping up a mountainside, leaping from heather tuft to heather tuft across a bogland. Not serious Himalayan trekking boots, just outdoor shoes. And they were deliberately purchased HALF A SIZE BIGGER. So that handknitted socks would fit comfortably inside. Been wearing clogs all summer of course, which allow for the handknits, but this is the first time that 'enclosing' footwear has been sized up. It's a watershed. From now on, that purchase said, Celtic Memory is wearing nothing but handknit socks.

Well, maybe not with evening shoes at the opera. But the rest of the time. This of course means several black pairs will have to be made, for state occasions when bright orange or lurid green are inappropriate. Fortunately there are some balls of Bamboo cotton hanging around for just such a purpose. Otherwise, there is now a very real likelihood of some of that huge crate of sock yarn actually getting used up over the next few months, as knee-lengths, ankle-highs, thick ones, thin ones, cabled and lacy, ribbed and downright weird, get cast on, worked up, finished off, and tucked into the Celtic Memory sock drawer thereafter to emerge in strict rotation (or any old how, as the mood strikes), to amaze and delight my fellow citizens.

When did you make the complete changeover? Did it take time? Did you feel at first (I certainly did) that the new, rather thicker, home-made socks weren't quite as easy to wear as the store-bought ones? And how long did it take for the complete opposite to be the case, when you couldn't stand the commercial socks and could only wear superbly hand-crafted ones? Do tell. I'd love to know.

Have you seen the preview of Winter IK? Now this is one magazine for which Celtic Memory is waiting with ill-concealed impatience. There are actually four - count 'em, four - projects on which I would like to get going immediately, and that's pretty good - often you're lucky to find one, aren't you? What did you like? Me I'm going for the Refined Aran Jacket, the Sweater Girl Pullover, the Celtic Tote and the Tilting Cable Socks for definite. (Do we detect a pattern here? A cabled pattern certainly.)

The Dogi vest is progressing. At last got to the stage of putting the right front on a spare length of yarn and working away on the back, which is going much more speedily since there is only half the number of stitches.

I've folded it at the shoulder here, so you're seeing one half of the overall vest. I love this Wool in the Woods yarn - it's so smooth and crisp you can't believe it's wool but it is. And the colourway, Tropical Storm, is glorious. Looks as though there will be plenty in the five skeins which is just as well, since there isn't any more to be had. However, won't uncross fingers just yet - the pattern for that neckband looks pretty greedy on yarn.

The weather has been grey and November-ish here in West Cork, so much so that a bout of dyeing was required to bring back a little colour to the scenery.

These are some of the new merino-tencel sock yarns which will be going on eBay tonight as soon as the Mi na Samnha listing ends. Here's a close-up of Tidal Pool looking a little drier than when it was dripping on the line.

and here is Strawberry Cream:

So it's sock yarn on eBay this week. Next week will be another SECRET STASH SALE, when (most reluctantly), some of those sumptuous coned yarns are taken out of their shrines and grudgingly skeined up to let other people have a go. Prepare for cashmere/lambswool, kid mohair, cashwool, wool/cotton, and heaven knows what else. Lots of laceweight too, if you're planning shawls as Christmas presents (and who isn't, for Pete's sake?)

Oh and on that topic, listen, listen, Celtic Memory HAS STARTED HER CHRISTMAS GIFT KNITTING! Now this isn't really typical - about mid-December is more usual - but it so happened that I was skeining up some rather nice green sock yarn with a fleck of yellow gold in it, for washing to remove factory dressing, and found faults several times within the first few yards. This often happens when you nab a cone of yarn from the back door of a factory - either it's been tried out and wound back on roughly, or it's been tossed around the place, maybe nibbled by mice, or caught on machinery. You keep going until it reaches the undamaged area and ditch the outer layers.

Which is what I was about to do. And then I stopped and thought again. Waste not, want not. Somewhere there is a little person who would really value that yarn. In my case, a little furry person.

Yes, that tangled yarn in the foreground is going into a washcloth. No, I am not bothered about the idea of a pure wool washcloth. Neither will the recipient be remotely concerned. It's going to be knitted or crocheted in a very loose gauge. It will then be equally loosely wrapped in tissue paper with perhaps the merest thread of tying up. And it will be put on a safely high shelf until Christmas Day when Muffy the Yarnslayer will get her very own festive washcloth. What she does with it is her own business. Yes, I will take pictures.

You think I'm wimping out of that ghost story, don't you? I'm not. Not really. It's just - well, it's just that it doesn't have white-sheeted figures and clanking chains. Nothing you could put your finger on (would you want to put your finger on a ghost? No, neither would I). It's just about an inexplicable experience of terrifyingly elemental evil and stark terror. And it didn't even take place in Ireland but in the far far north west of Scotland. Quite a few years ago. So maybe it's not appropriate. I'll think a bit more about it. Curiously reluctant and not quite sure why.

Finally wearied of wearing out the Celtic Memory eyes trying to see fine stitches by poor light late at night, and took the plunge. An Ott-Lite has been ordered from the UK and should be here next week. Yay! What did we do before the Internet?

(By the way, UK readers and knitters, have you noticed that daylight bulbs - very useful items - come in the bayonet form, while almost every modern table or desk lamp comes with screw-in facilities? Why don't they match up? Who buys the daylight bulbs besides me, and into what sort of lamp do they put them? Where do they FIND these lamps that actually match the bulbs? And related to that issue, is there a vile secret plot to force the entire world into buying lamps which only take expensive designer bulbs which can only be sourced from one manufacturer?)

In honour of the approaching winter, we got our chimney swept today. Delightful Peter came bouncing around with his industrial-strength vacuum cleaner and all his brushes and did a great job. Muffy went for a long walk in the garden, Sophy Wackles hid in my study, and Tasha lay at his feet and watched every move with fascination.

He even zealously went up on the roof to make sure the job was done from the top down as well, so of course Richard went up as well, camera in hand (you never actually see Richard without a camera. He says it's asking for trouble to leave it down anywhere, even for a moment, and as for people who turn theirs off or, worse still, tuck them away in cases... well, what do you expect when they miss the once-in-a-lifetime shot? Yes of course he takes it to bed. Doesn't everybody?)


Marianne said...

Oh how funny, sleeping with his camera but hey, I think I understand.
I still have some 'store bought' socks in the drawer and I get them out when needing to do the messy yard work, or knowing there will be mud involved, not taking the precious handknits into that! My feet are happy only when clothed in the handknits though, there's just nothing else like handknit socks. :^)
Your dyed sock yarns hanging on the line had me smiling.

cindyl said...

So, Jo, does that mean that somewhere there is a photo of you sitting straight up in bed, face slathered with night cream, hair wampyjawed, arms braced on drawn-up knees, hands happily knitting away? Not exactly Victoria's Secret material, but then again who ever saw a VS model with the rare smile that comes from holding a really fine cashmere merino sock wool, coaxing it into a cable pattern you've been wanting to start for months?

Aisling said...

Ohhh Tidal pool is Wow. I Love it. I was looking through Jeri's IK and I will probably never knit but love (haha) logan river wrap, henley perfected, and refined aran jacket. Oh and the cable socks, very cute.

Faren said...

I actually have only kept one pair of handknit socks for myself, but am working on the second pair!

Angeluna said...

You're alive! And yes, I've been holding my breath for that ghost story, turning distinctly purple by now. Oh well, when you're not in the mood, you're not. Look at you with all the sock talk. It seems only yesterday you took that pair of socks to the Bantry Fair to be judged by the locals. You should take ten pair next time, with cables and twists and half knots and all, knitted in the most exquisite yarns. Your newly dyed yarns are lovely, a real photo op in that moistly green fall garden. But it is that odd green cone I lust after. Hard to find a sock yarn that perfect green. Lucky Miss Yarnslayer! And I had to giggle at Cindy's description of Richard's bedtime photography. BTW, off to Kid & Ewe & Llamas Too. Camera in hand of course.

Anonymous said...

I was like you with the new issue of IK - SEVERAL sweaters/projects and I wanted to knit immediately! I am like you in that usually there is only one (or if truth be told - frequently none at all) in an magazine that tempts me to cast on. For me with this issue it might be easier to say what didn't appeal to me! I look forward to seeing what you chose to create.

pacalaga said...

Tidal pool is all my favorite colors in one place.
I think I love the Aran Jacket, but the model is slumping over so unattractively on the cover that it's hard to tell.

Dez Crawford said...

Oh, wow. Tidal Pool. Yum.

Perhaps your unease about your ghostly tale stems from the fact that elementals get ticked off if you lump them in the same batch as ghosts of the ordinary, mortal dead.

You WILL tell us the story when you're ready, though, won't you? I'm sitting over here with Angeluna, holding my breath and getting fainter by the moment.

As for socks ... I learned to knit socks as a kid, and they have snuck up on me over the years. When I was young, I wore my handknit socks rarely, for fear of wearing them out. But as of about 8-10 years ago, I never purchase commercial socks, although, like Marianne, I do resort to a few old commercial pairs when there's mucky work to be done.

Sue J said...

Jo, years ago, my son and I went on a Solar Home Tour in Austin, TX
At one house, everyone had to take off their shoes........and EVERYONE was wearing white socks.
I thought how dull we all were.
So I decided life is too short to wear white socks! HA!
Then I started knitting and the 3rd project was socks...........haven't stopped since.
I LOVE my handknit socks, and wear them all the time.
And NO white (or black for that matter!)
Wild socks are a friends, and the people at work accept that as one of my many "quirks"

Anonymous said...

I just saw the photo of your socks for the knitty calendar --- it's a gorgeous shot, and lovely socks as well.

Sallie said...

I had no problem at all switching to handknit socks. They fit me so much better (I have big feet) than store bought socks. The only problem I have is waiting for it to get cool enough to wear them here in southeast Texas.

Anonymous said...

i don't remember the transition between store bought socks and handknit ones. but i believe there were many pairs of ragg wool socks purchased and they were my favorite before i learned to knit my own. now i totally cringe to wear store bought ones.

i love the colours of your yarns, they bring a smile to my heart.

Lynn said...

I still have lots of store-bought socks, but it no longer breaks my heart to have to throw one of them away.

I think I have five or six pairs of handknitted socks. Eventually they will *all* be handknitted, but women tend to live to be 90+ in my family, so I have plenty of time to get there.

So nice to see your socks, Miss March! How does it feel to be famous?

SueJ said...

At some point this term I realised I was seldom wearing anything sock wise other than my own handknits (with Birkenstock Boston clogs at school & sometimes at home, or with trainers or trekking type shoes out of school). I also realise that some more 'plain' colours need to be on the needles after christmas, plus some thicker hiking weight ones for boots & wellies.So little time, so many pairs to knit!

Unknown said...

If you purchase day light bulbs from the Daylight Bulb company, you can specify which fitting. All of mine are screwfit.

Lovely sock yarn. :)

My IK winter issue arrived last wednesday, so yours should be any day now. I get mine direct from the US.

I still have a mixed sock drawer, some handknit, some commercial.

rho said...

well maybe bright orange or lurid green may be inappropriate - but blue, or brown, or even black with just a touch of those colors - they would be ok wouldn't they - I mean you can't be boring now can you.... well not you you are never boring but your feet you know....

ok I have a cold I am rambling and it is time for cold meds --

Leslie said...

Been reading you for months. Love the colors, textures, yarns you knit and rambles you go on. :D I couldn't find your e-mail so I'm sending you this here. You might get a chuckle out of it.

zeliaevora said...

Uau! such lovely colors:)