Sunday, May 11, 2008

Cretan Shepherds, Sundried Socks, And Knitting Missions

OK, OK already! For all those of you who demanded it in no uncertain terms, here is that Cretan shepherd, up close and personal.

He may look as though he's posing for a statue of The Discus Thrower but, he's actually pegging stones at his flock which had just turned sideways into someone's nice green vineyard. Fair bit of muscle power there, wouldn't you say?

Gosh it's been a frantic week and socks are responsible for most of that. Honestly, don't you sometimes wonder what you did before knitting and the Net met up?

The dip-dye socks from Round 4 of Sock Madness (Something's Shady) were finally finished.

Maple Leaf Rag Socks.

These were the ones where you worked an afterthought heel - well, afterwards! It's a very entertaining variation and very easy to do, but it did cause a rather hard line where heel met body, in too much contrast to the rest of the sock which is in graduating colours, so a little more handpainting was needed to blur the distinction. Pretty pleased with them. Will certainly try the dip-dye technique again on finished socks as opposed to pre-dyeing the yarn.

Photographing the Maple Leaf Rags meant removing the Leafy Green socks I was wearing. Muffy the Yarnslayer thought the patterning on those was very nice indeed -

- and was somewhat disinclined to let them out of her paws when I wanted to put them back on.

NO! MY socks! ME to wear. ME to take to my bed and sleep on!

The Sock Madness round were coming thick and fast upon each other by now, as the fastest knitters in each division competed to see who could finish almost before the latest pattern had even been downloaded by the rest of us.

These are Technoknitter's Eyelet and Lattice Cable, worked here in Fleece Artist merino sock yarn in the Jester colourway. Lovely detail in the pattern, not the fastest to work certainly, but hugely rewarding.

But they hadn't got any further than the picture shows when Mt Mom's Godmother Socks were released, and I just had to rush off and work on those:

The yarn is Opal Royal, which has a hint of silver Lurex in it. Mt. Mom certainly deserves the prize for clear helpful patterns. She thinks of every little problem or query you might have, and addresses it before you've even thought of it. Forethought Patterning perhaps? It's a nice easy rib stitch up to the cuff , and you then work a spectacular lace edging. My plan is to take these to knee length when the cuff can fall gracefully over boot tops. Not a short project but exciting.

At this rate every circular in the house will be in use. That didn't stop me though from casting on for a new project - a jacket in Noro Kureyon. I had started one of these a few months back but didn't like the pattern or what it was doing to the yarn, so frogged and went back to the Noro book stash for a better one.

The design here calls for bands of horizontal moss stitch to alternate with the upwards knit. Here you see the back with the top strip of sideways moss stitch ready to be grafted on. At least it keeps things interesting.

Was well pleased that the very last issue of Ireland of the Welcomes is running a feature DH and I did on the woollen industry in Cork and Kerry. (The magazine has been sold, so may well reappear, but this is the last from the old editorial team who have become good friends of ours over the years.) A lot of acquaintances familiar from the postings on this blog are in it - Andrew Eadie of Kerry Woollen Mills of course, Jo and Jean from Spin a Yarn in Kenmare, the Kissanes, sheep farmers of Moll's Gap, and of course Daniel P. Buckley the wool factor. If you happen to be passing the magazine racks in a large Borders or Barnes & Noble, have a glance at it. It's our tribute to those who continue this timeless process in increasingly difficult times.

Now - several people have inquired anxiously about the Little Sisters of the Wool and their vital missionary work in the benighted regions of Ireland (Denise, I know you in particular are waiting for an update, and quite right too). I am happy to report that the Missionary Project is progressing well. Here are some recent heartwarmers:

An elegantly-dressed lady in a large shopping centre, sitting at a nearby table while I had coffee and knitted socks. From her raised eyebrows and slight smile I anticipated a comment of the 'Oh I would never have time to do that' variety. Not so. She came over and said nervously, 'Excuse me, but I haven't seen anyone knitting in so long - it's lovely!' We fell into talk and she mentioned how difficult it was to find patterns these days. Oh, the rush of excitement! The thrill of knowing one stray lamb is so close to the door of the fold!

Are you on the Internet at home?

Of course - but what has that to do with knitting?
What has that to do with - ? Well - type in knitting pattern - or free knitting pattern if you like - and see what happens.
A puzzled stare, followed, so slowly, by dawning light.
You mean - I can find patterns on the Web?
Not only patterns. Yarn, needles, stitch markers, like-minded people...
I never saw such a change in anybody. She positively ran off, chattering that she couldn't wait to get home and log on immediately. Ah, the happiness of introducing one new soul to the delights of the Net (yes, of course I told her about Ravelry. She didn't understand it fully - did you understand what Ravelry could mean when you first heard about it? - but she knows the name, she has the bit between her teeth, and from now on it's upwards!)

Then there was the elderly lady behind me in a very slow queue at the supermarket. I had pulled out the socks and started knitting while the checkout girl wandered off to price some article or other, and this lady was unashamedly watching.

I used to make socks all the time when I was young. Made them for my father, for my brothers. And then I made them for my husband as well. Never saw a needle like that though.

I explained the principle of the circular and Magic Loop and she got it immediately. Then she told me she used to make gloves too.

I remember well making this pair for a friend for Christmas. I made the backs in bright green and the fronts in bright red, so she could change them round and have a different pair on different days! Made them flat, you see, and sewed them together afterwards. Oh they did look smart!

What a good idea. I told her so and she looked pleased. I might just take it up again now that I've seen you at it.

The girl who mans the reception area in the newspaper building is bored no longer since she was alerted to the plethora of crochet shawl patterns freely available on the Net. And a neighbour at the end of her tether with a crusty bedridden relative reported calm and quiet since I handed on some skeins of rough, tough, manly sock yarn, like they used to make it, none of this modern nonsense.

So the Little Sisters of the Wool are alive and well, and their missionary work prospering. They would love to hear of similar tales of happy success in other corners of the world too, just to reassure themselves that they are not alone.
Haven't been able to hang out the washing in the back garden for weeks because of the blackbird nesting in the trellis right by the back door.

It's that bundle of moss and twigs in the middle, with the door on the right of the picture. Every time we opened the door she would go into frantic hysterics and fly off, not returning for hours, so in the interests of preserving the young, we thought we'd better leave the door alone.

Could still have hung out the washing by going around the long way, but -

- a mistle thrush decided to start building in the very tree which supports the clothesline. Now it's late for a mistle thrush and we had thought they weren't returning this year, so we were very happy to see them. It's worth the inconvenience of hanging the washing indoors on ceiling airers. Today, the blackbird and her mate are frantically feeding the ravenous youngsters while the mistle thrush is sitting very quietly, keeping the as yet unhatched eggs warm.
But I do like to hang my handwashed handknits out in the fresh air to dry, so lately the front driveway has looked like the gate to a Tibetan temple with prayer socks fluttering in the breeze.

Can you make out three pairs here? Mad Cow Mk II on the left, Mad Dance in the centre, and -

Leafy Green Socks merging beautifully into their background.
It's rather nice to work with nature rather than against it when you can.


Sam said...

Wonderful knitting and stories as usual. :)

A question, though, from a new knitter and an aspiring sock knitter...what does one do with all the socks once they are made? Do you keep them for yourself, wearing different pairs each day of the month (or perhaps, depending on your sock knitting addiction, each day of the year)? Do you give them away as gifts?

Just a question as I can see myself becoming quite addicted to the knitting of socks.


Anonymous said...

:sigh: Everything here has already turned brown. I just lust after all the green in your pictures. And it's such a vibrant green. I have finished this semester of grad school and look forward to much knitting. huzzah!

SueJ said...

Some fantastic socks to be seen here! The patterns from Sock Madness look great. Keep up the missionary work!

LaurieM said...

I really enjoyed the missionary stories. What a surprise that internet newbie is in for!

KimK said...

Jo, I *loved* these stories today, both the great encounters with the other knitters and the birds making their homes within your home. I just wish I could be a fly on the wall when that one lady finds just what knitting craziness is out here on the web!

Lynn said...

Next time you're in Crete, pack up that shepherd [or better yet, his uncle] in a box with air holes and ship him to TX. Tell those sheep they are on their own!

Loved your prayer socks fluttering in the breeze.

Just updated my queue on Ravelry with the patterns I've downloaded recently; I feel a little sheepish [g] until I look at the queues some of my friends have.

And I have a wheel, as of yesterday!

Ruth said...

I'm glad the socks survived the doggy attack. I had a cat who used to drag socks all over the house and leave them there.

Sally said...

To answer Sam's question - we wear them, dearie! I've done socks for the family and socks for myself...makes no difference. Someone will want them once they've been completed!

Jo - Fabulous blog today! Thanks.

Karen S, Lykkefanten said...

I love the tales of getting more knitters in the fold. It's always good to spread the word ;)
Love the socks!

Anonymous said...

Ah Jo, your little old lady in the supermarket reminded me of an extremely elegant older lady sitting in the chair next to me at the hairdresser's last year.

I pulled out my sock (on a circular needle) and she was all over it, asking what I was knitting, commenting on how she didn't recognize that type of needle, and telling tales of how she and all the other young women had knitted socks for the servicemen in World War II. They'd take their dpns to the movies with them and knit through the feature.

"I haven't seen a girl knitting a sock such a long time," she smiled, lost in happy memories of her girlhood.

I like to think she went home with the bug planted in the back of her brain...

Angeluna said...

Utterly delightful, as usual. Cretan discus thrower strikingly posed. Sock Madness continues (Maple Leaf Rags are stunning). Particularly liked the shot of them shoved into your red Crocs! And dear Muffy, yarn connoisseur extraordinaire, with that sweet little face, at it again.

And I'm delighted to see you are continueing the missionary work. Seems a bit more encouraging lately than the Londonian on the train a couple of years ago.

But the bird shenanigans produced a much needed belly laugh. If another one nests by the front door, you'll be entering and exiting through the windows via a ladder! And how I love the Tibetan Prayer Socks lining the drive!

Kathleen C. said...

It will please the Sisters to hear that I teach approximately 15 college students the basics of knitting every Spring (as part of a sewing class). Most leave it at that, but there's occasionally one or two who go out and get a set of needles and yarn on their own...
Plus I talked up the socks I was making with a lapsed knitter (the waitress) at a restaurant the other week. She's seriously thinking about picking it back up and joining our weekly knit night group.
I try to do my bit.

Sharon Jones said...

I don't know why, but your post has only just dropped into my computer. I wait with baited breath all of your posts. Not only am I thoroughly taken with your incredible knitting, but I am enchanted with Richard's magnificent photography of wildlife and the endlessly enchanting Irish countryside. I hope I may come back with an equal gift in my next life!

Jocerane said...

I love that pic with your socks drying in your front way!
And I love the socks too!
I have to make socks...I have to make socks...I have to make socks...

Dez Crawford said...

Oooh. Discus thrower. And yes, Sister Angeluna, I know I'm married. Purely artistic interest, you know. Excellent models are hard to find.

I just love the socks in your front drive. Love. Them. Now you've got me thinking about knitted prayer flags ....

And the Sisters will be pleased to know that not long ago while I was spinning at the arts market, I was approached by a woman who hadn't set foot in the Church if Wool in years. We talked for awhile and I suspect she had a bit of a revival.

To Sam: Socks: you wear, them you give them as gifts, you knit some more! Endless fun.

Lovely post as always, dear Jo.

Sally said...

Jo - I've just tagged you! Check out my blog at to find out what it's all about.

Viagra Online said...

I liked so much these socks I love to use them and I enjoy to do it myself.

Deusarino de Melo said...

I am a brazilian lover socks and stockings.
The red socks I saw here were pretty.
I am a rosicrucian member and martinist, aldo Esoteric from CECP in Brazil.
Please contact me. Thanks.
Regards from Deusarino de Melo