knit | spin

Slow Socks

September 5, 2015

This post is a bit of a cup-of-tea-and-a-lie-down after the strident excitement of the last couple of posts. A perfect time to show you a lately finished spinning and knitting project.

IMG_1351These socks are slow socks, or more precisely, slooooooow socks.

They took a long time to finish.

IMG_3309They began their journey into becoming socks in November 2011 when we were in Somerset, UK. I bought a plait of Blue Faced Leicester top, dyed by the wonderful Jill Jones, of Jillybean Yarns.

IMG_3190I thought I would just pack it away till I got home but found myself acquiring a spindle on our travels. This spindle is a thing of beauty. It is made by Ian of IST Crafts on the Isle of Wight, the whorl finished with a sliver of bog oak from the fens of Anglia. It sang its song to me and I started spinning that Jillybean BLF in Somerset.

IMG_5269The top was split in quarters all the way down the length as I wanted to preserve the colour changes. I tied a knot at the top end of each to remember which end to start from.

IMG_4810It travelled with us through Germany and came home to Melbourne. It would languish for months as other projects crowded in but slowly over time, four singles were spun. They were spun over a three year period I think, so the singles were not particularly consistent. In order to end up with two consistently sized yarns, I plied the thinnest with the thickest and the two mediums together. Whilst the thickness of the two yarns was even, the colour changes were not. The thick/thin yarn was quite marled in the colour changes whilst the medium/medium yarn matched up the changes quite cleanly.

IMG_5270I had always planned to do socks but these would look very different if I used one ball for each. So I decided on stripes to marry the two yarns together. As both yarns had the same colour sequence, I had to knit them from either end to get a colour contrast for striping.  Both skeins were wound into centre pull balls. The first sock was knit from the centre of one ball outwards with the contrast stripes being worked from outside inwards of the other ball. I alternated this for the second sock and ended up with two mostly matching socks.

IMG_1350I worked them till I almost no yarn left, holding just a little back for future darning.

These socks were a bricolage of techniques. I just cast on using Judy’s Cast On for the toes, working the side increases every second row until the width of the foot was achieved. Then I worked in stripes using Meg Swansen’s Jogless Jog till I reached the heel.

IMG_1353The heel was worked as for Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Heel and then I knitted in broad rib till the calf began to widen. I increased at a rate of 2 sts every 1.5 cm till it was time to knit a 2 x 2 ribbed cuff.

IMG_1348It sounds so simple doesn’t it but it took soooo long. Seasons passed, years turned, till these socks were done. But done they are.

In the time since I drafted this post, we have seen revealed the desperate movement of thousands of people seeking peaceful refuge across Europe. Knitted socks seem rather small and homely in the face of such suffering and hardship. So, my wish for all those trying to find a home away from war and poverty, may you know the small, homely pleasures of knitted socks soon. And may all of us who already know the small, homely pleasures of knitted socks act in larger ways to ensure this.