knit | spin

The Wholesome Goodness of Woollen Socks

August 29, 2018

Today’s post is one in a series called Tuff Socks Naturally, an open, collaborative project exploring more sustainable alternatives to superwash and nylon in sock yarn. You can join in on the discussion, share pics and projects on this blog or Local and Bespoke or on instagram using the hashtag #tuffsocksnaturally.


I recently had my first experience with chilblains in over thirty years. Ballarat is a colder place than Melbourne and the mornings can be quite icy. The only day I did not wear my handspun, handknitted socks, I got a very painful, itchy chilblain on one toe.

I had worn tights that day with my normal winter boots but within half an hour of stepping outside, I found I could no longer feel my feet. They stayed that numb kind of cold all day, thawing out eventually overnight. Within 24 hours, there was the chilblain.

It healed quickly but the experience served to remind me that using wool is important. It keeps us warm and healthy. It is renewable and biodegradeable. It can be human scale not just industrial scale.

Pablo Neruda says it best in Ode to My Socks

beauty is twice beauty
and what is good is doubly good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool in winter.

Wear wool and stay safe in winter folks.

Ravelry details on these socks are here.

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  1. I suffered badly as a child with chilblains, our house was always cold, no central heating, coal fire in one room. I can’t remember what my socks were like.. white, probably cotton. And I never had good winter shoes. It’s an over riding memory.. of being cold. My mother knitted but I don’t remember knitted socks. It’s my goal now to only wear knitted socks in winter.

    1. I think children must be particularly vulnerable to chilblains…I suffered for years with them and that was in Australia. I can only imagine how you fared in much chillier climbs. Yes, definitely swathe yourself in wool.

  2. Love that Rebecca, definitely brought back memories of growing up in Ballarat. We were told not to put our feet in front of the fire/heat if they were really cold as it would bring on chilblains. Thanks for the memories that have come flooding back in.

    1. Well, I guess really are memories, as there are no chilly toes for you where you are now! Enjoy those warm toes and old memories.

    1. Dear Amanda, no there is not. Do you think there should be? Do you think a ravelry group is a good place to facilitate discussion? It could easily be done.

  3. Glad you have the perfect ‘cure’! My father wore wool socks all year around, N New Hampshire. Guess I have inherited his habit. I have Raynauds Syndrome so …WOOL, WOOL, WOOL! I have also used Biofeedback for this in the winter.

  4. Oh my. Glad that healed quickly… I still remember childhood chilblains from Ringwood East! And since I can no longer wear wool socks I can only attest t the fabulousness of wool socks and how I miss them. And thank you for the news that Pablo Neruda wrote about socks!

  5. What a lovely ode, and a cautionary tale!

    You live in Ballerat?! I’ve just watched the Sherlock Holmes story ‘The Boscombe Valley Mystery’ (I have the Jeremy Brett and Peter Cushing versions) and the name of Ballerat is a part of the plot.

    1. Dear Shiela, I think that Ballarat reference refers to a bushranger gang. Bushrangers (robbers/outlaws) were notorious during the goldrush period when Ballarat was established. How funny to share a contemporary link between two spinners through a Sherlock Holmes story…how very cool! Thanks so much for sharing this.

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