Sunday, 23 September 2012

Sock Fetish :)

Whooooop!  Yesterday I got my 'Knitting Socks - Getting Started' book from Amazon and amazingly the double pointed needles I'd ordered from E-bay came at the same time - well what's a girl to do??, it didn't take long before I couldn't resist playing with my new 'toys' :) :) . . . 

First of all, I'd never tried knitting with bamboo needles before - they're lovely!  No clickedy-clack noise and  very smooth and lightweight - me likey!   Secondly, I've never tried using double pointed needles and have never knitted in the round before either - all very exciting, hehe!  I was a bit concerned that I'd forget how to cast on as it's been ages since I've done any knitting - funnily enough on my new needles I was having a bit of trouble and had to go back to my old metal ones briefly to trigger my memory, and it came flooding back to me.   It was back to the new bamboo ones then though, once I got started :)

At home, we have an array of handknitted socks called 'bobban' socks handed down through the generations, made from locally spun yarn which is the same used to make Harris  Tweed.  These would have been knitted I think by some family member or other, probably an Aunt or grandparent at a time when most women could turn their hands at knitting socks, mostly made for male relatives who would wear them while undertaking various outdoor occupations eg. fishing, cutting peats, etc.   It's probably a dying art now unfortunately . . . 

These two are well worn and very old!!  (My Other Half wears them inside wellie boots for fishing trips - just the job and very warm and thick!)  They  are probably antiques!

I like the cultural significance of being able to knit socks as it's something my own grandmothers would have been able to do, so it would be nice to learn the skill  myself (they would be highly amused that I buy all these 'how to' books to teach myself though - they didn't have the luxury of Amazon!)

The Knitting Socks book is  fantastic and really well illustrated - it is an American publication, but that doesn't cause too many problems (I believe they use four needles in the US to knit in the round while we in Europe use five - I've decide to take up dual nationality and adopt the American method, hehe!).

The heel shaping was well explained and I was surprised that it all seemed to come together (after a couple of attempts at some points!).

So far, it's all looking quite good and I've got beyond the heel-shaping bit which I believe is the tricky bit, but this book takes you through every step and explains why the sock is shaped the way it is.  I'm really impressed at how well it is laid out - I could never have learnt from an ordinary pattern so it's been invaluable.  I've tried the sock on so far and it does fit - even if it looks quick funny as it's quite chunky and bulky - perfect for wearing inside my walking boots though, perhaps?

It's beginning to look like a sock - hurray!

I've really enjoyed knitting in the round, and much prefer it to working rows back and forth which I sometimes find a bit monotonous.  I've used 4.5 mm needles and an aran type yarn (50% wool and 50% acrylic) which I bought last year.  It's lovely to work with.  Would be quite fun to try other garments in the round eg. mittens, etc.  Whoaaaa, better not get ahead of myself though - gotta finish this sock first!

The heel flap is done in a knit-one, slip-one stitch which I was unfamilar with and threw me a little, but it's to add bulk apparently - who was I to argue, it looked about right, but was difficult to count the rows intitially.

I'm now at the stage of knitting the length of the foot, having completed the shaping of the side gussets - I'm almost out of wool and have had to order more as I only had a small amount left - hope it comes quickly so I can finish the sock!

Here, I'm comparing the old bobban sock with my knitted one (in progress) . . . 

Not sure what my Hebridean grandmothers (whom I never met as both grandparents passed away before I was born) would think of my Americanised sock version, hehe!  Hope to show you a  finished sock at the end of the week, even if it might look a bit quirky! (I might need two though LOL) 
Alison x

P.S.  Sunday dinner was very delayed today due to the 'sock in progress' work being undertaken!
P.P.S. 'Tweedie' work will continue as normal throughout the week, socks or not :) :)


Claire said...

Wow, hat's off to you, clever missus.

Your sock is looking fantastic Alison.
Sounds like you have pretty much got it sorted.
I've tried DP needles but couldn't get the hang of it, should give it another whirl, I would love to knit a pair of socks.......
There'll be no stopping you now and i'm sure your Grandmothers would've been very proud of your efforts.

Claire x

Alessandra said...

So fun in reading about your "sock adventure"!!!
I think you have to be so proud of yourself, my dear!!
xxx Ale

Biba said...

Wow, Alison, your skills are endless!

june at noon said...

Hey, we Americans have a history of sock-knitting too, so you're ok. :) I have knit chunky socks before, but never got past the fiddly-ness of working with sock weight yarn, although some day I'd like to, when the inspiration hits. My aunt is a prolific sock knitter and teaches classes at a local yarn shop!

fairislerona said...

You look to be making good progress Alison and you have made the socks with the 'set-in' heel I was talking about. The traditional heel is more complicated...that could be the next target! I also remember from my sock knitting era that the 'german cast on' method gives the best results on the ribbing. So much to learn!!!