Friday, January 6, 2017

knitting socks - past, present + future

Hello lovely friends and welcome to the first Friday Foxs Lane of the new year. Have you had a nice week? I hope so.

Things here have been pretty quiet. Outside, we've been mowing and planting and eating out of the garden and irrigating and trying to get the lines out of the overgrown orchards. Inside we've been reading, and knitting, and cleaning up our house, and watching lots of movies at night. Our days are long and mostly we don't come in for dinner until well after eight, but still often I'll lie in bed in the middle of the night and wonder where the time went.

I adore summer: The fruit, the garden, the salads, the clothes, the holidays, the heat and the way the washing dries so fast on the line that I can actually see the bottom of the laundry basket.

Not very summery though are socks. Especially woolly, thick, hand knit socks. But just because they're not suitable to the current season, doesn't mean I can stop myself from knitting them.

So here it is, my early January 2017 version of socks - past, present and future;

Socks past are a pair I knitted for Bren back in April of last year. The blue was yarn that I bought at Loop London on our Europe trip and I can't remember what the grey for the heels, toes and cuffs was.

I called them Farmer Boy socks and true to their name my boy wore them under his boots, on the farm and often.

After many washes and many, many wears the farmer boy socks tore at the heels and ended up in the mending basket. (I suspect the grey yarn was pure wool and didn't have any nylon for toughness.) Now I don't know what it's like at your house, but here the mending basket is a bit of a black hole. Once something finds its way in, it may never be seen again. After all, how dull is mending when you can start something shiny and new?!

And so it was with the farmer boy socks until yesterday. With his birthday coming up tomorrow and talk of a new pair of socks, we started discussing the old. I got up on the chair and had a bit of a rummage through the mending department and pulled them out.

My friend Bria had once emailed me the instructions for how to repair a hand-knit sock with a knit-in-place patch, which I'd filed under 'one day', and what do you know, for some unknown reason today is that day. So in between loading photos and thinking of words, I'm knit-mending those socks.

The wooden darning mushroom was my grandmother's and looks like it had quite a busy life.

And so it seems socks past may become socks present once more. Hopefully.

Socks present, after much sewing in of the millions of ends, are the colourful fair isle socks. How cool do they look inside out.

I'm sure I've blogged the story of Anna, my sock knitting clarinet teacher from my teen-age years, as my inspiration for learning to knit socks all these years later. But the truth is that Anna used to knit these intricate fair isle socks filled with colourful patterns and pictures and words. The ones that stick in my mind had houses and trees and flowers and birds and butterflies. While I am still a long way away from crafting anything so technically brilliant, these socks make me feel like I am heading in the right direction.

And socks future, will be my farmer boy's birthday socks. Yep, I know the colours are incredibly similar to the last pair but he chose them and I'm going with them. They will be pretty plain, but there will be a bit of colour-work at the top, so I'm happy.

And with that I'll wish you a wonderful weekend and a fabulous second week of the new year.

But just before you go please tell me what you've been making, or mending, or meaning to.
I'd love to know.

Love Kate xx

PS. It's been suggested that I change my blog name to Soxs Lane, what do you think? Haha!


  1. Love these socks! I wish I had the patience, usually I finish one side then don't start the other. I just finished my cardamom coffee hat and am starting on the deep woods toque. Thank you for sharing your beautiful work!

  2. So beautiful, Kate. My unstoppable sock knitting has slowed down a bit since I got a spinning wheel last winter. Right now I'm spinning a gorgeous raw Gotland fleece, and I've just cast off a shawl made from my first ever batch of handspun (funny little practice skeins notwithstanding). It's so exciting I still can't quite believe I did it.

  3. These socks are beautiful.... I think you might be my inspiration to learn how to knit socks! I am currently making a few fabric shopping bags and some bunting and crocheting my daughter a granny square blanket. xx

  4. No matter what I just can't ever knit the second sock! I think it's the small wool with the small needles that is the issue, so maybe I might try holding the sock yarn double and making DK weight socks? I'm currently onto my third School Cardigan and have 1 more to go after that. Then 4 little boys will each have new jumpers for winter.

  5. Those socks are just the best ever! I knit lots of socks and have done for years, but stick to the self-patterned yarn. I'm in awe of your beautiful creations.
    I'm also impressed with your mending technique and I'll definitely use it to mend my holey socks - mine go at the toes not the heels but I guess I can do the same thing there.
    BTW, any thanks for all your lovely posts, I always enjoy reading your blog and I also admire your honesty in your writing - not easy to achieve in these days of trolls etc. Your life is so very different to mine, and so much the same (I'm in the UK, where we have all the 'joys' of Brexit to look forward to). Kind regards for 2017, Deborah

    1. ...should say 'many' thanks, not 'any'!

  6. I'm working on a ripple blanket for a friend, then freedom! I shall make something for myself next. I feel excited by the possibilities. I'm enjoying the gentle rhythm of the rippling, but look forward to something a bit more challenging this year.

    Love the socks! The fair isle ones are so detailed and impressive Kate.

  7. I recently taught my 8yo daughter to knit, so I'm doing some in between her rows to keep it growing. I finished my first pair of socks last month. Your socks are just stunning!

  8. Those socks are stunning and they look so comfortable. I also am familiar with the mending box with a black hole in the bottom, but lately have been inspired by some beautiful kimonos at the ngv that are works of art in patches and repaired tears. Those garments sure lived a life. We'll see if I can get my act together and get mending Boro style this year.

  9. Yay Kate for getting the ends all woven in. That was quite a job. You are amazing and I think your own fair isle socks look 'technically brilliant'.
    My mending basket is a black hole too! Phew! I feel better knowing it's not just me but the nature of mending baskets. Like you, we have been eating very late dinners because we have enjoyed the extended daylight of summer and making the most of it in the garden, on bike rides or just taking extra time to curl up and read for fun in the holidays.
    In answer to your question:
    Making: another rainbow scarf
    Mending: I dare not go near the black hole, but I have been sorting through old clothes and salvaging denim from old jeans for future mending of the inevitable holes in the knees.
    Meaning to: go shopping but it's been too hot to venture outdoors - 40 degrees today and 41 forecast for tomorrow!

  10. Those all the patterns socks look fantastic, inside and out. The mending tutorial looked very interesting not seen that way before. I love to hear that you are outside working till dusk I suppose. It uses all the daylight hours in such a useful way even though you are all working so hard.

  11. i'm in awe of your ability to knit the intricate design in the fair isle socks. lovely. i'm not much of a knitter but have been crocheting sweaters for my handmade dolls like crazy.

  12. Works of art, those socks! 💕

  13. Wow - those fair isle socks are seriously gorgeous.

  14. Absolutely beautiful socks! I am very jealous of your knitting prowess!

    I have always had a rule at my house about mending: When I have 3 items that need mending, I do the mending then. It takes up too much time to pull out the mending gear for just one item and anymore than 3 takes too much time doing the mending! LOL.

    I've tried learning to knit but my hands (arthritis doncha know) seem to dislike the process. I learned to crochet, and cro-tat eons ago but that has also kind of stopped. Sigh.

    However, I taught myself to sew 4 years ago and that has taken me into a new area. I'm working on some living room curtains. I just finished making the tieback cording (made out of long scrap fabric, ironed into bias tape, and twisted) and the fabric/metal tassels. Otherwise, I am constantly handsewing something - napkins, handkerchiefs, a mattress pad, pillows, clothing and Renaissance costumes. It's fun!

  15. love those socks :)
    I always have a pair of socks on the sticks, but just self striping because then I don't need to think, also dish cloths and crochet blankets.
    Thanks for the mending tute I have some socks hanging over the side of my basket waiting for me to discover the skills of mending.

    cheers Kate

  16. Love all the socks! The mending basket here is also called the black A long line of alterations are in my near future, for everyone in the family it seems. As well as a late Christmas make of pj's for the youngest. On the knitting front, that would be shawls and knitted knockers for Warm weather seems so far away right now with snow on the ground, but that same snow will help the garden when it's time to grow. Enjoy the day!

  17. Great socks! I started knitting socks last year and became a little obsessed.......I knitted 16 pairs! Think that will do me for a while. Nothing as detailed as yours, just basic socks for a beginner, although I did try a toe-up pair from a book called "sockupied" which I loved making. Might try another pair from "sockupied" in Winter. I'm back to quilting now and have started an appliqué centre and have 7 of 10 pieced blocks made.

  18. Your socks are stunning and might be the inspiration I need to stop me whining about getting my yarn tangled when my current socks have two colours and they're only stripes. Other than those socks, I've very nearly finished a cardigan, for myself, that I started about two years ago and a crochet blanket for my non-existent/fantasy etsy shop. They're all on the back burner for the moment because I'm busy knitting PussyHat Project hats for myself and my daughters to wear on the London version of the Women's March on Washington on January 21st. I posted a PussyHat to the US yesterday; I think it's a brilliant way to participate in that march too! I hope you can keep up the regular blogging; I'm loving hearing your voice again.

  19. I love all of your sock knitting Kate, and I find it so inspiring! What is it about knitted socks that have me reaching for my needles immediately?
    I love those fair isle ones, mostly because I love doing colour work and I think they would be so fun to make.

    Happy new year!
    Sarah x

  20. Hi Kate, I've never made socks, my Mum used to make them for me and I still have a pair or two and they are so lovely. They feel so special on your feet. Recently an on-line friend sent me a pair she made, just out the blue! I was so touched because I never thought anyone would make socks again. Now I must learn! I still only really crochet at the moment, I am have just found out how to crochet close shell stitch in the round, so I hope to make a run of warm wrist warmers, maybe even using some nicer soft yarn, more expensive yarn than normal. So they feel really comfy too! Thanks for the inspiration :-) xx

  21. Your air isle socks are so beautiful!


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I do read every single comment you leave and appreciate it very much, but I should let you know that I can be a wee bit on the useless side when replying to comments, that's just me, everyday life sometimes gets in the I'll apologise now, just in case.

Kate XX

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