Friday, March 3, 2017

spots on socks + other fancy stuff

Hello dear friends and welcome to today's episode of the Friday Foxs Lane.

I hope you've had a lovely week and that you're gearing up for a wonderful weekend.

My week has passed by in a haze of hot days, sleepless nights, garden and girls. Actually I can't work out whether the word I want to use is haze or daze, but you know that blurry feeling you get when your body gets out of the habit of sleeping at night for no apparent reason, your nights are never ending and your days are filled with fog? Yep, that.

So in honour of my loosening grasp of the English language and the hazey-daze, I have decided to take a blogging short cut today and make a list of ten things I am doing right now. Or more precisely doing or done, past tense, so I can include the spotty socks above.

Are you ready? Here we go...

one - sewing in the ends
Everything about sock knitting fascinates me but especially the way it makes me into someone I'm not. On the top shelf of our studio there is a basket that is filled with clothes that need mending. Shirts that buttons have fallen off, skirts with hems that have come down, socks with holes in the heels...the list goes on. This basket has in fact recently overflowed onto the back of my desk chair and on top of my sewing machine. Optimistically, I imagine that one of these days I'll pull that basket down and methodically work my way through it, buttoning and hemming and darning. But the truth is, I probably never will. But for some reason every single time I cast off a pair of socks I finish them off all the way to the end. I find a needle and I thread each of the loose bits of yarn on in turn and I darn them in until they're all done. It's like the little shoe-maker's elves have visited. And only then can I consider them finished.

two - admiring the insides
There's something so unexpected and surprising about the wrong side of a fair isle knitting project that I only really discovered a few months ago when I started knitting colour-work. Since then I've started a little ritual where I save the inside-looking until I've cast them off. Once I'm done I turn them inside out and sit with the wrong side for a while, looking at all the strands and the negative colour pattern. Each time it's so interesting to see how things have knit up on the back, sometimes I even prefer the wrong side.

three - finishing up
Once the knitting, the darning and the admiring are done, the next step is to hunt down a daughter for the photographing part. Sometimes it's as easy as stand, snap, done! But other times the foot looks funny, the part of the sock that I'm not thrilled with is too obvious, the light's not right, the foot model is in a hurry and won't stand get the picture.

Luckily last night all the sock moons and planets aligned and we got the shot and the sock model was back to singing scales within ten minutes.

The details are on Ravelry if you're interested in such things.

four - casting on
I'm going to call the next project to hit my needles - when you love someone who loves the Bulldogs. Not exactly my usual type of colours or colour combination, but I do love her and she does love them. 

I guess it's not really cheating on the Bulldogs socks if I'm sitting here daydreaming about a beautiful skein of CircusTonicHandmade sock yarn that fell into my shopping cart this morning. Australian merino wool...indi dyer...soft variegated yarn...ochre, greys, charcoal and the slightest hint of lemon...mmmmmmm.....

five - preserving the sunshine
Over the past few weeks I've mentioned a few times that this season's harvest isn't looking to be quite as bountiful as we'd hoped and expected. There are definitely some things that have positively surprised us, like the cucumbers, the berries and the beetroots. There are some things that have flat out disappointed us like the apples and the plums. And then there are some that could still go either way.

Over the past five or eight years we've grown most of and made all of our own tomato passata. Enough to last the whole year through. Over January our tomatoes get going slowly allowing us to finally break our tomato fast and to eat them on everything and in everything we can. By March we're not keeping up with the harvest and we start with the cooking and bottling.

This year has been the strangest tomato season ever. The vines are heavily laden with fruit but it's just not ripening. Or rather it's just starting to now, but only enough to eat, definitely not enough to preserve for later.

So yesterday we made the call and went and picked up a 10kg box off our mate Florian at Mount Franklin Organics down the road. Tomorrow we'll squish them, cook them into a sauce with some onion, garlic and basil, and then we'll pop them into jars for later. Hopefully our green tomatoes saw the boxful of red beauties make its way in and will hurry on up. And if not, we've arranged to pick up another box next week, just to be on the safe side.

six - listening
During the week Jo, another knitting mum of three, contacted me about her daughters Mabel and Ivy and their folk duo Charm of Finches. She was hoping we could work together to put on a house concert and as we've been talking a lot lately about doing something like this, we loved the idea and were hoping the same. Unfortunately, at this stage the dates didn't work, but in the meantime Jo sent me the girls' CD and I fell in love.

We've spent the past few days with Staring at the Starry Ceiling as the soundtrack to our drives to school and back, our dinner prep and our lying on the couch with closed eyes, feeling completely transported by their angelic voices, their beautiful harmonies, their original lyrics and all of the instruments in-between. 

With Mabel and Ivy being only one year older than our Indi and Jazzy, I can't help but dream of the places their shared love of music and song and flowy dresses might one day take them.

In the meantime I highly recommend you to click on over to the Charm of Finches site and support the girls and their dreams and melodies by buying their CD. 

Hopefully we'll get another chance to work with them in the future.

seven - listening to the scrape of Bren's knife against his spoon 
One of the best things to come out of this year so far is the dedicated Friday craft day. Just last night my Mum sent me a text asking if we needed help with stacking some wood today. The fact that I didn't have to think twice, or justify myself, or agonise over the decision was awesome. Friday is craft day. A whole guilt-free day for carving, knitting, sewing, drawing, playing guitar and writing my blog. If we decide to do a bit of farm work in amongst all of that then cool, but otherwise even cooler I say.

seven point five - listening to podcasts
Yesterday I listened to Richard Fidler interviewing Kate Summerscale about the life of Robert Coombes who in 1895 when he was 13 killed his mother and went on a spree with his little brother across London. I always love Richard's interviews but this particular story gripped me so tight that I hardly noticed the physical work I was doing in the garden until the whole hour was up.

It is a tragic story of Victorian-era matricide that also includes a boy's own adventure, a court case, an examination of family life with a father at sea and travels all the way over to Australia for the ending.

Kate has written a book about Robert's life called The Wicked Boy which I'm sure is a fantastic read, but I don't feel the need to read it now I've followed the whole story so closely in the author's words. Perhaps I'll look up some of her other books.

eight - splitting
The wood splitter is back for another week and the splinters in my hands and the ache in my muscles are there to prove it. Gosh I love watching that blade slice through those enormous rounds of wood as if they were butter. Not to mention that growing pile of firewood that will be stacked along the driveway and look pretty for a while and then keep us warm when the weather turns horrid.

nine - fermenting
If you were to ask me what I grow well on this farm, after little girls I think my next answer would be cucumbers. I seriously love growing cucumbers. I love how big their first leaves are when they poke their green tips out of the soil, I love how quickly they grow, I love their prolific yellow flowers and I love those green, crunchy, water filled fruit (?) and how much joy they add to my kitchen.

We mostly eat them as they come, in sandwiches and on salads, but when the season really gets going and we're bringing them in by the bagful, we ferment them by the jarful.

The recipe we use is from this book. We pretty much follow it, but often add and subtract ingredients. Lately we've been adding lemon slices (thanks Meg), and bay leaves, and as much garlic as we can be bothered peeling. 

Have I told you that my girls have started calling me Pickle? Tis true.

ten - reading
I just finished reading The Seven Good Years. Bren read it in a few days but I think I took a whole week. Even though I often struggle with short stories, and these are extremely short, I really enjoyed it. I laughed and cried at times but mostly I just admired Etgar's ability to take a simple thing that happened to him and make it into a great story.

I'm not sure what I'm going to read next. I heard Wendy James interviewed on the radio a few days ago, maybe I'll start her new book The Golden Child. It sounds very interesting and topical.

And with that my lovely friends, I'll bid you farewell. Pepper is sleeping over at her friend's house, the big girls will be home in an hour, which gives me just enough time to pop some washing on the line and get started on those tomatoes.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.
I'm going away for three days with my Mum and one of my sisters and I can't wait!

As always please feel free to leave me any suggestions you might have for podcasts, books, music, shows and patterns you're enjoying.


Kate xx


  1. Your soxs are just so perfectly crafted. Walking around with little works of art on your tootsies. x

  2. thank-you! needed a new book to start reading this weekend.

  3. * Love the Socks
    * Have made a note to check and probably buy the CD next week (pay week) and
    * I made pickled onions last week

  4. ahhh and relax, my friday evening has just begun. I love your friday update, thanks for sharing.
    I was thinking when I saw the inside of the sock photo, how awesome colour work on the inside is, remembering a really intricate fairisle vest my mum knitted, I wonder who has it now, and how much I loved to look at the inside. It was so neat and beautiful in its own way, much like the back of her embroidery. i some doilies here that she worked and I always have to look closely to tell the back from the front when I use them.
    Isn't the wood splitter a most wonderful invention? My dear hubby and sons have finished carting and filling our wood shed for the winter, I never feel completely safe and secure until I know we have our winter wood supply in. This is the first year that I didn't do the stacking, young adult sons can be a wonderful thing.
    I think I need to get my hands on a copy of the fermenting book, fear be gone.
    I'm also off to check out the short story collection, so much of my reading seems to have been heavy and weighing me down lately, I need something to make me chuckle.
    I listened to that Richard Fidley interview too, I had read the story in a book I read a few years ago murders from long ago, it is a very interesting tale, and sad too.
    I LOVE craft fridays, I so need to introduce that here. I'm so often consumed with guilt for sitting and crafting during the day, and yet I seem to have no trouble wasting time on instagram! Go figure.
    Have a lovely time away with your mum and sister, I hope it's a trip for pleasure.
    cheers Kate

  5. omgoodness I do love your spotty socks, I wish I could knit! I can crochet but no patterns are ever as good as fairisle knitting
    I love your Friday posts and I love the idea of a crafts day, a day to just stop and be you I may take this on board
    enjoy your week and i'll try to enjoy our English wind and rain which is constant at the moment x

  6. Your dotty Socks are awesome. I finished a pair today and can't wait to start another. My mending pile is over flowing but the call to knit another pair of socks is so more appealing. Love the idea of Friday craft day.

  7. Thanks for the book recommendation for the Wicked Boy, I have added that to my list at the library. I am reading the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society at the moment and totally recommend it if you haven't read it already

  8. Love the socks! I'm working on a pair of socks now, my project for the weekend. Those tomatoes look tasty! I can't wait till ours are growing (in a couple of months).

  9. timothée de Fombelle's Vango, melina marchetta's the Lumatere chronicles, lian Hearn's Tale of the Otari, megan whalen turner's the thief series, cornelia Funke's Reckless..... :)

  10. Great books:
    Fantasy/Elizabethan history: "A Discovery of Witches" by Deborah Harkness (with two sequels!)
    Literature: "Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel
    Literature: "Barkskins" by Annie Proulx
    Fascinating nonfiction: "The Reindeer People" by Piers Vitebsky
    Farming: "The Dirty Life" by Kristin Kimball

  11. Do you ever listen to The Longest Shortest Time podcast? It is about parenting and has some great stories on it that you might find interesting. Have a lovely weekend!

  12. The Good People by Hannah Kent - just finished it, wonderfully dark!
    Those gorgeous Finches. I call Jo "Obi Knit Wan Pearl Wan Ken Obi'; so much she has transmitted to me about Yarn over the years. I have much to learn about the Fair Isle Force though. I am working my way through Wendy's lace and cable patterns much to the fortune of our friends and family.

    Happy Autumn Kate! xx

  13. I love listening to Richard Fidler, he is a great interviewer. I like listening to Stuff They Don't Want You To Know - it's kind of a conspiracy theory viability podcast.

  14. I love seeing your hand knitted socks pop up in my inbox xx

  15. As always, this was beautiful to read, Kate. I'm not usually big on short stories either, but I recently read Lucia Berlin's 'A Manual for Cleaning Women', and thought the stories were absolutely brilliant.


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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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