Shetland wool and Lombard plums…..

working the foot

As I mentioned yesterday, while Anne has been showing me how to knit socks I’ve found it easier to have a few socks all on the go at once so I can just keep repeating each stage again….Also I was curious to see how different types of needles worked so bought myself a pair of Hiya Hiya needles and also a pair of Knitpro Karbonz to try out along side the Brittany ones…..I’ve been able to change needles as I work each sock, seeing which needle a wool prefers……and as much as I love the Brittany wooden ones I’m aware my tension is very tight on those small ones (it seems better when I’m knitting on bigger sized ones though)…..

As my knitting budget isn’t limitless I’ve had a bit of a rummage in my wool bags, and found some balls of Jamieson’s of Shetland that I’d completely forgotten I had.  (I can’t even remember what I originally ordered this for….something crochet-y I’m imagining)…I know that a lot of yarn for socks has a little nylon in it but I thought well people have been knitting socks for hundreds of years without nylon, so decided to just have a bit of a try with this Spindrift wool.

finishing the decreases at the toe

It’s knitted up so beautifully and almost every other row has seen me slide it over my fingers and imagine it as the cuff on a beautiful cardigan.  It’s very soft and I’m not finding it scratchy or really even tickly……also I love how there is so much other colour going on in the wool…wee flecks of blue, an almost orangey red…..all those tiny daubs really do make the wool glow and captures perfectly the colour of a fat ripe damson or plum (especially the Lombard variety).

Each week that Anne has been round I’ve learnt what to do at a different stage of the sock construction, the first week was casting onto the dpns (I found it easiest to cast on using a slightly bigger long needle before just slipping my stitches off onto the dpns, this works fine with a regular knitting needle or a circular one), then working a section of rib which really did feel very odd at first, too many needles…but as I learnt to ignore all but the two needles I was knitting with, it became easier, and then working down the leg of the sock in stocking stitch……two sock tubes were created that first week while waitign for my next lesson and having a vague idea of what to do made that second sock a lot easier to knit and I started two more, one with the Jamieson’s of Shetland wool, the other with some woad dyed wool from Lavenham

ready to work the kitchener stitch

Then we spent an afternoon on the heel, knitting the strip at the back and the little cup turn just underneath….seeing the sides pull in and the bit underneath form was so amazing, and having 4 socks to practice the technique really helped set it in my head.

I still needed my notes and scribbles close to hand but each time I made that section it became easier.  An afternoon was also spent in picking up the slipped stitches of the heel and then knitting the decreases to bring the stitch count down….finally the last lesson was making the decreases at the side of the toes and working the kitchener (or Paul Daniels*) stitch.

I found it a lot easier having more than one sock to knit at a time.  I do find it a bit hard to count what row I’m on, it’s getting a bit easier though I’m still likely to be one or two rows out, but I tend to jot down when I start a row at home…not so easy to do when I’ve knitted on the bus or am having a coffee out.

There’s nothing like knitting socks in public to get told some lovely knitting stories…I always have something to do on the bus as I get a bit travel sick feeling if not, even on a very short journey…and I’ve found sock knitting just perfect…..I’ve heard stories of mums and grannies who knitted, one man told me how he used to sit with his arms out for his mum to wind her wool…he was quite elderly and he laughed as he told me she’d pop a boiled sweet into his mouth to keep him still, someone else told me their dad taught them to knit as their mum was left handed….one lady has socks knitted by her granny and her mum, passed down and treasured, darned to high heaven and still being worn….often I put down my knitting to listen, but that’s fine, I love hearing the different stories and in between someone new will get on and ask “no Bernard today, or how’s the cat?” (he’s got his own little fan club on the bus.

flecks of colour in the Shetland wool

I’ve got quite fat little feet and found these Shetland wool socks fitted really well, they don’t look as skinny as the WYS ones.  As my toes are pretty square and not too pointy (years of sensible and frumpy Clarkes shoes when I was at school so no fear here of a bunion….) I decided to work the stocking stitch up a bit higher so it just covered my little toe before I began the decreases at the sides, and then I worked the kitchener stitch over 2 rows of 14 stitches, so the toe knitting was a couple of rows shorter, but I found this seemed to fit my feet better.

beautiful Shetland wool in damson

I’ve just cast on the second one (I sort of wish I’d started this at the same time as the other one as I liked having two socks to swop back and forth, something I’ll consider to do in future as I also found it easier.) and have begun the section down the foot…..I know these will wear out a bit faster than the ones with a bit of nylon in the yarn but I don’t mind a bit of darning.  I found one ball of 25g of Spindrift was just enough for a sock, there’s also a wee bit left over so I’ve labeled it and tucked it into my darning tin so at least that first darn or two will be in matching wool.

The colour range of the Spindrift is really staggering (you can also find an incredible range of 2ply wool at Jamieson and Smith)…and it wouldn’t be an exageration to say you could probably knit a differently coloured pair of socks for every day of the year….ohhh the very thought has my heart racing.

*to my mind it’s quite magic how making this stitch seamlessly joins the two rows of knitting.


8 thoughts on “Shetland wool and Lombard plums…..

  1. Phew, you really are whizzing on with those socks! I shall be expecting another pair by the end of the week 😉 I love the subtle variegation in the yarn! I have been surprised at what a conversation starter knitting and crochet can be, if I get up the courage I would love to take my spindle when I’m waiting for an appointment and see what reaction that gets 🙂

    1. I’d love to show off a second pair but I’ve just started a pair for my boyfriend’s birthday and I’ve got a sewing commission which I’ve been dragging my feet over to finish.
      The wool is really beautiful, it’s so full of other colour, it’s truly a pleasure to knit with.
      I’d love to see someone spinning in public x

  2. I love slipping my arm into the sock I am knitting , imagining a jumper sleeve and I can’t agree with you more about knitting being a conversation starter. When I was waiting for an appointment one day I passed the time (distracted myself) with knitting and so many people chatted to me or just smiled as they passed. It made such a difference.
    Thank you for another absorbing and uplifting post. I love the journey I go on with your posts, first with your enchanting descriptions then following the links and discovering new delights, slowly emerging at the end in a lovely, calm state of mind.

    1. The pleasure is mine, quite often i find that writing down my “adventures” whether it’s baking bread or learning to knit helps me make sense of what I’m actually doing, or things I’d like to do in the future… wasn’t all calm here today though, I was listening to one of the early Knit British podcasts (I think it was number 15) and quite early on Louise says something a bit cheeky which made me laugh out loud while I was drinking a cup of tea..poor Bernard got showered as he was on my lap at the time…’s always a good podcast to listen to and I have to keep a pen and paper by me while I listen as it’s full of nice recommendations.

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