About 6 years ago I was lucky enough to meet a really amazing lady called Anne, we met by chance, pretty much hit it off straight away and have kept friends ever since…..she doesn’t live that far away, just up the road and when she comes over we’re straight into the kitchen to pop on the kettle while Bernard gets swept up into her arms and has little kitty melodies sung to him….as well as being an amazing knitter, dressmaker, home DIY-er Anne is also a fantastic singer and musician and has the best laugh ever…..she’s also incredibly kind and over the years she’s been gifting me the loveliest hand knits. The first knitted gift was a pair of green socks which I’ve worn half to death and have happily spent many hours darning them when needed.
A few years back not long after we met Anne gave me a couple of knitting lessons but I couldn’t really take on board a lot of what she was telling me and found I’d remember something for a couple of days and then would fair right sorft and not know what to do again the following week so the lessons sort of tailed off…….
When I fell in love with the Open Sky Shawl last year I seriously considered asking Anne if she’d be able to knit it but then decided that no, I was going to try it myself….and I haven’t looked back since.
When I told Anne I was knitting she was so encouraging, and loved seeing what I doing, where she’d happily rip out a couple of rows if a mistake got made I’d have to un-knit stitch by stitch but it was nice to knit together…..our Christmas gifts got exchanged after rather than before the 25th, and along with a pair of hand knitted socks (she’d even knitted them in WYS British wool because she knows I’m trying to only knit British) she had bought me a ball of sock yarn (WYS), a wee set of wooden sock needles (because she knows I like Brittany wooden needles) and a vanilla sock pattern. So the kettle went on, a pot of tea was made and then we sat down on the sofa and she showed me how to cast on and divide the stitches on the tiniest of needles to knit a pair of socks…..
She did look rather alarmed when she saw what a tight grip I had on both needle and yarn (not sure she’s ever seen quite such a tight knitter!) and at the end of that first afternoon I’d knitted my first ribbed cuff….over the following week I cast on another sock cuff to surprise her and then she showed me how to knit and turn a heel……seeing the heel bottom form and cup together is magic, and even now it makes me laugh…it’s so brilliant…..and then the week after we worked toe decreases and she let me kitchener stitch the toe of one of her socks together (I’m a lot slower knitting than Billy Whizz Anne)….actually even before that first pair were finished I’d cast on another couple of socks to practise the construction.
And as soon as that first pair were cast off I knew exactly what I was going to do for Anne’s birthday…..she’s not really one for bright colours prefering black and monochrome (though she’s knitted up some gorgeous Patrica Roberts pieces in the past and they were rather colourful)…anyway I decided black socks might be a bit beyond what my eyes could currently cope with) so after seeing the lovely socks that sock wizard Mazknitter had knitted on Ravelry I decided to knit her a pair in the WYS country bird colourway Owl.
I really wanted these to be a right surprise so sort of had to guess on Anne’s foot size, I knew she’s about the same as me, maybe half a size bigger so I decided to knit A nice ribbed sock (which was a free pattern on Ravelry)….the rib means there is plenty of stretch so nobody’s toes will get all squished up. I was pretty pleased with how they came out although I wasn’t over the moon happy with how the toe looked, it was a bit wedgey for me as my feet are really rounded and found it a bit hard to judge how they would fit Anne, so when I got about 2 inches from the toe on the second sock I just chopped the toe off the first sock (ouch) and then un-ravelled back a couple of inches and then knit them both using a formula to make a rounder toe…..
Anne’s birthday isn’t actually for another week or so but when she came round this week I was too excited to make her have to wait so she got one present a little bit early…I was a bit worried what she’d think of them as my knitting is no way near as neat as hers but when she un-wrapped them I’m sure people must have heard her laugh across the border over in Suffolk, and then she looked at me with rather teary eyes and said in a shakey little voice, “….but no-one’s ever knitted me socks before….” she tried them on, it’s her toes in the above picture and they look like they fit a treat…. stupidly I didn’t start the self stripey yarn in the same place so the socks don’t quite match up (I only actually noticed once I looked at the top photo) but I sort of like that.
I love that I’m finally able to gift Anne something knitted beyond a dishcloth, and to be able to repay her umpteen hours of sitting down and showing me how to work a short row, decrease toes, manage those multiple needles so it doesn’t feel like I’m juggling the tickliest of prickly hedgehogs….so many Happy Returns my dear, kind and wonderful friend and here’s to many more pairs of warm socks and wriggling toes.