Saturday, July 12, 2008

Wonderful Red Socks

Thank you for your kind warm weather wishes!

I was away in the south of Finland for a week (bookbinding course) a week after Midsummer and while away the weather up here had been nice and sunny but when I returned I was greeted by fierce white horses galloping across the surface of the lake. The wind was bringing them and they stayed on the lake for days. Now that I think of it, it was quite nice and that I should have enjoyed the northerly fresh air, because the hard wind kept the mosquitoes away. At present the wind has mostly died out and the mosquitoes have returned by millions…

my very first book

In early June when the days were getting longer and longer, I was every now and then a bit worried that in a few weeks the sun would start setting again and that I would never again be ready for the dark nights (and days). Last night I was up till after midnight and even though it does not get dark, the sun actually sets for a bit and one can feel that. It was not bad at all. It almost felt like a nice change, but even so, I am very grateful that there still are plenty of white nights left. I love the changing seasons and I should by now be able to trust me and not worry too much beforehand.

Exactly the same thing has happened with my knitting. All through the spring I was getting more and more worried of never finding the joy of knitting and that the my hands would not miss the yarn slipping through them ever again. I tried and tried various things and tried to be alert not to miss the call of the yarn. So I finally let the knitting go and was almost suffocated by the fact that I have plenty of yarn and was very worried who was going to knit them again….

I should have trusted myself in this as well. Summer has been quite busy after I got back from the bookbinding course. There has been hardly any time for any handwork but late at nights few stolen moments, and guess, what I have been doing? Do you suppose I have been getting bookbinding stuff together after a long day and been folding papers or making book covers? Or have I been ironing and cutting fabric for quilting blocks? No, I have been knitting a few rows on a sock.

books made during the course

The bookbinding course was very good and interesting. I learnt to bind books the way they were bound during the middle ages and earlier by the Coptics. The course was held in a beautiful surrounding and the classes were open from 8 in the morning until 23 (11) at night. The teaching hours were supposed to end around five in the afternoon but on most nights the teacher stayed in the class until 9 in the evening. It was a good break for all my previous handworks.

The summer so far has been quite cold and rainy. Rain has coloured everything this beautiful vivid green. I wonder if it is the surroundings – I do think it is, that brings out my longing for red (the eye is searching for the complementary colour). I usually don’t wear red and have very little red yarn in my stash but I have been digging deep to find any red. I have two skeins of this Bearfoot sock yarn by Mountain Colours in colourway Ruby River and I used up the other one making socks with my basic sock pattern. (The pattern is not mine, but Cookie A’s but I have made so many pairs so far that I think I can call it my basic sock recipe.)

This Monkey (from Knitty) pattern is perfect for me. I have tried to put it aside to knit other patterns but I always return to this. It is easily adjustable; I have tweaked the pattern to fit my feet. When one easily memorized repeat is done, a big hunk of the sock is done as well, so the socks seem to fly off the needles. It does not have any tedious manoeuvring of stitches, so not too much time is spend on knitting the socks. I always feel that socks should not take too much of my time, my sock philosophy is: knit simple with sturdy yarn and wear long. Knitting stockings is another story! So really I am quite happy to have another pair of Monkeys for the next winter (may it not come too soon!).

I enjoyed this yarn a lot, it did not split and it seems quite sturdy too, probably because it has some nylon in it. This was my first time trying out this yarn and won’t be my last. I did enjoy this colour way although a part of me wishes that this variegated yarn thing would come to an end sooner than later and that more tweedy and heathered yarns and yarns with very little variegation would become more popular. I don’t like yarns where the colour is not deep but plain and dull, but I just don’t care too much for all the wild mutlicoloured ones either. I would love to have this yarn in tweedy off-white, with maybe little specs of browns and greys. Actually I have not looked around to see if this yarn is produced in other than wild colour ways.

I have some variegated yarn and I feel that I should knit them away as soon as possible. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate these multicolours and don’t want to push my own opinion but lately I have got an impression more and more that when I click on the various colour charts, they are variegated only. How do you feel about these yarns? Are you in the least bit worried that these yarns will look outdated soon and that in a little while you are staring at some of your lovely patterned socks wishing if only you had chosen another colour way with little less variegation and more classic look?
I have not bought knitting books or yarns lately. My knitting front has been very quiet. But last week I came across a book that I thought that I really needed. I have always been a fan of fine yarns, fine yarns and 3 mm needles used to be my knitting heaven. Yes, you can guess, I am eagerly waiting for “Knit so fine” to turn into my mailbox, hopefully Monday or Tuesday. This book made me go through my fine yarn stash and I found many beautiful yarns that I sort of had forgotten of. With the red socks done I did cast on for something else but I will tell you about that next week, it is lovely and simple and easy to pick up, almost like socks, but better yet. My blog has been neglected and quiet and this because not much of knitting has been happening. I hope to make a change into this. I am setting two days a week when I’ll write to you, either Wednesday or Thursday and then the other day during the weekend.

I love these red socks. I truly believe that red socks make steps lighter, longer and happier; they bring out strength and good spirits and smile on your feet. The one wearing red socks never drags his feet.
You too should wear red socks solely since red socks, variegated or not, are just plain wonderful.



  1. Socks and now books - your talents never end, Lene! All your creations are wonderful (and I do see what you mean about the plainer yarns).

  2. Anonymous17:41

    I too would like less variegation. The variegated yarns are fun to look at in the skein and even fun to knit, always wondering what color will be next, but more classic yarns look better in the finished product.

    Having said that, your red socks are great. From the pictures the variegation is just an intensification of the color. That kind is good.

    I'm glad to hear you're enjoying knitting again although your forays into patchwork and bookbinding are fun to read about too.


  3. All your creations are so beautiful. I love your red socks.And the books are very wonderful. You are realy an artiste.

  4. I've never worn red socks but I think they are now on my list of ones to make. Thanks, Lene, for the inspiration!

  5. I was just at the Mountain Colors dye studio last week, pawing over millends and wishing for a yarn room like that in MY house. They did have more solid colors there, although I'm not sure if the solids or mostly solids are offered in Bearfoot. If you find that they are, I bet they'd send you some. Lovely ladies, the Mountain Colors crew.
    My feeling with the variegated yarns is that if the time comes when I feel my socks are too garish, I can overdye them with a nice gray or navy blue (or even red!) to even them out a bit and give them a whole new look. Before I began knitting, I only wore white socks, and now I don't even bother to match them to my outfits. (Most of my clothing is boring, so a wild sock under my slacks gives me a little mental lift.) As long as the yarn is still sound, the dyepots will give me a little change if I need one!

  6. I suppose the hand dyers like to play with the colors and find solid colors boring to work with. However, when I am knitting a garment, I do not want it to suddenly change color on me or even to alternate unless its a complementary piece, so normally I am not a fan of variegation. Plus, sometimes the colors pool in most unattractive ways -- what looks good in the skein looks horrible in the garment.

  7. Your books are beautiful, Lene.
    Red socks. Oh yes, I have always loved having a pair of red socks, since I was a tiny lass. My feelings, every woman should have at least one pair of red socks and for just those reasons you mention :^)

    I prefer the solid, richly saturated or nearly solid colour sock yarns.... although some of those variegated when paired with a nice contrasting solid and knit in a fair isle pattern can be quite striking and instead of having ends to weave in from many colours.. you have only the two and can easily be carried along.

    Here's to light, and green, and those beautiful red Monkeys!

  8. The red socks are such an inspiration. I think I need to make me a pair!

    Your books are amazing. One day ....

  9. Your books are beautiful, Lene! I love binding books and wish I had more time for it.

    My favorite socks are out of MC Bearfoot but be warned, it can full! I was quite surprised. The socks still fit but have less stitch definition than they used to.

    But maybe you're more careful with your handknits than !

  10. I agree, I'm getting a little weary of wild variegation. I keep reaching for a fairly subdued yarn for a complex sock pattern and finding I don't have much.

    I used to love the Socka yarns that had long, gradual, random colour variations created by differences between the individual plies of yarn, but these seem to have gone out of fashion. Maybe if we all ask nicely, they'll come back.

    One of the things I like about Bearfoot is that it isn't too wild; your socks look great. Be careful when laundering, though: I found that mine shrank quite a bit after washing. The wool part is superwash, but the mohair isn't.

  11. I'll have to see about getting myself some red pajamas to wear with the socks!

    The book binding course sounds interesting. I think you have magic hands -- so many lovely things are your handiwork.

  12. I have a very similar opinion about the wild variegated colors. I have knit a few pairs up and they always look a little strange to me. I am always drawn to the beautiful colors when they are in the skein but I think I like them better when they are in a skein! That red is really lovely...

    Wishing you sunshine...

    Oh- and what are you going to do with your books?

  13. Ruthie09:06

    The way you feel about your red socks I feel about my purple ones. I have had the most glorious pair of purple socks since my honeymoon 30 years ago. They are threadbare and over-darned now and I wear them rarely, but I always feel lighter, even younger when I do wear them. Are these brightly colored socks magical? I'd like to think so.

  14. Bookbinding is so much fun and the possibilities are endless. A friend works in an upholstery shop and always gives me the leather leftovers. They make great book covers. Love the Ruby socks, if you click your heels together three times and say, "there is no place like home", I wonder where you would end up?

  15. Anonymous21:44

    I just bought some red yarn to make socks, they are next on my needles!

    Tina from Canada

  16. I'm tired of the variegated yarn for socks, too. I wear only my hand knit socks in the winter and often prefer something dark and subtle. That said my favorite socks are purple!

  17. Anonymous01:28

    I like variegated yarn for plain socks and plain yarn for fancy patterns because too much busy colour hides the pattern. Fortunately I have a good stash of plain yarns because it is almost impossible to get plain sock yarns at present. Love the red socks, Lene.

    Pat in England

  18. I love the books! Something I've always thought of doing but hesitate to get into a whole new cache of materials and equipment.

  19. Bring on the tweeds, heathers, and nearly-solids! I prefer them too. :-)

  20. I love tweed. I don't hate varigated yarn, but it only seems to work out well for scarves, unless the varigations are really, really short.

    (I love to hear about Finland. It is the home of some of my ancestors, and I hope to visit one day. I grew up in northern Minnesota.)

  21. Yay for red socks! I have a few red things, inspired by my reading of "A Perfect Red", all about the history of cochineal.

    The sock yarn I love (in addition to bearfoot) is the old, old Stahl yarns with more than one ply doing long variegations. They still do a few colorways of that, but no one is selling it around here with all those self-striping things on the market.

    Last year I too went through a phase of non-knitting which lasted for months. It surprised me and I was somewhat concerned, but I did get a lot of spindling done. My knitting is back now though, in full force, especially after I went to Stitches West.

  22. I agree entirely about yarn colors. Even with some of the less crazy variegations, I don't like self-striping. It prevents a beautiful pattern from showing itself. I too love tweeds and heathers. Your description of the flecked natural yarn made me salivate, I could just see it in front of me...

  23. Thank you for your unending inspiration . . . I love your red socks! I think they would make me skip.