Monday, April 11, 2016


When shall I see the white-thorn leaves agen,
And yellowhammers gathering the dry bents
By the dyke side, on stilly moor or fen,
Feathered with love and nature's good intents?
Rude is the tent this architect invents,
Rural the place, with cart ruts by dyke side.
Dead grass, horse hair, and downy-headed bents
Tied to dead thistles--she doth well provide,
Close to a hill of ants where cowslips bloom
And shed oer meadows far their sweet perfume.
In early spring, when winds blow chilly cold,
The yellowhammer, trailing grass, will come
To fix a place and choose an early home,
With yellow breast and head of solid gold.

Poem by John Clare (1793-1864)
The spring is taking huge leaps every day. It does not look like that always and it seems a real step back when after consecutive lovely, warmish days, new snow coats the ice and old snow. But the new snow helps the old, dark, hard ice to melt easier and somehow every new snow drop manages to bite off the old ice. Walking is good in the oxygen rich air on rainy/sleet days although the ground is wet and muddy at places and requires skipping puddles here and there. Skipping is exhilarating, something in the movement enlightens the heart! 

Last week on one of our walks, the traffic on the road next to the walking way, ceased for a bit and I stopped to wait for Tina, Ruusu already was at stand still. All was quiet and we all lifted our noses form the ground, looked up and around and were in unison admiring the new spring and its sounds. It was almost as if we were saying in chorus: it is here; the spring is here!  We stood there, did not want to move, and we heard the birds.

It feels like I am in the audience of the Spring Play. For a long time I have sat there in the darkness (the Arctic Winter) waiting for the curtain to raise and for the performance to begin. The play is powerful, the casting is fabulous, as is the set and the soundtrack. The last scene, the grand finale being the breathtaking moment when the ice of the lake breaks and the water is free once again.
I know it is still a bit early to start waiting for the ice on the lake to go, (just a few seconds ago I heard a snow mobile rushing over the ice, so it is thick yet, but about this time of the spring you need to know your ice and need to know where it is safe to be) but I cannot help myself and I eagerly wait for the moment when the ice breaks and even though flood can be scary, if it rises too high, I still wait for it. 

I have lived by this lake for the most of my life and I remember loving the flood when I was a child. The scenery was so fascinating, the lake was taking over areas that usually were dry and it was such a joy to walk in wellingtons and try how far you could go before they would slurp water into them. Socks were always wet in spring. With sticks I would carve little rivers to the ground and bring all the little plastic animals to play with them. Years later I observed my girls do the exact same things. Joys of country life… although I do miss the big world at times.

I hope you are not tired of me talking about the same things over and over again (weather, weather and weather) or knitting the same things over and over again (sock, socks and socks).
Small needles and small projects, although my socks have gained length in leg wise, just seem so right at the moment. I have one sweater kit waiting (Hanne Falkenberg Pagode) and I think about casting on for it occasionally, I have read the instructions many times, know the interesting construction well by now, but so far all the skeins have stayed in the project bag.  I have one shawl on the needles that is slowly growing and I feel confident I will finish it someday, but that too is on small needles, 2,5mm.
I finished my yellow/orange socks and decided to call them Keltasirkku (Yellowhammer) because it is the time of the year to lift one’s eyes from the ground up to the tree tops and sky.

These socks were a joy to make, from the first stitch to the last. I love the striping and the structure that the purl stitches bring. The cuff is quick to knit as the stripes are just a few rows high and every now and then you get to do a color work row and it is always a milestone. And there are only a few of them. There is little rest period with stockinette stitch before the heel. The heel flap has few purl rows to add interest. After the heel is done and the gusset decreases finished, there is again quiet peaceful knitting for a bit before the little strip of color work and soon afterwards, the toe decreases begin. There is interest but it is not overwhelming. The structure of the sock is basic top down, my favorite method, but one could turn the pattern around and start from the toe. You could come up with endless color variations. I hope you like these socks as I wrote the pattern for them. The cuff pattern is stretchy, it has shaping built into it, but you can easily adjust the pattern by starting off with fewer stitches or adding a few. The length of the leg and foot are adjustable.
which has lovely colors, but any fingering weight sock yarn will work beautifully. The pattern is written for 5 double pointed needles, but again any method of working in the round will work, I am just so used to knitting with dpn’s that changing that method into a new one has not worked for me.
The most enjoyable part of these socks for me is the ability to play with colors. I could not let this pattern go with just one pair but am making another with a new colorway – and sure enough, it has to be blue.
If you wish to make your own pair of Keltasirkku-socks, you can find the pattern in my Ravelry store, just click the link on the right sidebar.

If you’d like to read a short chapter of yellowhammer, click this link for English and this link for Finnish.

Hope you have a good week,

Wool with you,

PS. Thank you Reneé for your questions about my purl rows in the socks… All for decorative reasons only, I just cannot let the design go without adding something, anything to it. The purl rows flatten in the boot as they are just ordinary purls, not welts that would most likely raise blisters. The reason why I start my cuff with a few rows of purl stitches is the reason that purl rows are a bit wider than just knit rows and that gives little bit extra room and the socks will not be too tight around the calves. For the same reason I almost always shape my cuffs too, I just cannot wear anything tight… I think that the sock needs to be snug but not tight.


  1. Lene, how could we possibly be bored with weather and socks when you write about and photograph both so beautifully?

    Your Yellowhammer socks made me think of a beehive before I read your explanation linking them to the lovely poem.

    Welcome, Spring!

  2. Priscilla in London18:10

    What a beautiful post, Lene, thank you so much. And another beautiful pair of socks, too. It will be interesting to watch the different colour variations appear on Ravelry; I wonder how many people will be inspired by a bird species? Do you feed the birds during the winter months?

  3. Anonymous19:26

    Such pretty socks! I love your addition of purling and color. What kind of heel is that? It looks like it fits so well!

    Personally I love hearing about your part of the world! I live in a place where it's sunny and nice just about every day (California) so hearing about your seasons is wonderful!

  4. Oh those socks are so lovely! And, I enjoyed the link about the Yellowhammer - thank you for sharing. I do enjoy reading/learning abour your world.

  5. Your socks are always beautiful and interesting. I love the play with color. Never a dull moment.

  6. I love your beautiful Yellowhammer socks, almost as much as I love your blog!

  7. Love your play of colors and pattern. Wonderful results.

  8. In the last two weeks we've begun to see the willow trees wearing their faint haze of yellow-green. That's what your socks remind me of. The promise that soon everything will be green and exuberant in the rush to put out leaves and flowers. So beautiful. They will be a special pair to knit and keep for myself, I think.

  9. I never tire of reading about the weather in your part of the world. Let us know when the ice on the lake breaks. The Yellowhammer socks are so lovely. Thank you for sharing and writing.

  10. Jeannie03:49

    Your writing is beautiful, weather you are writing about your animals, the weather, your knitting and other projects. You have a unique voice and I love to read about whatever you feel like writing about!! And those socks are amazing.

  11. I adore your knitting and beautiful story telling.

  12. Such perfectly early-spring socks!

  13. I love them! ♡

  14. Anonymous22:28

    Thanks for your post script, Lene. I was just wondering. Your socks are lovely. Renée from Wisconsin

  15. Lovely socks and beautifully described. The Yellowhammer will be proud of inspiring you. My question is what is that yellow? It looks like Chartreuse but I only sell that at shows and markets. Have you had that since the last Knitnation?

    1. Hi!
      Thank you for the comment, and the band said Narbonne, it is not Chartreuse, it is more yellow than green, it is a long time since I ordered it.

  16. Pat Silver02:19

    I never become tired of your lyrical writing and your descriptions of the beautiful place that you live in. It's like painting in words. Thank you.

  17. I never tire of seeing your socks or getting a weather report. I don't think I am as far North as you are, but we still have ice on the Sea. Earlier this week we had people out on the ice with skis, snow machines and just walking. It is melting fast now. The ice is getting rotten. Soon we will have Spring weather. We have lots of daylight now. And socks? I knit socks a lot! Never tire of sock knitting. Yours are beautiful. Thanks for the pictures from the old magazines. Very interesting.

  18. I came across your blog yesterday quite by accident. I began reading a couple of posts and decided that I had to read more. What a lovely blog you have! Love how you said that you felt like you were in the audience for a Spring Play. What beautiful imagery all of your post is. Your socks are gorgeous. I love the colors and the textures in them. I don't really do colorwork knitting so not sure that I would be up for knitting them but I do so admire them! I am looking forward to reading more of your past posts. P.S. I am terribly excited and envigorated because Fall is in the air here in the midwest. I do not like summer as it gets way too hot! I so look forward to Sept-May!