Archive for September, 2008


My obsession with socks….

September 29, 2008

A few years ago, after many many years of very boring black socks, and many pairs of tights, I bought some knee high socks. They are stripy, with black and coloured stripes on every pair.

This purchase of one pair became an avalanche, and I currently own 17 pairs of commercially knitted stripy socks, ranging in colour from bright pink, to red, deep green, to white, to grey, to my 2 pairs of purple stripy socks.

The purple stripy socks are for the days when I need that extra bit of oomph, to give me that inner knowledge, that the world can’t get me when I’m decked out in my purple and black stripes, even if they are hidden beneath my respectable suit.

I will often wear one red one and one green one at Christmas, and my grey ones are perfect for those days when I want to curl up on the sofa, and knit in front of old films.

One of the reasons I wanted to learn to knit was dreaming of making my own socks and so a couple of months ago, mere months into my knitting journey and with the help of Tsuki I cast on for the first time at knitting group. With encouragement of my friends of Sylvia, and Tinks, I cast on for the free pattern I got with my sock yarn. It was a disaster; I didn’t get on with the yarn andย  the combination knitting I, at that point, had been doing, meant my sock cuff twisted like a helterskelter.

Although an interesting effect, Its not what I was going for.

I appealed to the wise ladies of my fortnightly knitting group, and it was soon realised that I was always knitting through the back loop of the stitch not the front. In my defense, I am, for the most part, a self taught knitter. It was easy enough to relearn when it was explained to me and after a while I managed to produce half a sock in beautiful purplely trekking XXL…But then (insert favourite horror film sound here) I had to turn the heel.

I put the sock down, and regarded it out of the corner of my eye for well over a week, certain in my belief that I could not do this complicated turning of the heel. From my internet research I had come across so many people terrified of this that it had become, to my mind, a horrible tramatising experience, but with gentle encouragement and Tinks walking me through the pattern instructions I turned that heel, and then I finished the sock in record time!

I made the second sock, and they were a bit lumpy and not perfect, but i tried them on, and they were too big!

I was down about it for a while, but I decided they could be bedsocks and that I wasn’t going to be defeated on the first attempt!

I started another pair of socks as soon as I could get my hands on more sock yarn and carefully manipulated the pattern so I could work out how I needed to completly alter it so I could make it do what I needed from it.

This was new and scary territory to me. After many years of an undiagonosed anxiety disorder, which reached a nasty peak not long before I took up knitting, the thought of doing something than blindly following the directions terrified me, but I was obsessed. I was determined to make this work, and so, I cast on again and worked out what I wanted from a sock.

I shortened the cuff, and the foot, and knit away happily in some varigated pink vinca yarn, and finished my first sock. I cast on the first sock and cast it off, and it seemed to be working. I started on the second one and then went away for a week. Unfortunatly I made the mistake of working on the sock after a 7 and a half hour long train journey. Due to my somewhat spaced out state I did too many decreases at the gusset, and although it still fit, it looked completly different to its partner. The second and very odvious issue is that halfway through the knitting, I came to the end of the varigation and a new one had been fixed on. I jumped straight from palest pink to deepest pink in the space of a round and it resulted in a really ugly line right across my sock.

I present Exhibit A – the first sock of my experimental pair. It graduates nicely, and looks rather pretty.

Exhibit B – the second sock of the pair. Note the ugly shape, the odvious line of double decreases and the line of colour change.

I also realised when making the second sock that I really don’t like the toe of the sock at all…I don’t know if its the shape of my toes in the sock but it just seemed wrong.

So, I’ve gone back to my sock pattern again and cast on for another pair of socks, in some lovely rainbow coloured Trekking XXL, and worked the cuff, heel and foot.

While working on it I searched for a different toe to try, and I’ve found one!

Its called a star toe and it is so beautiful.

A mixture of purls and knits and p2togethers made a lovely collection of triangles on the toe and it gathers at the point. It makes a lovely rounded toe and is very comfortable and I am completly and utterly smitten with it.

So, where to go from here? Well I will finish the second rainbow sock and then its SOCKTOBERFEST! I am going to make Black Dog Designs Picot Eyelet Socks in the lovely yarn I got recently from Yarn D’Amour – the newly online handdyed yarn company run by my friend Tinks Mum – I was there first online order!You’ve got to love a yarn company that packages its yarn in packaging which I swear is the exact colour of the old foil wrappers on Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. The colourway is called Hedgerow and its so beautiful. Its sock weight, 100% wool Blue faced Leiscester yarn and its the only truely expensive yarn I’ve ever bought.

After these? I have a yearning to make the Very Tall Socks from Knitty, in shades of purple to be my purplestockings..shall have to start gathering together purple yarn ๐Ÿ™‚


Some FO’s and Birthday Presents

September 24, 2008

I turned 28 a couple of weeks ago and I wanted to show you some of the pretty things I got for my birthday.

I spent it in Cornwall and my parents got me the tickets to go for my birthday.

S, who I was staying with, gave me theseย  lovely books:

The Lady’s Realm was a womans magazine at the turn of the 20th Century, and this is a selection of reprints from 1904 and 1905. Its full of wonderful articles on suitable professions for women, theatre reviews, paris and london fashions and a wonderful satirical series on “The problems with men”. Its greatly amusing and some of its articles are very interesting. Theres one on the Russian Grand Dukes, another on enamel work, another on preraphealites,and I adore the rose design on the cover.

She also got me this book on Corsetry, It has photos of original patterns and scale drawings of them so you can scale them up and then fit them to yourself accordingly.

I love the idea of making dolls and S knows it so she gave me this book. As soon as I can make a sewing machine do what I need I will be sewing away making dolls. This old book has a wonderful selection of wooden and ceramic dolls to make as well.

M, my partner, did very well in the brownie points by getting me Jane Sowerby’s Victorian Lace Today as well as very posh chocolates and a caddy of Rose Petal Tea from Betty’s Tea Rooms. I’ve been in love with this book since I saw a friends copy.

I also have a couple of finished objects to show off.

I got six skeins of this old Sirdar yarn on ebay for next to nothing and although it is a dreaded novelty yarn I love the colour. Its pinky purple with a black wrapped thread which then seems to have been sewn to a black and white cord.

I heavily adapted and altered two hat patterns to make myself a snood – my hair gets on my nerves a lot of the time especially on days when its being fluffy and fly away and so I decided snoods and hairpins were coming back into use! Its basically a small tam sort of thing and sits on the back of my head.

I also made some fingerless gloves that match. I seem obsessed with them at the moment!

I have several projects on the go at the moment and I am feeling that I should do myself a list and keep to those for the time being, so no new projects until I finish those ones….I’ll think on that and post about it at a later date.



Under Cornish Skies

September 22, 2008

Oops, I forgot to post for quite a while. I kept thinking about it and getting distracted.

Well, I’m home from Cornwall having had a well deserved and much needed visit with my lovely friend S.

Although the weather has been decidedly British this last week its been great to spend time with a fellow textile enthusiast, looking at books and old magazines for inspiration, discussing our relative levels of aptitude at undertaking various textile arts and my attempting to practice them and just generally having fun with another creative person.

We’ve had a lovely tea party on Sunday, with a theme of bluestockings, with various lovely nibbles, and suitable outfits. We had a rose themed one several months back and it was great fun.

S’s mum, (also S) is an amazing cook and makes a cheesecake which is astounding and has redendered me speechless both times I have tried it.

I dressed as a slightly steampunky bluestocking, with a long skirt, a blouse the colour of tea stained muslin fastened at the neck with a brooch, and my favourite pinstripe waistcoat, and a bowler hat perched atop of my head. I think I have found my “steampunk” look. Very Girl Genuis/Spark, with just a touch of the bohemian. Modern enough to get away with most days…well, maybe without the bowler hat…Or at least, I shall get one that fits ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ll share a photo when I have one ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve been sewing, making this rather fabulous pair of bloomers. I will, of course, be making them in a more suitable colour for going with outfits but when S showed me the purple and white stripy cotton lawn I just had too! And of course, there is lace to be added. With having lace you can go with the traditional white or cream, or…well, I thought, seeing as I already have purple and white striped bloomers then suitable lace is odviously going to be bright pink cotton lace. They are possibly the loudest pair of bloomers in the world, but you know what? I don’t care! Its about time I wore something other than black!

We’ve been making a red and white polkadot corset to a pattern I had…we were just making it as a mock up to see what alterations I need to do to the commercial pattern but the fabric is lovely so we are attempting to make it into a finished one. All of this sewing is practice for making my Victoriana ensemble.

I got these two fabulous quilting cottons in Truro to use for corsets as well. One is my purplestocking corset, with beautiful journals, diaries, ink pots and pens, opera glasses and dance cards. The other is of steamer tickets, carpet bags and general steampunky travelling type things.

Its been a lovely trip away, and also involved my birthday. I have reached the grand old age of 28…I can’t believe its ten years since I was at art college!

I did learn on the trip down that lace knitting is not a good idea for on a train, or in a house where there is a beautiful kitty that likes to be fussed lots. Her name is Jellybean, and no one has told her she isn’t Queen of the World ๐Ÿ™‚

I have learnt that when my anxiety is bad small projects are better than shawls.

I have learnt that crocheted lace that is being produced before your eyes using the smallest hook you’ve ever seen is astounded, especially when I have issues crocheting a chain.

I have learnt that my problems sewing are more to do with my sewing machine than myself and that I need an old machine with a good stitch selection and metal gears. S has been a kind and patient teacher while I was visiting and I feel a lot more confident now and have even been working out how to make something sans a pattern!

I’ve been practicing my knitting in the round attempting some long fingerless gloves using some lovely Mulberry coloured yarn I found while me and Sue were scouring the charity shops. I knitted and knitted while listening to podcasts on my train journey home and the gloves are finished ๐Ÿ™‚

Cornwall is stunning and I miss it already!


Am alive

September 18, 2008

Oh dear, between chest infections and going away I’ve been neglecting purplestocking, haven’t I?

I shall remedy this in the next few days, with lots of photo filled posts.

Now…where did I put the camera?!