Well I’ll be Darned

February 25, 2014

Well, that didn’t take long. I was just about to put my new stripey (pre-warmed on the Rayburn – lovely) socks on when I discovered that the heel of one already had a huge hole in it so I had to spend the next half hour or so darning…

darned sock

(If anyone wonders why I can darn socks, it’s because I went to an old-fashioned Scottish boarding school and if you were caught going around in your socks without your slippers on you had to darn any resulting holes. I can’t say it’s been a particularly useful life skill up till I started knitting my own socks and finally had something it was worth the effort of darning. It does mean I religiously wear my slippers in the house though)

I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that 100% wool is not the best yarn for knitting socks – 20% of (gasp) nylon in the mix seems to make them much more hard wearing. The first ever pair of socks I knitted are still, just, going strong after more than three years, although one of them is apparently channelling Edvard Munch.

holey sock

The other hole might just be due to the fact that I’ve worn nothing but wellies for the last two weeks now, and they are a bit hard on socks. Unfortunately, that looks unlikely to change…


Sock it to ’em

January 2, 2012

Thanks to the power of the blog I now know it has taken me only two months to go from this:

to this:

There’s really no other point to this post than to show off my fab new socks, although any real knitters out there will be laughing into their stash bags that there’s someone out there who takes a whole month to knit a single sock, however stripy. And the best part is that there’s at least enough wool for another pair. You never know, I might even get those ones finished by March.

How anyone ever actually clothed themselves by knitting everything, I will never know. I expect that was in the days before twitter…

A Right Pair

September 20, 2010


That didn’t take very long, did it? Although now the other half wants a pair too, and that’s going to take a LOT longer.

I’m off to Manchester tomorrow to be cross-examined by some of the city’s finest legal minds about my book (in their book group, I hasten to add, not in court). As I’m pinned against the wall by their forensic questioning I shall stiffen my sinews by thinking to myself ‘ha, you might have got me there with your discovery of all those gaping holes in my plot but how many socks have YOU knitted?’

(although, come to think of it, there’s a couple of little holes in the socks too, if you look closely. Practice makes perfect…)

Sock it to ’em

September 9, 2010

‘You’re not broody are you?’ the other half asked anxiously when he found me knitting tiny little socks a couple of weeks ago. I was not, as it happened, although knitting tiny little garments would be enough to make anyone broody if they weren’t extremely strong minded about it – it would make the Pope broody. Fortunately, I’m not anyone, and I’m not the Pope either, and I was merely practising knitting socks, which is easier if you make a small one than a large one. As I found after casting on and twisting the join for about the seventieth time.

Knitting socks has always seemed the ultimate in knitting technology to me. I mean you take a single length of wool – a near enough one-dimensional object – and by basically tying a series of complicated knots in it produce something as three-dimensional as a sock. There are no seams in a hand-knit sock, there’s no breaking off the wool and rejoining it, just a single strand and some alchemy. How the hell anyone, back in the whatever ages, looked at a bit of string and some sticks and thought ‘you know what, I could keep my feet warm with that’ I’ll never know.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to invent sock knitting from first principles, I just had to follow my aunt’s fail-safe sock-knitting pattern although as knitting patterns are basically indecipherable to anyone who doesn’t already know what to do, I also had to google various sock-knitting techniques and also call my aunt a couple of times for clarification. I found this page indispensible for getting started (and for knitting a load of tiny mis-shapen socks; if anyone has recently had a baby with unevenly shaped and sized feet, please let me know in the comments) and then this series of videos on the various sock-knitting skills: knitting in the round, turning a heel, picking up the stitches for the instep, shaping the toe, and grafting, all of which were new to me. The hardest part was picking up the stitches on the edge of the heel – known as the gusset – where as far as I can see the video showed the instructor doing something basically impossible with her fingers. This meant I had to keep going back and re-watching it and each time I’d get back to the place where she’d say ‘gusset’ and the other half would snigger and she’d then do something impossible with her fingers and I’d have to rewind until finally the other half broke down and went off to his cave announcing he was going to google videos about gussets and fingers for himself. I really never knew he was that interested in knitting.

Anyway, I managed it. At least I’ve managed one and it fits me like a – well, sock. That self-striping wool is the business and it’s comfortable too, not itchy as I’d feared. In fact the only real flaw to this whole sock-knitting business (apart from the fact that actual ready-knitted socks cost far less than the equivalent wool needed to put one together yourself) is that I’ve still got to knit the other one.

Wardrobe Malfunction

August 10, 2009

I had barely set off on my bike this afternoon when I felt a tweak at my ankle. Which was odd, because I was wearing my cut-off trousers – the ones that, were I not still haunted by various fashion crimes committed in the 80s, I would call pedal pushers – so I knew it wasn’t that they were caught in the chain. Looking down, still rolling, I discovered that some loose elastic in my sock had caught in the pedal, and wound itself round the shaft with every turn. As clipless pedal solutions go, it was ingenious but there was no quick release other than just yanking myself free. As this was my default putting-down-to-stop leg (there may be some more technical term) I was glad I’d noticed then and not, say, twenty minutes later, when I came whizzing round a corner to see a timber lorry blocking the whole width of the road. Of course, by then I’d probably have had no sock and a neatly wound ball of yarn on my pedal so I might have noticed, although nothing’s guaranteed.

Which would have been all the more embarrassing because it was only yesterday that I was glibly leaving comments on other people’s blogs about how unusual it was for adults to fall off bicycles on a good road, and a familiar bike. Hmm. Perhaps I should have amended that to add, with non-disintegrating socks on. It certainly adds a whole new perspective to the old phrase ‘keeping the rubber side down’.