Sunday, 10 January 2010

Sock knitting in the snow

We are living in such a strange and muffled world at the moment that for two days running I have not been awake before eight o'clock in the morning: our little lane is pretty quiet at the best of times, but we do get the occasional car early in the morning, and can sometimes hear the trains in the distance - and birds singing or the wind in the trees, or the distant bark of a fox.

But not only has the snow slowed us all down, but it seems to wrap the sounds of the natural world in a thick white blanket, too.

And so polar is the temperature in the scullery that the dogs are allowed to sleep in the kitchen, and suddenly we are no longer woken by the Black Dog's piercingly insistent bark at some horribly early hour.

Yet it can't be the cold that wakes her because she barks in just the same way in the summer, except an hour earlier. Yes, so clever are Scotties that they take pity on humans after the clocks change in the autumn. Perhaps she just prefers having the run of the house at night.

Much as I have determined that this blog should be a happy place, I do write with a virtual tear in my eye this morning, having sent off the Ploughboy and the Head Chef in the Landy to battle their way out of the arctic wastes of the sunny south-east. The Ploughboy is inordinately keen to find his way back to the halls of academe, in spite of my diagnosis of associated malnutrition, unhealthy hours and alcoholic excess as the cause of his head cold, and he has set off, tractor calendar packed, with the briefest of backward glances at his naughty dog, who is now curled up under my desk, possibly overcome with grief.

And so I walked the hounds alone this morning, wading through the snow at a much slower pace without my not-so-little friend striding out alongside me and keeping me up to the mark, whilst discussing things agricultural.

But we have had a lot of fun together in the holidays: as you will see from the photo we have been exploring the furthest reaches of the orchard in a rather intrepid way. No wonder the dog looks mystified. What matter is a blizzard when you are wearing two pairs of socks and a pair of tights inside your wellies? Not to mention the reject hat knitted at great expenditure of time and effort by a certain person which then became an object of derision amongst potential recipients. I have found it very useful recently and have worn it in a very meaningful way. So vindicated do I now feel, that I think I might knit myself one that actually fits rather than one sized for a large-headed yeti.

And who needs the expense of a skiing holiday when you can slide down a snowy hill on a plastic sack?

It has been quite wonderful to see teenagers retrieving a childhood joie-de-vivre - and getting the chance to play in the snow, which has happened all too rarely in their mild-wintered childhoods.

Well, you might have guessed I was not directly involved in this, being too much of a bag of bones liable to fall apart at the slightest nudge, but the Head Chef has derived much satisfaction from the fact that he bought Princess Bunchy a plastic toboggan for Christmas, which could have been a little disappointing as there seemed little chance of snow so close to southern coastal climes. He, also, is now feeling very vindicated by the fact that these items are apparently changing hands on Ebay for five times the price he paid. (How will the people buying them get them delivered before the snow disappears?)

I, however, have been possessed by a sort of sock mania, probably engendered by the reappearance of my childhood chilblain.

I had to explain to Princess Bunchy what a chilblain is, and in consequence subject her to a disquisition on the miseries of education in the sixties and seventies when schools did not entertain namby-pamby ideas of keeping children warm, happy and comfortable whilst attempting to drill an education into their little skulls, often in an atmosphere of fear and awe.

My chilblain itches frantically at the memory of those concrete and bare wood floors, the credibility gap between the top of your socks and the bottom of your skirt, and the lukewarm radiators which were only capable of faintly warming the hands of the more physically assertive members of the class who would always bag the not-so-hot seats next to them.

So my current penchant for knitting socks probably has its source deep in my damaged psyche. And such is the mania that I have completed two pairs and am on to a third, all since the turn of the year. Although I have to admit that the completed pairs were both knitted in aran-weight wool, which knits up pleasingly quickly, possibly fuelling my mania further.  (And I do hope you appreciate the contortions I underwent in order to bring you photos of these socks in situ.)

I also have the most wonderful book, suitable for the sock novice, by Ann Budd called Getting Started Knitting Socks. This has easy-to-follow instructions for simple socks in a range of sizes and yarn weights, as well as some interesting variations for the more advanced knitter. The photographs are hugely informative, and it is made really clear how the patterns are working, so that you can go on to produce socks using any sort of yarn and needle size that you care to choose.

The lilac socks were knitted in Rowan Yarns Classic Cashsoft Aran on 4.5mm needles, in the adult small size pattern for worsted yarn (5sts per in tension) - these are plenty big enough for my size 5 feet (and fat ankles), using two balls of lilac, and a part ball of blue for trim (each ball is 87m/95 yards). I bought three of each colour in a sale, and so will therefore have enough yarn for the opposite colourway.

The grey socks were knitted in Rico Design Creative Poems Aran on 5mm needles, to the same pattern - these used only two 50g/100m balls - I had also bought three balls of this in the sale, so will probably make some handwarmers with the last ball.

And because the Head Chef and Princess Bunchy very kindly gave me one of Hen's beautiful notebooks for Christmas, one of my New Year's resolutions is to keep a knitting record book, so that I can make a note of details such as needle size, stitches cast on, yarn used, etc, when I experiment with my knitting. And then I can share them with you.

The third pair in process is in Colinette Jitterbug on 2.5mm needles, and very many more stitches - so I think these little cosy toes will be a little longer in the making. And they are a bit more squinty to knit in the evenings, but the colour is most vividly wonderful - possibly quite manic.

So if you are feeling chilly, knit yourself a pair of socks to warm the cockles of your heart, and if you want to get really overheated find a hill and toboggan down it. I think I will stick to the socks - and remember, the more pairs you knit, the more pairs you can wear at once.


Floss said...

I have chilblains too! My MIL declared chilblains 'a thing of the past' when we were watching the Victorian Farm Christmas, but I had to disabuse her of this comfortable idea. However, my mum used to get them on her HANDS at school, and that has got to be worse, both in terms of suffering and childcare. Your socks look fantastic.

It's good to hear your news, and to find out how the snow is for you. Ours only arrived yesterday and looks to be melting now, but I have to admit that I have an very important lesson tomorrow and will be delighted to get there without snow chains!

Karen L R said...

Thank you for a very fun post, Pomona! I've enjoyed reading about the snow on many a UK blog! Quite the unusual winter you are having. And being a new sock knitter myself, I am much impressed with your three pair. We had all four kids with us for Christmastime. The two eldest are back at work, Gretta went back to college last week and Miss Hannah goes off to the airport this will be VERY QUIET around here again....

marigold jam said...

Lovely post Pomona. I was taken back even further to school in the 50s and I well remember trying to drink our daily bottle of milk which was frozen in the bottle, huddling round the Tortoise stove - no central heating even of the lukewarm variety then - and of having to stope work every now and then and do some exercises to get the blood circulating. Chilblains too I remember but luckuily I haven't had any recently. Love the socks and might take to knitting a pair to wear with my walking boots which are being well used this week!

Take care and keep warm.


Frances said...

Your snow and family reporting is fabulous. Oh, very good dog reports, too.

All those pictures really do show the quiet all around you.

I used that very same book to figure out how to knit my first pair of socks. After looking at lots of books, Ms Budd's book just seemed to have the most information and to be very well organized. You are inspiring me to start up the second pair of sock. First pair were sent as a Christmas gift and got good reviews.

Best wishes. xo

Rosa-Munda said...

We've been enjoying the peace that the snow brings too. Evenings by the log fire, talking to each other!, unhurried and wholesome meals. Its been lovely to rediscover all those activities.
Great socks too - I've just ordered the book and thought I'd have a go at making a pair. I made my daughter some crochet wrist warmers from Debbie Bliss wool and had a lot of fun with these.
Keep warm! Ros

dottycookie said...

What a lovely evocative post! I remember having chilblains as a child too, and was very worried the oyther day as I came in with freezing hands that then started to burn as they warmed up sign of a reappearance yet, thank goodness!

elizabethm said...

Well I have never knitted a sock in my life but I am feeling stranglely tempted. Can you really do it as a total novice? Our house is very empty too now the adult children and the dog and the baby have all gone home. I can't decide if I like it or not! Last night it was wonderful to be just us by the fire but today I am not looking forward to a week shut up here in the snow. Socks may well be the answer!

Anonymous said...

Lovely post, brings back so many memories. We spent many, many hours on plastic feed sacks sliding down hills, one of my regrets this snowy winter is not taking the boys sledging.

I went to the smallest primary school (only 20 kids) and we used to wear plastic bags on our feet under our socks to keep our feet dry and then get hot chocolate after lunch break to warm us up and were allowed to put our socks on the radiator to dry.

As I was reading, the miserable slush that's been coming down all day was having a proper snow moment over here in West Malling, hope this is also the case your way.

(oh, thanks for the comment on the mouse/cat/bear, you are definitely right)

Hen said...

Hello and Happy New Year to you! You've got me really hankering after knitting socks now, obviously being able to knit would be an advantage so I am looking jealously at yours instead! Also at those Clover "safety pins", yes, I have long hankered after some of those. I am instead starting on a crochet cushion with squares which are well, not very square basically! Your snowy scenes look just lovely and a big big pat on the back for the Head Chef who obviously aced the Christmas shopping this year!
Hen xxx

Lululiz said...

Aaahh, hand knitted socks, they are just about the cosiest thing you can get. My constantly cold feet LOVE knitted socks, sadly my knitting skills are not up to that challenge. Perhaps I need to invest in the book you recommended. There are such incredible sock yarns around at the moment, in such fab and funky colours, makes it very tempting indeed........

Rubyred said...

Hello Pomona,
thank you for popping by,I'm really feeling part of a 'Challenge' group now, it's lovely!
Love your knitted socks, they look so cozy!
I bought some last summer at a craft fair and I love them!
I've never knitted on more than 2 needles though!
Rachel x

silverpebble said...

Now I have never knitted a sock (nor thankfully had a chilblain). As a an almost total beginner would you recommend this book? I have a socky urge, as do several of your commenters I see!

As for the hat, I like the idea of wearing it in a meaningful way. Does this mean that it planted interesting hat thoughts in your head? I am intrigued.

MarmaladeRose said...

Hi Pomona
I tried to start knitting socks a couple of months ago but it didn't happen. Still on the kneedles though. It'll happen one day. Might have to invest in the book you mentioned.
Glad you hear you craft a little each day, I will add you to my list so everyone can check in and encourage you.

Fi x

willow said...

Hello Pomona,
I had a chilblain a couple of weeks ago though only one, as a child I seemed to get one on each toe! Hand knitted socks certainly help.
We pushed our car out yesterday to take our eldest back to University so we are down to three at home rather than four - I'm not finding it as bad as last term but it still takes a bit of getting used to.

bekimarie said...

One of the main reasons for me wanting to learn to knit is so I can knit socks (maybe in time for next winter now). Yours look lovely, very warm and toasty!
Well done to the head chef for such a wonderful Christmas present!

Take care
Beki xxx

ParisMaddy said...

Greetings Pomona of the Pretty Page. Love all of your socks but the Lilac ones spoke to me. Did you hear them? Yes, it's true, they want to go on a trip to live with me.

The snow sac definitely brought back memories only we used discarded appliance boxes, the ones they packed stoves and refrigerators in, from our local store. Who said necessity is the mother of invention.

Your photos and socks took me on a wonderful journey. Thanks for sharing.

P.S. How about some knitted booties for those dog paws?

Serenata said...

Wonderful, wonderful socks Pomona! I look forward to your posts - they are always such a good read. I remember those lukewarm radiators as well and the inability to get near them due to being a wee lass! None of the namby pamby nonsense then that was for sure.

Must admit sledging is not something we've tried yet - I'd probably end up hurting myself LOL

Michela said...

Hello Pomona! Thank you for letting us always enter into your cosy comfort cottage! xxx

Tabiboo said...

All those lovely socks and they do look so warm and comfy - speaking as a person that suffers with very cold feet that is, not chilblains.

All our snow has almost gone, despite the servere weather warnings this weekend, though what is left is pure ice so that's going to be fun on the school run!

have a fabulous week,

Nina xx

Cottage Garden said...

Your description of a chilly school room brought back memories of my primary school in the 1960s where the heating was virtually non-existent in our Victorian school. How times have changed!
Your socks look wonderful and cosy though and I love the photos of your snowy landscape and garden.

Have a good weekend. Jeanne x

pebbledash said...

Lovely warming post, and toasty socks. Where do you buy your rico yarn from? Aah, the joys of sock knitting, Love it!

Kate said...

I don't have chilblains but I do have extremely dry skin and that's not very attractive. Am I about the only person who can't knit? I am definitely going to learn so I can get sock knitting too.

My husband's just gone off on business to the Far East where it's 30 deg!! Am I bitter? Probably!

Kate x

Flower Girl said...

What cosy looking socks - perfect for keeping chilblains at bay! Rebecca x

Anonymous said...

wow, really impressed with the sock production line! keep warm, kate xx said...

I laughed out loud as I read your blog, our woollen sacks laughingly callled uniforms used to smell when wet (everyday in winter) and the kids by the radiators were obscured by steam given off by there barely drying uniforms while the rest of us unfortunates froze in our seats. Have taken note of the book for socks will give ago in anticipation of our winter 20110. Barbara

periwinkle said...

I said it last year and I'm saying it again this year -- I will make some socks , I will !!

...Miss...Maddie's... said...

There is much fun to be had on a snowy hill with a proper sleigh...
Love the socks, I'll have to check out that book you mentioned for I am set this new year that I shall knit, sew, bake and cook most everything I can, (to avoid shopping for) in this beginning to a new decade.
Susan x

jordiegirl said...

What a great post this is and your socks are fantastic - well done. It's years since I've knit anything at all and also since I went sledging!!!

We have a yellow plastic sledge in our shed which has only had an outing about 3 times in the past 10 years as we never get as much snow as we have had this year, or if we do it lasts one day then it's gone.

Unlike my childhood which was spent in Northumberland and we had snow just about every year and could go sledging down the pit heaps!!!

Thanks for sharing.

David said...

Hi, found your blog via someone who follows yours commenting on mine. I am not upto speed with all this but have a list of blogs I like on my blog and hope you don't mind but I have added you. Nice blog.

Jennifer said...

I love your socks, I am completely jealous of anyone who has hand knitted socks. I attempted knitting on double point needles before and I had the hardest time, so I have been scared off of doing socks. I do love wearing homemade items though and the thought of all that love on my toes sounds so enticing.

Sarah said...

Very nice socks! I love the greenish multi coloured ones best - rather jolly looking for a cold day. There is so much snow it seems to be everywhere, every blog seems to have snow piccies. Well all except mine and others on this side of the world I guess. I'm glad we won't have to worry about your feet!

sarah said...

sigh...a wonderful post, it all just looks so beautiful, I'd love to come for a snowy walk down your lane

oh and the socks look fab!


jennyflower said...

I am loving the Jitterbug! I am not an advanced enough knitter for four needles I had a little go a while back ad found I was always holding one needle in my mouth!! Your socks do look super cosy and as an itchy footer I can see the appeal of something arran weight!

Chrissie said...

I know that sartorial style - post apocalypse kind that has to be employed by us country-bumpkins! And oh I do remember chilblains - I think we had to warm up some green gunk (was it called Wintergreen ointment?)in front of the fire to rub on them.

Pipany said...

Now I would feel inadequate but I choose to feel inspired instead! Well done Pomona for making me want to get a shifty on with my own sock knitting. of course, Ineed to finish my tank top first! xx

Menopausal musing said...

I too have suffered from chilblains all my life: Picture the scene, my family on Kings Cross Railway Station in the November of that terrible winter in the 60's. We were just back from Aden and heading on the overnight train to Aberdeen...... Brrrrrrrrrrrr....... fastforward to about the first week in January and we left Aberdeen to travel to near Aviemore to stay with the other grandmother........ double brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Loved the comment about knitting my son some socks: unfortunately a couple of weeks ago I sent the other half into the loft to retrieve black sacks of yarn stashed there years ago and found, upon unravelling that anything pure wool had had serious damage done by moths......... Acrylic crocheted granny blanket it is then!

Poshyarns said...

I love the idea of you wearing your hat in a "meaningful way". Mmmm to all those lovely socks, handknitted socks are the very thing at this time of year. I cast on a new pair myself last night.

mar said...

Hi Podoma!
I understand English.
thank you.


Diane said...

What a lovely lovely post. I'm sure we will be compensated by a long hot summer!!! Thanks for your comment regarding the neck war,er. I cannot remember exactly what wool I used - I think it was a Rowan chunky one from John Lewis (last year). I'm afraid I am someone who starts something, then something else before finishing a project!!! I started this last year and put it down, which is daft really as they only take 1 night to knit!!! I use chunky wool and big needles and cast on about 25 stitches then just knit until you have used 1 ball of wool. xxx

Yvonne said...

Hi Pomona... Hope you are not feeling so sad about Ploughboys disappearance back into his 'other' life? Josh turned 21 today and I am very sad not to have seen him to celebrate in style. I am coming to terms with the fact that he is building his own life away from here... sob...
The socks look scrummy. I had a stand at a fair before Christmas and a lady on another stall was knitting a pair of socks... what amazed me was that as she knitted a fair isle pattern emerged, but she was not knitting fair isle... apparently the wool was dyed in such a way that as you knit the pattern is formed.. have you come across this? It was impressive. If you start now, all your family and friends could have socks for christmas next year!!!!
thanks for your kind wishes
yvonne xxxx

David said...

The third pair of socks are a wonderful colour. I showed them to Ed who is knitting me another hat. He was quite jealous of your skills!

Lola Nova said...

Oh my goodness, look at all these lovely comments! I loved your wintery photos, looks like a good time out there.
I adore your socks! How amazing to knit ones own socks. I have heard that you can crochet socks as well but, I am feeling a bit of trepidation in trying. Perhaps I should start with some booties :)

Keep warm and well.

dottie angel said...

only the other day was i explaining chilblains to one of my clan, re-living the horrors of the classroom and if indeed one got close enough to a radiator it would only bring more misery to the toes later that day...
they once put me on 'a tablet a day' to help with my circulation as a teenager. it promtly put me into menopause hell, hot flushes every hour and still the misery of chilblains. ah what memories :)

lovely to see the blanket of white in your back yard and beyond... and i am of course having to deal with sock lusting issues now. i know i will never make a pair of socks, it's just not in me... i once made a mitten but it never had a friend, thus it was kind of 'useless'
happiest of happy new years to you my dear
Tif x said...

Hello Pomona! thanks for visiting me again! I don't think there is any better way of travelling down a hill in the snow other than on a plastic sack! I really wish I could knit a pair of socks, but to be fair I have not tried as of yet! Pomona, I hope you don't mind but I have tagged you over at my blog! suzie. xxx

MarmaladeRose said...

Well done with your 20 minutes today. Forgive me if I don't check in with you every day as I now have 19 bloggers joining in. If I check everyone every day I won't be able to find time for my 20 minutes. Lol.

Keep posting your work though.

Love Fi x

Cathy said...

I had to laugh at your post Pomona because talk of chilblains took me back to my childhood too. I was one of the chilblain free pupils and I could never quite work out what they actually were. It sounded like some mysterious disease which divided the school down the middle. You either had chilblains or you didn't.

Lovely snowy photos and love those socks.

Barbara said...

The socks look so warm and cosy.

Your farm looks fabulous in the snow. Yes it is amazing how the snow muffles sound so much.

Personally I will now be glad to see the back of the snow after so long but looks like we are having more tonight and tomorrow.

Stay warm and snug.

Jackie said...

I never did see a chillblain despite being threatened. That word brought back a real icy childhood winter feel..wet socks drying by the stove and numb fingers.
We were also discouraged from sitting on anything that didn't conform to body temperature, be it a cold stone step in the summer or a warm stove or radiator in the winter. It would give you piles

Pink Feather Paradise said...

Lovely post, and i wish we had a little more snow, but I think its starting to go now... Our part of Somerset seems to have missed tonights blizzards... loving your socks I think I might have to dig out my sock crochet pattern and get my toes all cosy too!

x Alex

AeFondKis said...

Hi Pomona, I am in awe of you! You can knit Socks!!!! Love the red and green mix! Groovy!
Linda x

pinkfairygran said...

Are the socks in Ann Budds book on two or four needles? I can't use four, lose patience, but have knitted them with two needles. Trouble is, I only have one pattern and am bored with it.
Oh and a cure for chilblains, don't know if anyone has mentioned it.... your own wee! If you are a fan of FRIENDS, you might have seen the episode where Monica got stung by a jelly fish and the two boys, Chandler and Joey, peed on it. Gross as it sounds, it does work.. though I don't really want to know why!

Julia said...

That was a lovely post to read, and your socks are fabulous!

Keep warm
Love Julia x x x

Florence and Mary said...

Knitting socks seems so complicated with all those strange needles!!

Victoria xxx

sarah-jane down the lane said...

there are so many strings to your bow! Not just a lovely writer but a champion sock knitter too! Brilliant.

Sorry you were alone on your walk this morning, me too I'm afraid. Mr.Lane has caught an evil cough and has finally succumbed to the Doctor after weeks of suffering. (Where he was berated by said Doctorfo suffering!)

I am living in la la land of my seventies childhood as you know and loving your bedroom desription!

Sarah x

noelle said...

Lovely post, pomona! I love your socks, may have a go sometime at the moment i am making lots of bunnies x x x

cathleen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.


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