Sloe socks

Currently on my knitting needles I have:

Mansweater: 90% finished (after 3 ripping-out sessions, one unsuccessful placket steek and several Bad Knitting Math errors)
Massive own-design UK Sheep celebratory garment: 45% finished, currently languishing on sofa awaiting for me to complete mansweater and pick it back up again
Colourwork Beret: 100% finished, however adjustments and corrections are required for 100% own-design pattern satisfaction
Ulmus: 20% done, needs one afternoon of nurturing love to get back on track

I like that I have three of my own designs on the needles plus one lace project, and I am enjoying knitting them all immensely. However, I decided about a week ago – after darning my most beloved Lorna’s Laces Jaywalkers for the 5th time – that new socks were necessary, and new FAST socks, at that.

I’ve had some purple yarn in the stash for some time now and at the Bluestockings Wool Windoff earlier this year, I spotted a lovely ball of miscellaneous purple/green laceweight mohair type stuff which I thought would perfectly compliment the shades in the sock yarn. Ever since I read about this yarn and its reinforcing thread on The Knit Nurse Chronicles, I wanted to knit a pair of socks in sockweight wool with a very thin strand of something else as an experiment in strengthening up the sock overall. I love my Jaywalkers so much, and I like the way they are accumulating darned patches. However I am also becoming aware of the extremely tough life that they get and I am keen to learn ways of lengthening the life of *all* my future socks. So I have just finished a pair of socks knit mostly with Opal sock wool purchased long ago (in the time before I became obsessed with UK sheep and UK yarns) and a miscellaneous skein of purplish laceweight that I believe was originally Ellen’s. Here are the socks.

Discerning viewers will spot that one sock appears to turn pale green halfway down the foot. This is because the miscellaneous purple laceweight ran out and – not wanting to change gauge or lose the strengthening qualities of that extra thread – I substituted with a third-of-a-ball of kidsilk haze that I had lying around which I believe I acquired in the same swap, from Ellen.

I have noticed two things about this substitution. Firstly, the sock with the kidsilk haze in it is definitely softer and fuzzier than the one without, and secondly, the purple shade in the Opal sock yarn behaves very differently when placed beside a pale, sea green. Whereas the deep purple hues in the first laceweight drew out and emphasised the purple nature of the Opal sock yarn, the pale sea greens in the kidsilk haze cause the purple tones in the Opal yarn to appear more like a periwinkle blue and less like a lavender.

I have to confess that my fascination for these colour effects has totally overshadowed any disappointment I might have felt about the non-matching quality of the socks, and the whole palette of the yarns involved reminded me somewhat of sloes and the way that they are at once purple, blue and whiteish or green. I also think that the halo-like effect of the kidsilk haze is similar to the effect of the bloom that covers the surface of sloes. This experiment in substitution and colour mixing has made me curious about the effects of pairing perhaps an even finer pale yarn with a deeper base colour for a more precise representation of sloes in knitting.

I like thinking about colour, and it was interesting to read this post today from The Yarn Yard, for insights as to how one might dye with colours in mind. I am currently obsessed with how one might knit with colours in mind, but they all relate.

I am not normally a purple person, but I have been enjoying wearing my tweed top immensely, and it has inspired me again with shades that remind me of berries, plums, and all things purplish and pink. This is a great surprise to me, but I am embracing it for now. It might be the influence of the sloe gin in the cupboards, or an addictive need for bright colours in the wake of all this Autumn grey, but I’m very happy indeed with my mismatched socks, and eager to see how strong they are!

I also very much enjoyed knitting from Nancy Bush’s Knitting on the Road book. It is a wonderful book, with clear instructions, fantastic charts and brilliant background information on all the socks inside it. I think that she does a good job of pairing specific places, yarns and design-ideas together in the populist format of a book of sock patterns. I very much enjoy her sock books and the ideas of place and knitting that run throughout Knitting on the Road. I also liked that this pattern was extremely easy to memorise and that I could knit it without referring to the chart at all after 2 repeats.

Project Specs:

Ravelled: here
The pattern is Whitby, and it comes from Nancy Bush’s book, Knitting on the Road
Needles: 2.75mm
Yarn: Opal sock yarn + a small quantity of kidsilk haze and an unknown, hazy, purplish yarn from Ellen (thanks!)

2 Responses to Sloe socks

  1. colleen says:

    Really interested in your not being a purple person and how the seasonal berries have influenced you. I didn’t see myself as a purple person either, but this year I have found my self drawn to purpleness. In fact, I’ve got some purple dyeing on the to do list.

    Lovely socks, sloe-bloom-haze and all.

  2. Ellen says:

    yay! I’m so glad that worked for you, I’d had it for waaaaay too long.

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