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The organizers of Sock Summit , (a huge,as in thousands of sock knitters, teachers and vendors gathered to talk, learn, vend, dye, spin,knit and generally show off hand knit socks) recently announced that as part of the event they are launching a sock museum, that luckily for those of us who aren’t going to the summit, will also exist in the cyberworld. Volunteers have been asked to knit and donate historically accurate socks for a visual history.
Now you may recall that though I declared 2008 to be the year of the sock in which I was going to knit a new pair each month of the year, I found I just couldn’t get as excited about knitting socks as many others do. Nevertheless, the sock museum project reminded me of one of the first pieces of historical knitting I ever saw that got me really excited. It was a blue and white knit medieval Muslim sock pictured on one of the back pages of Piecework Magazine. It inspired me to knit my own stranded sock with similar patterning only to find that though my choice of crochet cotton (just about the only yarn I had available to knit with then) was a fairly authentic choice since the original socks were cotton, you really have to be an experience knitter to make stranded cotton socks work. They did not stretch at all and thus could not be pulled over the heal to be actually worn.
This reminiscing led me to a quick google search which resulted in finding Dar Anahita’s wonderful site with historical information and reproductions of several Medieval Muslim socks in the collection of the Textile Museum in Washington D.C.
I’m definitely adding a pair of these socks to my knitting queue. But don’t hold your breath, it’s a pretty long queue.
This is the swatch I knit at Franklin Habit’s lace knitting class at the Knitting Nest. His 3 hour workshop promised to go over the fundamentals of lace knitting, lace knitting history plus tips and tricks and while I was skeptical that all this could be accomplished in 3 hours it was and it was wonderful. And he was even kind enough to show repeat his demonstration of how to make a nupp (kind of like a little bobble in lace knitting) close up for me, since I was sitting kind of far back when he showed us the first time. They are all the rage these day’s especially after Nancy Bush’s Knitted Lace of Estonia book came out but more on that another time.
The swatch is a lace pattern designed by Franklin to introduce all the basics of lace knitting. Mine has a couple of mistakes but I didn’t feel a need to correct them for the swatch. I really like the pattern and probably will knit it up as a scarf eventually but agree with another woman in the class who suggested going up a couple of needle sizes for a lacier look.
I didn’t have my photographer with me so did not take any pictures, but here is a linkto the picture I would have taken (scroll down for a picture of the class- no I’m not in it). I was feeling pretty pleased with myself for managing listening, following a chart pattern while knitting, nursing and some basic note taking all at the same time until Franklin started his lecture on Orenburg laces by telling us emphatically that the incredible Orenburg lace shawls were not knit by women with nothing else to do, they arose out of the need for these women to support themselves while caring for the farm, the children etc, while their husbands were away at war. Well so much for that excuse for not getting much lace knitting done these days.
Speaking of lace knitting:
The lace top I knit for elann.com (before baby was born) is up on their webpage! I was a bit disappointed with my workmanship on this one but they photographed the top beautifully, it looks so nice on the model. The pattern is #11 from Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2007, knit in Canapone: a lovely fingering weight hemp yarn with drape not unlike linen. It softens up with time and washing. I personally think I would have preferred a slightly heavier weight yarn for this project to get a little more stitch definition.
Knowing how excited I get about any excuse to knit, and that I am currently cloth diapering one would think that I have already knit an entire wardrobe of wool soakers. I haven’t. In truth, I had surprising resistance to the whole idea. There’s something about wool underwear that just seems wrong. And have I mentioned that I live in a hot climate? Nevertheless, I know that wool is more breathable than plastic, naturally regulates temperature, has antimicrobial properties repels moisture etc. So I had to at least try one. I used curly purly’s soaker pattern and though I haven’t used it extensively yet, (mainly because you have to use a snappy or pins on the diaper underneath and our current size prefolds are a little snug fastened this way) it seems to work and fit pretty well. More excuses to photograph my photogenic munchkin in knitwear and try my hand at the cool space dyed technique used in the cover photo of the pattern sheet is enough to make me want to knit more of these in the future.