March 7, 2008


Winter is having a last gasp here in the Alps and the cold (really cold!) wind blowing down the mountain has pushed thoughts of cute summery sweaters right out of my mind. This week we were back to winter scarves and extra layers to keep warm and I was reminded that I had promised Adam a pair of thick hiking socks.

I have knit many pairs of these socks before. They use a worsted weight wool, so they usually work up really quickly but with this pair I have decided to take some time to tweak and properly record the pattern. When I first knit socks at this weight, I think I used Elizabeth Zimmermann's pattern for Woodsman's Socks. The number of stitches I cast on has remained the same, but little else.

Funny looking objects to be sure, but they really are warm and durable and they're meant to go inside one's hiking boots, where high fashion is (happily) not the primary concern.

I'm still knitting pretty socks too, having completed the heel on the first birthstone sock. Progress on these is steady but feels slow. I like working on them - the lace pattern is nicely absorbing and the yarn is lovely in every way - but after a few repeats I have to take a break. I can't get into a rhythm on them.

As a quick comparison of these photos might suggest, a couple of days ago both of these socks hit the fiddly heel bit at around the same time. In the future I must try to keep something at a non-fiddly stage at all times. I wouldn't usually have two pairs of socks on the go at once, but the knitting of these (fiddly heel bits aside) is completely different.

The cold weather here has given me the opportunity to observe the cold weather accessories of the locals (they're a well accessorised people, the French). Scarves are very big and I've spotted a number in the past few days that I'd swear were hand knit. Yet knitting is not very popular here at all, especially among younger women. Are there still French grannies out there somewhere knitting for their families? Or are these insanely pricey designer scarves that are being churned out in a factory somewhere? Even at designer prices hand knitting seems unlikely, is the new trend in machine knitting to look more like hand knitting? Curious. Knit hats are also very popular, though these seem to be machine made. I will never, ever be able to wear a knit hat (no matter the pattern) as chicly as a Frenchwoman. Oh well.

I am going to order yarn for a big project this weekend, so something other than socks should appear in this space fairly soon. And won't that make for a nice change?

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