Sunday, November 12, 2006

...she pauses to consider a title, wondering if readers will balk at yet another sock story...

I am now well into birthday sock #2! There is the small problem of everything else on my todo list: the PTA taxes are due; the treasurer reports for the PTA meeting need to be prepared; 571 envelopes must be stapled onto bookfair reminders; birthday shopping with the kids has to be done; the cake has to be baked; the dog needs a bath and the birds need a wing-clip;there's the ever present laundry; I have 3 knitting classes to prepare for; and, there are still 250 pages left to read in my book-group book. All due on or before my husband's birthday! Still, I am totally committed to getting that sock finished. Okay, I made up the part about the laundry - my husband does most of that (in his spare time when he's not operating on someone's heart.) He also does all our hemming, mending, and God bless him, the sewing on of the girls' pointe shoe ribbons: thereal perk of being married to a cardiac surgeon!

So... I will finish the sock. And you know what else I did in my spare time this weekend? I stopped by Cultured Purl and picked up 3 more balls of sock yarn. Yup, that's right. I'm going to knit each of the children a pair of socks for Christmas. Luckily the girls only wear ankle socks, which is really like knitting only half a sock... You may be wondering if I, who normally avoids sock knitting as if it were the plague, have really lost my mind. But, here's the thing. Working on this sock has opened my eyes to the joys of knitting a small project on fine needles. Putting aside the annoyance of maneuvering tooth picks, there is a real art to the craft of hand knit socks. Such a variety of skills combined in a mere 10,000 stitches. (give or take a couple thousand...) (per sock...)Ribbing, short rows, slip stitch selvedges, picking up stitches, decreasing, grafting. And the engineering behind turning the heel is, well, a beautiful thing.

And did you know that sock knitting is the OLDEST form of this relatively young member of the textile family. English handknitted socks date back to the 1500s. Earlier samples of stockings, some dating back to the third century in Egypt and Europe were once thought to be knitting, but are today identified as the similar but older craft of nalebinding, or "binding on a needle". Still, European knitters have been producing gorgeous, intricate stockings and socks for at least 500 years!!

I did a little research and I learned there are a variety of heel and toe contructions from which to choose when knitting a sock. We can make a Welsh heel, a German heel, a Dutch or horseshoe heel, or stick the classic French round heel. Toes can be round, pointed, flat, wide, or in the form a four-pointed star - all methods that have evolved around the world as different cultures mastered and improved upon the simple, beautiful yet pedestrian workhorse of our wardrobe: the sock.

As I knit my children's socks, I'm going to experiment with various heels and toes. Why don't you stop by Cultured Purl and join me in my pursuit of the Perfect Hand Knit Sock!!

Yours in knitting,

1 comment:

Shirani said...

you will have to tell me about the welsh heel!!