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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

MG: exquisite craftsmanship of the mundane

gapless gussets (no, not hapless)!! yay! gusset tips that worked for me: knitting instead of slipping the first stitch of the first row on the heel flap. picking up the extra stitches from behind and below the slipped edge (thanks, Kelly!). avoiding long floats adjacent to the slipped edge (thanks, Geannie!)

i'm reknitting the foot of the first stocking. there should be an FO before the week is out!

been reading the history sections of Nancy Bush's Folk Socks. passages like these make me want to devote my knitlife to exquisitely wrought stockings:
An exceptionally beautiful pair of silk stockings were worn by Gustavus II Adolphus... during his coronation in 1617... There are 25 stitches 32 rows to an inch [25 stitches to an inch! -mg]... The tops are turned down and are lined with white taffeta and have holes for attaching the stockings to breeches with ribbons. (page 15)
"The knitting of stockings gave many peasant laborers an independence they could not have had otherwise. Most mastered their skill and worked for themselves." and "Thirsk estimates that, in the sixteenth century... somewhere between 9 and 11 million pairs of stockings had to be produced every year." (page 19)
In good weather, knitters would gather together under the trees for parties, called veilles, where they would sit in circles and socialize, knitting all the while. In winter, they met in each other's homes to prepare wool and knit, while chatter and merrymaking continued. (page 25)
i don't pretend to comprehend the hardships of these knitters who knitted stockings for necessity, for survival, but it's wonderful to learn the facets--economy, warm social spheres, and loving craftsmanship when time was usually a dire possession--of the importance of socks; to infuse that respect into my knitting, myself, who has the luxury of knitting socks for pleasure.

until very recently, i wasn't a sock person. loved ones have mocked my shunning of socks. i've been known to trudge sock-less, in open-toe shoes, out onto a dusting of snow. but i'm falling in love as i knit. and i'm reminded i cared for socks once--when i was little girl and my mom brought back varied and fancy socks from overseas. bows. ruffles. long. short. multitudinous in color.

i guess what i don't love is the stringy, white stuff of mass production that is the prototype of modern socks. they never fit me; i'm always tugging, adjusting, fussing. somewhere along the line, i became disenchanted and desensitized by the over-abundance of the bland not-enough. i'm learning socks are more than that. :)


  1. Lovely gusset! I'm looking forward to seeing both socks completed and I definitely have these on my "too make" list. I know what you mean about catching the sock bug -- it's so nice to have a custom pair that fits perfectly.

  2. Beautiful thoughts, as usual. There is something more satisfying in every way I think about a handsome, functional item that fits its job perfectly and was crafted specifically for the purpose than either a so-so one-size fits all mass-produced item or a glittering exquisite purposeless accessory. The sock is lovely; I am looking forward greatly to seeing the pair!

  3. Lovely! I wasn't a sock person too, and I can't wait for all my other projects to be finished so I can go baack to knitting (and designing) socks again. All the construction types make it so interesting!

    - MJ