I’ve been frustrated that this winter hasn’t been as cold as I would like. A good, sharp frost and a spell of freezing weather is the best excuse for knitwear I know. And handknitted socks are the most comforting thing in a cold snap – your feet get a custom made woolly hug. And if I have warm feet I am much less likely to feel the cold.
Next up in my A-Z of socks by Rachel Coopey is Eula. In classic Coop Knits style, these feature a mirrored twisted stitch design of branching cables and diamonds. After the plain lace of Decca it was great to get back to something with a bit more challenge to it.
The yarn is Swell Ewe Sock by Ginger’s Hand Dyed, an 80/20 merino/nylon blend. The colour is called Breakfast With Ginger – a gorgeous Tiffany blue that is gloriously cheerful. It’s slightly greener than is showing up in these pictures. I found two skeins of it in someone’s destash on eBay at a silly price. (which means I have one going spare if anyone wants to take it off my hands.) It’s a high twist yarn, which I’ve decided I’m not much of a fan of. I think I much prefer a traditional plied yarn – it feels nicer to work with and gives good stitch definition, even if a high twist yarn is supposedly harder wearing.
After the lovely, but interminable browns of my Imperator Curiosa socks, I wanted something much more cheerful – and a bit faster to knit.
This is Decca. As per the rules of this A-Z challenge, it’s my D pattern, designed by Rachel Coopey. The pattern is very simple, with a repeated lace panel on the front and back of the foot/leg, and plain panels of stocking stitch in between. Very quick to knit, and very easy to memorise.
The yarn is Hedgehog Fibres Sock, a 90% merino and 10% nylon blend. This is a brand that is highly sought after for colourful saturated dyeing, often with lots of speckles. This is one of the Potluck colourways – with some lovely spring pinks and greens, with flashes of orange along the way. It was the perfect antidote to all that brown. My one gripe is that it was quite a splitty yarn – and untwisted significantly during a long-tail cast on.
The plainer pattern for these socks means that it isn’t drowned out too much by the colour, or vice versa. It’s certainly making me feel much bolder about using colour in projects.
I admit it. I picked this pattern for my A-Z of Rachel Coopey socks, just so I could make a Mad Max: Fury Road pun.
But it also gave me the chance to use this brilliant steampunk-coloured yarn called Mazikeen, which perfectly matches the Mad Max colour palate of sandy desert browns. The shade was inspired by the character from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman books, but principally from that character’s appearance in the Lucifer tv show. In amongst the browns are little flashes of olive green, grey and even the odd purple hint too.
As you may be able to guess, this colourway is from Third Vault Yarns. It was originally done by Lola for a partnership with Rhapsodye yarns around Lucifer, but Lola has dyed a few more skeins for sale since. The base is her Librarian sock – my favourite BFL/nylon mix. I love it for socks for the way it takes the dye, gives crisp stitch definition and wears like iron.
The Curiosa pattern reminds me quite a bit of Alonzo. It features some of Rachel Coopey’s trademark twisted stitch designs over long pattern repeats. There are lots of angular lines weaving in ways that you don’t see in traditional cable patterns. There were a lot of charts to follow, and remembering which chart to do in which order was a bit of a feat. The pattern was originally released as an MKAL, so there are no pictures with the instructions to help either – you are knitting blind.
I have to confess, I was glad to finish knitting this pair of socks. Although Lola’s dyeing is beautiful, the unremitting brown combined with the complicated pattern made these a bit of a chore to knit.
Second in my Rachel Coopey A-Z of socks is Budleigh.
I love the mix here of the double cables with the snaking twisted stitches. The double cables are offset, giving a lovely slanted effect. And in one of the designer’s signature features, the socks are perfect mirrors of each other. They were very quick to knit too, with the first one taking just a week from start to finish.
The yarn is a skein I’ve had in stash for a while. It’s Artists Palette Smoothie Sock in a bright semi-solid pink. The yarn is a blend of 75% merino and 25% nylon. It’s incredibly soft and quite fine. I’ve been worried that the high merino content might make them prone to wear and felting, but they’ve been holding up very well so far, and the cheerful colour is just the thing on a dull day.
I’ve been enjoying my A-Z of shawls so much, I’ve decided to start one for socks as well. But just to make things a little more challenging, I’m going to try to stick to patterns by one designer: Rachel Coopey. Her sock patterns are beautifully written, a joy to knit and always very clever designs. Looking at Ravelry, I’m good right up to until I get to Q, with a choice of patterns to make. At the rate I knit socks, who knows – maybe she will have designed a pattern beginning with Q by the time I get there.
First up, is Alonzo, a beautifully textured pattern with Bavarian twisted stitches. It’s just complex enough to keep you interested while you’re knitting, but without being so complex tht you can’t concentrate on anything else. This is exactly the kind of knitting you can take out and about, or do while watching the television.
I love how the faux cables and twisted stitches build up the pattern, and how it grows and evolves.
It’s just such a shame that the dark winter days make it so difficult to properly photograph the colour of this yarn as well as I’d like. It’s a rich, mallard green, called Apollo, with a beautiful intensity of colour. It’s from a dyer called A Little Bit Sheepish, and is one of those skeins where the colour just called me from across the aisle at a yarn festival. It’s a mix of 75% Bluefaced Leicester and 25% nylon. The stitch definition is amazing, it takes dye beautifully, it has a generous 425 metres per 100g and it should make some hard-wearing socks.
One of the first skeins of yarn I bought from Third Vault Yarns, at Nine Worlds in 2015, was in a colourway called Gallifreyan Sunset. It’s a measure of how fabulous Lola’s dyeing is that she has me falling in love with colours and dyeing styles that I would normally never contemplate. Orange is just one of those colours that doesn’t agree with, much as I love its perky cheerfulness.
But I fell in love with this subtle blend of orange and terracotta, with its flashes of bright yellow and the occasional dusty purple. And not just for being based on Doctor Who. Lola tells me that this is such a difficult colourway she can’t reproduce it. I have one of the few skeins that will ever exist.
I’d been saving it for the right project, and these socks were the perfect project. The pattern is Phyllis, by Rachel Coopey, one of the patterns from her collection Coop Knits Socks Volume 2. I love the textured cabled diamonds, and the definition provided by the twisted stitches. The long chart meant this wasn’t the quickest of knits. And it wasn’t helped by a catastrophic case of yarn barf that meant I had to untangle and completely recake the yarn at least twice, once during the middle of one of the panels at this year’s Nine Worlds.
Hand-knitted socks are perfect for these cold, wintery days. And it brings me a great deal of knitterly and geeky pleasure to know that under my sober work outfits with their sensible winter boots I’m flying the geek flag with bright and cheerful socks.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted an FO. So let’s put that right. Here are my Narcissa Socks.
The pattern is from Knitting Wizardry, which is the UK title of a book of patterns inspired by Harry Potter. The book was a birthday present from a friend of mine. When I saw these socks, and that the pattern was by Rachel Coopey – one of my favourite sock knitting designers – I knew they were the first thing I wanted to make from the book.
The complicated lace pattern – and the rash of baby knitting I’ve had to do recently – means these socks took longer to make than I was hoping. I cast them on in May last year, and finished them early in April. (That’s nearly a whole year for a pair of socks!)
Plus they’re right and left-footed, with a column of twisted stitches running down the outside of each foot.
The yarn is a beautiful variegated skein of Posh Elinor, in a colourway called Time, Gentlemen Please. I love the mix of bold blues, with touches of purples and browns in there too. I’ve had it in my stash for a while, waiting for the perfect project.
Now I just need to work out what to make from the book next.