November 17, 2006

Some socks, some answers.

I think the worst thing about knitting a sock a day is going to be the complete lack of blog fodder. I mean, there's really only so long that you can type "Hey look, another sock" before things get sort of boring for all parties concerned. This time next week you're all going to be hoping for one of them to spontaneously burst into flame and singe my hair or for a stampede of ravenous goats to break into the living room and buffet-lunch on my stash, just for the interest.
By the way...hey look, another sock.


and, while I'm at it...Hey look, another sock.


I'll distract you from my incredible monotony of the sock-a-day quest with questions from yesterdays intriguing set of comments. (I really feel the commenting on this blog is top notch. Clever, respectful of others, intelligent and yet a little bit smart-assed. Really top-notch.)

Jennie and Carina had the same thought, and Carina writes:

I do have to ask, though: What did they do with all those socks? Were people so rough on their handknit socks that they needed a new pair that frequently? What about darning them? Odd. It sounds like there should be mounds of socks hidden somewhere.

They sold 'em. One of the reasons that these knitters of yore produced so darned much was because they sold them for money to support their families. Knitting stockings wasn't something you did if you were well off. You bought them (likely at a fraction of what they were worth) from people who knit them to supplement their incomes. I bet it really lights a fire under your knitting fingers if you're going to starve your kids if you don't finish a sock.

Amy writes:

Weren't all those stockings knit with heavier gauge yarn? So the number of stitches per inch were less than the 8 or 9 you're getting? If you're going to compare, it's got to be apples-to-apples....

Clever knitter, that Amy. Sadly, this only further damns me to the fires of slothful, shiftless indolence since while it is true that the stockings that the knitters made for their own families were often of heavier gauge, the stockings that they were selling were of much finer yarns, and often knit at a gauge that would finish you and I. A staggering 10-20 stitches to the inch or (take a deep breath) even greater. They knit on steel knitting "pins" and these were frequently the equivalent of US size 0000 or smaller. (That's about 1mm everywhere else.)

Liz notes:

"Children as young as four were being taught to knit at this time in England, and certainly by the time that they were seven or eight they were expected to be making stockings in a way that contributed to the families income."

This may explain why my friend in Dublin has a dicken of a time finding decent yarn and why the present day population finds her interest in knitting "quaint".

Yup, in the Sad but True category, there's lots of people walking around who have a negative relationship with knitting because they associate it with work. These cultures have often dropped knitting faster than Michael Jackson going into a cosmetic surgeon the minute it wasn't necessary. "Why don't you knit a sock?" sounds, to these people like "Why don't you chop logs for fireword?" Knitting as an industry, particularly a low-class industry is a persistent belief in many places. When Joe was on tour in China a couple of years ago he went with a knitting rock'n roller (hi Colleen!) who pulled out her knitting during sound check once or twice. She was immediately asked to stop by the locals in charge of the concert, since they didn't want her to look bad. They didn't want her to look low class. She was supposed to be a better class of person than that. Here, knitting is mostly a relaxing pursuit of the idle rich (remembering of course, that comparatively speaking, you're rich if you're not knitting for food money) and that's certainly not the case in many parts of the world.

Jan asks: asks:

I don't think you're crazy, I can do a sock a day. It's just the why so many socks for Knitty Gritty that I don't get.

Excellent question. Knitty Gritty apparently (I've never seen it...we don't get it on TV up here in Canada.) works like a cooking show. I can't knit a whole sock in 30 minutes, (I still have some connection to the real world and what is possible in it) so for the purposes of illustration I need to knit a whole bunch of socks at various stages. They call these "step-outs". (The things I'm learning...)
I need a just cast on sock, a sock with the ribbing, a sock ready to begin the heel, a sock with the flap knit ready for short rows, one with the short rows done ready to pick up for the gussets, one with the gussets picked up ready to do decreases, one ready to begin the toe and one ready to be grafted. (I think. Like I said. Still learning.) Then, for the purposes of inspiration and illustration, I need a bunch of socks that are a variation on the same pattern.

Adds up to a lot of socks. Turns out I've likely sunk myself too....since I just got an email from them saying that I shouldn't be using metal needles (That's a big deal. I don't own any dpn's...never mind 10 pairs (each step out stays on the needles) that aren't metal. I only like metal for socks.) and that all the step-outs all have to be the same colour. (That , my gentle knitters, is the sort of thing that would have been far more useful to know before I knit the first two out of a colourway I can't get more of...but c'est la vie.) I don't even know if I can get enough Fleece Artist in one colourway in time to pull this off. I'll be calling the producer of the show now, and suggesting to her that I am at my very best when I am a charming renegade making my own'll know she didn't buy it if you see me lying in the road surrounded by half knit socks waiting for a Mack Truck to end it all. A sock a day is one thing. A soul crushing do-over is another.

Rachel H writes:

Ok, so you've got the production timeline crazy covered. Good for you. But what about the attention span crazy, I ask you? The fact that yours is, well, short and skittish and a sock is a sock is a sock no matter how many beautiful colours of Fleece Artist you get to knit it in? How long till the call of the Sea Silk or that Kate Gilbert sweater in the new IK wails to you so loudly you think you'll go mad from the strain of Just Knitting Socks. Or spinning, now that you know you can spin cashmere and Claudia and I both know you have cashmere in your stash just begging to be brought out and fondled and loved and made to flow gently and softly and sublimely through your fingers on its way to becoming beautiful yarn that won't want to be a sock...

I'm only thinking of you, dear. Really.

You know, I really love Rachel, both in real life and in her career as a professional commenter, and that's why I'm sure she's going to understand completely when I come over to her house and smack her a little. Right after I knit another sock.

Posted by Stephanie at November 17, 2006 3:29 PM