Two very different projects reached completion this week, and they could hardly be more different. This very jolly pair of socks - First Footing by Kate Davies - has been on the go since before Christmas when the pattern was published. I bought it through Ravelry, downloaded it and started work using some oddments of yarn I had to hand.
After discussing the pattern in detail with other intrepid souls on Ravelry, I kept going through the heel turn and beyond. It's the first time that I have knitted a sock in stranded work, and they would not bear inspection by the sock police. Decreasing while keeping the colour changes going was beyond me. However, it is very cheering to knit with such bright colours in mid-winter.
These socks are clearly in a tradition, and that tradition is probably Turkish. As I knit them, I thought what nice mittens the pattern would make. After all, what kind of outfit is it that allows for socks like these to be seen and appreciated? Clogs? Sandals? Canadian manners where you take off your boots at the door when visiting?
Secondly, a pair of mittens and a camera pouch.
I bought the yarn for these from another member of the Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Guild to which I belong. She has a website: Natural Yarn. This is Norfolk Horn yarn from sheep reared on the Wimpole Hall Estate, a National Trust property. This is beautiful yarn, actually a cream with darker fibres through it so it looks beige in the picture. It has lots of bounce and feels warm to the touch. A group did some research into what breed of sheep would have provided the white wool used by the Cistercian monks at the abbey in our village for their characteristic white habits. They decided that the Norfolk Horn was the nearest they could get, as it would read as white when set against a much darker fleece such as a Hebridean. So this yarn has very deep local roots.
I had 100gms of yarn, and I wanted to see what one could knit with that. I used the cable pattern called Stag's Horn in Barbara Walker's First Treasury, published in the 50's. I made up the mitten pattern - I've knitted a few pairs of mitts in my time. Then I thought to use the same cable on the pouch. There was enough yarn for two of these, and they have a much nicer handle in actuality than the picture suggests. In cold weather, these mittens would be a real comfort.
Edited to add: We had Canadian visitors mid-summer who expected to remove shoes on entry. This would be unusual for anything other than walking boots or wellies in England.
The Norfolk Horn yarn is sorted and washed locally, then sent off to a mill in Cornwall - Natural Fibres, I think, - for spinning. It is wonderful springy yarn.