Welcome January, welcome new year, and welcome readers to another year of crafty blogging. January has admittedly started a bit underwhelming in these parts; with record high temperatures, my phone giving up the ghost (not entirely unexpected as it had been struggling for months) and the inevitable end of our period of free time for frolicking amongst the bare trees in the winter forest and back to regular life stuff. Oh, and that ongoing pandemic everywhere. However things are looking up as the colder weather has returned, and it’s my partner’s birthday month, so I’ve not given up on January just yet.
I wanted to come out here and talk to you about a pair of socks I knit a while back. These are actually the first socks I made for myself after having done a bunch of socks as gift knitting. They are these wonderful moon themed socks that when I saw them for the first time planted the wish to knit socks in me after having zero interest in them before. In many ways seeing them kicked off the “The Great Sock Knitting Winter” of last year. I thought it would be nice to get them on the blog now as a little homage to the sock infatuation they contributed to happening in my knitting practise.
The pattern is called Harvest Moon Socks by Rachael Marjamaa. They are colourwork socks, knit cuff down, with a heel heel flap and gusset. They are adorned with a Latvian braid at the cuff and moon themed colourwork border bands. The pattern comes in four sizes and for each of those sizes there are additional instructions for calf shaping should you need it. For a colourwork sock pattern that is an amazing size range and I really appreciate the designer going the extra mile on this for her first pattern.
These were the first pair of socks I made for myself. I love, love the colourwork on this one. The theme and execution is just spot on. The patterning is really intuitive and rhythmic and, once you get going, easy to predict so they work up fast. They are, of course, the perfect footwear to wear for quickly dashing outside on still, clear nights to spend some time with the moon and do some stargazing.
As I mentioned in earlier posts, before ‘the great sock infatuation of winter 2020-2021’ I was hardly a prolific sock knitter, so I had little in the way of sock yarn in my stash, nor had I much experience with suitable yarns. I also found it difficult to pick a yarn for socks for myself, as I usually like woollen spun rustic heathery yarns with a bit of character. However that is more or less everything you don’t want in a sock yarn, which needs strength and durability from a tightly spun yarn. I was honestly a little lost as to what to go with, but then I found a selection of tweed-ish sock yarns (as in they are called tweed sock yarns, but they are different from other tweed yarns which typically veer towards the rustic side of the yarn spectrum). I found these specific ones, Lang Magic Tweed, on a website that specialises in discontinued yarn. The good thing about that is that it was a nice and affordable way for me to dip my toes into sock yarns and sock knitting, the not so great thing about such an arrangement is that finding a yarn you like on there means a hard time sourcing more as it is all discontinued.
I initially paired this ochre-orange gradient yarn with a misty grey- beige tweed. It made for a subtle colour combination, more subtle than I expected when I saw the yarns paired together. The patterns were still visible, just a lot more subtle. After I knit half a sock in this combination my doubts still lingered so I decided to set it aside and cast on the other sock of the pair this time with an off white tweed from Regia. I decided to knit this combination to the same point of the sock where I stopped with the grey and then compare which colour pairing I liked better. You can see the winning choice for yourself on the photos!
I decided that for this pair I liked the more pronounced colourwork of the off-white tweed on dark ochre better than the grey. That said I still like the idea of misty grey moon sock and think they have potential in combination with another yarn. I just have to sit a bit on what colour that would be.
I’m pretty pleased with the yarn. The eventual colour combination, and especially the yellow-orange gradient from the magic tweed, is exactly what I envisioned for these socks. I have an entire ball left of the yellow so might make a second pair with that. I think overall the quality of the Regia tweed is better and might be more durable (we shall see with wear). The magic tweed is just a single, whereas the regia is a 4 ply, the former was also a bit more splitty than the latter. In any case it will be interesting to see how these yarns perform with wear and if there are differences in longevity.
This was my first heel I knit for myself and my first flap-and-gusset style heel. It is done entirely in slip stitch for reinforcement and more durability. I have not nearly knit or worn enough handknitted socks to judge the difference between heel styles, but I think it worked out pretty neat and it could be something I’ll start doing on more socks. In hindsight I think I should have knit the heel deeper, so next time I’ll lengthen the flap. Because it is the first pair I knit for myself I wasn’t really sure how to judge it while knitting and it seemed good then, but now I can see it would be better had I’d made it it slightly deeper. It’s not a insurmountable problem and I’ll wear these as is anyway, but something to keep in mind for my next pair.
I switched out the final foot pattern, the archway-like edge before the toe, for the full moon border pattern that is also used on the leg. I like having all the moons return on the foot as well as on the leg and felt a bit sad for the full moon being the only one left out of the set. I added a simple peerie border before the toe, so as to not have the white of the toe come out of nothing. Knit like this the foot portion is a few rows longer than the chart but it fits me perfectly. I’m pretty pleased with this switch and likely will use it again if I make these socks for myself.
My row and stitch gauge is slightly smaller than the pattern suggests. Given that the designer sort of warned that the gauge for this pattern is small in accordance to her preference for socks I guess that I’m a very tight knitter on small needles with small circumferences? My gauge for the woodland socks was also slightly tighter than per pattern. I don’t think it’s as pronounced ordinarily in my knitting, so it’s funny to see these differences. Ha, I wonder what sock knitting makes me learn about myself next!
Since I’ve been knitting socks for about a year now I’ve been reflecting on my experience with it so far. One of the things I’m finding out during these dips into sock knitting is that it really inhabits a bit of a world on it’s own within the knitting sphere. To some extend I was aware of this, I knew there are lots of knitters who primarily or solely knit socks. I was unaware of the depth of that sub community; with yarn shops focussing on sock knitters alone, sock yarn brands with quickly moving self striping and patterning yarn, seasonal trend colours and styles, no-nylon sock yarns etc. It’s incredible! What a rabbit hole to fall down! The things you can still learn about a craft after doing it for over 15 years!
I’m so pleased with this first pair of socks I made for myself. The theme really speaks to my soul and I doubt I could have come up with something better tailored to my taste if I had actively tried. Further more I think a lot of thought was put into this pattern and that makes me appreciate it even more. I’m up for making these again and think there are a lot of colour combinations that would fit the style and theme well. Nimue (my cat) likes them too, which is the highest honour bestowed on knitting projects that are too small for her to sit on ( bless her for continuing to try!). I think that you’ll agree that while the socks are not quite up to the standard of the joys of being blessed by a set of pristine white cat paws, they come pretty close!
All the best!