Coincidentally, or perhaps I should more honestly say "inspirationally", Rowan sent me a skein of their beautiful new sock yarn: Fine Art. Made from merino wool, kid mohair and mulberry silk, it really is the yarn of angels – and after reading about the women who have hand-painted the yarn to give its gorgeous colours, I'm sure that you’ll agree that this is an apt description. I was given "Phesant", which has lots of browns and reds in it, so you'd be right in thinking that it might not have been "my" colour. However, in terms of socks, it's spot on! Clearly this yarn is to be knitted into socks that are seen and I have just the right selection of brown shoes in which to do this. Thank you, Rowan: You made exactly the right choice for me.
So yarn sorted, I needed a pattern. And oh my goodness, this was tough. I was pretty sure that I wanted a Rowan (or at least "Coats") pattern thereby allowing Little Miss Goody-Two Shoes to model her Rowan yarn in a Rowan pattern. But, as you may also know, until very recently, Rowan didn't have that many sock patterns – and now living in the countryside, we don't have a John Lewis on our door-step with their extensive – and convenient – range of knitting patterns. (And yes, even in "Hicksville" we have the internet, although in my experience, books don't tend to be bought in ones, or even twos, and such extravagances really aren't needed. Particularly when it comes to knitting patterns.) But the answer arrived on my doorstep in the pages of the current version of "The Knitter": "Alda" by Barb Brown. Beautiful lace socks designed for Rowan's Fine Art. Super. Thank you, The Knitter.
As you can see, "Alda" is knitted in blue ("Kingfisher") and aside from using "Phesant", there is one other change that I'm going to make: If you look closely at the photo, you can see a slight discrepancy in the colour way at the top of the foot. Now, this could be a variation in the yarn itself but I'm more inclined to think that it's where the heel gusset has been knitted as a continuation from the yarn that was used in the heel. This means that the colour sequence of the yarn is slightly "out" when compared to the rest of the leg, hence we have this disturbance in the colour pattern. In an attempt to avoid this, when I get to the heel, I'm going to stop knitting with the yarn from the outside of the ball (as I've been using for the leg) and, instead, use the yarn from the middle of my ball. This should be fine as the heel is knitted differently from the rest of the sock (using stocking-stitch rather than the lace pattern and using straight knitting rather than in the round) so the heel often looks distinct from the rest of the sock. Then, when I start knitting the gusset (and the top of the foot), I'll go back to end of the yarn I first used so that the colour way continues in its original pattern. Savvy?
And now the heart of the challenge: The timescale. You all know that I can knit socks, but you also know that, given even less than half a chance, I'll start knitting them and then get distracted by another project (or six) so it'll be months or years before they're complete. But this will not be the case with these socks. Oh no. The first of these socks will be completed in the three weeks I'm teaching my "Anatomy of a Sock" class at the Wool Shop Scotland, in Haddington. In week one, we 'cast on the socks and knitted the leg and this is what I'll do so, that by week two, I'll be knitting the heel along with the group. Actually, it would be ideal if I could be a few rounds ahead as it would be wonderful if the class could see a finished sock in week three – but I'm aware that’s probably not realistic so they’ll have to see it at a Woolly Wednesday. I’ll finish the second sock in time for my next workshops in the Trafford Centre in September and Sheffield in October. Sounds good, eh? Too good? Let's see.
So, watch this space for progress. Week Two of the class is on Monday, tomorrow. So I'd better get back to my needles.