Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Growing up in my house, you could often hear my mother declaring with a defiant pride that any recipe requiring her to “cream the butter and sugar” would be thrown out.  If you couldn’t melt ‘n’ mix it, it was deemed “too much pfaffing about”!  We’d often laugh about it, and it became a bit of a running premise of our home.  Looking after a family as well as working, Mum wasn’t much one for anything that required her to pfaff.

In some ways, I’ve recently realised that I’ve taken a part of this on board in perhaps not such a good way for me via my knitting of late.  I’ve noticed I’ve been slowly rejecting more and more patterns if they call for something such as an unfamiliar cast-on, or a technique I’m not proficient at.  Becoming set in my ways it seems, as the effort required to attempt something new becomes seen no longer as a challenge but an uncomfortable inconvenience. And all of a sudden, this struck me as rather silly.  I had always supposed myself as an adventurous person, willing to tackle new things in the aim of keeping the mind active and the creative brain stimulated but in fact I now recognise that I actually don’t seek being in situations where I’m short of accomplished!

In an effort to rectify this, I decided to actively seek new skills and embrace the discomfort as part of the process.   As luck happened, whilst collecting another book I had on hold from our local library I glanced quickly at the knitting section, not expecting much I hadn’t seen before but to my delight I found Socktopus – a collection of beautiful sock patterns by Alice Yu all using different and interesting stitch patterns and construction methods.

Socks are a great way to try out a new technique, I reckon.  They’re also great projects to work on while doing the daily work-commute.  Being small, there is the obvious advantage that they are very portable (especially when I’m magic-looping - I switched from my beloved dpns to magic after dropping one tiny dpn in a crowded peak hour carriage one day and having to scramble awkwardly to retrieve it, amidst legs and bags and looks of annoyance from those around me) but they also are great sources of different techniques.

My first choice of project from this book was OmShanti.  Having been a devout yoga fan for over 15 years, the name immediately drew my attention. I’ve just recently returned to a daily practise (which has made me feel so good I question my thinking of why I ever gave it up?) and these little ankle booties will be perfect for Savasana, when the body can chill very quickly as it succumbs to mindful peace.  

The added bonus was the stitch pattern looked just perfect to show off some speckled handpaint yarn I’d been squirrelling, and the construction was one I’d never attempted before.  Tick, tick, TICK! all the boxes.  

The pattern provided the opportunity to try quite a few new-to-me techniques so it was perfect. I learnt:  toe-up sock using a provisional cast on (love it!); short row toes and heels in garter stitch (love them!), and Latvian braid and stranded rib (liked the end result, but perhaps not enough to warrant the fiddly process!)

 The yarn itself is so beautiful.  It’s the something sock base from Republic of Wool in the colourway “Thrasher” and the way it knits up in both garter stitch and the slip stitch pattern nearly makes me weep I love it so much.  I’ve had it on hold in the wings for some time now, just waiting for a good showcase project.  This, my friends, is the project!  I really do think this is my favourite pairing of yarn/pattern ever.

This project has also been an excellent summation of a number of aspects of my life at present; a period of growth on numerous levels; a beautiful, mindful link to my yoga practise, which has given me so much solace during a recent stressful and emotional times; and a rediscovery of how good accomplishment feels even with the accompanying discomfort!   We are often reminded in yoga practise that the very asanas your find yourself resisting are most likely the exact ones you need.  If that isn’t the perfect analogy on this subject, I don’t know what is.  Discomfort (as distinguished from pain) is not a bad thing every now and then.

Using a special skein of yarn that seemed almost too perfect to see any pattern and the pure bliss of sitting with a special yarn, and reflecting on a knitting project as a piece but also a mindful practise, has been a truly lovely experience. 

Every time I look at my feet in these socks, I smile and feel content.  They snug my tootsies in such a delicious way, and the specks of colour against the mint and dove-grey base provide many moments of glee as I discover different little harmonies of colourplay.

How much happiness can be wrapped up in two little booties I don’t know, but there it is.  Pure delight.  

Om Shanti, friends.   May your knitting be delightful and your world contains some peace and contentment this week.


rebecca said...

Mmm, I think my soul doth cry out for a daily yoga practice and pretty socks and the solace that comes from both. Well done you for making both part of your life.

rebecca said...

Mmm, I think my soul doth cry out for a daily yoga practice and pretty socks and the solace that comes from both. Well done you for making both part of your life.

Anonymous said...

I love the name of the socks. The pattern and yarn are just the perfect match

Fay said...

I love the yoga socks and I want that book!:)

Caffeine Girl said...

If we were on the same continent, I would try to steal those socks. I love the textury pattern and the colorful yarn.

I am in a total rut with sock knitting -- always cuff-down, always a slip-stitch heel flap. I'm think I need to try something new this summer, when I'm not teaching.

2paw said...

Yes, socks are the perfect testing ground for new skills and techniques. The colours in Thrasher are just lovely and you should be well and truly chuffed!! I look forward to new things, and they remind me I am still alive. Looking forward to your next pair of socks.
PS I also adore creaming the butter and sugar.

Christabel said...

Good on you, not only for spotting the need to challenge yourself and learn something new, but for doing something about it! I've recently grown bored with knitting and started taking up some new creative endeavours, but reflecting on your post I think my boredom with knitting is actually more a boredom with the 'mindless' knitting projects I kept turning to when I felt like life was too stressful or demanding. What I love about knitting is not just relaxation but challenge and innovation too, and I forgot that. Thanks for reminding me.