Sock gifts

Years ago, I used to see people knitting socks and thought it looked cool, clever and fun. So I (eventually) became a sock knitter, and often knit in public. I wonder if I’ve inspired anyone to take it up?

Here are my two most recent pairs, both knitted as gifts. This pair below I made for my father. I’m relieved that he took the mad colouring calmly and even seemed to like them.

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They are made out of five different self patterned yarns, all from a bag of leftovers I was delighted to receive from a fellow sock knitting friend. Four of these are pictured below, plus the blue I used for the heel. I ended up changing the order after seeing how the colours were behaving when knitted. So the larger blue balls at the far left were moved one place to the right, after the reddest yarn (I knit toe up).

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These two pairs are my first “eye of partridge” heels. Basically a slip stitch heel but with alternate stitches slipped in the pattern row. It makes a subtle checkered texture and a nicely padded and reinforced heel.

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And here are the whole socks from that yarn, which I made for a good friend and dubbed “Suffragette Dragon”. Well, purple and green with a lace pattern reminiscent of scales. I’m really pleased with these. Yarn is Schoppelwolle crazy zauberball.

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Ticks all the boxes

Long time no post. I hurt my back and I’ve only just managed to set up my computer for standing use.

I decided I wanted a shirt for sun protection while travelling and that none of my existing shirts quite fit the bill. I wanted plain weave, light weight cotton with minimal construction and no trim, so it would dry quickly. A print for preference, to help in not showing dirt and creases. A fabric that dries relatively crease free without ironing would be a bonus. So I made one, in only a few hours. Hurrah. Cut it this morning. Finished without rushing before dinner and with several hours off for a visitor in between.

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It’s my current standard shirt pattern in it’s simplest version. Sleeves are just hemmed rather than cuffed. Sleeve hems and button bands are self faced and interfaced, or could be described as simple double fold hems. The collar is interfaced with the same openweave linen I used for the ramie shirt. I’ve cut it a bit shorter than usual so it doesn’t get so sat on and ends up less crushed as a consequence. I’ve also cut the armholes a little deeper (and sleeves wider to match) to minimise sweat transfer (I’ll mostly wear it over a tshirt). With luck I might get a couple days wear out of it between washes? Perhaps. The fabric came from a Clegs boxing day remnant sale. I grabbed it thinking it was Liberty Tana. It’s not, but it’s still very good shirting. Selvage details below. It is beautiful stuff to work with and the tiny scale print is delicate and whimsical. “London Calling” seems to be the name of the print? Makes me smile.

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Here’s another close up of the fabric, plus the pretty engraved shell buttons that I felt worked with it.

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Preserved memories

This possibly my first? or one of my first pieces of sewing. A pattern darned hessian cushion made mumblety years ago when I was a fairly small child. The outer fabric was starting to fall apart, from UV degradation I suppose. Mum was just going to throw it out, then decided to save it so we could have a look at the stuffing together.

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One can see through the holes that it was stuffed with fabric scraps, so we cut it open to discover what was there. All these fabrics are of course older than the cushion, dating back early into my childhood and before.

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Here are all those scraps, split into possible keepers (green bucket, all cotton) and those definitely destined for the bin (mostly synthetics). I actually only took away a small handful culled from the cotton scraps. The fabrics were in pristine condition though. Crushed of course, but bright, crisp and not even musty. The benefits of a dry climate. Most of them are unused offcuts from garments made by Mum and her Mother. A few are from used clothing. We remembered many of the garments they were from, but some eluded us. It was fun, I’m glad she saved it for a spot of mutual reminiscing.

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The few keepers will very likely turn up in some future patchwork.

Apricot Jam 2017

The annual harvest from my friend’s apricot tree happened yesterday. There was much less fruit this year. It wasn’t netted, which is unusual but there seemed to be only modest attack by birds and bats, with no fruit at the top of the tree and very little fallen. We ate a very few (yum). Yield was only 4kg, including decent windfalls and usable sections from partially pecked fruit. There were a few under ripes left on the tree which I mean to collect in a few days. My theory is that perhaps the upper blossom was lost in high winds or storm? That happens in commercial orchards. For comparison, last year we got 15.5kg fruit off the same tree, and that was not a good year because we left it too late.

I decided that jam would take priority. So I’ve cooked 3kg up this morning. 1kg of gleaned and over ripe fruit has been packed into the freezer for later.

Recipe
3kg apricots, destoned and cut in 8ths
{kernels from 1kg
{pits from 1 lemon
{zest of one lemon
above tied in cloth
juice of two lemons
2.5kg sugar
very low heat until liquid
rest 1hr

bring to boil
remove stone bag
boil ~30min, stirring to avoid sticking.

This made 13 jars of apricot jam.

Differences from last year
-using my lump hammer as a tiny anvil for the kernel extraction process. This worked much better than just hammering the stones on wood as I’ve done in the past. One of the few kitchen jobs where safety glasses are well advised to be worn.
-less lemon pits, because I didn’t have any more. I had to boil it for longer to get a set which is likely related. I think I might have managed a better set than last year though? hard to tell until it’s fully cooled.
-The order of operation was a bit different prior to the boil. There was enough juice released before the rest to fluidise the mix but the sugar wasn’t all dissolved. Think I’ll go for just enough heat to dissolve the sugar next year and see if we avoid the foam discussed below.
-The strangest thing was that a remarkably stable foam appeared prior to boil being achieved. I’ve never had this before. I ended up needing to ladle the foam off to stop the pot overflowing.

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A couple of hours later and there is still foam left. It looks like the foam one gets on the top of good fresh squeezed orange juice and the taste is reminiscent of that too. I’m considering popping out for some cream, mixing it up and freezing the result as an experiment?

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And the jam of course. Labels have been printed but won’t be applied until the jars are properly cool.

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