Grackle & Sun

Knit|tinK: A Witch’s House Socks

a witch's house socks 1-22-2013 3-42-11 PM

It took me quite a while to figure out what I wanted to knit with all the yarn samples I dyed on Dye Day #1, but it finally came to me in a semi-blinding flash:  house socks. But not just any house socks.  I wanted to knit a pair of house socks like I imagine Tiffany Aching or Nanny Ogg wearing—thick and warm, functional yet quirky.  If you aren’t familiar with Tiffany Aching or Nanny Ogg, they are two characters from one of my favourite series of books ever in the history of the history:  The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, and I Shall Wear Midnight—all by the amazing author Terry Pratchett.  I will not wax on about the books here, but suffice it to say that they have depths, and although I do not call myself “witch”, if I were to be a witch, I’d want to be Tiffany Aching.

So.  Socks.  Here they are.

a witch's house socks 1-22-2013 3-39-28 PMKnit toe-up using my trusty go-to sock knitting formula:  Turkish cast-on, my super-easy-super-rounded toe, Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Heel, Techknitting’s ribbing transition row, and Elizabeth Zimmermann’s sewn bind off.  I meant to do jogless stripes on these, but I totally forgot.  Lol.

a witch's house socks 1-20-2013 11-03-53 AMI went for a thicker stripe on these—8 rows.  It not only had the look I wanted, but it meant weaving in fewer ends.  I love stripes, but, man, I always forget how much I hate weaving in all those ends.  I call this “stripe amnesia”.  It gets me every time.  48 ends per pair, not including the toe and cuff.  Oy!

a witch's house socks 1-13-2013 1-19-00 AMBut I really like how all of the hand dyed colours went together.  I especially like how much greener the red onion yarn looks next to some of the other colours.  Here’s the line-up:

a witch's house socks 1-22-2013 3-38-015

Starting at the toe—

  1. Birch bark overdyed with yellow onion skins
  2. Osage orange FAIL overdyed with eucalyptus exhaust
  3. Annatto seed
  4. Eucalyptus
  5. Alkanet root
  6. Red onion skins
  7. Safflower exhaust
  8. Yellow onion skins
  9. Red onion skins exhaust
  10. Alkanet root
  11. Walnut creme overdyed with annatto
  12. Birch bark overdyed with yellow onion skins
  13. Eucalyptus
  14. Yellow onion skins
  15. Annatto seed
  16. Red onion skins
  17. Elm bark
  18. Safflower exhaust
  19. Red onion exhaust
  20. Osage orange FAIL overdyed with eucalyptus
  21. Alkanet root
  22. Eucalyptus
  23. Walnut creme overdyed with alkanet
  24. Birch bark overdyed with yellow onion skins
  25. Red onion skins

When I was knitting these, I thought that I would stitch felted soles on so that I could pad around the house without worrying about wearing holes in them.  But when all was said and done, I decided that I’d like to be able to wear them in shoes, too.  So I left the felted soles off for now.  We’ll see if I change my mind.  I loved knitting worsted weight socks.  I love wearing them, too.  Super ridiculously cozy and warm.  Perfect for this cold weather.  Glad I got them done before spring!

Live happy, dye happy!   And knit happy, too!




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55 thoughts on “Knit|tinK: A Witch’s House Socks

  1. Love love love! I’m always in awe how well all the plant dyes go together. Always had a thing for Granny Weatherwax myself, I even look the part if you discount the fact that I’m vertically challenged. ;) But Tiffany is pretty cool too. Socks however – I just can’t get started on them it seems. I want them, I just don’t want to make them. Maybe I should go intimidate my neighbours more often…

    My next project is felted seat covers for a couple of chairs, I just have to remember to get my box of plant dyed yarns down in daylight to sort them out. Been forgetting for like a month now…

    • Thank you! I love Granny Weatherwax, too. I just couldn’t imagine her wearing socks like these. Love the idea of felted seat covers. I bought several already partially felted sweaters from a local thrift store with the thought of using one of them for the felted soles on these socks. Now that I’ve scratched that plan, I’m in the market for some new ideas… are you going to knit and then felt (full) them or welt felt them?

      • I’m just going to knit squares for the one, maybe a spiral 10-stitch pattern for the other, I haven’t decided. Then assemble before washing (because it will be too hard on my hands to sew in the felted fabric) I already knit a sample square last SUMMER to determine needle size to get a lose gauge so the fabric is not stiff as a board though. You could totally cut out shapes from the felted sweaters and assemble them into something! I felted a whole sweater and then just sewed up the sides into a bag, it hasn’t made it to my blog yet because it looks a bit unfinished and wonky, so I wanted to needle felt something onto it and find an awesome button.
        And you’re right, these are not Weatherwax socks. Do you have red boots too?

      • I was thinking of making some throw pillows with them, but I like the idea of seat covers better. Our dining room chairs could use some cush. And no, I don’t have red boots, but I sure would love some. ;)

      • So now we just need to establish what songs you sing when you get drunk and we’ll have you nailed ROFL.

      • Only one way to find out. But a hint—I’ll bet you’ve never heard a Puerto Rican singing in Gaelic before… ;)

  2. I forgot to ask – what is the purpose of the brass thingy? Is that to make you look more witchy? ;-)

    • It looks witchy, doesn’t it? But it’s actually totally sciencey. It’s a brass ring holder for beakers and test tubes and such from my husband’s lab. It’s always reminded me of the idea of a seeing stone, though. That’s a stone that has a naturally occurring hole in it. It’s supposed to give “the sight” when looked through. I’ve heard the story told with finding wood with knot holes and that type of thing, too. So, I figured, why not a brass ring? That works, right? Syncretic, that’s me.

  3. And what are you doing up this late anyway? I finished my morning coffee and all.

    • Home late from work. Late dinner. Dog wanted to play in the snow. Decided to write about socks. I’m a night owl anyway. This is the norm for me.

      • I’m just waiting for light to photograph my very last hollyhock fleece. Then I’m off to nurse another blasted headache. Ok, maybe pop more fleece into the 2 witches’ brews I concocted yesterday…

      • Squee! More hollyhock! I’m so excited by your results. Sorry about the headache. No fun. Dyeing will make it all better.

  4. What fun waking up to both your amazing socks and the banter between you and Pia. I love them Dre. The colors, the design, and the fun of them. That red onion came out phenomenal!! Chip keeps urging me to knit up something with my hand-dyed but I want to get rid of this stash first so all I have left is my hand-spun and hand-dyed yarns. But your socks came out soooooooo wonderful that I may have to reconsider. . . . .

    • Thank you! I totally understand what you are saying. I’m not buying any more yarn (except for dyeing) until I knit up my stash, and with as slow as I knit, who knows when that will be. It’s hard figuring out what to do with hand dyed, though. You should check out the project that my friend Kittyraja knit up with her yarn from Dye Day:

      I’m not brave enough for that!

      • That skirt is wonderful – but I too am not brave enough for that yet. I am looking at my jar of mushrooms which have been sitting in alcohol for months now and thinking how I have to mordant those last few skeins of yarn I have to at least see what I will get from them. The color is a lovely deep orange but clear – so I may have to go with heat on them. You and Pia inspire me. I need to work more on setting up the seed starting. The day of the quickening of the earth is almost upon us and we still have not set up the seed starting racks. Sigh. This month is flying on me.

      • Can’t wait to see what you get from the mushrooms! It’s always so difficult to know when to plant things out here. I seem to miss the boat every year. And yes, this month is flying by.

  5. Gorgeous! That is one incredibly inspiring project. Since last year’s veggie garden was a bust, I have been toying with the idea of growing my own dye stuff instead. I think you just convinced me.

  6. What a fabulous post. Ms. Gracklebird! I love your elegant dye labels, too!

    And it is a timely post for me…Was thinking about dyeing wool for my next Winterlude project . But since I do not have much wool except huge blankets in my stash of vintage fabrics, I have had to rummage in my closet…found these 40 year old cross country ski socks too stained for good looks even if very very warm for the current minus 30 here…Was thinking to have a go with my recent walnut dye and the last of my winter leaves to see if I can dye and print them…so I will need to check your pages for wool dyeing tips! Thank you for the inspiration!

    I very much enjoy your writing, too


    • Thank you for the kind words. I LOVE the Winterlude projects. That whole process is fascinating, and I can’t believe how detailed the prints can be. Really beautiful. It’ll be fun to see what you do with the socks!

  7. I’m impressed! Sort of a riff on Yusuf’s coat of many colors. It makes me wonder what natural elements Jakov had to use back in the day. All of these delightful colors–thoughtfully selected and designed and created for this purpose each bring so much more than a color, a stripe, to the finished piece. I’m thinking of the instruments of an orchestra put together under the baton of a skilled conductor in just such a way that, altogether, they take their place on a program in a way that pleases everyone. But, like the stripes on these socks, the outcome of that effort is so much more than notes played on an instrument. That violin was hand-crafted from special materials, seasoned and tuned by the hands of a person who imbued his or her work with the skill and emotion of a lifetime, brought to bear, no doubt, by the artistic influence of others. It was played to technical perfection by a performer — whose talent was carefully nurtured and expanded and encouraged by the expertise and savvy of numbers of professional violinists, educators, and other catalysts for change — who brought to that performance their unique musical sensitivity, dedication, and commitment to the piece, the conductor, the job, the ensemble, the audience. And that’s just one violin! I know my life has been changed by sitting in the audience of the symphony on many occasions. It really makes me wonder about these bewitching socks.

    • Thank you. You’re right. After so much work, it’s impossible to look at them and not see so much more in each stripe, in each stitch. Anymore, I’ve gotten to the point where I look at most things that way—even commercial, mass produced products. It all started from someone’s idea, the hard work of many hands, and raw materials from the earth. When we get removed from the process of creating with our own hands, we forget all of this. So, yeah. Dyeing yarn and knitting socks is a reminder of sorts.

      It would be interesting to look up what dyes were used at the time and place of the coat of many colours. I wonder how many were native vs imported. That little corner of the world had many ties to other places even then. Maybe there were some very special colours from far off places in that coat…

  8. Beautiful socks! And I love the variety of dye sources.

  9. Gorgeous socks! I wouldn’t confine those to the house, though – you can strut around town in them and soak up all the admiring comments.

  10. So pretty and cozy! I would never have the patience. In reading your dye posts I’ve always assumed that you sell the skeins on etsy or at a farmers market. I know you may not want to part with the beautiful wool or that the money may not be worth the time but who knows…

  11. dyefeltsool on said:

    They are amazing!!! Oh I want to learn how to knit! So far I can crochet, and without a pattern which makes me happy because I can make anything I want, but it’s just not the same as knitting. I see your lovely socks or some sweaters and you just can’t crochet those.
    Brilliant idea for samples, oh smart one. Thanks for sharing.
    Just got my new drop spindle in the mail today! So stinking excited. Spinning first, then I’ll learn how to knit…eventually … hopefully :)

    • Yay for spinning! I am passable with a drop spindle, but I don’t love it like I love a wheel. And since I don’t have a wheel, I don’t get much spinning done, lol. Some of the projects I am most drawn to are crochet. I love the sculptural quality about it. Can’t do it to save my life. You only use one stick! How can that possibly work? :P Thanks for the kind words.

  12. These are fantastic and I love how earthy and “witchy” the colors you dyed feel. ;) The only thing I despise about knitting is weaving in ends but these stripies were well worth it, I am sure!

  13. These socks are just gorgeous!

  14. Love these wonderful colours, what a great time you can have creating your own shades all blending beautifully together. Thank you too for all the links and colour chart


    • Thank you. It was a lot of fun, and often hard to decide which colour to use next—so many good choices! I love that these could be blended into an infinite variety of combinations and patterns. I’m knitting some handwarmers with the leftovers, and will have 2 totally different variations to show with the same colours.

  15. They look great. You’re so clever – I really admire your dyeing…and your sock knitting. I’m not brave enough to tackle socks yet!

  16. They are truly wonderful, and the dyes are sensational. I’ve a miscellaneous collection of dyed hanks myself – hmm, I wonder….

    (I think they’re more Nanny Ogg, my heroine and role model.)

  17. My Susan is out at a knitting group tonight. She has never knitted before tonight. I’ll show her your wonderful socks, tell her how you dyed the wool. Ask her if she might knit me a pair. It might end badly.

    In all seriousness, it’s quite interesting to see how all your wool dying comes together in such a delightful way.

  18. Oh wow. I am so glad I found your blog and I adore your socks. The photo of the sock with a label for each dye source is now one of my all-time favourite diagrams.

    • Thank you! This was such a fun project, and they’ve been a great pair of socks for this cold winter! I had a lot of fun with the stripes—it’s interesting to me how some of the colours hide or pop depending on what they’re next to, and so I wanted to label a picture that helped illustrate that. I’m glad you like it!

  19. oh wow! amazingly beautiful work, love the stripes and how you labeled each one. really just so lovely, a work of art! i’m here from liesl…

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