Love and Time

I’ve spent the past few days doing some spring cleaning, in hopes that it will work some sympathetic magic and make Spring come a little faster. Alas, the only weather-related result so far has been yet another snowfall – accompanied by thunder, no less – so it’s safe to say my magic isn’t working. I do, however, have a much better-organized stash and a tidier work room.

I have a habit of stashing WIPs and found objects amongst the yarn, and one of the things I dug out of the cedar chest was this pair of hand-knit socks (click any of these pictures to embiggen):

victorian stockings

I found them at a farmer’s market in Springville NY; there was a vendor in the flea market with a table full of old textiles. I’m not much of a textile collector, but these Victorian stockings utterly blew my mind, so I shelled out the handsome sum of $5 to acquire them.

measuring gauge

They’re knit from fine white cotton. The gauge is tight and firm: 57 stitches over 4″ (14.25 SPI) and 79 rows over 4″ (19.75 RPI). I needed a magnifying glass.

seam

It took me a little time and careful examination to appreciate the finer points of their construction. They’re knit from the cuff down, with a pretty picot edge – this gives the top hem the maximum amount of stretch possible, which is never very much with cotton… the knitter made a clever choice. The combination of lace and cables in the cuff is lovely. The beginning of each round is marked with a purl stitch on alternate rows, forming a graceful seam down the back and showing the knitter where to place her decreases.

foot

There is a decorative column of garter stitch on the edges of the heel flap; I don’t know if it serves a practical purpose or was a strictly decorative touch. The toe is round and seamless, ending with 8 tiny stitches drawn up tightly.

initials

The cuff is marked with a pair of initials in pink cross stitch: these stockings were knit for M.E., and the letters are oriented so that they are right-side up when the wearer looks down at them, as is customary with socks of this era. And we can tell that they were knitted by somebody else for M.E. – because on one of the stockings, worked in a very subtle mix of purls and knits, you can see the initial E.

Who was M.E.? The stockings are for a small-footed person, and unlike kilt hose, the tops are not meant to be folded down; this tells us they were for a woman or girl. The knitter was highly skilled, and spent a great amount of time making these fine stockings – they would have been a special gift indeed, and they show very little wear. Perhaps they were a wedding gift? At this great remove of time and history, the only thing we can know is that E. cared enough for M.E. to create something so beautiful and intricate, and M.E. treasured them enough to carefully put them away and save them.

They may look like stockings to the rest of the world… but knitters will know what they really are: thousands of tiny stitches of love, frozen in time.

 

Pawprints everywhere

 

squeakybird

Yesterday we had to make that last, kindest decision for our dog. We’d known since November about the cancer, but the end came more suddenly than we expected when an infection set in around the tumour.

knitting pal

Fourteen years ago, I found her at the SPCA. She was the only dog not barking and throwing herself at the gates; she just sat there, looking at me steadily. I was her person from the very beginning. Where I was, there she was.

gladys

The house feels very empty and silent without the tickety-tick of toenails on wooden floors. I washed all of her blankets, folded them and put them away. The sofa seems so much bigger; the living room darker without the blinds pulled up so she can see outside. I will not have to prune the shrubbery for her viewing convenience this year.

in the yard

I get random little stabs in the heart. Last night I wept into the dishwater as I washed her food dish for the last time. This morning I opened the kitchen curtains and cried again when I looked out at the backyard snow… pawprints everywhere, melting softly as the day warms up.

Oh, I will miss her so.

Panda-monium

One of the things I respect about Hiya Hiya is that they release no product before its time. The Large Sharps were delayed by several months due to manufacturing concerns. The fabled screw-on cable stops are still in the pipeline. But the point protectors are finally on their way, and they are utterly ADORABLE.

point protectors

 

I’m happy to wait until they think they’ve got it right before they sell it to me.

I Have a Little List

I am lazy as sin a procrastinator at heart, so I have to invoke the Magic Power Of The List in order to get anything done. You fill a piece of paper with an overwhelming tally of things you have to do, gaze upon it with a deepening sense of horror and dismay, then slowly raise yourself back up to joy by successfully crossing each item off. I divide my pages into two halves – House and Business – and move between them as the day goes on. Good ol’ pencil and paper works best for me; I’ve tried task-list software and I always end up looking at pictures of kittens on the internet instead. Somewhere on there will be one fun thing (“knit some rows on sock”). Somewhere else will be something dreadful that I won’t get to. But, on the balance, it works for me.

Today, “knit some rows on sock” includes this lovely thing:

Yarn: Malabrigo Sock - PiedrasPattern: Cat Bordhi - Coriolis

Yarn: Malabrigo Sock – Piedras
Pattern: Cat Bordhi – Coriolis

As Opal guessed in the comments on the last post, it’s Malabrigo Sock. (Good eye, Opal! if you’re not a Malabrigo Junkie already, you’re on the way there.) It’s the newest yarn in the shop, so I naturally had to hold back a skein for research and development purposes – it’s a grim job, being forced to knit with shmooshily beautiful yarns, but I’ll buckle down and do it for my customers’ sake. (Don’t you all feel sorry for me?) I picked out Piedras, one of the colours I thought would be less likely to sell; frankly, it seemed sort of muddy and ugly in the skein. But – quelle surprise! – it knits up looking completely different, and utterly lovely. I am totally gobsmacked.

And I’m barely holding myself back from stealing some more and casting on a random shawl. Only The Magic Power Of The List is holding me back.

cross one off