Just Plain Foolish

Just a chance for an old-fashioned, simple storyteller to say what needs to be said.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Craftiness abounds

As my job gets back into the swing of things and the election heats up, I find myself taking more time to sort out my yarn stash. Thus far, I've found a pretty blue flecked with rainbow bits, and several heathers I'd forgotten I had. Now, I know there are plenty of folks that will feel the need to ask me, "Fool, there are important matters that must be decided. Why are you fussing about your wool stash when you could be paying attention to the election?"

And my answer is that I already know how I will be voting on Tuesday - for the local folks most likely to get me my light rail locally, and so forth. Further fussing will only upset me to no particular purpose. This morning, on the radio, some reporter was commenting that those of us in the greater DC area do not appear to be fussed enough over the possibility of a disaster. Well, I have enough food and water for a few days in my apartment. I have plenty of yarn, which will keep me from being bored. And I still have our "reenactment box" which contains the stuff necessary for comfort while living in a tent for up to a week. Above and beyond that, there's really not much more fussing to be done.

On the trains, the busses, we are encouraged to worry, and yet we seem to be going about our daily business without panic over the possibility of a disaster. This is a good thing, folks. Even those who drive themselves are not immune from the warnings. Unless there is a major traffic problem to occupy them, the electronic signs on the Beltway often encourage motorists to report suspicious activity to the authorities, and the radio news is always full of disaster. Meh.

In the meantime, my naalbinding is coming along well. My friend who has been doing this for years was impressed that I had taken my memory of what she had done and turned it into a sock- and a striped one at that. (Walk softly and make loud socks, says I.) So she taught me to actually make a better stitch for making socks. Cool. Before long, I was merrily binding away, and I think my husband is in for a pair of gloves, and I am in for a pair of striped socks...


Blogger Little Black Car said...

Walk softly and make loud socks.

Okay, that's priceless. I'm sharing that with all my crafty friends.

9/08/2006 1:43 PM  
Blogger dragonfly183 said...

that is a good one. Could you possibly share your pattern for socks? Are they knitted or crotchet. I've been having a hard time finding a pattern that works for me.

9/08/2006 9:29 PM  
Blogger Plain Foolish said...

Neither. I'm naalbinding, which is older than either knit or crochet. Like knit and crochet, it produces a looped and stretchy fabric, but there are a couple of really interesting differences - naalbinding doesn't run, ever, unless you use one stitch that is functionally equivalent to crossed knitting; and you don't need long lengths of yarn to naalbind. Essentially, you take a one to two yard length of yarn (wool has one serious advantage - it fulls, so joining together all those 1 yard pieces is easier) - raid your scraps if you like and produce seriously crazy socks by using all the scraps left over from other projects.

The simplest form of naalbinding (and what I started with) is just to do blanket stitch over and over again, building up successive rows of blanket stitch. While some people don't really consider this "true" naalbinding, because it's so simple and not as interconnected as more complicated stitches, like the Asle and Mammen finds, it's pretty typical of the oldest naalbinding finds. Socks made of essentially blanket stitch have been found in ancient Egyptian finds, and a hat combining the "crossed knit" stitch with the blanket stitch was found with the mummies in Western China.

The sock I made is burgundy, blue, and oatmeal colored. Essentially, I made my first row in burgundy, then added the blue, then the oatmeal. I started the first row by making a loop, blanket stitching into that loop, then drawing it tight. That formed the tip of the toe. Then I added in the blue and continued for a couple rounds with two leading threads, doing a round of blue into the burgundy, then a round of burgundy into the blue, creating a swirl, then I added in the oatmeal color, and it sort of looked like blueberry swirl ice cream. I kept the spiral going, increasing as needed to make the shape, until I'd gotten a sock that could cover my toes. Then I decided where I wanted the top and bottom to be, and on the bottom, I made a longer bit to anchor from - you could use crochet, but I tried a more complicated naalbinding stitch that I really wasn't very confident in - it doesn't matter, since no one will see this part, and since the whole thing is in wool, it'll full over anyway.

Anyway, I made a "tongue" to anchor more stitches onto, and kept going, just treating the tongue as part of the spiral, building up the bottom, and eventually the sides of the sock. Apparantly, while this style of making a sock is not very old, it has become a traditional method of making a naalbinding sock over the last century. Eventually, in order to really build up the sides, I stopped going in a spiral, and concentrated on bringing the sides up, so I did a sort of "U" connecting to the spiral area that went up the toes and over the body of my foot, then finished with more spiral work. It's functional and warm and took me maybe a weekend's crafting time to finish, if that. It's more a booty than a sock, but is very warm.

9/10/2006 8:14 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

Ha! I like that too. Are loud socks allowed with plain? Oh why not...I'm not exactly orthodox.

Great description of naalbinding. I'm intrigued.


9/13/2006 3:41 PM  
Blogger Plain Foolish said...

In my opinion, my wildest swirly socks in varegated blue and oatmeal and wine colors are "plainer" than most plain colored socks, because I'm getting the wool from handspinners whom I trust to deal with farmers who don't mistreat their livestock (a losing proposition in the long term, anyway). And I'm putting the work into their construction.

9/14/2006 8:32 AM  

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