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Sooty Socks

28/02/2009

Do you remember when post was exciting and a treat; before it brought bills and junk mail? I used to love getting letters and when I was at school I had a good clutch of pen pals to ensure a constant stream of post. I still feel the same way about parcels; I’ve loved the excitement of every sock club package, and every little thing ordered from the internet. I know I’m not alone, because H likes the parcels as much as I do. So I’ve been plotting.

Way back when, in September, I was trying to decide (a) whether to sign up for sock clubs this year and (b) which ones, when I came across The Unique Sheep, and the sign ups for Rams 2 – a sock club for men. You can see where I’m going with this and sure enough, a Mr H Cariemay found himself signed up for a sock club (hee hee).

I kept that secret until the beginning of February when I received an e-mail from H to tell me that I had a parcel. I replied that in fact HE had a parcel; and waited to see whether or not he could work it out (he lasted about 30 mins before opening it!).

Rams 2 is a six month sock club (3 shipments) of socks for men. It gives me a bit of novelty in choosing socks to knit for H and gives him the socks that he would never pick out, but loves anyway.

And without further ado, here are the first installment:
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Both colours of yarn are the Unique Sheep’s Tinsel Toes in Red Granite (the gunmetal colour) and Cranberry Martini (the one that we shall not call pink because these are manly socks). Tinsel Toes is 50% merino and 50% tencel, a yarn combination that is completely new to me.

The tencel content gives the stitches very crisp definition, but can also make the yarn a little splitty, and almost impossible to splice successfully if you get a knot.
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It does have a wonderful sheen which shows off the subtle variegation’s in the yarn to their best advantage.

The pattern itself was well written and easy to follow. This section, which looks like fairisle

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Is actually mosaic knitting, where you knit round with the main colour, slipping the stitches that should be contrast and then knit round with contrast reversing the process. As I’m quite happy knitting two colour fairisle I think I could have done that quite easily but it may just be that I found it hard to focus on colourwork while trying to talk to all the girls at knit night at the same time – certainly the second sock seemed much easier.

As the kit arrived just before Valentine’s Day I started calling them Valentine Ram socks but now they are just called Sooty Socks. The reason? well, unfortunately I started to look like I’d been playing with a chimney while I was knitting them. It took me a while to work out – I couldn’t figure out where these odd stripes were coming from on my right hand, until I looked properly and realised that I could trace the passage of the yarn through my fingers by following the stripes!
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My bamboo DPNs did not escape unscathed either – the ones on top are sootied and the ones underneath are how they used to look!

So …. I scrubbed my hands; H’s socks spent several hours of this afternoon in a warm Eucalan sock to try to wash out the excess dye; and I began the great needle cleaning experiment!

After a quick peruse of some of the Ravelry forums, and the contents of my kitchen cupboards I came up with four different cleaning options:

(a) furniture polish
(b) soap and water
(c) nail polish remover
(d) Barmaid’s friend

I also saw a suggestion to fill a glass with rice and rub the needle up and down through the rice but we didn’t have any rice to spare – it could be worth a try.

And the results (from left to right, a – d)

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all of them have retained an element of grey but it was amazing watching how much grey came off from all four methods. The winner though is clearer in real life than in the photo – option D, barmaid’s friend, which is a mild abrasive cleaning powder that I usually use on the bath and stubborn spots on the draining board.

There is one caveat in that because it is slightly abrasive, it does take a bit of the finish off the needles so my final solution was the barmaid’s friend, followed by a polish up with furniture polish. I’ve started on the next sock and so far there are no signs of grey anywhere and the yarn still moves well along the needles – success!

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