If you are feeling in any way headachy or a little bleary eyed, this is not the post for you.
A couple of years ago I made John his brightest yet pair of socks in bright yellow, green and red, and I thought they were so loud that the camera would never cope, and so vibrant that passersby would cast shadows from his feet. They were, and are, gorgeous socks, and they remain one of the favourites in the drawer. But I think that perhaps I underestimated my darling husband’s capacity for brightness. It may be that they’ve faded a little through weekly washing, or it may just be that when you bring out the sun, the stars fade away.
Late in August in south east Germany, as I held Pip up to see all the pretty colours in the wool shop, and tried to persuade the girls that they really didn’t need to eat another packet of sweeties, John went off to explore the yarn paradise that is the Wollmeise shop. There was already a not insubstantial pile in front of me; rose pink for a cardigan for Kitty, wonderful stripes and swirls of colour for me, and it seemed only fair that John should get to pick his own seeing as he’s as much of a colour maven as his wife.
His picks surprised me; in the land of multicolours and potential stripes, he picked out three that all played with just the one colour group. They are all absolutely beautiful in a subtle way; well as subtle as you can get with a yarn named after a flaming ball of gas that lights up a galaxy.
Sonne, is deep orange and brilliant yellow and everything in between, and I knew it would be the first thing on the knitting list as soon as I saw his three skeins laid out. It’s so easy to feel that with a straightforward colour way I ought to be doing complicated socks to make the best use of the yarn, but this colour is just so retina-shattering that you’d never see a pattern against it. All this yarn ever asks for it to be allowed to shine.
The ball of yarn started living in my handbag at the end of November. I was so determined that I would make a pair of socks completely without him being aware and John wouldn’t know until they magically appeared on Christmas morning. They were so perfect for grey winter’s days; brilliant orange on cadbury purple sock needles. I knit on the train when I wasn’t working, and at home when he was playing hockey and still they refused to grow. Stitch by stitch in every little sneak of time I could find, I tried to make them longer and more sock like. But with every passing day it became more apparent that they were going to be most of a first sock and a ball of yarn on the day itself. I even gave up on the stealth and pulled them out to let my fingers do the work while we watched a film together on Christmas Eve.
But Christmas is not just one day, and in the cheese-eating, craft-project-making, chocolate banquet of the lull between Christmas and New Year, I finished that first sock, and in the New Year celebrations I finished the second. That it’s taken me this long to get them back together again for a photo, I secretly rather love; and I know he’s not just wearing them because so many of the others in his drawer have holes.
And maybe one day they might fade a little bit and be more sunset than noon, but I think it’s going to be a long long time before I come across anything quite this bright again. In fact, that’s a challenge – has anyone every come across any sock yarn brighter than this?