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New semester, new socks.

Well, Spring Semester 2022 starts tomorrow, and, thanks to our county health officials, we’ll be online through the end of January, which is a relief to me, given the massive surge in COVID cases that prompted the very abrupt change. We’d received an email from the university on January 4th making an aggressively confident case that we would be fully in-person and it was going to be great, which alarmed me, given the way cases were increasing, and I spent that evening panicking and trying to figure out how I could acquire the N95/KN95/KF94 masks that the university recommended we wear and claimed were “widely available”. Ha! Thankfully, friends from church brought me a few KF94s that I could use until the ones I’d ordered arrived; none of the genuine KF94 masks that I knew would fit me were shipping quickly enough to get them to me by the time classes start! Then the very next day, we doubled the number of cases, hitting 4.1k. Some of our local hospitals are so overwhelmed that they’ve been diverting patients. It’s not good. So on the 5th, a new email went out, telling us that we’d be online through January. And of course, during this time my kid returned to school, and there’s a non-stop hum of worry about lunchtime exposures running through my mind. Then yesterday, one of my workshop classes that was under-enrolled got canceled and replaced with tutoring hours that I still need to schedule. It’s been a rollercoaster.

Awkward attempt to fit my whole self in a photo with my socks, without a camera remote.
[Awkward attempt to fit my whole body in a photo with my socks, without the aid of a camera remote]

When I thought we would be in-person, I decided that I would still want small, non-attention-demanding projects to carry with me on the days I was on campus, for moments when my students were working on in-class writing and there wasn’t anything else I could productively do. Instead of more Musselburgh hats, I thought I’d give socks another go. I abandoned the other socks that I had on the needle (I ripped out the second sock-in-progress; need to snip the bind-off and frog sock one so that I can reknit it with a different pattern) and decided to try Andrea Mowry’s DRK Everyday Socks, because I’d heard her mention them several times on her video podcast (which I sometimes watch while exercising) and while I was a bit skeptical about socks that are made with 2×2 ribbing around the WHOLE foot, I figured I’d give them a go, and if nothing else, I’d learn how to do a Fleegle heel in the process. They look pretty hilarious off the needles!

Socks!
[Why yes, I did plan today’s outfit to maximally match my newly finished socks!]

So skinny! But they stretch around the foot really nicely, and I don’t actually notice the texture of the ribbing under my foot when I’m wearing them. The Fleegle heel creates a nice gusset to help accommodate my high instep, which is what was missing for me in the Padded Sweet Tomato Heel I was trying in the socks I ripped out. I’ll be interested to see how these hold up, though, because as written, there’s no slipped-stitch reinforcement in the heel. I bet, if I think about it a bit, I can figure out how to incorporate it. I do enjoy knitting socks toe-up, I think, because of how easy it is to try them on as I go, though with a yarn with long color repeats like the Zauberball Crazy I made these socks with, it does mean that I lose all control over whether the tops of the socks match. (These emphatically do not, but I’m not sure I care!)

Socks!

Part of what has me thinking about socks is that my wardrobe has shifted quite a bit towards dresses and skirts, and that means having visible socks over my tights/leggings when I wear my new boots with them. A lot of the store-bought wool socks that I have are starting to wear quite thin after many years of wear, so if I’m looking for small projects to keep the hands busy when I can’t carry something larger around with me, the idea of knitting myself socks in colors I love as part of my “handmade wardrobe” project is quite appealing.

It’s actually a little funny to me that my wardrobe has shifted so much towards skirts and dresses, because as a kid, I really rejected being forced into “girly” clothes like skirts and dresses (my daughter rejects them, too) and as folks who follow me on other platforms might know, I use both “she” and “they” pronouns and don’t feel 100% at home in really heavily gendered stuff. What I like about skirts and dresses these days is just how comfortable they are (why do skirts and dresses NEED to be gendered, anyway?). I am noticing that I often like to pair my skirts and dresses with sweaters and cardigans that are more gender-neutral or even somewhat masculine leaning. (My boots, too, are actually gender-neutral ones from Duckfeet!) Not always, of course – I think, for example, Vita de Vie is a pretty feminine-looking sweater, and I wear those with my skirts, though I think what helps there is that the skirts themselves are almost-neon plaids! Anyway, these are things I’m thinking about as I venture more deeply into the world of making my own clothing, and figuring out the styles that suit me as I go. And perhaps some of this will shift as I (hopefully) learn to sew comfortable pants and overalls (oh, how I love overalls!). It never needs to be a fixed thing, but paying attention to the outfits I choose over and over is helping me develop a sense of what kinds of projects I should invest my time in, and I’d like to be a more mindful maker on that front.

On the other hand, I have an embarrassingly large stash, and so part of what I’m trying to figure out is how to turn it into the kinds of sweaters and accessories that I will actually wear, and if there’s stuff in the stash that I don’t see much of a future for, I want to find a way to donate it instead of having it hanging around like a weight, reminding me of plans Past Me made that no longer fit in Present Me’s life. One project that is fitting the bill, in terms of both giving me a useful wardrobe item and using up stash (Eco Wool that is a decade+ old), is my 3rd Farmhouse Cardigan. I now have both sleeves:

Sleeves!
[Ha, I’m wearing Farmhouse #2 while holding the sleeves of Farmhouse #3!]

And I’ve gotten through most of the body, too, including the double-knit pockets and back-shaping that are not actually part of the pattern, but are modifications I’ve made on both Farmhouse #1 and #2:

Pockets!

It’s funny – I’ve actually been using my earlier Farmhouse cardigans as my pattern more than the actual pattern! I’ll get the pattern out when it’s time to join the sleeves, though, because I don’t trust myself to reliably read the increase rate from my already-knit sweaters, and I remember that it’s not the same rate all through the raglan shoulder. I’m a *tiny* bit nervous that I’m going to run out of yarn, but hopefully not!

So anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to over the winter break. Oh, and I finished the Elska hat I showed in my last post, but I haven’t woven in the ends yet. I’ll get to it sometime soon – my mind’s just not been in an end-weaving place. I didn’t do any of the sewing I’d hoped to get done over the break, though since I’m teaching from home for the next few weeks, it might be possible to sneak down into the basement and sew a little bit some days after my classes are finished and I’ve given feedback on assignments. We’ll see. I have no idea what to expect from this semester, but I’m grateful that it’s less intense than last semester’s schedule, and even once we’re back in person, I’ll still have a couple of non-teaching days where I can work from home, and I think that’s going to make a world of difference for my mental health.

2 thoughts on “New semester, new socks.”

  1. Totally agree with you that we need less gendering in clothing (I find it especially ridiculous in kids’ clothes, when girls and boys are basically shaped the same [as much as anyone’s shaped the same — not trying to get into *too* deep a rabbit hole here!]). Clothes are clothes. They don’t have gender. Plus, pretty much all the men I know who have worn kilts or other non-bifurcated garments have found them very comfortable, so here’s yet another example of the patriarchy screwing over men too!

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