You know how it is when you get a Really Good Idea for a knitting project and you just can’t think abut anything else. I know you do.
What happened when I talked about Brother Amos socks in the last podcast, is that the idea for said socks lodged deep within the knitting cortex of my brain, which you can see here, in pink. (Click the image for more inside views of knitter’s brains.)
Brother Amos, in case you missed the memo, is the dour patriarch of the Starkadder family; the fiery religious nutjob of a preacher in Stella Gibbons’ novel Cold Comfort Farm. Weekly sermons to his flock, the Quivering Brethren, are completely over the top, yet never wander too far from reality, and they’re one of my favourite parts of the novel.
“Ye are all damned!”
Makes me laugh out loud every time I read it.
What I wanted to knit were not necessarily socks that Brother Amos would wear. He would, I am absolutely certain, be unlikely to embrace the frivolity of handpainted yarn, let alone lace. Instead, I wanted to knit socks that I would wear; socks which somehow capture the essence of Brother Amos, himself. The idea prodded and poked until I had found suitable yarn from stash, and would not let me rest until I had designed and knit the socks.
After scouring Barbara Walker’s stitch dictionaries One and Two, I settled on a lace pattern called Flame Chevron. The beauty of this pattern lies in the sculptural curving lines of the stacked SSK and K2tog stitches that create the flickering flames. (The perfect reminder that, in Brother Amos’ world view, we’ll all “fritter and fry” one day for our transgressions.)
The openwork created by the yarn overs, as Barbara says herself, is “rather incidental”. In fact, the pattern can be worked without the yarn overs, by substituting M1 increases, and the result, says the divine BW, is a “fascinatingly textured solid fabric”.
Worked in something approaching a solid coloured yarn, socks in the solid stitch pattern would be suitable, I think, for a man, and might even be something Brother Amos would wear on Sundays. With the stitch pattern and a ball of nearly flame-coloured Trekking XXL in hand, I went to work.
I believe I am on record as a toe up gal, with strong leanings towards heel flap construction, and a decided preference for socks that stay up. On the bind off issue I have been a reluctant practitioner of EZ’s sewn stretchy bind off method – the one that employs a darning needle and far too much time. It works, but it adds a step to the finishing and, being sewn, means that undoing your knitting is not easy. While I have never in the course of my knitting life found an occasion to unknit a sock, you never know. It could happen.
Still in pursuit of the perfect sock pattern, and bearing all my requirements in mind, I knit. For two weeks I knit and ripped and knit, and… I think I’ve done it.
I think I may have actually have gone and done it.
The resulting socks, finished this week, tick all my sock boxes. Judy Decker’s Magic Cast On? Check. Sherman Toe? Check. Widdershins-esque gusset and heel flap? Shaped calves for stay-up-osity? Check and check. Flexible, easy and totally clever way to end the the sock without sewing? Oh yes, check!
Intrepid test knitter, Rebekkah, of Bowerbird Knits is currently having a go at the pattern. (Check out her kilt hose – the woman knows from socks.) The pattern for Brother Amos’ Socks includes sizing for both men and woman, and two stitch patterns – Hellfire Lace and Brimstone. And the yarn…
Well, you can, of course, knit these in whatever colour your little heart fancies. However, MamaE has got the dyepot simmering, and has promised a Hellfire colourway hot enough to scorch the soles of your feet, and a smouldering Brimstone colourway of glowing charcoal, with touches of bright embers. I can’t wait to to see them myself, and will post pictures as soon as they arrive. Once the socks have been knit, and photographed, the pattern will be available for download.
Just so you know, I’m not being coy about the socks, teasing you with description while withholding images. I did try to take pictures of the finished socks today, and met with the usual obstacles to photography. I will try again when the Official Dog Wrangler returns from work.
Having been immersed in a sock knitting cavern with Brother Amos for the past couple of weeks, I emerged this morning, blinking into the light, and realized that it’s podcast production time again. I could wonder where the time went, but you know how it is when you get a Really Good Idea for a knitting project and you just can’t think about anything else. I know you do.