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The summer sock project
Of all the things that I have found happening to my mind in lockdown the most interesting is the way that the small, commonplace things in the space around me have become more important, more valued.
Most obvious has been the plants. Specifically the common weeds.
The nettles, the plantains, the docks - the slightly problematic invasive weeds of our land here - all have become fascinating, even compelling. Seen day by day as my world has shrunk to our garden and the farm road.
I say shrunk, because there has obviously been a physical shrinking - but actually it has in many ways expanded in interest and texture, in a sense of being. I surmise that for many millennia most humans would have lived with similar boundaries to my lockdown - a 3 mile walkable radius of home - and would have had a similarly deeper attention.
Born of this is my Summer Sock Project - I like tying my experiments to a specific project, a practical thing, because, though I love the look of beautiful dye record books and documented samples - I know I will never keep them up.
Last year I made a big knitted patchwork throw from dyed silk yarn. This year it is socks. Actual socks. luxurious alpaca bed socks knitted in an old traditional sock mill in Leicestershire
I am dying a pair of socks in each dye pot I make - all from a plant somewhere within that 3 mile radius. I want to compare the colours from different times of the year, from different patches of land.
If you want to have a go yourself I am stocking the unfinished alpaca blanks in the shop - these are straight off the knitting machines and need to be washed and mordanted before you dye them.
In October - when I am finished - I shall be selling the dyed socks in the shop as a limited collection.
I am loving it as a project - partly I think because it is completely nonsensical in terms of business. The process is so involved - the picking and preparing of the dye stuff, the making the dye pot, the washing and mordanting and dying, the rinsing and drying and curing and washing again. It isn't something you would do as a viable business and that is why it appeals I think.
But also I love it because of the colours - the soft colours pulled from the sun and the rain and the ground I walk on.
That is the magic.