My friend Ady, for years the only person I knew who wears handknit socks and even now the only non-knitter of my acquaintance who has several pairs of them, really gets it about socks. Her sister - an incredibly talented knitter - has been making them for her now and then since I met Ady in university. She knows how long they take and what they mean, and she is so respectful of her socks she rations out her use of them lest they wear out and she not receive any other pairs ever.
Well, I was so struck by that idea - somebody who loves handknit socks and doesn't know how to knit and only knows one person who would ever knit socks for her - I was overcome with the feeling that I must knit socks for Ady.
For the last four weeks as I worked on my second pair of boot socks, I've been planning Ady's socks, which were next up in the queue. I asked her at Christmas on the phone to give me her foot measurements some time, and then I e-mailed her a reminder, and then I considered yarn:
They would have to have purple in them, you see. Ady has always been a purple person. That bluey stripe there in the Vesper yarn? That's actually purple. These two cakes would be great lightweight socks for Ady.
But would lightweight really be right? Ady, the first year I knew her, wore heavier woolly socks.
In fact that is mostly what she's worn, often in Birkenstocks, often in winter. She was the first friend I had who does that, and somehow even in the 80s she made them look hip. Ady is incredible that way - she has such a sense of style and such a way of holding herself. Sometimes I see her dressed up at funerals and she looks so fantastic in prints and shapes I would have written off as intended for older ladies had I seen them on a rack, I just want her to take me shopping. She's constantly pushing me to consider new ideas about visual art.
So I thought about this yarn:
It's heavier than the Vesper, and it's got mohair to wear a little harder; it's the lighter weight version of the yarn I used for both pairs of my wool/mohair boot socks. I love the way the colours here blend together like a richly tinted watercolour. Ady is a watercolour artist, so this one seems fitting. But not purple enough.
Then I heard that intelligent people use their Twisted Fiber Art heavier weight yarns for socks - why did this never occur to me? - so I got this Duchess combo out of the stash cupboard:
Purple, heavier weight, stripes that blur like watercolours - yep, that's perfect for Ady.
Or maybe I should just give her these.
Because you know what happened? I thought so much about Ady while I knit those second boot socks for me, I knit them in her size.
It was the weirdest thing. I didn't notice till I'd turned the heels, and then I pretended it wasn't true and kept going, but by the time I was finished one and getting on with the cuff of the other I had to stop and call her to get those measurements once and for all.
She didn't even say Hello when she picked up, just "I don't. Believe it. I was just about to hit 'send' on e-mailing you my foot measurements!" Well, I believed it. I asked her to read me the e-mail and:
I couldn't have knit these socks more perfectly if I'd been fitting them for the duration. Two shoe sizes up from my own and wider too - they were Ady's socks the whole time and I didn't know it.
Bye-bye, boot socks.
And hello, new pair for me!