This life and then the next

Pattern: Diamante by Deb Barnhill
Yarn: Knit Picks Risata (42% cotton, 39% merino wool, 13% polyamide, 6% elastic), Ash colorway
Needles: U.S. 1 nickel Options fixed 32″ circular (one-at-a-time Magic Loop style)

Let me take you back to November 2007. Hillary Clinton was the presumptive Democratic nominee for the following year’s election. I had just turned 42. The American Academy of Religion was holding its annual meeting in San Diego, and I was just a few rows away from finishing my third pair of socks as I flew west. I took pictures on my hotel room balcony, and got down to business starting the next pair — a toe-up pattern from my favorite sock designer, Deb Barnhill, called Diamante.

I got about halfway up the foot of the first sock on that trip — slow going because I had to follow a chart. I took the socks on my next several trips, and worked on it sporadically in between. Socks, though, are mostly travel knitting for me, so progress was intermittent. I finished the first sock, and turned the heel on the second, by summer 2008.

When it came time for the next trip, though, I didn’t take the Diamante socks. They were too close to being done, you see. If I took them, I’d finish them halfway through. And then I’d be out of knitting, unless I took a whole new project as well. Better to take the new project, which would easily last me through the trip, and put Diamante on ice.

And so it went for the next year and a half. I never managed to find the occasion to finish that second sock. Until 2009 came, and with it my stash knit down resolution, which required me to finish all WIPs before starting anything new. Diamante being the closest to completion, I picked it up first. And now, a few days later, it’s done.

So here I am wondering what took me so long. These are possibly the best-fitting socks I’ve made, and I’ve had no complaints about the fit of any of the others — it’s just that these are noticeably perfect. The cotton-wool blend is cool, crisp, and hard-wearing, but not without a certain soft springiness, especially in the ribbing. I put it on last night after finishing, and had no interest in taking it off all evening.

The same thing happened today, when I donned them for a quick photo shoot in the chilly, sunny afternoon. I left them on for the rest of the day. They’re plenty cozy, but I can tell they’ll be just as comfortable in warm weather. The grey colorway is muted and professional, yet shows the stitch pattern beautifully. And did I mention that they fit like, I don’t know, they’d been made for me?

Honestly, even though I had enjoyed the knitting just fine back in the olden days of 2007 when I started it, I wasn’t looking forward to going back to it just because the color wasn’t so exciting. But I am seeing for the first time the unexpected, secret enjoyment that comes from a perfect piece of clothing that nobody would ever notice. It’s not only serenely natural and comfortable to wear, it’s not only a little gift to yourself (like all handmade garments), but it’s also yours alone. You need not share it with anyone.

It may not come with choirs of angels, but it’s my little private heaven.

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One Comment on “This life and then the next”


  1. The stitch definition shows up really well in these. And I know what you mean about handmade socks tending to stay on your feet even if you don’t plan on wearing them all day. It’s happened to me today.


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