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  • southern fiords

    When I designed the Fjordland hat for Pom Pom Quarterly last year, I had an idea in my head for a matching pair of socks (not necessarily to be worn with the hat, but composed of the same basic colors and motifs). Of course, Tosh Sock in the same colorways as the hat would make for a truly matching set, but when Tash of Knitsch Yarns and Holland Road Yarn Company offered up some Knitsch sock yarn to play with, I saw an opportunity.

    I first read about Tash, her shop, and her yarn in an issue of Extra Curricular (I can't recall which off the top of my head), and when I went on Ravelry to look her up, I discovered she was getting ready to run a Vasa KAL (blogged here)! We've been in touch ever since. You may remember that Extra Curricular, which I've written about here before, is a New Zealand publication, one I discovered while in New Zealand on my honeymoon in 2013. Sadly, I didn't know about Holland Road Yarn Co. at that time, but I fell in love with Wellington, the area where Tash's shops are, so when she suggested I do a design with Knitsch sock yarn, I jumped at the chance. I knew pretty quickly what I wanted to do, too.

    One of the places I had the opportunity to visit in New Zealand was Fiordland National Park, on the South Island. The South Island is an incredible place, full of some of the most beautiful countryside I've ever seen, but Fiordland National Park is especially spectacular. The fiords have much in common with those of Norway, but they're very different, too. Where Norway's are arctic, these were undeniably lush.

    Chris and I took a boat tour of Milford Sound, the only fiord that can be accessed by road. The weather is changeable and often uncooperative, and so as we set off, the sheer cliffs to either side of our boat rose into misty clouds, their peaks hidden from view. By the time our boat had traversed the fiord and made it back to the dock, however, the clouds were breaking and the sun shone down on us.

    Enter Southern Fiords. It's a bit ridiculous to compare a humble pair of socks to something as ancient and immense as a fiord, but there's a connection in the inspiration all the same. I wanted the socks, inspired by these very different fiords, to have a different feeling than the Fjordland hat, even though they're tied together by other characteristics. The colors of Knitsch Sock that I chose (Hydro, Blunderbuss, and Plain and Simple) reflect that different character, I think.

    As Knitsch sock is a 100% merino yarn, these socks are probably better suited for hanging out at home and daydreaming than for actual adventuring, and that's what we went with for the photo story. I pulled out my stack of Extra Curricular mags, a few books, and some of my favorite NZ records and the lovely Kathy Cadigan came over and took photos while I hung out in my living room, playing records and dancing like a fool. I'm so pleased with Kathy's photos and I think she did a lovely job of showing off the socks as well as creating a cozy mood.

    One of my favorite things about these socks is how well they illustrate the importance of shade or value in colorwork (that is, how light or dark a color is), especially when compared to the Fjordland hat. Both items are worked up with a main color (blue) and two contrasting colors (green and white), but on the hat the contrasting colors are very close in value, while with the socks the main color and one of the contrasting colors (green) are much closer together in value as a result of the lighter blue and the darker green. This is most apparent on the two-color rib, but the difference is clear throughout the whole of each piece:

    This means that the finished objects feel very different from each other, regardless of the fact that the motifs are identical. But more on shade value in colorwork at a later date! For now, sock details:

    These are worked cuff-down in the round, with a slip stitch heel flap and a rounded toe, which is grafted together at the end. These are written for DPNs, but if you're used to working your socks another way, they'll be easy enough to adapt. The colorwork means these are a great way to use up sock yarn scraps (the yardage estimates listed on the Ravelry page are generous), and if you're anything like me, you have a lot of those hanging around (I don't even knit that many socks!). Head over to the Ravelry page for all the pertinent details like yarn and needle requirements, sizes, and a full list of pattern characteristics, or to purchase a digital PDF copy. If you're a LYS wholesale customer (or you'd like to be one), Southern Fiords will also be available in a hard copy booklet which will be added to the line sheet very soon.