Wednesday, 24 June 2009

In honour of my favourite tree

As regular readers may recall, I was born and brought up on the Isle of Wight, in the same house that my father still lives in to this day. At the top of the garden is a large horse chestnut tree which has a huge place in my heart. My favourite tree. Many of my childhood memories are associated with this tree. I have swung from its branches, sat in it and shared secrets with my best school friend, climbed it to the topmost branches so high that, like a cat I couldn't turn around and had to call my mum, a seasoned tree climber in her day to come and get me down. Later on dad hung a swing from its branches and we would seek shade from the hot summer sun under its branches.

The seasons of the year could easily be plotted by the condition of the tree. January and February bare except for the shiny brown sticky buds. March and April watching the delicate green leaves bursting from the buds followed in May by its beautiful towering candelabras of blossom.

Through June and July the flowers turn into prickly green fruit swelling though September and October to reveal glossy brown conkers to collect and share with friends. November and December see the leaves disappearing from the tree and the cycle beginning all over again. This tree has completed this cycle every year of my life growing broader and taller, losing branches here and there but continuing to cast its protective shade over my childhood home.

I've long wanted to design something that was inspired by this important tree. When Natalie from the Yarn Yard said that she wanted to name a yarn for me I knew straight away that I wanted a bright, juicy green that reminds me of the leaves of the horse chestnut tree newly burst from their buds. I think she did rather a good job. The yarn is Toddy which is a blend of merino for softness and nylon for strength.

Every year I have created a sock design for Natalie to launch at the annual Woolfest in Cumbria which starts this Friday. This year is no exception although I know I have cut it fine as I only cast off the second of these socks on the bus an hour ago . These represent my humble attempt to pay tribute to my favourite tree in sock form. The Horse Chestnut Socks.

In a new departure they are knit from the toe up. The central panel represents the columns of blossom as they turn and produce their spiky fruit.



This is flanked by the diagonals of the deeply ribbed leaves which wrap themselves further around the leg as they travel up past the ankle.

I resisted the temptation to dangle a couple of conkers from the top as although I want them to pay tribute to my beautiful green companion I want them to be handsome socks in their own right, suggestive rather than derivative. I hope you like them.
Natalie will be displaying the socks on her stand at Woolfest and will be taking down the email addresses of people who would like to receive a copy of the pattern which will be available soon after we get back home again. It will also be available to people who aren't able to make it to Woolfest.Watch our blogs for details.
I will be travelling to Cumbria tomorrow and will be at Woolfest on both days. You will probably find me somewhere between the Yarn Yard, Kindred Knitters and P/Hop stands. Do come and say hello and watch the P/hop menu board where alongside the ever growing selection of patterns available for a donation to Medicins Sans Frontier we may just be launching a new venture.....Skill Snacks!
Now what knitting shall I pack....

13 comments:

Ice Princess said...

What a beautiful post! And equally beautiful socks. have a great time in Cumbria.

Stephanie V said...

Beautiful socks. I love those tall pin blossoms as well.

Paula said...

Gorgeous socks

Rose Red said...

I love those trees - I have always wondered what they were (I don't think we have them in Australia). Thanks for this post!!

The socks are fabulous too - what a great colour and a great inspiration.

Katie said...

Beautiful, will see you on saturday!

tea and cake said...

These certainly are very handsome socks, Jane! I will deffo want the pattern, and ... then ... learn to knit socks from the toe up! Something I have been resisting, so far.

RooKnits said...

Jane, another triumph! These are superb.In my head I can already see them in a dark brown conker colour and also a pink horse chestnut blossom colour. Beautiful. Have a wonderful time in Cumbria :o)

Bells said...

such a lovely post! I thought immediately of the scene from the 95 Pride and Prejudice where Mrs Gardiner talks to Mr Darcy about the horse chestnut tree on the green. Lovely. And what a fabulous tribute to design socks in honour of the tree. Wonderful.

Brigid said...

How lovely to see a chestnut tree in its prime. I'd forgotten how handsome they are because all the trees here (London) are diseased. I love the socks, too.

Sarah said...

Oh glorious! Tree, yarn, pattern - what a wonderful trio.

Hope you enjoy yourself at Woolfest

beanz said...

Lovely trees, lovely socks.
I am being drawn to begin knitting socks in earnest!

ambermoggie said...

those are lovely Jane:) Great to meet up with you once more at Woolfest:)

picperfic said...

goodness me you are so busy! Love the socks and the beautiful words about the Horse Chestnut Tree. I'm sure you have a post in the pipeline about Woolfest, I am eager to hear how you got on!