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  • Stock Your Sock Drawer - Dianna Walla

    We love Dianna Walla and are always so happy to have her on our blog!   Dianna is a knitwear designer who is currently living in Norway and who has designed patterns for us including Skógafjall Aspen Hollow socks, and the Hearth Slippers.   You can find Dianna on her website, Paper Tiger, and follow her on Instagram at @cakeandvikings .

    1.  Do you consider yourself a "sock knitter"?   Why do you like to knit socks?

    It seems funny to say it because I've actually designed a few pairs of socks, but I've always considered myself a rather casual sock knitter - I knit socks, but they've never been my first priority. Living in Seattle, I did like to wear them in the winter because they were good at keeping feet warm in a chilly, damp climate. But my relationship with handknit socks really changed when I moved to northern Norway almost two years ago, because here I can wear handknit socks year round. I found myself rotating through my small collection of handknit socks on a regular basis and suddenly knitting more socks felt like a priority. I've been very focused on socks recently because I find them very soothing to knit, and they can be as complex or as mindless as you want them to be, which is handy while I'm busy working on my master's thesis.

    2.  When did you knit your first pair of socks?   Was it harder or easier than you thought?

    I knit my very first pair of socks in the summer of 2009, and they were rather impractical - bulky weight ankle socks! But I had knit Owls by Kate Davies, and I had leftover wool, so when I found the pattern Chunky Ankle Socks by Tara Mercer it felt like a good opportunity to try sock knitting. The bulky weight and short leg meant they went much quicker than normal handknit socks do, so it was a quick way to learn about simple sock construction. In the end, it was easier than I expected! I knit my first "real" pair (with fingering weight) a few months later, and I've been knitting socks every since.

    3. Are you a DPN or Magic Loop knitter and why?   Has it always been that way? If not when and why did you make the switch?

    I'm very much a DPN knitter, and I always have been. Occasionally I now knit sweater sleeves on two circulars for gauge reasons (I knit tighter on DPNs than on circular needles) but I've never been a Magic Loop knitter. I don't knit on public transit in Tromsø so I'm not worried about losing needles that I've dropped or that kind of thing - and if I drop one on an airplane, there's plenty of time to find it. 

    4. Do you have a favorite pattern or heel and toe construction?

    For whatever reason, I like cuff down socks the most, and I do think it's hard to beat a traditional heel flap and gusset. That being said I do work afterthought heels as well, and I have tried (and designed with) toe-up construction. I've knit several pairs of Erica Leuder's Hermione's Everyday Socks, and with over 18,000 projects on Ravelry it feels like most sock knitters in the world can say the same. Otherwise I don't often repeat patterns, any sort of vanilla sock being an exception. But one of my all-time favorite pairs of socks is my Twisted Flower socks, from a pattern by Cookie A. It's full of beautiful twisted stitches and lace, and I think I will make another pair of those at some point. They feel like art on my feet.

    Aspen Hollow socks by Dianna Walla for our Farm to Needle book.   Photo by Kathy Cadigan.

    5.  Is there a favorite sock yarn at Tolt that you have worked with or want to work with?

    I quite like Madelinetosh Twist Light and Artisan Sock by Hazel Knits, and I think the Arne and Carlos line for Regia is my favorite self-patterning sock yarn of all time. I'd love to try Socks Yeah! by Rachel Coopey, but I haven't gotten my hands on any yet. I have been exploring some of the European handdyers since moving to Europe, though, and I'm really into what Phileas Yarns from York and La Bien Aimée in Paris are doing. We also have some wonderful hand dyers here in Norway, and right now I'm particularly digging a brand new company called Garnsurr, who work with women from minority backgrounds in rural areas of Norway, many of whom came here as refugees. Many of them have no formal education and limited Norwegian language skills, so Garnsurr's aim is to not only teach these women to dye yarn as a way to make money, but they also offer Norwegian language tuition and other integration services. I haven't tried their yarn yet but I'm eager to support their work!

    6.  Do you have any tips, tricks or advice you can give to other sock knitters new or experienced?

    I'd say don't give up when you're frustrated and don't be afraid to try new things! There are so many different techniques to knit socks or work heels, toes, and cuffs, and it's really easy to stop exploring when you find something that feels comfortable. Trying new patterns or construction methods may only make you realize how much you prefer what you were doing before, but you might find something cool and new that you love. And I'd also mention caring for your handknit socks - I almost always handwash mine (though my husband prefers to throw his in the washing machine), as I find that helps them last longer. And something that no one ever told me: socks worn around the house on hard floors will wear out faster than socks that you wear in shoes or boots. It seems counterintuitive, but I haven't had to darn any of my own handknit socks yet while my husband (who wears them as house socks exclusively) has worn through several pairs, even after mending them.

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