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Lately, most of my time has been spent at my day job in the 1840s. The museum reopens at the beginning of April every year, is inundated with visitors from Memorial Day through about Labor Day, then slows back down until we close in October.

One of the first orders of business each year is to shear the sheep before lambing. When you’re looking for something to show the scale of a fleece, why not use a 5′ 7″ human?

The weather during the non-summer months of July and August in the Mohawk Valley is, at best, changeable. In April, temps can dip below freezing just for fun. Sometimes, a zesty wind blows in. There can be sleet, snow, and freezing rain. Or all three simultaneously on a random day in May.

The majority of our quaint historic buildings lack anything resembling central heating or insulation. We have woodstoves and fireplaces. They take the edge off of the cold (as do mugs of hot tea and coffee).

Plus, we wrap up in everything from modern snowpants (under our historic garb), wool shawls, and quilted petticoats to get a little closer to something resembling warm. My secret weapon is wooly knee socks. This spring I toyed with knitting a pair because my store-bought ones (I know!) were on their last legs.

No pun intended.

I swooned over the Fatimah Hinds’s Toe-Up Knee Socks in MDK Field Guide No. 27: Sock Odyssey. Even better: they use DK-weight yarn, which meant I could get ’em done before the fall frost.

As much as I love the specified yarn—PINTO BEAN from Lolabean Yarn Co—I got my hands on a couple of skeins of a new yarn you’re going to love. Come the fall, I can tell you what it is. I used three hanks and a little of a fourth hank of [redacted].

I can usually squeeze some knitting around other textile projects on the property. On the days when I’m working relief, which is what we call the person who wanders from building to building to let other interpreters grab lunch, my knitting bag is my constant companion.

I used Cable A and the second size. In hindsight, I should have gone with the first size, but it’s not a critical error.

The first sock was done in record time, especially since I decided to knit both sock tubes before going back to add afterthought heels.

I wound up frogging the second sock down to the held heel stitches (not pictured because I was too irritated with myself to memorialize the moment). One of the selling points of the pattern is the delicious calf ribbing and shaping—and I totally forgot to set that up because I didn’t bother to look at the pattern because I was absolutely certain I knew what to do.

Narrator: She did not know what to do.

Still. Sock Two (Take Two) knitted up quickly. I popped in the heels and huzzah.

This isn’t the museum but I was about to head that way. The museum keeps its buildings in tip-top shape. My husband and I are less rigorous in our exterior painting schedule.

For now, my new 1840s socks will be in my basket for the cooler days to come. They’ll be here sooner than we expect. They always are.

About The Author

Adrienne Martini, the author of Somebody’s Gotta Do It, would love to talk with you about the importance of running for elected office or about all of the drama of holding a seat on the Board of Representatives in Otsego County, New York. Adrienne blogs when the spirit moves her at Martini Made.


  • Oh!! Adrienne, this is THE BEST EVER! You are the Coolest!! What a great encouragement in your photos and description of you knee-sock knitting. I LOVE knee socks so much and really must knit these. I’ve gotten myself into a protracted Fair Isle project and may just have to side step into this since the weather in Britain sounds about as dependable as yours! Thank you for this.

  • You clever girl, you!

  • I grew up in knee socks or nothing! If I walked to school without, a woman who lived on the corner of our block would call out to me that I was going to have “problem knees” when I grew older! Mostly, I wore my knee socks. I really kept to neutral colors as that was the ‘style’. I should knit a pair now, for the memories!

  • Your arch reference to a mystery yarn is my sole complaint about this piece which is otherwise on the ball! Puns intended (if not exactly in step).

    • All will be revealed!

    • I totally agree!! I really want to know what that yarn is!

      • My husband and I have been trying to get to Cooperstown since 2019 and this fall we are finally going! The Farmers Museum has been on my must-visit list ever since I learned about it from MDK. I can’t wait.

    • LOL

  • The sheer size of the fleece is mind blowing! If that’s the size of the fleece of the sheep, how large are the cows??
    Your skill with needles is fab! I absolutely adore your stockings.

    • Our sheep are fairly average size for sheep. The fleece was fluffed out a bit and the angle makes it seem enormous.

      And thanks!

  • Adrienne, I love knowing more about you, and what a fabulous day job!
    The knee socks are terrific and I can just imagine how wonderful they feel knit in that **** yarn.
    Also I always scan the pictures before reading and thought that the worn deck was just lovely. x

  • How is a girl supposed to work on her Emotional Support Chicken and Daisy Chain Kit for the grandgirls when you tempt us with such fashion candy? Knitting knee socks has been on my bucket list for some time now. Thanks for the inspiration!

    If you’re really cold, I would suggest knitting yourself a pair of Nether Garments a la Elizabeth Zimmermann. You can do it. Crunch the numbers, begin the knitting, and the leggings appear before your very eyes.

  • I am very familiar with that region and the variable weather. Watched fireworks in a parka more than once! I love the socks and hope they wear well.

  • Handford Mills or Cooperstown Farmer’s Museum?

    Both are lovely day trips for outdoor-of-towners and folks with small curious kiddos!

    • Duh, Kim, click on the red-highlighted text!

      • Heh. I’ve done the same more times than I can count.

  • Your socks are complete awesomeness! As is your day job in the 1840’s. When we lived in Italy many years ago, the heat (all provided by radiators) was turned on for the heating season and then off for the rest of the year. The schedule in no way reflected the actual weather or temperature. My poor old Southern raised feet were frozen until a friend told me to buy merino wool knee socks at the town market. Light as a feather and warm as toast, those socks saved my toes. Absolute bliss!

  • Simply divine narrative and socks. ( 90+ in store today- cool weather thoughts were great!) love the fleece measuring “stick”.

  • Please run for President of the United States!

  • I was blown away by the size of the fleece! And your socks are beautiful.

  • Knee socks – yes! Thank you, great read and yes I too wonder if the sheep up there can even fit in the barn!

  • Those are awesome! Your socks (and the fact that Fatima’s patterns have never done me wrong- so well written!) might just be the push I needed to cast on a pair of knee socks. And DK yarn means I may actually finish them by the time it’s cold enough to need them.

  • Everytime I read one of your posts I wonder if I should be doing some of the things you do – Local Politics! Historical Interpretation! I am living vicariously through you – for certain. Thanks for sharing.

  • This was my dream job as a geeky kid. Maybe it’s not too late! I am glad I am not the only one who know what to do before looking at the pattern and then ripping out…

  • Love knee socks. Especially in winter. I usually do two at a time toe up socks. I started one at a time but loose count and one comes out shorter. Lol
    Love the design too.
    May have to try these.

  • Gorgeous ! My daughter works at Col. Wmsburg, and back when she was an interpreter I knit her some period correct arm warmers!
    Wondering…do these socks stay up?

    • So far so good. The calf shaping helps.

  • Very entertaining and mysterious. I remind my curious knitting compatriots that the point of a mystery is to keep you guessing and pique your interest. Unfortunately I wasn’t clever enough to think of any heel, toe, or sock puns. Loved the socks.

  • Okay, you inspired me to try this pattern. Yarn I got, time must steal from some other project. Museum sounds a treat. Adding it to my visit this list.

  • Oh, I love this! I couldn’t figure out how I missed the earlier post about your day job, then I realized it was published the week my son was born. Things got a bit hazy back then. My family and I visited the Farmer’s Museum once when my daughter was small and enjoyed it. Hancock Shaker Village is closer, and we try to get there every year. I’ve had many wonderful conversations with the fiber artists there, and look forward to volunteering when the kids are grown.

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