You know me: I’m always ready to do the hard science to test common claims about knitting.
This month, for two weeks, I conducted a controlled inquiry into one of the most ballyhooed claims in all of Knittingdom: “Socks are the perfect portable project.”
I also tested the widely held sub-hypothesis: “Socks are great warm-weather knitting.”
Where did my dedication to science and facts take me?
I was not messing around.
I started with a seasonal Delta flight direct from JFK to Malaga, Spain.
At the Malaga airport, at 6 the next morning, I rendezvous-ed with the rest of my research team:
This is not the Malaga airport. This is the Alhambra.
Blinking in the bright sun of southern Spain, my companions and I drove two and a half hours east, to the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park in the southeast corner of Andalusia.
The only region in mainland Europe with a true desert climate.
So desert-y that Sergio Leone filmed Westerns there.
So arid that I got no mosquito bites. Zero. The only insects I saw in two weeks were small black flies that I almost felt sorry for.
The Cabo de Gata natural park also boasts unspoiled volcanic beaches. So you’ve got the desert, and you’ve got the Mediterranean Sea.
Perfect conditions for my research.
Here are a few of the places I performed my experiment in knitting socks, while traveling, in hot weather.
By the sea, on the rocks.
When encountering beach goats.
While looking at lava. It’s lava all day long in these parts.
On a mind-blowing day trip to Granada to visit the Alhambra.
While inspecting floors at the Alhambra that look like log cabin blankets. (Extra points for wearing palazzo pants, in a palace.)
While resting and looking out from a balcony.
While enjoying the splendid isolation of the beach we hiked down to on the last day.
While sitting on these two beach blankets every day. Are you picking up on the desert-by-the-sea vibe? I took it in stride at the time, but these photos look unearthly to me now, from the dense greenery of New York.
The Socks, I Mean Data
You’ll recall that I had packed enough yarn to knit at least four pairs of socks.
The results: I knit two second socks for pairs I’d already started at home, and one full pair. Total yield: four socks. Not too shabby.
From left: stockinette socks in Spud & Chloë Fine Sock in Red Hot and Calypso, Alternating Slip-Stitch socks in Neighborhood Fiber Company Studio Sock in Swoon, and Seeded Rib socks in Barnyard Knits Sock/Fingering in Campfire.
Socks ARE the perfect portable project. I never lost a needle. I only rarely lost track of a stitch pattern, a variable that I attribute to my parallel research into something called Vino Tinto de Verano. I turned four heels, and Kitchenered four toes, from memory.
Socks are also excellent warm weather knitting. Although in the past I’ve loved starting a new sweater project on a trip, so that I would associate the sweater with specific places and memories, I don’t think I’d have been able to stand a lap full of sweater-in-progress in southern Spain, in August. It’s very hot, and by the sea you have the salt and the moisture that make the wool stick to the needles ever so slightly. It’s socks or nothing, for me, in summertime Spain.
A personal note: I’m a sock knitter now. For real. Socks are life.
P.S. How do you get salt out of your hair? Asking for a senior mermaid.