“If I couldn’t walk fast and far, I should just explode and perish.”
For the best part of the last decade I lived in Cumbria. With access to some of the best walking country in the world and within the rather reduced world of being a parent to young children, I discovered that, rather than being a vaguely nice notion for a well-spent Sunday afternoon, walking was something I needed. Walking ‘fast and far’ (and preferably up) fulfils a yearning in me, soothes and feeds my soul.
With walking needs taken care of near home, on holidays I’ve tended to pick a nice spot and stay there, pottering no further than shops or beaches. St Ives is ideal for that and yet the open country of the coastline and interior of the peninsula cry out to be explored on foot, rather than negotiating the winding (and in summer, often congested) roads- spectacular cliffs, ancient standing stones, evidence of prehistoric dwellings and poignant remnants of Cornwall’s mining heritage.
The Tinner’s Way is an 18 mile trail, based on an ancient path and ending (or beginning) in St Ives. It promises the wildlife of the coastline, stone circles and menhirs, wheelhouses , harbours and coves- history literally trodden into the landscape by generations of walkers.
The fourth piece in my St Ives collection, then, is about a promise to myself for the future. Tinner’s Way socks* feature a pattern of intertwining single cables and, inspired as they are by walking, they knit up well in a sturdy, medium to firm handling 4ply, and have a slightly longer-than-average leg so that they are suited to wearing with boots. They are the socks I want to wear when I walk the Tinner’s Way.
The socks are designed using a very similar technique to that found in the books of Rachel Coopey (basically a sock genius). If you are new to sock knitting or if, like me, you have previously found it hard to love sock knitting, may I suggest that you get hold of a copy of one of her books? My previous attempts at sock knitting involved frustration, confusion, stabbing myself accidentally with dpns, suffering such chronic second sock syndrome that years would pass between the first and the second sock being completed, and producing flaccid, ill-fitting results. Since learning the way that Rachel makes socks, that has all changed.
Tinner’s Way socks are knitted top-down with a heel flap and give three options for sizing, to accommodate different ankle circumferences. Foot length is adjustable within the pattern and I’ve included a table of suggested foot lengths for UK/US/EU standard sizes in case you’re making them for someone unwilling or unable to try on the work-in-progress with needles still in place.
For the sample I used Blacker Yarn’s Cornish Tin II, a limited edition yarn which is pretty hard to come by now unless you have some stashed, but I would suggest that something like Blacker Classic 4ply would make an excellent substitute. I like the robust handle of Cornish Tin II for a walking sock, but I am happy to report that it is nevertheless comfortable and soft against the skin, especially once washed. Good stitch definition is also important here and if you choose a yarn that is a little stiff and ‘sticky’ you will find that you can work the single cable patterns without the need of a cable needle- tips on this can be found here.
Said cable patterns are presented as either charted or written instructions. I aimed for the pattern to be engaging enough to keep the interest, without being too complicated- useful in particular for that pesky second sock. Using single cables also provides texture without bulk, so that the finished socks are comfortable when worn with boots.
*Hello, grammar fiends- you’re wondering about the apostrophe aren’t you? You, me, my tech editor, one of my test knitters, we’ve all puzzled over that one. Tinner’s Way? But if more than one Tinner is using the path then Tinners’ Way? This is possibly more accurate, but doesn’t look elegant. In various sources of information for visitors about the path itself, both ‘The Tinner’s Way’ and ‘The Tinners Way’ is used about equally. I very nearly went with the no apostrophe option, reasoning that people may well omit the apostrophe when searching for the name, but I couldn’t quite cope with that. Please accept my apologies for any pain the chosen comma positioning may cause.