Clean Cup

Rocks & Socks: Your Needles Need Nature

I was in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, for a weekend knitting retreat my mom and her best friend host every spring. I always attend—to enjoy the camaraderie of knitters and to help my mom with administrative tasks. But I don’t take classes during the day. I go to the mountains on this April weekend to hike.

Western North Carolina is a hiker’s dream, with the ancient, soft green peaks of the Appalachians, myriad waterfalls, and lots of great trails. I planned a hike for Sunday and gave myself Saturday to wander around the little mountain town and relax. The day only got better when I discovered a small but well-stocked outfitter. I strolled the aisles, touching backpacks, hiking boots, tents, camping gear.

I came to a wall of socks. I’d purchased some new boots a month before and had noticed that, because of their Gore-Tex content, they made my feet sweat pretty badly. And then my socks would be soaked, and the insides of the boots soaked, and my feet would blister. (I promise there’s a point to this story.)

Eight miles into a sixteen-mile hike, it’s not fun to have wet, raw feet! I contemplated the wall of socks. As I stood there, the store clerk approached me and asked if I needed help. I pursed my lips and looked at him, then decided: yes, I will tell him about my sweaty feet. He was not bothered by it and quickly explained something that I should have known—I needed wool. Wool makes such incredibly breathable and moisture-resistant fabric. Combined with some nylon, as most store-bought merino hiking socks are, and processed to be washable, it’s the comfortable, all-weather solution I needed. I bought a pair.

My hike was glorious and my feet dry and comfortable! I’ve amassed quite the drawer of merino hiking socks now, and after discussing the issue with other active knitters, I know it’s a common conclusion: wool is best. That’s the thing about trail knitters. They know their yarn and they know their socks. In celebration of the balmy climes of spring—when so many of you crawl out of the woodwork to enjoy nature and get active—we’re looking at the intersection of our craft and The Great Outdoors.

We like to call this “Outspiration.” We gathered quotes from knitters that find inspiration in nature. These are your fellow crafters, and getting their trail legs in shape for fair weather often goes right along with tackling that next project. Read on, and find the outspiration that will nurture your needles. —Lisa

“Aside from knitting, the thing I love best is riding my bicycle, so I’ve designed garments and accessories with cycling in mind, and I always bring a knitting project with me on camping trips and bike tours. My wool sweaters, hats, mitts, and scarves work so much better than synthetics (in anything but pelting rain) to keep me comfortable while riding or knitting by the campfire.” – Andrea Rangel