Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ailbhe Dunne's 2 Needle Diamond Socks inspired by Malin Head rain data

Diamonds in Aran knitting are said to represent the shape of the fishing mesh, and wealth and success! The moss stitch in the middle is said to represent sea weed used as fertiliser on the land – the diamonds are said to be walls surrounding farm land. Fishing and farming used to be a huge part of our GDP!

The diamonds on these socks represent the rise in rainfall at Malin head – over the last 100 years the rainfall at Malin head has risen by 50%. This rise correlates with the rise in GDP. 100 years ago ‘gdp’ and industry in Malin head was fishing and farming – both represented traditionally in Aran Knitting by the diamond and moss stitch!

One of our socks has one diamond and the other has a diamond and a half – the half diamond is at the cuff of the sock to represent infinity. Are we going to stop with a 50% rise?

For the first sock

Cast on 41 sts,

  • Row 1: Knit 10, Purl 2, K2, (P1,K1) X 6, P1, K2, P2, K10
  • Row 2 and all even rows knit the knits stitches, purl the purls!
  • Row 3: K10 p2, (Slip the next two stitches onto a cable needle and leave at the front of your knitting, purl the next stitch, knit two from the cable needle) C2L, (p1,k1) x5, p1, (Slip the next stitch onto cable needle and leave at back of work knit 2, p1 from cable needle) C2R, p2, k10
  • Row 5; K10 p3,C2L, (p1,k1) x4, p1, C2R, p3, k10
  • Row 7; K10 p4, C2L, (p1,k1) x3, p1,C2R, p4, k10
  • Row 9; K10 p5, C2L, (p1,k1) x2, p1, C2R, p5, k10
  • Row 11; K10 p6, C2L, p1,k1,p1, C2R, p6, k10
  • Row 13 K10 p7, C2L, p1, C2R, p7, k10
  • Row 15 K10, p8, slip next two stitches onto cable needle, Knit next three stitches, knit two from cable needle, p8, knit 10
  • Row 17 K10 p8, C2R, p1, C2L, p8, k10
  • Row 19 K10 p7, C2R, (p1,k1), p1, C2L, p7, k10
  • Row 21 K10 p6, C2R, (p1,k1) x 2, p1, C2L, p6, k10
  • Row 23 K10 p5, C2R, (p1,k1) x 3, p1, C2L, p5, k10
  • Row 25 K10 p4, C2R, (p1,k1) x 4, p1, C2L, p4, k10
  • Row 27 K10 p3, C2R, (p1,k1) x 5, p1, C2L, p3, k10
  • Row 29 K10 p2, C2R, (p1,k1) x 6, p1, C2L, p2, k10
  • Row 31: K10, p2 C2L, (p1,k1) x5, p1, C2R, p2, k10
  • Row 33; K10 p3,C2L, (p1,k1) x4, p1, C2R, p3, k10
  • Row 35; K10 p4, C2L, (p1,k1) x3, p1,C2R, p4, k10
  • Row 37; K10 p5, C2L, (p1,k1) x2, p1, C2R, p5, k10
  • Row 39; K10 p6, C2L, p1,k1,p1, C2R, p6, k10
  • Row 41; K10 p7, C2L, p1,C2R, p7, K10
  • Row 43 K10 p5 slip next two stitches onto cable needle, Knit next three stitches, knit two from cable needle, p5, k10


  • Knit 11 sts, work on these 11 sts in stockinette for 16 rows, ending with a purl row. Turn this half of the heel as follows:
  • Row 1:-K2, k2tog, k1, turn, slip1, P3, turn.
  • Row 3:-K3, K2tog, K1, turn, slip1, P4, turn.
  • Row 5:-K4, K2tog, K1, turn, slip1, P5, turn.
  • Row 7:-K5, k2tog, K1. (7 sts on needle.)
  • Using left needle pick up 10 sts on the side of the heel, and knit them. Knit across the 19 instep sts. (36 sts on needle). Work in stockinette on the remaining 11 sts for 17 rows ending with a knit row. Now turn the other half heel as follows:
  • Row1:- P2, P2tog, P1, turn, slip1, K3, turn.
  • Row3:- P3, P2tog, P1, turn, slip1, K4, turn.
  • Row5:- P4, P2tog, P1, turn, slip1, K5, turn.
  • Row7:- P5, P2tog, P1, (7 sts on needle).
  • Pick up 10 sts on side of heel, and purl them. Continue purling across the whole sock.(53 sts on needle).


  • Row1:- K15, K2tog, K19, slip1, K1, PSSO (pass slipped stitch over), K15.
  • Row2:- and all even rows, purl.
  • Row3:- K14, K2tog, K19, slip1, K1, PSSO, K14.
  • Row5:- K13, K2tog, K19, slip1, K1, PSSO, K13.
  • Row7:- K12, K2tog, K19, slip1, K1, PSSO, K12.
  • Row9:- K11, K2tog, K19, slip1, K1, PSSO, K11.
  • Row11:-K10, K2tog, K19, slip1, K1, PSSO, K10.

You should have 41 sts remaining.

Now work in stockinette for 30 rows for a size 5 foot. For a longer or shorter foot, go until this section measures about 1"3/4 shorter than the full length of your foot. Measure from the back of the heel, and end with a purl row.


  • Row1:-K8, K2tog, K2, slip1, K1, PSSO, K13, K2tog, K2,
  • slip1, k1, PSSO, K8.
  • Row 2 and all even rows:- purl.
  • Row 3:- K7, K2tog, K2, slip1, K1, PSSO, K11, K2tog, K2,
  • slip1, K1, PSSO, K7.
  • Row5:- K6, K2tog, K2, slip1, K1, PSSO, K9, K2tog, K2,
  • slip1, K1, PSSO, K6.
  • Continue decreasing as above until 17 sts remain on the needle. Put these sts on a holder, I use a coloured piece of wool.


Using a flat seam technique,(very important!), sew the back and underside of the sock. If you are planning to turn down the cuff, don't forget to reverse the seam at the turn down point so it is inside the cuff. Graft, or weave the toe, and weave in loose ends.

For second sock

  • Cast on 41 sts
  • Row 1 (and all odd rows) K10, P21, K10
  • Row 2 (and all even rows) p10, k21,p10
  • Row 15 K10, p8, slip next two stitches onto cable needle, Knit next three stitches, knit two from cable needle, p8, knit 10
  • Continue as for first sock

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Leave Only Footprints

The term carbon footprint is understood to indicate a measurement of our consumed carbon. Usually discussed on the individual level (the singular footprint), it is rarely quantified and portends an aura of guilt by shifting the onus of green house gas emissions from large scale industry to individuals. In doing this it suggests that individual action/choices are at the root of climate change rather than global market forces. While this grand simplification of consumer power neglects larger market forces and economic structures, it could be argued that the term also works to empower people by awakening them to the gesture of personal choice as political act.

In contrast to a carbon footprint, I contend that there is also a carbon fingerprint to consider. It is not just the consumption of carbon, but rather an understanding of the specificity of what kind of carbon is consumed and a recognition that all materials maintain their history or trace when they are purchased. For example, if we added “how many things in your house are made in China” we would get a different number on the carbon calculator determining our footprint. A shift to local micro-economies offers an opportunity to reduce climate impact simply by opting out of the transport. It is not just how much carbon, but what kind, where, and how it is released/consumed.

The project Carbon Footprint engages on all of these levels. Taking local wool, hand-spinning it, and turning it into beautifully made garments is not so much about the garment as it is about the choice to act. In this work Inishowen wool and spinning are used as the primary metaphors to explore the above ideas and translate climate change data into something tactile. The project quickly went from singly driven to the work of many.

My first connection with the community was through a series of spinning workshops in three of the larger villages and in several schools. This resulted in Spin-in, a one day art-action where community members spun Inishowen wool into yarn on drop-spindles in front of empty shop fronts in Carndonagh. For that one stormy day, the town centre was bustling with people in front of the empty stores re-activating these spaces. As one person remarked, “Even though there's a recession on there is still work to be done and work to be had.” In a Ghandian ploy, we used spinning as an act of independence, achievement, ability, and resistance.

Subsequent to this, the Carbon Footprint Studio emerged as a hub for activity around wool and the associated craft processes. Workshops began immediately with locals offering their knowledge and skill to teach each other about felting, dyeing, spinning, knitting, and crochet. Developing a life of its own within days, the Studio continued to run for 10 weeks and assisted in spawning a new wool-craft co-op in Inishowen. One of the virtues of this work is a re-introduction to wool as a material with value. Though it is ubiquitous in Donegal, it is a zero-profit undertaking for farmers and is treated almost as a waste product. This year's market price was 75¢ per kilo.

If explored, one discovers wool to be one of the most durable, resilient, versatile, and easily produced forms of fabric. Wool requires no processing, can be spun by a single person with only a drop spindle, transforms quickly from raw wool to yarn or felt, and possesses incredible strength and endurance. It is a material iconographic of Ireland for a reason; it's perfect for this landscape and climate both in terms of farming and wearing. Able to absorb 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling damp, the interlocking scales of the wool fibre allow water to spill off of it, and if it is homespun the small amount of retained natural oil (lanolin) will also work to repel water. The traditional Aran sweater was not just a garment of fashion but rather of sheer practicality. A jumper made from home-spun will feel warmer, dryer, and stay cleaner. My own spin on the use of the material, beyond that of local economics, is to phrase it as a form of small-scale, local carbon capture. Composed of 44% carbon, the wool represents fixed carbon sequestered from the atmosphere. In a time where environmental industry and science are scrambling to find methods of carbon capture, it is valuable to look to what already exists around us. When the sheep consume the grass, air, and water of this area, they create a distinct substance that truly is a portrait of the land. Inishowen wool is made of Inishowen.

The final component of this work is the socks. An easy visual link to the idea of a carbon footprint, the socks also translate and house meteorological data from the local weather station, and climate change and economics data. Inviting the many makers of the socks to contribute their own design abstractions from the original data set, the socks become an opportunity to play as well as transmit.

A community of many people formed to create this work. It has grown through generosity, happenstance, perseverance, and the belief that art activates, transforms, inspires, and awakens us.
Thank you to everyone who made this project possible.