Beautiful summer socks for the indoor Oxford, UK, climate?
May 4, 2010 7:55 PM   Subscribe

I have a vague idea about making a friend in the UK a birthday present of some hand-decorated (by me) socks. Where can I get some perfect, already-beautiful but understated, socks to enhance? What kind of socks would a feminine academic in Oxford, UK, find wonderful? Do you know your online sock options?

I'm considering sewing just a few nice little beads onto the socks, maybe some leaf shapes or something. There are probably three bead stores in my immediate vicinity, plus the Internet. No problem there.

However, I want to start with some elegant, comfortable, high-quality, feminine socks. Definitely thicker than trouser socks, but not winter weight. Where she lives it doesn't get nearly as hot as here (I'm in North Carolina), and she's not "sporty", but summer is coming -- so a medium (?) weight cotton sock with a fine knit seems like it might work.

My first shopping ideas are Nordstrom, Banana Republic, and Gap, but if someone has a better idea, or can recommend specific socks, that would be wonderful.

Also - if this is a stupid gift idea, I'm completely open. She makes me increasingly exquisite needlepoint greeting cards, and I think it's making her sad that I never make anything for her, but my only cool craft creation is wire and bead spiders, and she's terrified of spiders :( Plus I have to mail whatever it is to England.
posted by amtho to Shopping (13 answers total)
Response by poster: Just to be clear: I can find "good" socks. I'm hoping someone can point me to "perfect" or at least "beautiful" socks.
posted by amtho at 7:56 PM on May 4, 2010

Have you tried sockdreams?
posted by Hildegarde at 8:03 PM on May 4, 2010

SockDreams is possibly your friend, though it's hard to make specific recommendations without knowing whether she's an "Oxford summer dress" person or not.
posted by holgate at 8:15 PM on May 4, 2010

Response by poster: What does "Oxford summer dress" mean? That kind of _sounds_ like her. She likes embroidery and afternoon tea, and she teaches at the university...
posted by amtho at 9:02 PM on May 4, 2010

I'm mainly thinking of how once the weather brightens, usually after May Morning, many women at Oxford seem to gravitate towards light, breezy and colourful or flowery summer dresses, knee-length or longer. Those kind of dresses are usually worn either sockless with strappy heels for more formal occasions or with ankle socks.
posted by holgate at 9:47 PM on May 4, 2010

If you already know how to make bead and wire spiders, maybe you could make something else out of beads and wire? The huge new Martha Stewart Craft Encyclopedia has a large section on beaded flowers, leaves, bugs, and other pretty things. I was looking at it in the library the other day. There are a few projects on the MS website too. Maybe you could make her a pin or something else to wear?

I would be worried that beaded socks would be difficult to wear, since the weight of the beads might pull them down.
posted by apricot at 10:35 PM on May 4, 2010

Beaded socks are also not very sturdy - they won't really live through repeated washings or rubbing against trousers. Plus, potentially itchy on the inside.

What else does she like to do? We can probably help come up with another easily-mailable craft.

Does she:
- garden (cute plant identifiers for the garden. Can be made with chalkboard paint!)
- write letters (you could make a wax seal, or make her some interesting stationary out of found papers, or make some awesome envelopes to go with her needlepoint cards)
- wear glasses (you could make a beaded eyeglass case)
- you could make a small beaded purse

Do you know how to sew at all?
posted by barnone at 10:55 PM on May 4, 2010

Although some people are of the 'Oxford Summer Dress'-persuasion, no one can be all of the time in this climate! At the moment, the weather here is certainly more conducive to warm socks with the occasional welly. I think it's a nice idea, but it's difficult to suggest perfect socks without knowing what she wears. The embroidery suggests she might be slightly old-fashioned-feminine so Sockdreams might not be quite right, although perhaps one of these socks might work...

What I would suggest as a really good gift for a female academic is a decorated notebook, maybe with different shapes and designs cut out of beautiful papers and gold/silver foils, maybe even some of your smaller beads.
posted by Kirjava at 1:04 AM on May 5, 2010

Response by poster: She likes to go to Kew Gardens, she likes to make embroidered things, she likes to sing as part of a chorus (Gilbert & Sullivan and her church), and she has a Ph.D. in genetics. She tutors the subject.

She does write letters, but she loves making her own stationery.

She absolutely loves her life in Oxford, but she's originally from southern India and I believe she finds it a bit chilly sometimes.

I was thinking of using only very tiny beads. I can sew beads.

The decorated notebook is an interesting idea, although I tend to think of a notebook as a tool, one of those things that one should always choose for one's self.
posted by amtho at 5:41 AM on May 5, 2010

Response by poster: holgate - absolutely sounds like her. Flowery dresses sometimes, for certain. Ankle socks sounds like what I'm seeking. Where to get really good ones in the US?
The basket weave sock you linked to is maybe close to what I'd want, but, to me, it looks as though it would be less likely to stay up on the calf.

I think we both like interesting textures and color schemes that are in the main subdued, but with the occasional splash of bright cheerfulness.

Alas, she does not garden.
posted by amtho at 5:52 AM on May 5, 2010

I like to dye cotton or rayon (bamboo) socks with assorted pretty colors, in matching pairs, using a good fiber reactive dye (never Rit). I particularly like stealth socks, which are subtle above the shoes, but have a brightly colored toe that is hidden until the shoes come off.
posted by Ery at 6:31 AM on May 5, 2010

I thought about another option:
- Embroidered scarves -- you could sew some beads on one side at the bottom!
- that blog has lots of reasonably easy crafts. You might find something else that looks good too!
posted by barnone at 7:37 PM on May 7, 2010

Or how about a pencil case? Something for her to store her pens and pencils for school. You could even fill it with a few nice selections!
posted by barnone at 7:55 PM on May 7, 2010

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