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February is a tricksy time, you’re feeling just about done with winter and snow and cold and wet. In some areas, like the Pacific Northwest, there are whiffs of the spring to come as the most heedless flowers (I’m looking at you, crocus) pop up on the surprisingly “warm” days that aren’t actually that warm, in the real scheme of things.
We recently talked of the wonders of fleece, in all its variants, but what are some other ways to keep cozy and make sure you have all your toes by the time spring really comes? That’s where our Warm! Category steps in. Let’s look at the non-fleece options for snuggly socks (and more!).
Speaking of more, why don’t we start with your shoes? We recently brought in Alpaca Felt Insoles, made in the USA by Heartfelt. They’re super warm alpaca wool felted onto burlap for sturdiness, made to slip into your shoes and curl just a bit up the sides, adding an insulating layer between your feet and the cold world.
They can be a bit fiddly to get in, but oh boy are they worth it (we found that bending back the front edge as you slip them in helps)! Perfect for those boots that are always a bit loose, they’re a dream to stand on and some of us removed the insole that came with our shoes to replace it with this warm, woolly option.
And what of wool? If you can wear it, it’s the best natural insulator. That’s thanks to the halo we’ve talked about before, trapping all that air like a Thermos and keeping warm in and cold out. It also works to wick sweat and wet away, which makes it ideal if your feet might end up damp and cold!
Pairing wool fiber and fuzzy textures ups the snuggly factor. “Boucle” (or, more properly, “bouclé”) is both a yarn and the fabric made from that yarn. Strands are wound together in a way that makes that distinctive loopy appearance. Fabric knit from bouclé yarn has a squishy thickness to it that indicates its lovely insulating properties.
If you can’t wear wool, or aren’t big into bouclé, then there’s a similar option available for you! Terrycloth (called “terry” for short and “French terry” if knit, and “warp knit” if you’re nasty) is a fabric knit to be flat on one side, with lots of loops on the other. Those little loops trap air just like a bouclé fabric (though maybe not as efficiently). They also add a thickness too that ups the warmth factor. We have quite a few terry options not in the Warm! section too. But these two are probably our top toasty terry-lined options.
Of course, there’s much to explore (and lots of options to layer) in the Warm! section, but I want to leave you with one last luscious option for staying warm. They’re a home sock, really, made for snuggling into at the end of your day, but the New Zealand Bed Socks by Outer Gear are fabulously furry inside, with a gentle top that is kind to sensitive ankles, making them a great option for folks who need to put their feet up. In stripes, solids and polka dots, with treads and without, there’s a style for just about everyone!
Like a lot of our imported styles, shipments of New Zealand Bed Socks are few and far between, so if the one you want isn’t available at this moment, be sure to sign up for email notification by clicking the “be notified when new stock arrives.” link that pops up when you select an out of stock colour. Do that and you’ll know the same day we do that more have arrived and are ready to order!
Keep those toesies cozy and see if the snuggly solution to keeping warm is just waiting for you to find it! Do you have a favourite sock or combo attack that you use to defeat the cold?
When we focused on red last year I stuck with that true, mid-century lipstick hue. Unlike some colours (purple is a good example) that have a strong and steady gradient of types, things that are red tend to be either RED or a fancily named dark red like “Bordeaux”, “Merlot” or “Burgundy”.
These delicious dark hues sometimes dip their toe into purple, but they’re always red in the shadows. Dark reds can be particularly picky about how they look, depending on who they’re by, as you can see in this shot of the O Chevrons in Dark Red/Black (left) and Dark Red/White (right).
Disclaimer time! I’m not trying to define red. If you want some poem-like lists of names for shades of red, both Wikipedia and the Color Sorting Wiki are kind of amazing resources. I’ve done my best to accurately represent these hues in relation to each other, so you can gather a good idea of what matches and what doesn’t. That said, let’s get down to it!
Dream Stockings & Dreamer Socks
We say “Dark Red” for our house brand styles, ‘cause that’s what it is! The nylon yarn’s “Maroon”, however, has plummy undertones that make it deliciously deep.
A long time ago, B.Ella’s “Burgundy” used to be very berry, but since then, their dye batches have deepened and desaturated into this very sedate shade that is more Merlot.
They do love their “Burgundy”, making it a standard with Black, a brown and a grey for a lot of their styles. In cotton, the burgundy has a yellow base, while polyester and nylon-heavy blends make it more blue. The Ribbed Knit Leg Warmers are an outlier, with their fuzzy off-white marl.
Real talk: when does Tabbisocks ever not do a colour beautifully? Their Merlot is deep and delightful, with just the right amount of berry tones even in the comparatively darker versions.
“Port” is a dark red word used pretty much only by Sockwell and Stance, who (at least on the dark end) interpret it pretty similarly. EG Smith and Una go brighter in their dark reds, with a more vibrant burgundy than most folks turn out.
How a dark red shakes out is pretty straightforward: darker shades with tones of purple, lightening up to some pure berry!
You may be familiar with folks using flowers to secretly say what their heart truly means. If you’re thinking of getting yourself or someone else a bouquet of socks, we have quite the garden of floral styles for you to pick from.
When it comes to simply depicting flowers, there is a lot of artistic interpretation that happens, which means the majority of our styles are more of a “floral motif”, with lots of indeterminate blooms and flower-like patterns that evoke a garden without being specific.
But! If you’re looking for a little something more, we’ve also made sure you can search for common flower types to better convey your feelings.
These are loose interpretations of pretty petals, so if you see a bloom we’ve overlooked or mis-identified, let us know! We did our best, but are not botanists (though the folks who design floral patterns aren’t often, either) and many of these flower designs could be representing one kind or another. That said, let’s have some floral fun!
The Anemone is a simple, multi-petal flower with a burst of colour in the center. It can mean a lot of things, but it particularly represents anticipation.
A Carnation is a deeply layered bloom and its distinctly saw-tooth profile is often used as a complement to traditional rose patterns. Meaning everything from deep love to good luck, depending on colour, in general a carnation expresses love, fascination and distinction.
An emblem of good fortune, the Cherry Blossom signals love and affection, while their short span before falling also hints at the fleeting nature of feeling and time.
What defines the Chrysanthemum has often been contentious. A flower of variables, the one constant is many little florets working together to make a spectacular flower that stands for optimism and joy.
Though a bold flower, the Hibiscus means “delicate beauty”. It’s one of those designs that, when rendered in sock form, could be a geranium or even a lily, if you’re just looking at shapes. It’s the tropical colours that help them stand out from the crowd.
The Lily is another classic bouquet flower that holds a different meaning for each colour it blooms in. From “modesty” to “passion”, or “gaiety” to “refined beauty”, the lily can represent practically as many things as the individual breeds of both true and named lilies (though the BlueQ socks below are pretty clear in their meaning)!
Even more bedecked with meaning, the Rose could say “hey, you’re a rad friend” (yellow) to “love at first sight” (purple).
There’re lots more meanings to flowers and colours. And with a search through our Floral styles you can wear your heart on your toes, if not on your sleeve!
When you search “fleece” on our site, mostly you see variations of polar fleece and fleece-lined, but there are two outliers that are actually informative.
The fiber content for the Nuova Ribbed Wool Midcalf explains that they’re made from “one of the rarest and finest grades of Alpaca fleece.” And the New Zealand Sleepy Sheep Bedsock mentions the fleece-y coats of sheep. See, polar fleece was designed to mimic the insulating properties of natural fleece (the wooly coat of sheep and other fiber animals), which it does—right down to retaining its insulating (read: warm-making) powers when wet.
Similar to Dupont’s choice to not trademark the word “nylons”, the inventor of polar fleece declined to patent it, an action that encouraged the proliferation and acceptance of this new fabric. I’m sure the totally snuggly aspects of polar fleece helped too.
I mean, just look at how snuggly the Jellybean Fleece Slipper Socks are!
Lately, we’ve been seeing more and more “fleece” styles pop up. Most are polar fleece (or have the same qualities), but some aren’t quite. One of the definitive aspects of fleece (animal, polar or colloquial), is a woolly nap or pile. And both those words are just fancy fabric terms for a raised surface. Corduroy, velvet terry, all those touchable textures involve a distinctive fuzzy finish. Which, all of our “fleece” styles have.
Now, if that fuzzy finish is actually fleece-y or something else is another thing. Like a lot of accessory and clothing descriptors, like “crochet”, “fleece” can be used a little willy-nilly but is internally consistent in definition. So let’s look at what we mean when we say “fleece.”
Last week we talked about the ZAP! Category and why a style goes away. You’d think, since we deal with this regularly (and some of us have to make the “this needs to go” decisions), Dreamers wouldn’t feel the pangs of loss as sharply when a style goes ZAP! But we do!
I asked my fellow Dreamers what socks they have and love, that we don’t carry any longer and they were quick to reply! Some are worn with the years, some are perfectly preserved (and worn only on special occasions), but all are styles we dearly miss. I bet a lot of your long-gone favourites are some of these too . . .
Old O Dreamy and Super Dreamy colours
Sure, we still sell the O Dreamy and Super Dreamy styles. But, as many of you know, the yarn is as difficult to get as a dragon’s hoard and eventually a colour runs out and that’s the last we see of it. Niq has expressed before that the Dreamy style is her personal favourite, and her collection of them is mighty!
The yarn used to be a bit more slubby back in the day too, as you can see in the original Bark Super Dreamy she’s layered under the old Antique O Dreamy. On the right are old product shots of the Hibiscus, Autumn and Classic colours. Old yarn or new, this style does just get softer and better with each wash.
Earlene Plaid Cat Socks (and other B.Ella cute crews)
For the style that Dreamer Lucy picked as her long-gone favourite, our image Archives sadly failed me. Somehow we no longer have images of this kinda-rustic, kinda-wooly, VERY comfortable crew. That’s just like cats, to tell the truth, off into the shadows! So I’ve added old images of the Susan (a merino blend with bold flowers) and the June (a classic picnic blanket check) on the right, so they all generally represent B.Ella crews lost and gone.
It’s not just these styles from B.Ella that has sadly but swiftly passed through our hands. Crews and ankle styles are clearly where B.Ella loves to play, they so regularly introduce new styles each season and only the strongest survive. It’s a sock-eat-sock world out there. Luckily, B.Ella offers several tried and true styles we can count on to keep on keeping on (even if their colours cycle out to new hues).
Shaggy Stripe Leggings
The nubbly, furry texture of these leggings definitely split opinion. You either loved them (like Dreamer Nina in the Black & Grey below), or you were Rather Not Into It. With decent stretch and good basic colours they did well, but they had two flaws.
We weren’t able to get them as regularly as we needed from their supplier, which is always frustrating, but these fabulously fuzzy leggings also were prone to holes at the crotch seams. That double whammy meant a sad goodbye, even though the folks who loved them (like Nina) don’t mind a bit their structural instability, because nowadays all we currently have to offer are fleece-lined styles and mere touches of microfiber fuzzies.
MP Coarse Knit Knee Highs
We mostly said goodbye to the MP brand about two years ago. They’re an expensive and difficult to import style, though we still carry some of their Cotton-Lined Wool Tights. But the gem in the MP crown was the Coarse Knit Knee Highs (and, before that, the shorter Coarse Knit Ski Socks). Thick, but not too thick, with a sweater-like rib that made them the ultimate in cozy, Dreamer Rosalind loved them so much that she collected four pairs before they went away forever.
I particularly love that she’s got a hat that matches their grey marl, it means the yarn is out there somewhere, just waiting to be made into socks we can easily carry! None of our warm, ribbed styles really compare, even the Ribbed Wool OTK isn’t as perfectly thick a sock.
At-Cross OTK and Kalana Wool Tights
This is actually another MP style—not as madly loved as the Coarse Knit, but a stellar example of the lovely over the knee socks from MP often offered. Deeply textural, and with a cuff that Dreamer Rachel loves because it’s the same inside and outside (allowing her to make them OTKs or thigh highs on her shorter inseam), there’s nothing that quite compares, though the Textured Cable Acrylic OTK come close, particularly in cuff. The Cronert cotton overknee styles also are similar. Even though they have a doubled cuff the ribbing is the same inside and out, making them quite cuffable!
But it wasn’t just the OTKs that Rachel was reminiscing about, she was also wearing the gorgeous Kalana Wool tights from B.Ella, which you can see peeks of around (and through!) her socks. One of those “crochet-style” tights, the Kalana were a lot like the Patricia Merino Crochet Tights in fiber and style, but with a gorgeous band detail at the thigh that we rarely see (though the ZAP!-ed Samara have a similar look). Together with the also mourned MP OTK, it’s a pair for the ages.
Surprise Rib OTK
We never did quite figure out what the surprise was in Ozone’s Surprise Rib OTK. Was it that “Khaki” was actually a brilliant green? Or the “Prune” had more warmth and gorgeousness than its name implied? Most likely the name came from the way the ribs opened up on these socks, creating a depth of texture that took you from “eh” to “OH!” Dreamer Stephanie had little hesitation when choosing this as her favourite long-gone style and regretted not getting more than one colour (though we may have been down to just “Khaki” and “Prune” when she first started with us).
Nowadays, Ozone seems to be focusing more on shorter styles and there’s nothing quite like the Surprise Rib OTK out there, though the Sweater Style Over the Knee has the same surprise effect when the ribbing opens up as you put them on.
Coyote Knee Highs
Nowadays we mostly only offer RockNSocks’ OTK and midcalf styles, with just the Eleggua Knee High representing that coverage level. But, once upon a time, there were several knee highs from RockNSocks available, like Dreamer Tori’s pick: the Coyote Knee High! And she isn’t alone in her devotion, another Dreamer came up as I was getting the snap below and when they learned it was for the “socks we miss” post they were crushed—turns out the Coyote Knee High were a favourite of theirs too and they didn’t realise that style had been gone for some time.
For fuller legs, a RockNSocks OTK is more like a knee sock, but that’s still a far cry from the sweet spot of “knee high.” Luckily, our Dreamer Socks have come out with more knee high options to fill that need for an eco-friendly, reclaimed fiber knee high that fits just right.
Oh Stance. You make such fun styles, but they’re so seasonal! Here for a year (or less) then gone. Dreamer Sabrina’s pick, the Galacticat Midcalves, were one we almost missed out offering online, and their time with us was far too short (they were pretty popular with everyone, it seemed). Cats. IN. SPACE. What else could we add to make them better? Sabrina’s pair is well loved and worn, because again: cats in space.
What can even compare? Oh, how about Grumpy Cat Grumpy Space Leggings? Another favourite that we didn’t get for very long were called “Plasticism” (the ways people get around directly referencing Mondrian’s designs are kind of great), but they live again from another supplier, the Abstract Rhythms Midcalf from Soxks. Stance has wonderfully unique socks, so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on their page so you don’t miss any of the seasonal styles. Who knows what they’ll make that might top GALACTICAT?!
US Arm Warmers
Marls, stripes and solids, the lightweight yet warm US Arm Warmers (made, naturally, in the USA) were a basic-basic. Simple, tube style sleeves with a finished hole for the thumb, they were an inexpensive but favourite layer for Dreamer Rae.
There’s no direct equivalent to these old mitt-style arm warmers, the Harajuku Arm Warmers are cozy in the same way, but too short. The Una arm warmers are as long, but a totally different material. And neither have that sort of rustic, sort of punk (rustic punk, can that be a thing?) overall look.
But that’s how it goes. A style goes away and leaves as space that can’t always be filled in quite the same way. However, give anything enough time and something even better may come along that more than fills the space, it covers and landscapes it!