Image of the May 2022 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
May 2022 Issue
Home / Articles / Wild People

Putting a sock in it

Allie Dunn takes her knitting needles everywhere.

When your tramping wardrobe needs a bit more colour, how about pulling out those knitting needles to make your own clothes.

Allie Dunn wanted to jazz up her tramping outfit but could only find gear in different shades of grey. So, she took matters into her own hands. 

The 54-year-old Dannevirke resident, who resumed tramping with friends five years ago, has been knitting her own colourful tramping socks. 

She’s made a dozen pairs so far and says they are unique socks that work well.

“They’re perfect for tramping because they’re made from merino wool so you don’t get any blisters and they keep your feet nice and warm and dry.

“I use a squishy stitch on the soles which gives them added comfort. There’s a lot of math involved so getting the size right means they don’t bunch or move around in my boots.” 

First, she works out what gauge to knit at and the size of needles to use. 

Once she knows how many stitches and rows she needs for 10cm squares, she can work out how many stitches and rows are needed to get the fit of the socks just right. 

She estimates it takes her a couple of weeks to make one pair doing an hour or so each night and they’d cost $30 a pair to make. 

She doesn’t waste any leftover wool, either. 

“I’ve made a very ‘be safe, be seen’ tramping jersey from leftovers from my sock knitting, and a couple of pairs of ‘Frankenstein’ socks made up of leftovers as well.” 

Quite often she’ll stop along the way on walks and pull out her knitting. She also badgers away while staying in huts. 

She says it’s done for fun; making them for her and her husband and has no plans to turn it into a business. 

What she likes most about making the socks are the memories she knits into them.

“When I wear a pair, the memories of the tramp I was on when I was making them, the day walks that I took some knitting along on, they all come to mind.

“Like when my hubby and I did the Old Ghost Road, I was knitting some orange socks with tiger print designs. When I wear them now, I think about the fun we had, the people we met, the beautiful scenery of the tramp; all of that comes back.”

Dunn, who is the governance manager and deputy electoral officer at Manawatu Council, has been knitting since she was four when her mother taught her. 

The “addiction”, as she calls it, started with a dolly, then Barbie clothes, and then clothes for herself as a teenager.

Her current project is knitting an alpaca jersey for her husband Bob to tramp in so he doesn’t get too hot. 

The couple tries to go for a hike every weekend and do a Great Walk every year.

When asked if she was a colourful person outside of her tramping socks, Dunn replied “well, at the moment I’m wearing a knitted jersey in various shades of pink, purple, green and blue and my socks are orange with tiger stripes.

“At work, I’m a bit more restrained.”