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Department of Things I Have Been Dying To Tell You About

Dear Ann,
Two weeks ago, a chunk of our extended fambly –4 kids and 4 adults–landed in Zurich, Switzerland for an Epic Fambly Roots Tour of sites that are special to us in southern Germany. Jet-lagged and miscaffeinated (it seemed the children had been given caffeine and the adults had not), we loaded up our Conestoga wagons (rented VW Passats but whatever, I’m telling a STORY here) and headed for Stop 1: Munich. I’m probably not going to get much past Stop 1, because there is just not enough knitting in Stops 2 and 3, but Stop 1 was a doozy, knittingwise and otherwise.
Please note that we are not a Planning People. Typically we arrive on the scene 2 days after the Dill Pickle Festival has packed up, the Rolling Stones have left town, and the circus is not expected for 3 weeks. This time, with our timing dictated only by the window between school and camp, we landed smack in the middle of the Euro 2008 football championship–in which Germany figured HUGE–and more. Plain dumb luck. My favorite kind of luck!
Onward, VWs! Munich Ho!
Sunday morning, we awoke, foraged for milchkaffee, and lurched toward the Marienplatz.
Along the way, we noticed people in elaborate finery.
Quite a lot of people.
It also seemed like there was a rather large turnout for brunch this week.
Some of us thought something special must be afoot.
Hubby, our authority on all things Germanic, assured us that this was just the good folk from the surrounding countryside coming into Munich for a Sunday stroll. Ahem.
I had my doubts. I mean, is this a headdress for a casual Sunday fitnesswalk?
Do you wear your tricorner hat to regular old brunch?
People seemed to be having an awful lot of fun for 10:30 on Sunday morning.
So we got to Marienplatz.
Where we saw this sign. It seems we had stumbled into Munich’s 850th birthday party.
“Oh,” said Hubby. “Maybe that’s it.”
Ann, you shoulda seen the outfits. So elaborate, with twinkly silver hair ornaments on every bun and braid, fancy handknit socks, everybody from the same town wearing the same hat, all the hats different and the handbaskets and the ladies with entire bouquets of fresh carnations and roses spilling out of the necklines of their blouses (I was too shy to get a good picture of that). The level of detail would get respect from any Civil War or Revolutionary War reenactor. To show up turned out like this takes commitment.
These guys were from the town where they wear ribbons on their hats.
It was such fun, we wandered for hours. With my focus on the handknits, it was only a matter of time before I saw this guy, and nearly choked on my weissbier:
What do you call these? Bifurcated socks! Bikini socks! Calf hammocks! It’s…..can anybody explain it to me? I thought it might be a one-off, that this guy might be some crazed leg-exhibitionist.
But apparently not.
An impromptu danceathon in the victualienmarkt removed all doubt. These socks were for real. Get used to it.
This is not a scene from The Producers, I promise you.
I think we can all agree that without the socks, this dance is much less exciting.
Putting the leder in lederhosen.
If anybody can tell me about these socks, I would be very appreciative. In addition to their obvious sex appeal, they were also beautifully knitted and embellished, with embroidery I think.
And argyles! This was my sole sighting of argyles, but I’m hopeful that there is a town of argyle guys.
In other (albeit lesser) Munich highlights, I took 2 great pictures at the Olympic stadium (1972).
This one wants to be a blanket.
And this one was not staged, although I did have to take a couple of dozen shots to get it. (We really did take the ball everywhere. There are lots of places to play soccer if you are alert.)
It was a great trip, and I’m really glad to be home. Oh! Forgot to mention that I knitted 3 baby sweaters in transit. More about that later.



  1. I must knit myself a pair of Bikini Socks! Or whatever they are! They’re terrific, and I’ll be haunting the comments to see if any of your well-informed readers know what they’re called.

  2. These are called loferl – poor man’s socks. Kept the veins in the leg warm but used less wool.

  3. Lami must be right, but I think they are to protect their shins from the kicking up of the heels! 😉

  4. Can’t tell you about the socks but I can tell you you’ve been missed!

  5. They use socks like that as Epcot Center! I thought that Disney cobbled them together!
    I love the outfits….I suspect that they are “traditional folk clothing” as opposed to “reproduction” clothing…the difference being that hte latter is a snapshot of a particular period in time, and the former is growth and tradition representing the whole history of a place, not what was actually commonly worn (rather like a wedding gown).
    And, btw, my DH would wear his tricon to have brunch…..

  6. What a great post! And wonderful photographs.
    What I want to know about the Sockus interruptus is this: what keeps them from falling down and becoming simply two-part socks? I haven’t been able to keep knee socks (the continuous style) from falling down since St. Mary’s, and then I relied on rubber bands which I now blame for those weird veins on the back of my knees…but I digress.
    You have defined miscaffeination *perfectly.* I didn’t know there was such a thing (kind of like the S.i.), but now I do!
    And I think the kids have the right idea. A great way to blend into the local scene in Europe: carry a soccer ball and kick it around at every opportunity!
    Now why am I craving a very dark beer?

  7. I found a website that explains the aforementioned 2 part socks. . .
    Interesting, just makes me wonder what we wear that the world puzzles over. . . you know we do have traditions that perplex others, really we do.

  8. I found a website that explains the aforementioned 2 part socks. . .
    Interesting, just makes me wonder what we wear that the world puzzles over. . . you know we do have traditions that perplex others, really we do.

  9. A most fantastic travelogue.
    I missed you too.

  10. Ich bin ganz neidisch.
    I am so jealous.

  11. Oh Kay, You went to the city of my Birth, Zurich, Switzerland. I wished I was there. I am glad you had a great time in Munich. I missed you and your knitting, can’t wait to see your baby sweaters. I just finished one today,the Bolero from Knitting pure and simple #275. Rita

  12. As the mother of 2 very dedicated soccer playing girls I know that there is always a place to play soccer. So jealous that you were at Euro Cup…it rocks.

  13. Most excellent reportage and photos. I only wish I had a picture of you photographing German guys’butts in leather shorts with 2 part sock accompaniment. You can’t make up a scene like that!

  14. But wait — did you get to see Valentina?

  15. See??? This time you arrived when a big event was taking place!
    Those shin socks look like recycled underwear…maybe it’s just me…

  16. When we were in England three years ago our then-14-year-old insisted I put a Frisbee in my backpack. I thought that was about the dumbest idea ever … until the first time it saved us from two bored teenaged boys. By the 500th time (not to mention the times that they got up huge groups of people playing with it) I knew the boy was a genius. “Go play Frisbee” could make almost any situation better!
    Glad you had a good time, and glad you’re back safe!

  17. wunderschon! (where is the umlaut on my keyboard?) i did a college year in suddeutschland — radolfzell am bodensee, south of konstanz. these pictures are wonderful, and make me want to go back through mine to see what random knitting i captured, as i was in my college-too-disdainful-of-my-childhood to knit phase at that point in time. i can’t wait for your next post!

  18. Whoa! That makes this: almost too much of a coincidence!
    Welcome home!

  19. I was born in Germany (The Kornwestheim exit on the B-27, didn’t quite make it to the Army hospital in Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt ‘tho my birth certificate says I did- but that’s a whole ‘nother story!) and we lived in Heilbronn when my 2 oldest girls were born (we did make it to the hospital for their births). I especially love the trachtenshue/farmer’s shoes (sp?) being worn with the bikini socks. I have a pair of them with the side laces and lug soles. My husband has a pair of lederhosen (greyish suede with the green suede trim) tho he never wears them (imagine that!) and we also have assorted dirndls in various toddler sizes, and knit and suede lederhosen with matching socks and sweaters that I’ll probably never part with (tho I am starting to weed out the 20+ yo Volksmarsching medals and plaques). Since my sister is PCS-ing (Army-speak for moving) to Germany this summer, a trip is definitely in our future. The bonus is that my youngest brother and his wife and 2 little boys live in Switzerland. Can’t wait to revisit all the sights and see if my favorite yarn shops are still there. Did you guys go to Garmisch? My kids used to love watching the cows come down from the pasture and walk down the streets to the barn to be milked in the evening. We always stayed in Frau Maria’s Gasthaus and the cows would pass right under our balcony. Sigh! Thanks for the little trip down memory lane.

  20. Oh My, the lederhosen, bifurcated socks, and assorted finery are delightful for those of us state-side bound this summer. I am new to your site and have consoled myself with the archives for the last week or so (but who’s counting?). Being an Alabama girl by birth, I am glad to find someone else appreciates the marriage/transformational craft-a-palooza possibilities between quilting (my mom is a killer quilter, Gees Bend definitely part of the household vocabulary) and knitting.
    All this to say, you two ladies (see, I am Southern!) are amazing and have inspired me to try knitting something LARGE– like a mitered blanket…oy, when my mom hears this she’ll freak! She’s tried to get me to quilt forever, but this is as close as I may get during her lifetime. Welcome back!!

  21. While living in Germany, whenever we asked about the calf socks, the men would give some unconvincing practical explanation, but the women confided it’s a vanity thing–makes the calf muscles more impressive!

  22. hi kay1
    they are called wadlschoner (calf protecters) to protect them from to much fondling(!) from women hands. check out this foto from a wedding where the bride tests the muscles of the gents. gruß aus bayern.

  23. Kay–it looks like a FUBLOUS trip!! Too many years since I have been there .
    The socks are called Leferl: Knitted calf warmers made from rough wool, that are worn with the short Lederhosen. In the past, they were footless. The men wore the shoes in their bare feet. Today, the leg warmers are offered with matching socks.
    And Tish—oh myc but you have taken ME down memory lane. I don’t remember where we stayed in Garmisch, but I VIVIDLY recall the cows coming down from pasture right through the streets below our window. Thanks for the memories.

  24. What a great event to witness! So much to see and obsorb except for those socks… or lack of.

  25. Soo amazing! *steams with jealousy* Two summers ago I spent 3 weeks knocking around Europe with a band in a double-decker bus. Fifty-two kids, four adults, seven towns, four countries, (five if you count a rest stop in Belgium), and one flutist who got left in a graveyard in Bautzen and wandered around for three hours. (ME!) Germany lost the European soccer championship yesterday, how crazy was it where you were? It was absolutely insane in CGD airport the day after Italy won the world cup. Marching, flag waving, singing, cheering, the whole nine yards. Ich wunsche dir viel spass in Deutschland!

  26. Gegobschmacken by all the GARB!
    Welcome home, hon! Missed you and all yer shenanigans.

  27. wow, three sweaters in transit. That would take me weeks ( at the very least!)

  28. wow, three sweaters in transit. That would take me weeks ( at the very least!)

  29. Great to have you back, and what the adventures! I too wonder how the sock bits stay up.

  30. THANK YOU! Some of us (me) aren’t so big on travel and besides, aren’t likely to have the wherewithal to travel overseas in this lifetime; therefore, I ADORE seeing travel pix! How cool is that? And…the internet being what it is, and all us knitterly-types, how long before those strange calf-socks become a fashion statement HERE on account of ’cause we’re all trying a pair just to see how they are?

  31. This site:
    states they are called “Wadenstrumfe”, typical of an area SE of Munich….Wouldn’t it be fun to knit some?

  32. I was told that these are summertime socks. Too hot for full socks, but the band around the calf keeps the muscle warm enough to prevent muscle strain when the guys are walking around, especially up mountains. Or doing that dance that involves all the slapping.

  33. My brother-in-law has a pair of those. His oma knitted them for him to wear with his lederhosen. I will ask for the pattern, if anyone is interested.

  34. Kay,welcome back and thanks for a great vacation! I feared that I would not be able to go anywhere due to increasing prices of everything, but the excellent account of your trip enabled me to have a great vacation along with you and your family. You have made some wonderful memories for us all.

  35. Anyone else having visions of Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s European Vacation? I’m going to be giggling all day.

  36. Kay, welcome back! Man you brought back some wonderful memories. We were stationed in Germany(Aschaffenburg) for 6 years and LOVED Munich. I was always fasinated with the clothes especially in the Munich/Garmish area. And the people are so freindly and kind. I know your kids will remember this forever and it’s such a great culture environment. Hope you got to sing Edlewiesse and the Sound of Music and got to have a Brat and Brochen.
    Tish- I would give anything to go back to Garmish, (without the new Giantic Military hotel though). We stayed downtown and the Peach Pit was our favorite hangout! Nat

  37. That’s it! I’m just going to start wearing dirndhls and braiding my hair. How can you have a bad day in outfits that are that joyful?
    The pretty handknit socks are a fine bonus (even the wierd half socks, cool info on those.) Now I need a beer and a brat.

  38. Kay – loved the pix of Munich – my sister and brother-in law lived there for a year, 88-89. My nephew was born there. I went just after Octoberfest in ’89 – loved it. My sister and her family went back to visit a few years ago.

  39. Kay – loved the pix of Munich – my sister and brother-in law lived there for a year, 88-89. My nephew was born there. I went just after Octoberfest in ’89 – loved it. My sister and her family went back to visit a few years ago.

  40. I can’t be the only one having “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” flashbacks when reading this post, right?! All I can think of is Clark Griswold up there dancing and starting a fight. Hilarious!!!

  41. I spent three of my formative years (1977-1980) living in Bad Aibling, Bavaria, where the farmers actually did (and, as far as I know, still do) wear lederhosen every day as they walked the cows out to and back from the fields. The women generally wore traditional dress, too (all of their outfits were the daily-wear version of the Sunday best you saw). Our landlord’s house was mid-16th C. archetypal Bavarian–geranium boxes in the windows, dirt floor in the kitchen, timber and stucco. Just like a picture postcard.
    I haven’t been back since 2000. I need to go.

  42. You found Germans so funky you make Brooklyn hipsters look staid. Although the phrase is just too twentieth century, YOU GO GIRL!
    signed, living in the next Williamsburg(Bushwick) too long

  43. Thanks for sharing great pictures from your trip to Munich. I enjoyed them very much even though they made me a little bit homesick, too, as I am from Bavaria myself.
    I would call those socks “Wadenstruempfe”.

  44. Munich is the capital of Bavaria. Bavaria is the Texas of Germany. Those people talk funny and they were DRUNK when they made those socks! Cray-zee-drunk. And Switzerland? When they show the Swiss German on tv in Germany? They put SUBTITLES under it. That’s how drunk they are.
    Dude, I’m taking my summer vacation in Berlin, where the native dress involves mohawks and safety pins.
    I actually learned to knit in Germany. From Northern Germans. My first project was socks. Whole, non-drunken, foot socks. For your feet. And ankles. We didn’t have sock needles, so we used a game of pick-up sticks.

  45. Sex appeal, indeed.

  46. Mr. Google says: (Loferl – 2 pc. socks)
    Bavarian leg warmers (stutzen) These were marked down from $100 to $75!
    You can buy an entire costume! And one for your husband!
    Regards — Joanne

  47. Mr. Google says: (Loferl – 2 pc. socks)
    Bavarian leg warmers (stutzen) These were marked down from $100 to $75!
    You can buy an entire costume! And one for your husband!
    Regards — Joanne

  48. WOW! those bikini socks are cool! I’ve never seen anything like them but they are so perfectly logical for keeping your calf muscles warm.
    My brother and his family are posted to Germany at the moment and I’m planning a trip in the autumn. Thanks to your pictures I can’t wait!
    I love the chair picture at the olympic stadium – and can’t wait to see the blanket! Since I live in London maybe I’ll plan one of the London olympic stadium seats… 2012 should just about give me time to finish all the other planned work!

  49. You have been in Munich? Gosh, I live there 🙂 I really hope, you enjoyed the time here and love the city as much as I do! Happy knitting!

  50. How funny, I was there that weekend, too! Did you see the guys with whips? They also had the slightly odd socks-with-no-ankles, which I dubbed calf warmers in my head.

  51. I see someone provided the answer, but my Ravelry friend Selana (from Germany) offered the following information………
    “they are called Loferl and are traditionally worn with short Lederhosen. In the past, they were just legwarmers and you didn’t wear any socks with them. Now they are knit or sold as a matching set of anklets and legwarmers.
    But you only wear them with short Lederhosen, with all longer versions you wear knee high socks”
    And THAT’s why you get on Ravelry! Handy-dandy folks there!

  52. Thanks, thanks, thanks for the Loferl pictures! It is fun to discover something new when traveling, even if it is only vicariously.

  53. Oh, Munich! We lived in the Nuernberg area (Ansbach and Schwabach, actually) of Bavaria in the early 1980s. We only got to Munich twice, I think, but it was a wonderful city. All of Bavaria was lovely, really, and I hope I get to go back some day. I have to say, though, I don’t remember the bikini socks…

  54. Oh, Munich! We lived in the Nuernberg area (Ansbach and Schwabach, actually) of Bavaria in the early 1980s. We only got to Munich twice, I think, but it was a wonderful city. All of Bavaria was lovely, really, and I hope I get to go back some day. I have to say, though, I don’t remember the bikini socks…


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