True Blue

Apparently I have a thing for blue… not that this is much of a surprise (looking at my project page or my wardrobe…).

Today, my FO is blue, my WIP is blue, and the UFO I’m avoiding, also blue. But since I am avoiding the last, I’ll do my review of Sock Innovation instead.

First up – FO:

Specs: Handspun Shawl
Pattern: Eye of Partridge Shawl
Designer: aemmeleia
Source: Not Another Knitblog!

Yarn: handspun – Barber Pole Blues, merino/silk natural single, plied with a hand-dyed tussah silk single (around a fingering weight)
Yardage: almost all of the 550 yards… that is assuming my math was right on the yardage when I spun it…
Needles: 5mm circs

Notes: I think I made up the cast-off and final rows as I went and couldn’t exactly tell you what I did… It is a great, fast project and while the yarn ended up striping more than I’d have liked, I think it will showcase this yarn nicely. (And I finally knit something with my handspun!!)

Next up the WIP:
So I went and cast on another Ironwrought Scarf, this time with the single skein of the Dye-Version Silver I had in the stash. The colourway is called Midnight. I love love love the pattern, and the yarn is (as a friend called it) decadent, but I’m still unsure of how I feel about the amount of green. I didn’t realize there even was any until I started knitting it, thinking it was all blues… but there is actually a lot of green. I don’t positively dislike it and I’m going to finish it and see how it looks once blocked, but I’m not as enthusiastic as I was before.

I promise there is green… lots of it…

The Book Review:
Title: Sock Innovation
Author: Cookie A
Publisher: Interweave Press
Cover Prince: $22.95USD
Binding: Softcover
Pages: 143
ISBN: 978-1-59668-109-5

The book is divided into two sections, the first addressing sock design principles and method and the second containing 15 sock patterns.
The design section, which to be perfectly honest is what I bought the book for, is amazing. As many will already know, Cookie A. designs amazing looking socks – crazy, complicated, awe-inspiring socks. And in the design section she gives a graduate level course on sock design, and I can’t wait to get back to a few ideas I’d canned armed with the information and direction in this book. The section begins with the Basic Sock Outline (p13) which looks a little like the Yarn Harlots Generic Sock Recipe from Knitting Rules!, though much vaguer and it does not include instructions for the construction of the heel flap (though it gives tips on heel placement) or directions for a toe, this puzzled me – until I turned the page, whereupon begins a 7 page detailed description of Cuff, Heel, and Toe options, complete with full colour pictures, tables, and instructions. The design section is clear and accessible, while at the same time full of amazing and detailed information.

This would be the first page of the 7 pages of options.
Of particular note in the design section are the author’s treatment of:
*The discussions of inverting stitches and cables (pages 25-27), wherein she provides both a method for figuring out virtually any inversions oneself as well as handy references for common and not so common combinations. The mirroring of stitches, which could probably have gone here as well, is instead put on page 40, after the section on charting.
*The discussion of charting (pages 28-39), which is comprehensive, well laid out, and very well illustrated with examples. Topics addressed include: charting repeats, converting charts for in the round knitting, jogs, charts for flat knitting, isolating repeats, converting charts to flat/rectangular knitting.
*The discussion of the process of sock design (pages 50-55), addressing the math of sock gauge, swatching for socks, and options/decisions in a design, and determining yardage requirements.
Other topics addressed in the design section are:
*how different stitches affect knitted fabric (pages 41-42)
*multi-coloured yarns (page 44)
*re-sizing stitch patterns (pages 46-47)
*transitioning from one pattern to another (page 48) and combining multiple stitch patterns (page 49)

The pattern section of the book, honestly does not interest me as much. Of the 15 patterns in the book there is only one pattern that I know I will knit (Kai-Mei) and only two others that I’m drawn to (Rick and Vilai).

Kai-Mei the socks I will knit, and in fact am holding myself back from casting-on right now.

That said there is considerable variety in the options. Cables, lace, ribbing, combinations of all three, masculine socks, feminine socks, neutral socks, simpl(er) socks, complicated socks, and HOLY COW CHART socks – see the charts for Bex (though nothing quite like the individual sock patterns of Cookie’s that I already own). All of the socks are top down and all are in fingering weight yarns. The instructions are clear, each sock is shown in multiple photographs and a couple in multiple yarn options, the charts are clear and pattern layouts are fairly well spaced (ie. charts are a decent size, and charts and texts are not crowded).

One of the charts for Bex…

The book finishes up with a list of abbreviations and a glossary. The glossary consists of instructions for various techniques described, including: 4 cast-ons, 6 decreases, grafting, 6 increases, pick-up and knit, and short rows. Finally the yarn sources are listed, some of which are far more complete than others and what information is included is somewhat inconsistent (ie. full mailing address and website for Artyarns and most of the others, while Blue Moon Fiber Arts has mailing address and no website, and Fleece Artist and Hand Jive Knits have a website and no mailing address).

Overall, I really like this book and would highly recommend it for someone interested in designing socks or understanding socks and sock design better. The patterns, are largely a matter of preference, though I would expect there is at least one for any knitter’s tastes to be found here (and possibly one for each of those people you try to knit socks for too…). But for me it is all about the information, I tend towards buying individual patterns as I like them and books for information, unless I want to knit the bulk of the patterns they contain. The design section of this book is well worth having it in my collection.

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