I knit this sock from Big Foot Knits for my daughter's principal, whose jolly attitude sets the tone for the whole school. I chose to knit someone else's pattern instead of designing my own because of my current lack of spare mental energy.
That didn't turn out so well. I love the finished sock and am more than halfway done with the second one, but it might have been less work to design my own. The pattern was riddled with errata and I was confused at several steps along the way.
I do not blame the designer, because I know how difficult it is to catch your own mistakes, especially when a pattern goes through several revisions. But a good tech editor should have noticed at least half of the errors in this pattern. I have found mistakes in every pattern I have knit from a Cooperative Press book.
My husband thinks the afterthought heel feels weird, but that may be because his foot doesn't quite fill up the sock. Our principal's feet are a little larger and I think they'll fit well.
Solefull Socks: Knitting from the Ground Up by Betty Salpekar, photography by Barbara Benson, pub. Bread Crumbs Press, 2014.
Ingeniously practical as well as gorgeous, these 18 sock designs made me gasp with each turn of the page. They employ a new architecture: knit the entire sole from the center out, then the top of the foot from the outside in, and finally the leg around and around as usual.
From a practical standpoint, this system enables you to reinforce or cushion just the sole, re-sole the sock without disturbing the top, avoid picking up stitches, try the socks on to check fit as you knit, make the socks any length to suit your whim (or yarn yardage). This is wonderful in itself, but solefull architecture also allows the designer to cover the entire sock top with colorwork or stitch patterns, resulting in breathtakingly beautiful pieces.
The book begins with a tour of Salpekar's sockway, replete with diagrams and definitions. Not everyone loves this kind of reading as much as I do. You can skip this section, but stay vigilant as you knit your first sock using this method. If you use the handy-dandy chart for the sole toe, check your understanding of the short rows against the written instructions.
And now: the designs! The first chapter features socks in plain stockinette. Chapter 2 explores knit, purl, and slip stitch combinations and Chapter 3 covers patterns such as chevrons which involve increasing and decreasing. Next come chapters using color stranding, traveling stitch, and lace. In some of these chapters, Salpekar indicates members of the "Trellis Quartet": solefull sock designs in a trellis pattern done with knit and purl, color stranding, traveling stitch, and lace.
Most of the socks are in three sizes: 8.75", 9.5", and 10.25", corresponding to women's shoe sizes 5 - 10. While I appreciate this generosity of sizes (sock patterns have historically been given in one size only), some knitters have complained about the lack of even larger sizing and/or charts to help a knitter customize the patterns to their feet. If you would be disappointed by these omissions, do not buy this book. But if you need a larger size and wouldn't mind knitting these lovely socks in a heavier weight yarn (after punching some buttons on a calculator to make sure you're following the instructions for the best size), don't be afraid to take the plunge.
The charts and diagrams are exceptionally clear. Salpekar seems to have chosen the clearest method of charting for each situation. Given that most of the patterns are written in multiple sizes, this task was not as straightforward as it sounds. Detailed keys, where necessary, make each chart approachable.
This method requires even fewer knitting contortions than the usual sock construction. The distinctive double decreases on the top of the foot are on the outside of the sock and so won't be felt except by the most sensitive feet. And there are a couple of ways to entirely avoid these ridges (mirrored single decreases and grafting).
The traveling stitch designs (like Semi Aran, above) are particularly pretty, but my favorite is Fair-gyle (shown at left). All the socks are attractive, and this structure begs to be used in other ways.
Sprinkled throughout the book are quotes relating to innovation and perseverance. These quotes are an inspiring addition to the collection.
I recommend this book very highly to knitters and designers who are open to new ways of thinking---not simply sock knitters, but anyone wishing to fuse the practical with the artistic.
Salpekar is working on a sequel to this book with a different version of solefull socks. This tantalizing prospect may take a while to come to fruition, but I'm certain it will be worth the wait!
Disclosure: Bread Crumbs Press sent Kangath a copy of Solefull Socks free for review. Kangath was not compensated for the preceding review. All opinions expressed in the review are the blog author's and are not necessarily the opinions of Bread Crumbs Press or the Betty Salpekar.
Big Foot Knits by Andi Smith, photography by Kristen Caldwell Photography and Cooperative Press, pub. Cooperative Press, 2013.
I'm relieved to finally be able to review this book after a long spate of secret knitting and writing projects. In fact, I downloaded the book this morning and couldn't help but read it straight through. Which is partly due to a sudden flexibility in my schedule, but mostly a credit to the wonderful Andi Smith, who has written a real page-turner.
No, Big Foot Knits is not a whodunit novel, but it goes beyond the normal book of sock patterns in several ways:
In fact, the book has 56 pages of material about sock fitting (and not just big feet, either---these tips work for anything you might care to bestocking) before launching into the patterns.
In addition to providing space to analyze overall foot shape, toe shape, heel shape and leg shape (for each side, mind you---one side just won't do) Andi gives a worksheet with 31 measurements (plus two averages) to give a complete picture of your feet and legs.
Andi's preferred method of making hosiery leaves both heel and toe until the end---lucky for those of us with unusual shaped toes and heels! We can just plug in our preferred pattern for the respective foot ends, and we'll be able to knit socks with remarkably good fit. If our intended recipient has toes or heels with different shapes on each side, we can choose accordingly different patterns.
The sizing in this book is true to its name. Though each design is given in three sizes, none of the sizes is under a 9" circumference. That's okay. Sock patterns have been weighted toward smaller feet for so long, it's wonderful to see these designs (some of them dainty indeed!) in large sizes.
Now, normally I choose my four or five favorite patterns to highlight in the photos. But I had an unusual problem with this book---I was unable to choose.
All the designs were lovely and ingenious, with appropriate space for customization, and wonderful appellations evoking goddesses (and, in one case, a mortal turned into a bird by the gods).
In the end, I chose socks that I felt photographed well. Kristen Caldwell, whose work on Unique Feet was less than stunning, did a marvelous job on this very similar book. The lighting, the poses, and the colors all come together felicitously in each example.
Of course, the background papers by Terry Cutlip/Sassy Designs go a long way toward setting the mood of the book. And the unshoed photos (presumably by Cooperative Press) are very clear, with every stitch visible and the various toe and heel shapes in evidence.
This is a great book for designers and others interested in sock fit, as well as anyone who knits socks for people with feet that don't fit the norm. Worth the price even if you don't knit any of the patterns!
Disclosure: Cooperative Press sent Kangath this review copy of Big Foot Knits. Kangath was not compensated for the preceding review. All opinions expressed in the review are the blog author's and are not necessarily the opinions of Cooperative Press or Andi Smith.
I've had these ready to wear for some time now, but it got so warm here I haven't had the motivation to model them.
These are the Amplitude Stockings that didn't work with my garter belt. (The clips were too wimpy for these full-blooded knits.) But as you can see, I found a solution at the fabric store: short pieces of elastic with clips on each end. They sell these to clip onto the backs of dresses for a more fitted look. I use them because I enjoy wearing loose dresses for everyday, and get a kick out of being able to make the same garment a bit dressier with one flick (okay, two flicks) of a clip.
Actually, more like ten or eleven flicks and a cry for help---but it's still not that much work, and my husband is always ready to lend a hand getting the clip in just the right place.
Coming up: a review of the most recent Clotheshorse issue!
Since my new Amplitude Stockings didn't work out yesterday, I wore this version of my Van Halen knee-highs. I have another pair in spirograph colors, but this combination better matched my mood (and anyway, the spirograph colors haven't been washed since I wore them last).
I love knee-highs, and these beauties stay up well (thanks to elastic thread knit into the cuff). The more I wash them the better they fit. And with stranded colorwork almost all the way down one leg, they're the perfect stroke socks.
The colorwork keeps my affected leg warm while the other leg sports one band of the same pattern and a tattoo detail around the ankle. There's even colorwork around the fitted arch---a real challenge to work out, but oh so worth it.
Strangely enough, I was inspired to knit these when I saw the mildewed stucco outside my local yarn store. I spent months looking for the right yarn until I finally found it at Woolarina. And it's perfect. These socks make me happy, especially on a dreary day like yesterday.
So here's the pair of Dave's stockings as they are now (or were until I worked on them a little more yesterday while waiting for my kids at various goings-on).
The different color cuffs will hide unseen under his breeches and are because I decided to try the "two socks on one circular needle" method and thought two different colors would be prudent. I chose this method for this project because I seem incapable of getting identical length socks using only a tape measure.
I now have a serious aversion to this method of sock knitting, and I think most of the blame goes to my ill-fated attempt to use it first on a project which required 18" garter cuffs on size 000 needles. I separated the socks after the grey stripe on the finished one, and it will be quite some time before I give this method a chance to redeem itself.
The socks feature giant fleurs-de-lis on the back calf, done in seed stitch with a double outline of silver, and a garter stitch crease down the leg to the heel. They will have the French Heel and Toe from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks.
The socks are taking so long to complete (I started them years ago) partly because I don't see this as a marketable pattern. They are purely a labor of love---and I know they will be appreciated!
I forgot to take my camera with me to Ithaca. Too bad, because there were several camera-worthy events that I wasn't able to chronicle. I'm sure my phone has a camera on it, but I haven't even tried to figure out how to use it and I sure don't know how to hook it up to my computer. I should really enter the 21st century one of these days.
Remember Dave's period stockings? Well, Dave and I got together in Ithaca and he actually tried on the finished one. It fits beautifully! I had been worried about the fit because
Dave was thrilled with his one stocking and can't wait for its partner. He vowed to use, appreciate, and enjoy anything I ever wanted to knit for him. It's good to have devoted friends.
Hi! I'm Kangath---
knit designer, musician, writer, and mother
Click here to join the Kangath Knits email list
for insider updates and special deals.
Ruth Roland is a top Baton Rouge, LA music lesson instructor on TryMusicLessons.com!
Amy Herzog Designs
Knit and Tonic
The Sexy Knitter
Sheep to Shawl
Trappings and Trinkets
Two Sides of the Same Stitch