Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sock meditations

First off, to all of you who left such kind comments on my last post: thank you! It really means a lot to me that you'd offer your thoughts and prayers to essentially a stranger - though I shouldn't be surprised since I see so much generosity in the knitting community! I'm not at all going to turn this blog into one on his illness and therapy, though with preventative chemo starting up in two weeks, I'm sure it'll sneak in here and there!

Now I'd like to talk a bit about socks and sock books. I want to talk specifically about Cat Bordhi's newest book, New Pathways for Sock Knitters, vol. 1. I don't tend to give book reviews, but I got very excited when I got this book - I (however boringly) knit mostly socks, and this book gave me a whole new way to look at them. Your basic sock is like a blank canvas - once you have mastered knitting in the round and understand the heel and toe, you can simply fill in any pattern on the leg and foot of the sock. It's intensely and satisfyingly simple, as has been capitalized upon in the Sensational Knitted Socks books.

In New Pathways, Bordhi lays out architectures that approach sock construction in whole new ways, mostly to do with the increases and decreases around the heel turn/gusset area - by moving these increases to new places (on the top of the foot in rows, in a spiral, in an expanding v shape), she entirely changes the types of stitch pattern that can be incorporated into a sock and expands the creativity a designer can build into her creation. It's not only an exciting development in design options, but she also includes endless numbers of good knitting tips - better ways to conceal the wraps in a short row, more hidden increases, etc - that can add to anyone's repertoire. Below is my first attempt at her "Sky Architecture," where the increases start at the center of the ankle in the front and move downwards in an inverted V shape (as you can see on the right foot). It's in Woolly Boully merino sock in Kelp Seahorse:

Here I will insert my caveat about the book: it's really not for beginners. Nor is it particularly for someone who just wants to knit some socks and not design their own. If you were to work just from her patterns (as I did here) rather than involving yourself in learning the architectures and applying them to your own work, you'd find yourself rather irritated. The patterns are intended to show you how to do it yourself, essentially, and constantly refer you to other sections of the book for heel constructions, gussets, toes, and how-to details for her special increases, etc. It'd drive a girl batty to just sit down to make a sock and have to do so much work for it (and most of the patterns are not really exploiting the full potential of the architecture either, just displaying it). Still, it's pure genius. Let a sock maker look at this heel and not be amazed - it's so entirely new:

Thanks for listening as I blather on about my sock crush! I hope it's of interest to others who knit too many socks. I _am_ working on non-sock items too, which I'll hopefully post about soon, weather conditions permitting!


Carole Knits said...

I bought the book but I haven't tried knitting any of the patterns yet. I'm not sure I really want to change the way I knit socks. LOL

Nell said...

I won that book in a contest recently. I can't wait to dive in. I love that it's more of a design workbook than a pattern book. It seems like it would be useful for a LONG time.

peaknits said...

I am so in "Want" of this book - hmmm, I have this Amazon gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket...maybe your "blather":) will create another sock crush! Thank you for your excitement!