Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Books: Sockitecture

I used not to knit socks -- too fiddly, never fitted, and once I finished one I dreaded making another (or I'd end up with different lengths or odd shaping). But as I knit socks for Great Yarns, and then started making more socks for family members, and then even put my foot in my mouth and offered to write a tutorial on sock-knitting for 4realers, I realized how fun these little things could be! I started making some toe-up (and unventing my own cast-ons), some were cuff-down, some were patterned and some absolutely plain. I made some thick and some really, really thin.

I also quickly discovered that my absolute favorite way of knitting socks is two-at-a-time, toe-up on two circular needles. Sounds hard, but actually these go really quickly and the boring foot section (where you don't want to have too much as socks are USUALLY covered by shoes!) is done while you're determing real gauge and then fantasize about the leg section -- which WILL show.

So, here I am now -- a confirmed sock knitter. I am also one who loves to read about different ways of knitting them. And here's where I'm lucky. There are several books which have just come out that delve into the mystery of sock-knitting ... books like Getting Started Knitting Socks by Ann Budd, Knitting Circles Around Socks: Knit Two Socks at a Time on Circular Needles by Antje Gillingham, More Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch, and 2-at-a-Time-Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes are just a few of the books that are worth reading and trying out their different techniques.

But there's one that really stands out among the rest -- Cat Bordhi has done it again with her latest book, New Pathways for Sock Knitters: Book One. Coining a new word -- sockitecture -- Bordhi brings us a whole new look at socks, particularly the area of increasing usually known as the gusset. Through an odd happenstance, Bordhi created a sock where the triangle of increases to make the sock fit across the instep was all done on the inside of the foot ... AND THE SOCK FIT WONDERFULLY! She goes on to create 8 total socks patterns where these increases are placed in different areas of the foot, fit wonderfully and broaden the design possibilities immensely. These socks are gorgeous!

And I love the idea that the 8 "basic" patterns are all for baby socks, inspired by babies (including her new grandson) that Bordhi knows. Being baby socks, the stitches are fewer, the knitting goes faster and yet the knitter has learned a whole new technique for making socks! This is so cool! She shows how to incorporate these increases so as to position either color-work or lace designs within the socks; to incorporate the increases right into the sock itself so you don't have the dorky interrupt of the traditional gusset! Beauty!

Bordhi, by titling her new volume "Book One" promises to bring us at least 2 more sock volumes ... the next will be a collection "that mostly start at neither top nor toe, but somewhere in between."

Bordhi doesn't want the reader/knitter to just copy her socks -- she wants to lead you down new knitting pathways and I for one want to follow! This is truly knitting from the heart and I love it.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Read-alouds and knitting -- what could be better?

Margot Davidson at Hillside Education has just announced a brand new book:
Yep, that would be MY BOOK! The long-awaited, long-hinted-at book will finally be coming out. Pre-orders are available from Margot's web-site (and you'll get a pair of hand-made Birch knitting needles to-boot!) until March 8th with the books shipping by around March 12!

How exciting is that??????

Just to give you an idea, we read-aloud a dozen great family read-alouds and then I designed projects for each book. Here are the books we chose and the designs included in this book:

1. Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
a. Pinocchio Doll and Clothes
2. Canadian Summer by Hilda vanStockum
a. Mr. Magic’s Gnome Hat
b. Arthur Purcell’s “Gay” Sweater
3. The Hobbit or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkein
a. Bilbo’s Backpack
b. Bilbo’s Traveling Jacket
4. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder *
a. Ma’s Boot Socks
b. Pa’s Red-White Checked Mittens
5. Little House in the Highlands by Melissa Wiley *
a. Mittens for Laird Alroch & Auld Mary
b. Tullie Greyshanks Doll and Clothes
6. The Lost Island by Eilis Dillon
a. Fisherman’s Jersey
b. Wool Socks for the Journey
7. Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
a. Mary Poppins’ Carpetbag
b. Mary Poppins’ Fur-trimmed Gloves
8. Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
a. Captain Cook (penguin doll)
b. Mr. Popper’s Cozy Scarf
9. Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle
a. Otto’s Chain Mail
b. Otto’s Scabbard and Belt
10. Redwall by Brian Jacques
a. Matthias’ Over-sized Habit
b. Asmodeus the Snake
11. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
a. Colin’s Rug and Cushion
b. Mrs. Sowerby’s Cloak
12. The Wheel on the School by Meindert deJong
a. Lina’s Stocking Cap
b. Thick Wools Socks for Linda & Jan

These are all fun projects -- I had fun creating them and I think you'll have fun making them too! We've also included some basic knitting helps and a fully annotated bibliography of great knitting books.

The book-links are to the versions we used ... many are hard-cover as we want to keep these classics in our home for a very long time. The two that are *'ed, Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Little House in the Highlands by Melissa Wiley, are quickly going the way of the Albatross -- the publishers are changing the editions to give them a more updated appeal. Try to find these editions linked here -- the text is complete and the pictures are wonderful!

Please let me know what you think about this book -- I'd love to do a sequel, especially when I saw UK's List of Best Children's Books and saw many on that list that I'd love to read-aloud to my kids and create more designs!