The Architecture of Socks

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 1.43.35 PMWhen people ask me, “What’s your favorite thing to knit?” the immediate answer that pops into my mind has never been, “Socks, of course!”

I’ve never been a ‘sock person’ (heck, I don’t even wear socks very often!)

I’ve knit many socks, I’ve designed a sock (okay, a pair of socks…) but although they’re not my go-to project of choice, I definitely appreciate sock knitters.

I’ve long felt that most of the staying power that the popularity of knitting has experienced over the past decade is due to the army of sock knitters who keep so much excitement bubbling in the knitting world.

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Great Illustrations

In my quest to more fully appreciate the mystery of the sock, I’ve read several great sock books (Cat Bordhi, Ann Budd, Andi Smith and Charlotte Schurch have all written amazing sock books)

I would put Lara Neel’s* new book, Sock Architecture, up there with them.

What I particularly like about Lara’s book are the instructions and images. She uses clear graphics and photographs to work,  step by step, through the techniques.

For a non-sock knitter like myself, these type of illustrations are very helpful. I can visualize a technique much better when I can see a few images, I really appreciate the amount of work that went into creating these images.

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 1.45.45 PMThe book begins with an explanation of certain sock verbiage, why different heels and toes are named as they are, and the main differences between Eastern and Western socks. Foot shapes,  sizes, and tailoring a sock for a specific foot are discussed in depth, as are tips and tricks for creating a really good-looking, well fitting sock.

The remainder of the book is divided into Top-Down and Toe-Up sock construction, with myriad heels and toes discussed under each topic.  Patterns are provided for each of the variations discussed, and helpful charts allow the knitter to determine whether one of the standard sizes listed would work for their sock, or how they can do the math to create a custom fit.

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 4.30.28 PMOne of the nice things about the book is – for lack of a better description – a ‘cut-and-paste’ layout which allows the knitter to either use the designs as written, or create their own design combining elements from various patterns.

As someone with rather long toes and a low arch, I find this SO helpful. Breaking down the patterns in this way also allowed me to understand more fully the actual construction of a sock.

I can’t see myself becoming a great sock knitter, but with Sock Architecture I will feel a bit less adrift when I tackle my next sock pattern.

*in full disclosure, Lara’s a friend of mine and photographed my upcoming Bolero book for Stackpole Press.


Cooperative Press, the publisher of Sock Architecture, is allowing me to give away a copy of the book (as an eBook) to a lucky blog reader!

Simply leave a comment below, tell me the most challenging technique (in a sock, or in any other type of knitting) you’ve attempted and you’ll be entered to win the eBook.

I’ll be selecting one winner on Monday, Dec 8th, by the end of business day.  Good luck!

A Boost and A Book Giveaway

It’s been a busy few weeks since I’ve been home from TNNA.  I was SO wiped out and full of pain at the end of my trip, but I’m overjoyed at the positive effect my bike riding has had on my muscle and joint pain.  The heat here in Minnesota was terrible last week, but biking 10 miles in the heat works wonders on deep rooted joint and muscle pain.

Having said that, the heat wave’s lifted here in the Twin Cities with my full approval, and to celebrate I rode 25 miles on Saturday and 14 miles Monday.

If I’m not biking, I’m knitting.  If I’m not knitting or biking, I’m editing patterns for History on Two Needles or getting swatches together for the online class I’ll be shooting this Summer.  Life is extremely busy.

Monday, June 9th, was the last day of my Kickstarter Fundraiser for History on Two Needles, and I’m absolutely overwhelmed with the positive and loving reaction I’ve received from the knitting community (and the micro funding community at large!)

It’s such a boost to have the positive reinforcement, and gives me great push as I work through the details of the book.  When I look at all the work that is yet to be done I can get overwhelmed, breaking it down bit by bit makes it easier.  Support from friends makes it seem possible!

To celebrate, I’ll be giving away a bunch of great books and items I received at TNNA over the next few weeks.  Knitting’s only made better by sharing, and the same is certainly true for books!

Knitters Curiosity Cabinet
(Chrysanthemum frutescens socks)

The Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet
20 Patterns Inspired by Vintage Botanical Illustrations
by Hunter Hammersen

This is a beautiful book.  If you love interesting, repeating patterns and gorgeous photography, this is a book you MUST have.

Dianthus Superbus Sock

The inspiration for the book is the Victorian ‘curiosity cabinet’ – repository of interesting little tidbits from the world at large – and botanical drawings of the same period which portray that same enchantment with nature.

Linaria Bipartita Sock

There are more sock patterns than anything else, which is absolutely fine.  I find the motifs themselves are worth the price of admission (which, I admit, was free for me…) but they’re engaging, fun to knit up (I already cast on a swatch of Chrysanthemum Frutescens just to try out the pattern used in the socks of the same name)

When I read the pattern names I half broke out in a cold sweat with a flashback to a failed botany final; Rubus suberectus, Rosa rubiginosa, Loasa lateritia are just a few of the pattern names that carry the natural history theme through the book.

Narcissus Pseudo-Narcissus Sock

I was sent this book to review, and before it arrived I idly wondered, “Should I give it away, or should I keep it?”

I’m keeping this one!

But I’m giving a copy away to someone here on my blog – just leave a comment with the name of your favorite floral embellishment; it can be as simple as ‘rosebud’ or as complex as ‘gladiolus caryophyllaceus’, every comment will count and I’ll draw one winner at random on Sunday.