Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mouchoir Socks

Mouchoir means “handkerchief” in French. This sock has a half-handkerchief heel and a simple stitch pattern to match. I love the stitch pattern, but it does limit sizing options a bit. I hope you can forgive me. Both toe-up and top-down versions require no grafting at all and are written out in three sizes, plus an adjustable size.

Mouchoir Socks, Top Down

Why It's My Favorite: Another simple-but-exciting stitch pattern, an easy-to-adjust heel shaping and a round toe that doesn't require grafting. What's not to love?

Mouchoir Socks, Toe Up

Why It's My Favorite: This heel, when worked from the toe up, doesn't need any picked-up stitches at all, just increases and decreases. Also, it's a good heel to know for anyone who wants to design their own socks because it fits in a way that's pretty similar to the Round or French heel, but is much easier to work out, math-wise. I love the toe shaping, too, which can be a little more pointy than most but doesn't have strong lines, which could be a bonus for hand painted or self-striping yarns.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Dyad Socks

With the Dyad set, I finally opened up a little color into the equation. I don't have anything against socks in multiple colors. In fact, I really love them! But, with this book, I really wanted to have fun just exploring the different shapes possible when knitting. Deep playing around with color will have to wait for another day. 

I chose “dyad” as the name for these socks as a kind of reference to my thought process.
I wanted to explore the easiest way I know to make a two-color sock: one color for the heel and toe, and another for the rest of the sock. I was also eager to use a band heel and a toe to match.

In Sock Architecture, they are worked both from the top down and the toe up in five sizes, plus a plug-in-your numbers size.

Dyad Socks, Top Down

Why It's My Favorite: Working in color blocks is an easy way to add color and even stretch a leftover skein of yarn, if you don't have enough for an entire pair of socks! The sideways toe and the band heel look great together. They are both a bit unusual, but easier than they look.

Dyad Socks, Toe Up

Why It's My Favorite: The band heel is fun and can be worked with or without a gusset. I also love the sideways toe that matches it so well. The single line of contrasting color around the front of the foot is a little different, too.

Strie Socks

Strie means “stripe,” “groove,” or “gore” in French, so it seems like the perfect name for these very simple, garter-stitch-ribbed socks with French heels and wedge toes. In Sock Architecture, they are worked both from the top down and the toe up in five sizes, plus a plug-in-your numbers size.

Strie Socks, Top Down

Why It's My Favorite: For the experienced sock knitter, this is a super-easy pattern in a fun mix of pattern/heel flap stitches. For the beginner, it's an introduction to some of the most common shaping methods in socks, in both toes and heels.

Strie Socks, Toe Up

Why It's My Favorite: Even experienced knitters may not have worked their "usual" heel turn from the toe up. Beginners can experience how easy it really is. Bonuses: No picked-up stitches needed along the heel flap and no grafting.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Adjoin Socks

Why It's My Favorite: I love this heel construction, which looks so different, but fits so well! I swear, even Dee has happily worn these, and she can be a bit...particular. The cast-off at the back of the heel may look a little strange, but it is easy to work and allows the knitter to avoid grafting. If you prefer a different look, you could graft it, too. 

The toe is a little unusual, too. I designed a "training wheel" toe-up toe for people who aren't in love with Judy's Magic Cast On.

I would love to see it worked up in a self-striping yarn. The front of the foot, if colors are managed well, could look completely uniform from top to bottom!

If you're not crazy about the stitch pattern, you can leave it out.

This is the only pattern in my book that can only be made from the toe up.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sock Architecture Photos and Patterns Are Going Up On Ravelry

One of the first conversations I had with Shannon at Cooperative Press about Sock Architecture was the tone of the photography. We both thought a white background would be great - we wanted everything to be as clear as possible!

Since I was am a photographer, I knew it would be best if I had a completely consistent lighting setup for the entire book. I talked Dee into letting me take over a corner of the living room as a small photo studio. There were other rooms I could have used, but that was the only one with the perfect corner and white walls.

You guys, I can't exaggerate how awesome it was having a permanently-ready lighting setup and a clean background. As soon as I get the basement in our new house sorted out a bit, I'm going to do the same thing all over again. I'll tell you all about it when I do it, but, pro tip: that 36"-wide white paper came from Staples and cost all of $7. If you're only shooting small things, it's pretty tough to beat. Professional photo background paper costs at least $50 a roll and is ridiculously difficult to store.

Ironically, the only time I couldn't shoot was when it was really sunny outside. My lovely living room had tons of windows and sunlight bouncing off pretty green grass into windows can do really freaky things to color tone. It's just another reason to love snow.

Shannon suggested I get a model foot, so I did. Dee and I even bought a tiny lamp shade for it and called it "fra-gee-lay."

Then, I picked up a few more sock blockers/forms for socks that didn't fit the foot, like extra-large and extra-small. 

Socks just look so much better when they're stretched a tiny bit. After all, they are stretched a bit when you're wearing them! 

With this setup, I could shoot socks, heels, and toes as soon as they were ready. Morning, noon and night!

Which is all kind of a long way of saying that, since the digital release of the book is imminent (the physical books will start shipping a few weeks after that), I've been given the go-ahead to finally show these photos to people other than my non-knitting family and test knitters. 

All of these designs were absolute labors of love for me, so I don't have a favorite. Instead, every time I pick one up, I think, "Ooooooh, this one's my favorite!" But then I think that about the other 16 patterns, so there you go. I guess I could try to tell you why each one is my favorite? 

Why It's My Favorite: Two reasons - the stitch pattern and that heel! I love taking the stitch pattern as far as possible down the leg. Oh, and the toe. I think the toe goes with the stitch pattern really well.

Why It's My Favorite: I love the goofy name, and I adore my method of making short-row heels and toes. No fuss, muss, stitch markers or wraps! Also, it's so easy to custom-fit to any foot. 

Arithmophobia Socks, Toe Up

Why It's My Favorite: Again, goofy name. And, for the toe-up version -- no grafting. At all. Ever. Also I do have a soft spot for toe-up socks. I tried really hard to make EVERY pattern in the book go both ways. The only ones I couldn't manage were grafted-under-heel types like Uncommon Dragon. (Technically, that's possible to make toe-up, but it would take major, major knitting gymnastics. I mean, beyond even where I wish to go. I tried it, and it just made me too nuts.)

But, don't worry, toe-up enthusiasts. There's one heel that's only really possible from the toe-up. I couldn't resist using it in my Sherwood Slippers. I'll put that sock design up on Ravelry tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Toe Up Sock: 5 numbers, 2 measurements

One of the things I do in Sock Architecture is lay out the idea of socks that take just a few numbers to knit. These socks are for Dee, and I've made a lot of socks for Dee, so it's getting pretty easy for me. I keep a small index card in my knitting bag with her key sock numbers on it. These particular socks are toe-up, but top-down works in very much the same way.

The toe starts with a certain cast on number, and I know the shape that Dee likes (pretty short), so I increase on every round until I hit the next number. Then, I increase every other round until I get to the number of stitches for the rest of the foot. 

I then work, straight, until the sock is as long as I need, without the gusset and the heel shaping. I make the gusset increases, which you can kind of see in the above photo, even though it's pretty dark. Sorry, bad cell phone photos.

So that I don't drive myself nuts wrestling with dpns through the heel turn and heel flap, I put all of the stitches that I don't need for the heel turn on hold on a set of very tiny, flexible circular needles. I love these needles. Once, when I lost a pair, I had to replace them in less than a week. They're just that important to me. (They also keep the stitches from being stretched out as you work.)

I made the heel turn. In this case, it's a Round, or French, heel. Looks pretty good, if I do say so myself.

I took a small break to pet this guy. His name is Cujo and he's my adorable dog nephew.

After the heel turn is done, I just work back and forth for the heel flap, closing it up to the sock with decreases as I go. The tiny needle is still in place here, but I just slipped the stitches back onto working needles and continued on up the leg.

Simple, right? I love it that I can knit a sock with 5 numbers and two measurements. In my book, I explain how to figure out (and sometimes just measure) to get to your 5 numbers and two measurements, so that you can do it, too!

P.S. - The maroon yarn is Simply Sock Yarn Solids. I wasn't kidding when I said I love it. The black yarn is mystery stash yarn, but I think it might be Cascade Heritage Silk

P.P.S. - If you would like to watch me make a sock in "real time" next time, follow me on Instagram

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Sock Architecture Cover and the Yarn

The work on Sock Architecture continues apace. The team at Cooperative Press and I are pretty excited about it!

...and just in case you're wondering, all of the sock yarns in the book are Simply Sock Yarn Solids by Simply Socks Yarn Company.

Allison, founder of Simply Socks and generally all-around awesome person, supported my book from the get-go and even helped me choose the ten colors for the socks. I'm a bit scared of color and was worse when this project started. If it had been up to me, I probably would have just run the gamut from Brown to Natural!

I can't say enough good things about this yarn, and I swear it's not just because it's in my book. I made Dee's Moss and Diamond Socks using that yarn and, after 2 years and 9 months of being worn and machine-washed at least once a month (I machine-wash most socks and hang them to dry), they really almost still look brand-new. It's soft, tough, reliable and not too expensive. You don't find all of those things, at the same time, very often. Also, seriously, check out the stitch definition on that particular pair. AMAZING. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sock Architecture

I don't know if anyone else remembers, but over a year ago I took a (non-matching, very small) pair of socks on a trip with me and did the usual knitter-normal things like put them on landmarks and take pictures of them..and put them on Twitter, with the tag #GreatSockAdventure. If you like, you can see more of them here.

In the lion's mouth. OK, it's just a cool-looking door.
It was mainly because I couldn't tell you about my other Great Sock Adventure, and the fact that those two little guys weren't alone. They were part of this crowd.

Safe at home.
Which is kind of a long way of saying that my recent silence hasn't just been because of the move. I have been feverishly working away at finishing my book. It's called Sock Architecture. Writing it has been quite an adventure, and I can't wait for other people to see it. I love it, and I'm not just saying that because it's mine. I keep printing out pages and using them as a reference in my own knitting bag (not just when I'm getting frantic emails from test knitters), and I think that's a pretty good sign.

I'm going to explain it more and share as much of this final process as I can, but just for starters, here's the basic book description:

Sock Architecture is perfect for both experienced and novice sock knitters. This thorough, imaginative collection of sock shapes and patterns to try includes 17 toes that can be knit either from the top down or toe up and heel shaping techniques that can be combined into 26 ways to knit a heel from the toe up and 68 ways to knit one from the top down. You're bound to find at least one or two new favorites!  
Choose the best shape for a perfect fit, add a new technique to your bag of tricks or simply try out a different look for your hand knit socks. All the heels and toes are carefully explained and clearly photographed, and you can plug in your own numbers to work at the exact size and gauge you want.  
If you'd rather just pick up the needles and start knitting, Lara designed 17 patterns for Sock Architecture. Most of them include 5 sizes, from women's extra small through men's large, and an adjustable size. With the adjustable size, you can choose your own gauge, size, or both, to make socks as unique as you! 
Lara also demystifies popular sock-knitting techniques and gives you tips and tricks that could only have come from the mind of the creator of Math4Knitters. Terrified of grafting? Love afterthought heels but hate retrieving those tiny left-on-hold stitches? Adore the look and fit of your usual top-down heel, but hate picking up gusset stitches and dealing with that weird little hole at the top of the heel flap? There are tools and methods to make everything easier, and Lara explains them all.  
Jump right in to this ultimate guide to the world of sock knitting!

I'm so happy/terrified/proud/excited that I can barely sit still. Good thing I've got my knitting.

P.S. - Do you want to preorder Sock Architecture just as soon as you possibly can? Join Cooperative Press's mailing list!