Friday, December 09, 2011

Firefly Socks & KBOS

It's a threesome!

One week ago I received my complimentary copy of Clara Parkes' new book, The Knitter's Book of Socks, which follows her bestsellers The Knitter's Book of Yarn, and The Knitter's Book of Wool, and I couldn't have jumped up and down more! Really--I wore myself out. The book hit the shelves in October, but through a series of unfortunate-ish events, I just got mine. Stingy as I am, I did not buy one through the whole long month-or-more of waiting. At one point I did go to the local big box book store to peek at one, but did not buy. Now I have one of my very own and have read almost the whole thing. You might ask why I scored a free copy--why, that's because I have a sock design in this book! I feel especially lucky to be in a book with a bunch of sock designer experts who consistently come up with entirely new ways to knit socks. Me? I just like to stick some cables in 'em. 

Here's my second pair of Firefly Socks. I took their FO picture with one blocked and one squinchy, because you know I can never resist a plug to block...your...knits. It helps them to be what they were meant to be! Nuff said.
And here they are on my feet. I love these socks. I knit this pair with O-Wool Classic 2-ply in Slate on size 2 needles.

Allow me to explain. When Clara contacted me way back in the spring of 2010 about designing some cable socks for her next book, of course I said yes. I had done designs for her first book, and even though my design for her second book got cut, she used it for a free promo, so it got some attention anyway. Clara is very, very nice to work with. She is not only an all-purpose good writer, but designs and writes patterns herself, so she is very nice to us designers.

After I gave Clara a resounding affirmative, I set about working up three sock designs, because I like to give folks choices. Clara picked the simplest, most classic one. Boy, was I glad, because actually when I did this project I was also going through a pretty stressful time trying to get ready for my first (and most probably last ever, ever) STITCHES event. I won't go into detail about that here, but I'll just say I did not have my whole entire brain function on, so it was nice to do a traditional, top-down sock design with a simple cable involved. I added a little variation on the cable at the cuff edge to make it begin with 2/2 rib for a gentle flare effect there. I do not have dainty, small ankles nor calves, so I am always attentive to giving folks room at the top of their sock cuffs. I hates bindy sock cuffs!

I originally had it in mind for the Firefly to be boot socks. I swatched it with this O-Wool, which is a sturdy, somewhat heavier fingering. Clara wanted to do the socks in a finer gauge, so she sent me a lovely denim-hued BFL. I knit them up and sent them on with the pattern. Later on, the yarn had to be changed for the book, because that yarn supplier stopped producing, so Lorna's Laces was apparently called upon to provide some of their lovely Shepherd Sock in Bold Red. I was so glad to see that, because I love Lorna's Laces. I have made a couple of pair of socks with that very same yarn and they wear very well.

You will see in KBOS that the eventual sock provides a snug, delicate fit, but I love my pair in O-Wool. I can't wait to see how they wear and (hopefully not) tear. Oh, and I can't move on without thanking the editor(s) who brushed up my pattern draft and made it correct and more sensical since I was not at my best when writing it. After working the second sock of my pair to the pattern in the book, I don't believe there are any errors. I won't swear to that, because I do miss things from time to time, but as far as I can see, it might be perfect!  

As for Clara's writing, it is perfect, and no "might" about it. She just gets better and better at this. Let me say that Clara is a scientist and her books are like textbooks for us yarny fiddlers. Each one could supply study for a college course in fiber. If you have yet to acquire any of these "Knitter's Book of" treasures, start at the top and get all three. You will be so much more informed about how to choose the best yarn for your knitting or crochet project (because crocheters use yarn, too, huh?) Yes, all three books have only knitting patterns included, but a great deal of each book discusses the structure and use of yarn--the first features yarn in all its fiber varieties, the second focuses on just wool in its myriad forms, and the third studies sock yarns of all types. Clara talks about fiber content, how it's spun, what to do with it for best results and how to take care of it once you turn it into something functional.

You might be thinking that the sock knitting thing had just about worn itself out. I mean, there's a whole convention for it now, right? But before you even form the thought in your head that surely there are already enough sock knitting books out there and surely it's all been said by now, grab a copy of Clara's new book and you will see that you would be wrong in forming that particular thought. All kinds of wrong.

Now, I'm off to look at this beautiful book some more and try my best not to be tempted to cast on for another pair of one of these fabulous sock patterns. I gots too much knitting to do already!

See you soon! Have a great weekend!

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