Friday, August 29, 2014

It Helps If You Read The Pattern

This goes in the "duh" file. It's my pattern. I wrote it. I should be able to do it from memory, right?

Nothing to see here, folks, just more black socks!

Nope. I managed to screw up my own pattern. It's just a column of stitches and I will steadfastly ignore it as long as the socks do live, but still. I probably should have, oh, I don't know, read over the pattern before blithely knitting on my way.

Live and learn! To sum up, here's a great way to give yourself a mini panic attack:

1) Try to knit one of your patterns from memory.
2) Screw it up.
3) Think that the pattern that was test-knit by two knitters (including you) and checked by two tech editors has a HORRIBLE error in it and knitters the world over will hate you for it.
4) Search for graph paper.
5) No, it's not where it should be.
6) No, not over there either.
7) Fine, I'll do it on regular paper.
8) Wait...IS X divisible by 4?
9) It's not? It's not.
10) You should have worked this using the other set of directions, the ones for when X isn't divisible by 4. Because it's not for these socks.
11) Everything's fine, but you should probably find the graph paper.

Anyway, the socks are Checked and Square Socks, Top Down. They're not hard at all, if you follow the pattern! So...should I make the second sock match or make it correctly? It's a tough one.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sock Architecture on Wendy Knits!

I'm not ashamed to say that I cried a little when I read Wendy Johnson's review of my book. I love and respect her work so much, it's just an amazing feeling to know that she likes it! Here's a snippet.
"First off, it is beautifully written and a surprisingly fun read. The tone of the book is friendly, approachable, and humorous. One would not usually use those words to describe a book that not only is a treatise on sock techniques, but goes in-depth into the historical beginnings of sock knitting but they are totally warranted in this case. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book."
- Wendy Johnson (Wendy Knits)
Read the whole review here!

You can enter to win a digital version of the book by commenting on THAT blog post, not this one, by 9/3/14. Yay!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Love Sock Architecture? Spread the Word!

As fewer and fewer of us have access to this:

Towers of books at a used book store that WAS in Salem, Mass. a few months ago. Now, sadly, it's gone!

Those of us who write, make and love books still have to come up with ways for people to find our books. Hopefully, in a way that's even easier than pawing through piles of them in a physical store.

- Post a rating and review on Sock Architecture isn't available on Amazon, yet, but when it is, that would be super-helpful, too.

- Talk about it on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever you hang out online. I bet you know more knitters than you think.

- Ask your local library if they have the book. If they don't, ask them to purchase it. Most libraries have a simple online form you can fill out to request a purchase. You usually only need to know the title (Sock Architecture), author (Lara Neel), publisher (Cooperative Press) and ISBN (978-1-937513-63-4).

- Ask about the book at your favorite spot to buy books. I really, truly, hope you still have a local bookstore or local yarn store!

- Tell your friends all about it. They all really want to know all about gussets and sock heels. They think they don't, but they do. Facilitate their conversion!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sock Architecture and Your Ravelry Library

Online shopping has made so many things so much easier. It's easy to forget that sometimes real, live humans are involved, behind the scenes! Currently, PDF ebooks purchased through Cooperative Press are added manually to your Ravelry library, by one of just a few very nice folks. They have to sleep, eat, and go to the bathroom like the rest of us, so it's not always instantaneous. 

When you buy the print book + PDF combo (or just the PDF) through Cooperative Press's website, enter your Ravelry username in the space provided, and within 24 hours, someone at Cooperative Press will add Sock Architecture to your Ravelry library. If it's been more than 24 hours, you can email their support email address for help (that email address comes in your confirmation email and ends in 

P. S. - If you just want the PDF and not the paper book and have a (free) Ravelry account, you can buy it directly on Ravelry through this page: I think, then, it IS just a computer on the other end, and it happens super-fast.

No matter how you get it, I hope you love it!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sock Architecture - Ready to Buy!

Sock Architecture is now available for purchase! $16.95 for the PDF version, $26.95 for the PDF and printed book, together. Printed books should start to ship in a few short weeks.

I'm told that the link above might not work forever (there is some behind-the-scene streamlining happening on the site). So, if it doesn't work, try just

I hope you love it!

Bootstrap Socks, Procrastinatrix Socks and Sidle Socks

Ok, guys, here are the last 5 Sock Architecture patterns!

The Bootstrap socks have a line of garter-stitch running down both sides of the leg that continues onto the heel. In my mind at least, they slightly mimic the most fun detail on a western-style boot — that little seam running down the outside of the leg. The sock ends with a wide toe that can be made short, medium or long.

Besides just looking cool, that little line of garter stitch seems to make the knitting go faster than plain stockinette. As a bonus, it makes counting rounds absurdly easy, so you don’t have to worry about losing your place when you make the second sock (or the heel flap).

It uses a Balbriggan heel, which takes just a small amount of grafting to finish. It’s well worth it, I promise. It looks and wears like a dream.

Why It's My Favorite: I wanted a sock that would coax knitters into trying the heel that has fallen out of favor, for some reason. It's completely unjust that every knitter who loves socks hasn't at least tried this heel. (I found it in Weldon’s Practical Stocking Knitter from 1885.) Maybe I just like the underdog, but it's my go-to heel for top-down socks. I hope everyone else loves it, too!

P.S. - Maybe I don't have a favorite favorite pair of socks from Sock Architecture, but the test knitters sure seemed to. They all clamored to try the Bootstrap Socks!

Sidle Socks, Top Down

"To sidle” means to walk up to someone, usually in a furtive or sneaky manner. These socks aren’t made in a sideways fashion, but the heel and toe are both 90 degrees from what you might expect, and they are pretty enough to surprise. The afterthought heel is worked in exactly the same way as the toe. There is no gusset for this sock.

Why It's My Favorite: Afterthought heels are great for when you just don't have the energy to worry about a heel at the moment but want to knit a sock, anyway. I love them for when I don't know the exact length of the wearer's foot, but know their general size enough to get the circumference right. If you don't plan out the position of the heel as you work, you can adjust the foot length, as needed, when you add the heel.

If you know the exact length of sock you want, you can avoid having to pick out tiny stitches later by using my Extra Needle technique. I explain it, in detail, in the book, and I've also made a video about it.

Sidle Socks, Toe Up

As with the top-down version of this sock, there is no gusset here, but the large heel will help it fit a variety of feet very well. It is possible to nearly completely avoid math in this toe-up version.

The fit of the toe is very similar to a medium wedge toe, and even begins in the same way.

Why It's My Favorite: Again, Extra Needle technique or sizing flexibility, plus the fun of working toe-up and having the sock look a little like a sock even when you've just started it. If you measure the toe after it is finished, you'll know how long your heel will be, which saves just a little math if you are working out your own sizing.

Procrastinatrix Socks, Top Down 

In this sock, the heel is knit last, so it hints at a slight proclivity to procrastination. Hence, Procrastinatrix. Spellcheck may not like the name, but I sure do.

Everything about this sock is entirely run-of-the-mill and familiar, except for the order in which it is made. Amaze your friends and companions by turning what looks like a very strange sock indeed into one with a French heel.

If you love top-down French heels, but hate picking up stitches along the side of the heel flap, this is the heel for you. Decreases, not picked-up stitches, connect the heel flap to the gusset.

I used a slipped-stitch heel flap, for strength.

Why It's My Favorite: This heel concept is a second look at the heel I created for my Tootsie Socks. It allows you to create a relatively common heel, which may already be your favorite, but work it as the last step to your sock, instead of halfway through.

It's either my masterwork or a method that about 5 other people on the planet will like. Time will tell.

Procrastinatrix Socks, Toe Up 

As you might guess, this is very similar to the Procrastinatrix Socks that are knit from the top down. I added a little color change into these: heels, toes and ribbing are in a contrasting color.

I’ve never managed to get grafted stitches at the top of a heel flap to look quite as nice as I would like, so even though this sock is knit from the toe up, the heel is knit from the top down. It’s a bit of a twist and is only really possible with this style of construction.

If you need any more convincing to try a toe-up sock, with this version you can avoid casting on gusset stitches. In many ways, it is the best of both worlds.

Why It's My Favorite: It's a toe-up sock with a top-down heel. The only grafting you have to work is hidden under the heel, so it doesn't matter if it isn't absolutely perfect.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Checked and Square Socks

So, this time I didn't try to get fancy with the name. These socks are in a checked pattern and have square heels. Easy!

Checked and Square Socks, Top Down 

These simply checked socks have square heels and are knit from the top down with an Eye of the Partridge heel flap.

Why It's My Favorite: The stitch pattern makes the sock a little more exciting to knit and makes counting rounds super-easy. I think the square heel makes a great introduction to flap-and-gusset heels, since it's a little easier to keep track of where you are as you are turning the heel. Wouldn't that color be a little pop of summer all year 'round, too?

Checked and Square Socks, Toe Up 

These simply checked socks have square heels and are knit from the toe up with an Eye of the Partridge heel flap and a toe that can be easily customized for a perfect fit.

Why It's My Favorite: I don't always get to work with a lot of different colors in my socks, so I add texture when I can. This stitch pattern is easy to knit, but not to frilly to be unisex. There is no grafting, but there are some picked-up stitches. Plus, and I know this has nothing to do with the actual pattern, I love how sophisticated it looks in gray!

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.