Posted by Ali G on Wednesday, 29 August, 2007
A few people have asked what my initial thoughts are on Cat Bordhi’s latest book, New Pathways for Sock Knitters, so here they are. Please bear in mind that this is not meant to be a comprehensive book review, and is purely my personal opinion; nothing more, nothing less.
A little info:
- The book is soft-bound, and 9.5″H x 10″W (24cm x 25.5cm) with 136 pages.
- There is a master template for each of eight sock architectures, together with different designs for each style.
- Patterns for several little “learning socks” are included.
- A selection of cuffs, heels, and toes is can be found at the back of the book.
- Information covering stitch mount, increases & decreases, how to slip a stitch correctly, wraps, and so on is located at the front.
- Each master pattern is written in such a way to allow the use of whatever yarn and needles you fancy.
Here’s what I think:
It’s a pity the book doesn’t have a spiral binding to prevent it from flopping closed.
The content, however, is nicely laid out with thoughtful use of italics and font colour for clarity. The photos are clear, as are the plentiful diagrams showing stitch and marker placements for both circular and double-pointed needles.
[One thing that bugs me about publishers of knitting books is how many of them fill a third, or more, of the pages with basic techniques. 👿 I really begrudge shelling out money for the same regurgitated instructions of how to form a knit stitch, when all I really want are the patterns. I suspect it’s a cynical way to pad out a book without having to present anything new.]
Anyway, New Pathways… isn’t like that. The information covering everything you’ll need to knit the socks is there, but it’s presented in a concise way. Even though experienced knitters will most likely be familiar with the techniques, I like that they weren’t omitted. Their inclusion removes any ambiguity when the instructions call for a particular procedure.
The information is sound, with easy-to-understand diagrams, but the style of writing grates on me a bit. I don’t see what’s wrong with calling a stitch a stitch. It is, after all, a book on knitting! If it were to teach knitting to children, I daresay calling stitches corgis, and wraps diamond necklaces, would be appropriate, but really, youngsters aren’t the targeted readership, and the cutesy talk and imagery is just distracting. YMMV.
The book has a definite slant towards toe-up socks with 6 toe-up constructions, and 2 cuff-down. Now, I’m not a fan of toe-ups, but the first pattern I picked to try is just that. There isn’t a gusset or standard short-row heel in sight, and that’s what intrigued me in the first place.
The method of shaping is not dissimilar to the one used for my Freaky Socks, although the rest of the sock is obviously quite different. Bordhi primarily uses left and right lifted increases for shaping, which she has chosen to rename leaning-left and leaning-right increases.
The eight Master Socks each have their increases in different places, which is what creates the variety of styles. For people who like to follow directions, it’s all there for them. For those who prefer to experiment, it’ll be really simple to use the single underlying concept to come up with many more “master architectures” of their own. The patterns that accompany each Master, over twenty of them, are appealing and different from the usual, and the baby socks are just gorgeous!
Before starting, we’re instructed to gather a list of Master Sock Numbers consisting of tension (gauge) obtained with whatever needles and yarn will be used, along with various foot measurements. A little simple arithmetic, and use of the tables provided, produces the other key numbers that are needed. These are then slotted into the Master Pattern to create a custom sock.
When I put my figures together, I was disconcerted (and extremely sceptical) when I saw the huge number of stitches I’d be knitting on at some point. I hadn’t intended to start a new pair of socks until next month, but curiosity (and an overwhelming need for an excuse to get out of a tedious task) got the better of me! 😛
The sock I’ve chosen is primarily stocking stitch. I wanted the fact that there’s no gusset line to be clear, and stocking stitch shows that nicely. It also has the added bonus of knitting up really quickly. 😉 The pattern is the Home & Hearth Anklet, and uses the Ridgeline Master template. It fits beautifully. What I had believed to be a ridiculous number of stitches (102 at one point!) turns out to have been spot on. I’m glad I trusted the numbers. (Well, kind of: I found a couple of errors in the instructions, one of which wasn’t listed with the errata I subsequently found.)
Despite not being a fan of the style of writing, I am a fan the book and the patterns. I love the fit of the sock I made, and I’m looking forward to making some of the others. That I’ve actually enjoyed knitting a toe-up sock tells me the book was worth the price! Still looking for a way to cast off that looks pretty….
Here’s how it came out.
The colour has rendered really poorly in this second photo, and is better represented in the other shots.
Its mate won’t be cast on until I’ve made reasonable progress on aforementioned Tedious Task, so the pair probably won’t make an appearance until sometime in September.
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