When Janel Laidman asked me to review her new book, The Enchanted Sole, I agreed without hesitation. I am a big fan of her creativity and style. Her first book, The Eclectic Sole, set a high standard. I am very happy to report that The Enchanted Sole does not disappoint.
The first thing I noticed is the range of pattern styles included in this book. There are simple socks and complex socks. Like ankles socks? knee-high socks? You are covered. Beginning knitters and experienced knitters alike will find socks to tempt them.
I also appreciate the range of construction. Some are worked toe up and some top down. I especially love that she included four socks that are knit sideways.
Pixie: sweet sideways knit socks.
Traveler: clever cabled socks with a pocket!
Atlantis: lace and texture evoking water and waves
Galadriel: romance and ribbons
Tree of Life: gorgeously detailed colorwork
As a designer, I feel that every detail is important. Clearly Janel feels this way as well. Ribbing flows into the leg, taller socks include carefully crafted calf shaping, and stranded socks are patterned from top to toe. The Tree of Life socks pictured above have a beautiful leaf pattern across the heel.
As a spinner, I appreciate that each sock pattern gives the wraps per inch (wpi) for the yarn. Very helpful for matching the grist of my handspun to the pattern requirements. As Janel points out, it is also the best way to pick a substitute yarn.
There are many reasons to love this book: the 20 gorgeous sock patterns, the attention to detail, the beautiful photographs, and the variety of styles and techniques.
My mother learned to knit in Norway and I learned to knit Norwegian style from my mother. As a child, I always had a handknit Norwegian sweater made by my mother. Dancing girls, snowflakes, and reindeer all feel familiar and like family. When I saw that Terri Shea was publishing a book on traditional Selbu knitting, I ordered it right away.
Selbuvotter is a delightful knitting book. Ms Shea presents history, techniques, and patterns in a concise, engaging, and entertaining manner. I can't remember the last time I read every page of a knitting book.
Unlike many knitting traditions, Selbuvotter knitting can be traced to one person. The history is laid out from its inception in 1856 to today. This book is the result of lovingly studying the collection of the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle and the collection of Annemor Sundbø.
Don't overlook the technique section and go straight to the patterns. There are many wonderful tips that will help to make your project more successful. The technique section is so thorough, you could knit a mitten from it and a chart.
And the patterns. Sigh. So pretty. There are the mittens you will instantly recognize as Norwegian and there are some that will stretch your understanding of Norwegian patterns. Each one is a reproduction of a vintage mitten.
I like to design my own patterns. I enjoy the challenge and I am not
always successful at understanding someone else's logic. Naturally, I
gravitate toward stitch pattern and technique books. This book strikes a good balance of providing content for both the new(ish) and the experienced knitter.
Maybe the best part of the book is how Ms Shea encourages us to take the designs and patterns and make them our own. I love that generosity. To me, it is the mark of someone who wants to see the work continue, evolve, and remain relevant. It is especially fitting in this tradition, created by one woman and adopted and adapted by a nation.