Sock Knitting Master Class

Socks–A Personal Challenge

As I worked on Sock Knitting Master Class, I found that I wanted to knit every pair of socks. Not only are they all good designs, but each one has at least one lesson in technique or design application. I am certain that anyone who knits all of the socks in the book will end up a veritable master (hence, the words “Master Class” in the title). And who better to give it a go than myself? So, I’ve decided that I will work my way through the book, knitting each pair of socks (well, maybe with a few exceptions or modifications to suit myself) and hopefully using up some of my stash yarn in the process.
I’ll write posts about my experiences as I go so you’ll get even more insights into these fabulous designs.

First off is Cookie A’s Asymmetrical Cables (page 48), which are shown in Pagewood Farm St Elias (80% Bluefaced Leicester, 20% nylon) knitted at a gauge of 8 stitches/inch in stockinette, worked in rounds..

In her note on yarns (page 53), Clara Parkes says these socks are best knitted with “a yarn that has three or more plies to render the raised cable pattern.” She also suggests keeping to a “solid or flickering semi-solid that won’t distract from the flow of the cables.”
The yarn in my stash that best fits these criteria is Spirit Trails Frija (80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon; 377 yd/4 oz) in a beautiful combination of blues and teals. I’m certain that I’ll appreciate that 10% of cashmere! To begin, as I always begin, I knitted a gauge swatch. 
I get the correct gauge on my Signature size 2 (2.75 mm) needles. I decided to use double-pointed needles because the extra-sharp points on the Signature needles will make easy work of the traveling cable pattern. Tonight I’ll cast on for real and start my first sock of this “master” journey. I can’t wait!

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The Winner Is:

The winner of the Sock Knitting Master Class drawing is Donna, who wrote “My first pair of socks were the Broadripple lace socks from – still worn and loved; I think socks are my favorite thing to knit.”
Congratulations Donna! Send your full name and mailing address to me at and a copy of Sock Knitting Master Class will be on it’s way.
For the rest of you with deserving feet, the books should be in bookstores and yarn shops in a week or so, or you can order a copy through Interweave Press, or better yet, through my website (click on Books in the upper right corner) and I’ll get a small kick-back.

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Sock Knitting Master Class

I got an advance copy of Sock Knitting Master Class today! It looks even better than I expected, thanks to the masters who contributed designs and information (Cookie A, Kathryn Alexander, Veronik Avery, Ct Bordhi, Nancy Bush, Evelyn A. Clark, Chrissy Gardiner, Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, Anne Hanson, Eunny Jang, Melissa Morgan-Oakes, Deborah Newton, Clara Parkes, Meg Swansen, and Anna Zilboorg) and Interweave’s excellent book design team.

The bulk of the shipment is literally on the slow boat from China and won’t make it into shops until late June. When it does arrive, I’ll hold a raffle for a FREE copy so stay tuned.

I think this is cause for a wee celebration.

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Too Good to be True

On Friday, I got the first pages for Sock Knitting Master Class to review. This is an exciting point in book production because all of the pieces are finally assembled and it’s possible to see what the book will look like in the end. Up to this point, I’ve only seen the cover.

For “first pages”, I’m given a color printout of each spread (two pages) of the book. I always look forward to seeing how the photos, illustrations, and design elements (typeface, color, etc.) bring the text to life. Armed with a red pen, it typically takes me a full day to read over the text and check all of the images and design elements for proper placement and consistency. You’d be surprised how many typos sneak in. (You’d also be surprised at how much I tend to tweak the text.)

The last page of every Interweave book is always reserved for some sort of promotion of other Interweave Books. This has never sat well with me because it means that right off the bat, I lose a page. But I’ve come to accept it.

But this time the jokers at Interweave threw me for a loop. Instead of the typical marketing of other books, they filled this page with an image of Meryl Streep promoting my own book! I apologize for the bad photo but it’s the best I could do while giggling. Meryl’s “quote” says: “Ann Budd is the master of sock knitting. She taught me how to knit. Every knitter should own this book.”

Ah, if only.

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Another Silver Lining

If you’ve ever worked with a publisher, you know that business revolves around page counts. This has been particularly challenging for me over the years and I’ve developed a bit of a bad reputation for always asking for additional pages in the books I write and edit.

For Sock Knitting Master Class, Interweave drew the line and told me I absolutely, positively could not go over 160 pages. So, I edited and rearranged the text and even cut a really nice sock pattern (Pseudo Slouch Socks) by Amy R. Singer of (the pattern will be made available through the Interweave website) to comply. As I was taping the DVD last week, the layout designer was working on the interior design of the book. And guess what? She determined that the book needs 184 pages. That’s 24 more pages than budgeted.

Under normal circumstances, I’d have to cut a few more projects and edit down the text to fit. But, because I have already mentioned every one of the socks and most of the techniques on the DVD, they can’t be cut. I’m giddy as I type this–the book has officially changed from 160 to 184 pages. It will still be available in July.

If I didn’t hate being in front of the camera so much, I’d say this is a foolproof way to add pages to my next book.

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A Silver Lining

I’m happy to report that the DVD for Sock Knitting Master Class has been taped. But it’s far from done. Someone still has to edit out all my mistakes. And there are a lot of them.

As much as I’ve been dreading the whole affair, it wasn’t all bad. Interweave did a nice job of mounting images on the wall and making the set look comfortable and inviting.

Remember how I mentioned on January 5 (True Confessions) that I’d float right off the planet if Meryl Streep were to take a class from me? Someone at Interweave must have read that blog because look at the image they put on the teleprompter!

That’s her! Every time I looked up, I saw Meryl smiling at me. There were times when I had to stop to giggle (and we had to cut and start over). The best part was that when I managed to ignore everyone else, I could pretend that Meryl was mesmerized by my every word. But I’m spoiled now. If Interweave has any hope of getting me in front of a camera again, they’ll have to bring in the real thing.

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Outside my Comfort Zone

Tomorrow (that’s Tuesday), I tape the DVD that will be packaged with Sock Knitting Master Class. Other than the time I was interviewed by a weatherman at 5am for the NYC Knit Out about 10 years ago, I’ve never spoken in front of a camera (I never watched that tape; a pidgin dropped a bundle on my shoulder later in the day, which I took to be an omen).

To be honest, I’m most comfortable working quietly behind the scenes. I do not like to be the center of attention and talking to a camera under bright lights is about as center-of-attention as you can get. But, I’m trying to be mature about the whole thing. I got my hair and nails done, took a make-up lesson, and bought a new blouse and skirt (I’m embarrassed to say that I enjoyed so much cheer this holiday season that everything I own is a bit, shall we say, snug).

Then I knitted 13 step-outs in preparation for talking about ways to knit in rounds, how to pick up stitches along heel flaps, and ways to finish the toe of socks worked from the top down and ways to bind off an elastic cuff for socks worked from the toe up. I’ll also talk about designing with cables, lace, etc., and the principles of designing for socks knitted from the top down and from the toe up.

I’m telling you all this so you’ll know that you don’t have to watch the DVD. But do, please, buy the book!

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What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

As some of you know, I’ve been working on a book called Sock Knitting Master Class, which will be out in the summer of 2011. In addition to 17 sock patterns by master sock knitters, this book contains insights into how those designers (including, but not limited to, such notables as Cookie A, Kathryn Alexander, Cat Bordhi, Nancy Bush, Evelyn Clark, Anne Hanson, Meg Swanson, and Anna Zilboorg), went about creating fantastic socks. It’s a smorgasbord of inspiration and technique, whether you like to work with cables, stranded colorwork, lace, twisted stitches, slip stitches, intarsia, shadow knitting, or entrelac and whether you like to work from the top down or from the toe up. The cover (below) shows just one of the innovative designs (this one’s by Deborah Newton) you’ll find in the book.
The book is in production now, which usually means that an author’s work is mostly done. But notice the red circle in the lower right quadrant? It says that an instructional DVD will be included. I met with the folks at Interweave today to go over the contents of said DVD. Taping is scheduled for January 11, 2011, and I don’t mind admitting that I’m in a bit of a panic. Not only do I have to knit a boatload of samples in order to describe various stages of various techniques, but I have toTALK in front of a CAMERA. Despite my fears that this is going to be detrimental to overall book sales, I’m told there’s no getting out of the taping. But, between you and me, it’s perfectly fine for you to buy the book and never watch the DVD.

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Red-Letter Day

Today my Abbey Road Socks got posted on the Quince and Company website, along with their new sock yarn Tern (a delightful mixture of 80% wool and 20% silk) and I turned in the manuscript for my next book: Sock Knitting Master Class: Innovative Techniques + Patterns from Top Designers. You can get the sock pattern right now from Quince and Co, but the book still needs to go through all the editing, design, and layout stages and won’t be available until next summer (in time for Sock Summit 2011). I’ll let you know exactly when.
Care to help me celebrate?

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