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Book Review: Knitting Socks With Handpainted Yarn by Carol L. Sulcoski and Cute Knits for Baby Feet by Sue Whiting

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A pair of books for you today: keeping toes warm at any age. First up is Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn by Carol L. Sulcoski. Handpainted yarns are one of the most coveted yarns by knitters. Often created in small batches by artisan spinners, these yarns combine two, three, four, or more different colors. The color changes don’t often happen evenly. By using just one colorway, you can create socks that are a rainbow of colors. This book guides you through picking the right pattern depending on your color palette (i.e., knitting a simple pattern with a highly saturated, multi-colored yarn so as not to make the sock overwhelming to the eye), and how to avoid color flashes and pooling that can create an uneven pattern.

Approximately 20 patterns are included, each coded with a suggested type of handpainted yarn (nearly solid, muted multi, and wild multi). Among my favorites: “Zigzag Anklets,” basic anklets with a zigzag chevron ribbing at the ankle; “Staccato Socks,” another basic sock, but one that uses one skein for the body of the sock and contrasting leftovers for the toe, heel, and ribbed cuff; “Whirlpool Socks” which creates a swirling rib up the ankle; “Corrugated Stripe Socks,” which use one skein of nearly solid and one skein of wild multi to create long, continuous vertical stripes; “Flame Thrower Socks” which combines a muted, nearly solid grey yarn with a wild red, orange, and yellow yarn to create intarsia flames; and the “Spot Check Sock” which uses an extremely simple Fair Isle pattern of alternating stitches to create a pattern that resembles brightly colored TV static.

Just because they are babies doesn’t mean they can’t look fabulous. Sue Whiting brings us Cute Knits for Baby Feet, a collection of 30 sock and bootie patterns. Some of these are just so adorable I want to knit bigger versions for myself. “Fluffy Clouds” offers a plain blue sock with intarsia clouds knit out of hazy mohair. “Wooly Tights” are adorable, but the baby modeling them does not look very happy and honestly, they just don’t look comfortable. “Rainy Day” are tall socks with intarsia umbrellas to match your wellies on a rainy day. “Bobble Socks” are simple socks with knit bobbles on them. Maybe it is the color combination used (sage green with cream bobbles) but it makes the baby’s feet look diseased. “Wizard Socks” are a dusky blue with gold stars stitched on afterwards. I love the “Ballet Shoes” – a clever pink base leads into a white ankle. Satin ribbon sewn on in a criss-cross creates the look of ballet slippers while keeping toes toasty.

An entire chapter is devoted to inventive animal-themed socks, including zebra stripes, blue socks with fish, duck-feet socks complete with webbing, stripey snakes with hissing tongues at the toe, elephants with trunks and huge flappy ears, and socks with butterfly wings on the back of each – stand together and the butterfly effect is complete. Because of the shapes, many of these will not easily (or comfortably) fit into shoes, but they are perfect for toddling around the house in.

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