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Knitting Book Reviews

The Enchanted Sole: Legendary Socks for Adventurous Knitters
by Janel Laidman

Such a fun book, filled with creative sock patterns. Each pattern in the book is inspired by various legends and fairy tales. Selkies, Mermaids. Tolkein’s elves. Alchemists. Atlantis. Myths, legends, magical creatures…

Clearly, these are no ordinary socks.

They’re not, either. Sure, some are more “ordinary" than others, using basic lace patterns (The Snow Queen), or simple texture stitches (Naiad). But the others?

How does colorwork sound? This book has some amazing colorwork. Stranded colors making not only interesting stripes around toes or heels, or along the instep of a sock (Alchemist), but some beautiful, intricate designs, like the Firebirds, or the Labyrinth, or Tree of Life that are practically works of art. Some socks have beadwork (Traveller), and some even have added embroidery (La Licerne).

Janel stretches even further, and produces socks knit entirely side to side rather than tip to toe (Tinker, Talking Fish). For these, she helpfully provides a chart so that you can calculate the exact length, gauge, and stitch count for the socks you need to make.

Really, the socks are lovely. My favorites are the ones with the colorwork, because she does such a masterful job working around the necessary structure of the sock. Everybody wearing them is going to have a heel, a toe, and a foot, right? So those elements have to be built in … and she places and shapes the color patterns just so to make them work. I love the cleverness of the Mirror Mirror, whose two socks have the same color pattern, but in reverse of each other. The Firebird socks are like negative images of each other–red on black for one, black on red for the other.

The photography is charming for all of them–creative and suited to the names and legends the socks are designed around, with flower petals and jewels strewn around to set the right scene. Yet, none of the pictures obscures the details of the actual designs. (You know how that bugs me.) And every now and again you get a painted illustration with a “real" sock added in (like on the cover). Maybe it’s the kid in me, but I particularly liked those.

All the socks have heel flap-and-gusset heels–no short row or afterthought heels. As a person who prefers the fit in the short-row kind, this would worry me more, except that she clearly states that one could be substituted if desired. She discusses some basic techniques and concerns (like gauge, or whether to use DPNs) at the beginning, and there’s a good section on techniques at the back–featuring things like how to add beads using a crochet hook, or how to do a sewn bind-off.

Really, I liked this book. How could I not? Its designs are clever, creative, and attractive.

Reviewed by Deb Boyken

Deb has been knitting since 1987 and has accumulated quite a collection of knitting books over the years. Her website, Knitting Scholar, can be found at
http://knittingscholar.com .

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