Thursday, September 06, 2012

No-Bull Book Review: Indie Socks by Chrissy Gardiner

I am embarrassed that it has taken me so long to write up this review of Chrissy Gardiner's new book, partly because she sent it to me at the beginning of the summer, but also because, joy of joys, it also features a sock in Black Bunny Fibers yarn. So with abject apologies for being so slow, let's finally take a look at Indie Socks: Knitting Patterns and Dyer Profiles Featuring Hand-Dyed Yarns (Sydwillow Press 2012; MSRP $28.95).

Gardiner -- owner of Gardiner Yarn Works, with an extensive collection of patterns sold on-line and in yarn shops -- has focused on 24 dyers, large and small, well-known and not as well-known, readily available and available less widely. She designed a sock pattern for each individual yarn, and presented it, along with a profile of the indie dyer. Fans of well-crafted sock patterns, in particular, those knit in handdyed and handpainted yarns, rejoice! It's a great collection of patterns and you may also find yourself intrigued by some new (or new-to-you) handdyers to augment your stash.

Gardiner begins with a brief section on selecting handdyed yarns, and a description of what she means by "indie dyer." She then divides the 24 patterns of the book into three sections based on the coloring of the yarn:  Mild, Flavorful and Spicy.

The Mild section highlights semisolid and nearly solid yarns, and therefore uses more intricate patterning.  Hard to pick favorites in this section of 14 good-looking patterns, but I was particularly taken with the following:

Spyglass Socks (yarn by Alpha B Yarn)

the Spyglass Socks, with a wool/silk yarn by Alpha B Yarn in a dreamy lilac;

the Calpurnias, with Schaefer Nichole yarn; and

the Natsa Sukka socks, which use 6 different shades of a more rustic shetland-type yarn (dyed by Elemental Affects).

The Flavorful section includes what I would term "muted multicolors," yarns with a bit more going on with them than a semi-solid, but not the really crazy color combinations of the most zany handdyes.  Here's where you'll find Nami, the lovely pattern in a feather-and-fan pattern with simple wavy cuff:

These are knit in Black Bunny Fibers Superwash Merino Classic in Kathy's Cape

(the blue color reminded Chrissy of the ocean too; "Nami" is the Japanese word for "wave").

Other lovely patterns in this section include

Flamethrower (yarn by the Unique Sheep);

Owenburger (yarn by Lavender Sheep);

Deux Tourbillions (yarn by Mountain Colors; Crazyfoot base);

Rippleside (yarn is Pagewood Farms Alyeska); and

and Gelato, featuring Iris Schreier's Artyarns yummy Cashmere Sock yarn base.

Last up is the Spicy category, with 7 patterns designed for the wildest of your handpaints. Check out Archery, in Abstract Fiber's Supersock:

Seesaw (yarn by Cephalopod):

Muir Woods (yarn by Blue Ridge Yarns):

and Soda Fountain (Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock):

There are lots of photographs, including close-up shots of details; charts where necessary; detailed patterns; and a glossary of techniques (many with clear photographs walking the knitter through them). After the pattern section is a profile of each dyer (done by Donna Armey), with a closer look at their dyeing process, inspiration and so on.

I'm always happy to see patterns designed especially with handpaints in mind, and this is a well-presented, versatile collection of terrific sock patterns to help you use up those beauties in your stash. You can purchase the book at, download it via Ravelry or order a signed copy directly from Chrissy here.


Elizabeth D said...

Oh, I love these!! But they kind of take the autopilot out of socks, so I wonder if I'd really make them. I need some of the rest of life to calm down (nothing bad, just fast) to free up some brain space for knitting I have to pay attention to.

Anonymous said...

Wow- now that looks like a book after my own heart!

Knitting Needle Sizes said...

Your knitting is very inspiring. Your photography is astounding as well as your writing more than amusing. A beautiful blend of technical mastery and artistic vision I admire from afar.

sally said...

The owner of my lys (SPIN in Sturgeon Bay, WI) put this book aside for me when she saw it. She thought I'd be interested because I've been doing a lot of dyeing, and was working on my second ever pair of socks. Its a treasure for this knitting bookaholic.