Every time we get a box from Swans Island, Anne and I exchange an open-mouthed look of delight. It’s so exciting to open those boxes, to see the new colors and welcome back those that we’d already sold out of.
Those of you who regularly cruise knitting blogs have probably already heard a lot about Coastal Knits, a collaboration by designers Hannah Fettig and Alana Dakos. I know I’ve been running into it online quite a bit lately. This book boasts the current most popular new pattern, according to Ravelry: the Rocky Coast Cardigan. If you haven’t seen the book on Ravelry, perhaps you saw that Swans Island linked to it, and that Clara Parkes reviewed it. I admit, I was intrigued. If your interest is similarly peaked, come by the shop to take a look at it yourself, because we just got it in stock this week.
Clara Parkes has done it again, and by “done it again,” I mean “provided a practical, beautiful, fascinating, rigorous resource for knitters.” From the author of Knitter’s Review, the woman who brought us The Knitter’s Book of Yarn and The Knitter’s Book of Wool, here’s The Knitter’s Book of Socks.
If you’re a sock knitter, this is an indispensable book. If you’re an aspiring sock knitter, this book may be a good place to start. While many of the patterns include cables, lace, or colorwork, the first is an introductory-level sock with a simple texture pattern, using worsted weight yarn. Once you’ve worked up a pair of those, you’ll likely be ready and eager to dip your toes into some of the more complicated patterns. Also: those of you who are worried that your knitted socks will be too baggy or too tight, not stretchy enough, or that they’ll fall apart after one wear will be encouraged and emboldened by The Knitter’s Book of Socks. Parkes spends entire chapters on the effects of various fibers, twists, plies, and stitch patterns on the structure of a sock, giving knitters the information they need to avoid the potential pitfalls that may concern them.
The patterns come from an astounding group of designers, using all kinds of techniques to make socks in a wide range of styles. Cat Bordhi, Lucy Neatby, Ann Budd, Norah Gaughan, Nancy Bush, Cookie A, and Jared Flood all make appearances, as does a favorite new yarn of ours: the Swans Island Organic Merino, in fingering-weight.
I’m almost halfway through a sweater using this yarn, and had never considered it for socks, as it’s hand-wash only. Then I came upon Parkes’ ode to hand-washing hand-knit socks, which made the task sound more pleasant than inconvenient. Having just accidentally felted a pair of colorwork socks, I’m ready to make the switch to hand-washing, and it sounds like my socks will look better and last longer that way. Suffice it to say, I’m reconsidering putting that beautiful Swans Island yarn on my feet, and I have no doubt that The Knitter’s Book of Socks will change the way I pair yarns and sock patterns, making me a better, more educated sock knitter. Come by the shop to peruse this new book, and plan your next pair of socks!
Though Anne and I were both beside ourselves with excitement over the arrival of the new Swans Island yarn, it’s possible I was more excited, because she had assigned me the task of swatching it. I began by looking through their patterns for inspiration–a good starting place, as their patterns are beautiful in their simplicity, allowing the knitter to relax and enjoy the yarn. I chose the Harbor Hat pattern, which progressed quickly, and soon I had completed it, with more than half the skein to spare. Back to the Swans Island pattern binder I went, this time, for the Blackberry Mitts.
I could not possibly be more excited to introduce you all to this thrilling new yarn, an organic, hand-dyed merino from the Maine-based company Swans Island.
If you’ve been in the shop in the past two days, then you know that our excitement for this yarn has been obvious, reflected not only in our squeals of delight and our ear-to-ear grins, but also in its placement: front and center on the teacart.
Swans Island Organic Merino is spun and dyed in Maine, and comes in two weights, a worsted and a fingering. The worsted is put up in 100 gram skeins with 250 yards each, while the fingering boasts 525 yards to the skein. These details blur into the background, however, when you touch this yarn. Immediately, the yarn’s main feature is obvious: it is incredibly, amazingly soft. The secret to this softness is in the gentle, minimal processing that comes with ecologically-friendly natural dyes, which you can read more about on the Swans Island website. My new hero, Clara Parkes, author of the Knitter’s Book of Wool, wrote a characteristically in-depth review of the Swans Island Worsted on her blog, Knitter’s Review–a great resource if you’re thinking of giving this yarn a try. And if you’re thinking of giving it a try but don’t know what to knit, check out the first wave of Swans Island patterns, which can be found in a binder between the two Swans Island baskets.
Myself, I’m the lucky girl who gets to knit up a shop sample with this wondrous stuff, a hat, which I’ve just cast on for. Only four rows in, I can already tell you that this yarn is a dream. I have several Swans Island sweater daydreams floating around in my head, competing with one another. I’m so excited, I have no idea which to cast on for!