Kaiso

Hi, my name is Megan, and I’m addicted to knitting socks.

Once I completed my first sock (a simple, solitary little thing fit for a Cabbage Patch doll, but complete with a solid gusset and properly turned heel), I was hooked.  Sock knitting fever has gripped me with a fervor I could not have anticipated in my wildest dreams.  I seek out sock yarn, own every size of small double-pointed needles, and can’t pull myself away from the abundance of pattern books in Barnes and Noble.  I think I have a problem.

I completed my first actual complete pair of socks sometime in the beginning of February, after about two months of concentrated knitting that wasn’t nearly as tedious as I expected.

The pattern for these socks comes from a fabulous book that appealed to me on so many levels – Knitted Socks East and West: 30 Designs Inspired by Japanese Stitch Patterns, by Judy Sumner. How do I love this book?  Let me count the ways:

  • The title grabbed me.  I love all things Japanese, and the combination of Japanese patterns with something I knew how to make was impossible to pass up.
  • The photos within are gorgeous!  Light and clean, they would appeal to knitters and non-knitters alike.
  • The patterns are elegantly simple, different and intricate without complication.
  • The patterns use more than just knits and purls, incorporating stitches such as cables, the wrap, the twist/slip stitch, the three-stitch lift, and the pkok.  For someone like me, who was getting bored with knits and purls, but not ready to take on multi-colored or larger projects, these new stitches offered a welcome challenge.
  • That said, while the patterns require a little more brain power to work than just mindlessly knitting in the round, they are short patterns with plenty of repetition, so they are easy to memorize.
  • Most importantly of all, the directions are incredibly clear.  Had I never attempted a sock before, I probably could have used this book to get me started.  The illustrations are simple, and nothing about even the most intricate of patterns is confusing.

I feel that Ms. Sumner does a much better job summing up the design of this sock, Kaiso, than I ever could, so I will use her words to describe the sock:

The lace design and fluid bands of this lace pattern look to me as if they could be moving under water, like seaweed.  The Japanese word for seaweed is kaiso, and varieties of it have been used for centuries in Japanese cooking.

This sock design is a very simple one, using only knits, purls, yarnovers, and decreases to create a lace pattern that is reminiscent of the feather and fan design familiar to many Western knitters.  Here, it has been simplified and modified with garter bands that add a rhythmic feel as they flow up and down.

The most difficult thing for me when knitting socks is getting over the adrenaline of finishing the toe and completing the first in the pair and moving on to the second.  Just when you think you’re finished, the realization that you’re only halfway done sets in, and honestly, it gets kind of depressing.  It’s the same feeling I get when I shave my legs.  If the end result wasn’t something I could actually wear and show off, I probably wouldn’t be as excited about it.  With the success of this sock, I think I may have to work my way through each and every pattern in this book.  Perhaps I’ll make it a goal to knit them all by the end of next summer, a la Julie and Julia.  I could actually do it, if I really try.  Here’s to following through.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. lookitsbray
    Jul 05, 2010 @ 12:51:17

    My gf started knitting me a scarf…..4 years ago!

    Reply

    • megan
      Jul 05, 2010 @ 13:02:38

      Um…whoa. Is it still a work in progress, or has it been set aside with an earmark as something to finish before she dies? I have lots of unfinished projects like that.

      Reply

  2. lookitsbray
    Jul 05, 2010 @ 16:23:59

    It’s in an old plastic bag covered in dust buried in her closet.

    Reply

  3. Meg
    Aug 03, 2010 @ 14:50:30

    I crochet like a maniac, but I only know one stitch — and can only make square or rectangular things. So that translates to scarves for everyone, basically! 🙂 Fine work on the socks — I’m impressed!

    Reply

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