I recently completed these Marlene socks for Z. I’m not sure how many pairs I’ve knit for Z at this point, but the number is probably near ten (I would count, but my 15-month old daughter likes to empty Z’s sock drawer every morning, and we haven’t put all the socks away yet today). A majority of those socks, like these, were designed by the notorious Cookie A.
All knitters are familiar with the obsession that sets in as an item nears completion. As we knit the final rows, heading for that bind-off, that grafting stitch, that last seam, pretty much everything falls to the wayside: eating, sleeping, personal hygiene, conscious thought, and taking care of one’s children. Time itself loses all meaning until whatever it is we’re working on is, at long last, off our needles.
The thing about Cookie A’s sock patterns is that obsession starts . . . well, pretty much right after casting on. Her lace patterns are addictive. Having knit more than a few of her designs at this point, I can now identify the features that put the monkey on my back:
- Twisted Rib. Sounds like an injury, but it’s taking the ‘knit one’ part of k1p1 ribbing and turning it into ‘knit one through the back loop.’ Cookie A is really into twisted rib. On paper, it looks like it’s going to be a pain in the ass, not to mention that it significantly increases the amount of time it takes to work the ribbing, but there’s something freakishly satisfying about working twisted knit stitches over and over again. They slip off the needle with a tactile plunk that makes regular knit stitches seem wimpy by comparison. Also, twisted rib looks way, way better than regular ribbing.
- Pattern Flow. In almost all of Cookie A’s lace patterns, the end of each pattern repeat sets up for the next one. Not only is this visually appealing, with all of the lines flowing together seamlessly, it makes it really hard to find a natural stopping point. I can’t tell you how many times, while knitting the above socks, I said, “Be right there, honey, just as soon as I finish this round.”
- Spoing! This is my private vocabulary word for what the lace pattern does when the socks are off my needles and Z puts them on her feet for the first time. What was a scrunched-up collection of knit and purl columns suddenly expands into the intended result. Sure, all lace patterns do this—after you’ve soaked them, blocked them, and let them dry out overnight. Lace socks, on the other hand, do it as soon as you put them on. And not only that, they unspoing when you take them off, only to spoing again the next time you wear them! Cookie A’s designs are especially pleasurable this way. They spoing like no other socks.
So what’s left to knit after a pair of Cookie A socks? Plenty, after a few weeks in rehab. The problem is, Cookie A is quite prolific. There’s always another pattern to come back to . . .