Soleful Socks with Betty Salpekar, Visionary Author

Soleful Socks with Betty Salpekar (a Visionary Author),  was the guest on Yarn Thing with Marly Bird.

Betty says she can’t remember never not knitting. She thinks she learned when very young as a way for her mother to keep her entertained while suffering all those childhood deceases we now have immunizations against. Beginning with doll clothes and toys. In Junior High, the Home Economics teacher was impressed with her mittens when all that was expected was a scarf.

While expecting her first child, on PBS, she caught Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Busy Knitter program. She swatched all the patterns that interested her in EZ books that she could get ahold of. Those swatches became tree ornaments at Christmas time that are still used, but what she remembers was the fascinating ways knitting can happen.

She feels that her mother and Elizabeth Zimmerman were her teachers originally, but finds inspiration from Barbara Walker and a lot of more recent designers. Socks, however, were not a motivation as socks are easy to purchase. UNTIL she won some sock yarn in a contest, so she knit a pair and realized once she wore them WHY people knit socks. After a while she wanted to reinforce her socks and to replace the sole of the sock when they wear out, and began to experiment with various cast-ons, grafting, increases and decreases, working away from what she found ‘fiddly’ toward a more intuitive construction.

A huge boost to her designing career happened when Betty took home the big prize from XRX in a contest for sock designs. She submitted a few designs but the won that was picked as the Grand Prize winner were her Leopard Socks feature a hidden message inside the cuff that reads, G-R-R-R NICE KITTY? and an innovative sole that can be replaced when they are worn out. The spots on the socks are created with 2-color stranding and spot dying. We can see why they were chosen and the pattern as published in the book that spotlights many of the socks in that contest, Think Outside the Socks, published by XRX in 2010. 

At the time that she won, she met Cat Bordhi who invited her to her Visionary retreat.  This is an invitation only event, a think-tank atmosphere, where talented people collaborate to create publications to further the creative design process. Cat’s program gave her focus, she says, to buckled down, learning computer programs that she at first found overwhelming. Others in the visionary group have been a big help that keep her moving forward with confidence.  https://www.unicornbooks.com/visionaryauthors.asp 

Her new book Soleful Socks, Knitting from the Ground Up features many creative socks that continue her unique sole design. The Trellis technique makes Betty especially excited to share, Marly loved the colored numbers in the instructions. The work of the printer of the book will be appreciated by the readers and project makers who pick it up. Check out the patterns listed in Ravelry that are featured in the book.

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  1. Linda says:

    The Traveling Trellis sock pattern is my favorite in the book “Solefull Socks.” I enjoyed the interview.
    Lmecoll on Ravelry

  2. Audrey says:

    Love the idea of the recurring trellis motifs. For me the bring images of lush flowers, fragrant fruit, growth. Can’t wait to see the new book.

  3. Anita says:

    This was a great interview with Betty. I loved hearing her story and can’t wait to try the Trellis technique. I will be looking up the visionary authors and adding to my knitting book collection.

  4. Abby M says:

    now that fall is here and the trellis will be bare, it’s a good thing to have a trellis on your feet. 🙁 Thanks for the great podcast, I love hearing about socks.

  5. Susan Cluck says:

    I loved listening to the Podcast. I knit lots of socks and can’t wait to try some Trellis Socks!! I hope this book has lots of success

  6. Carol T says:

    I really enjoyed the great interview. Wish I could have listened to the live broadcast. I am anxious to try the Trellis sock pattern. Thanks for a great show.

  7. Renee says:

    Wow! I had never heard about Betty’s technique of making socks and yet it sounds so intuitive! Her trellis design is absolutely beautiful and I’m so looking forward to trying her technique! Great show and thank you, Marly, for introducing Betty to us!

  8. Dorothea says:

    Really was fascinated by the unusual sock technique and I’m thinking Trellis socks would fit so much better than socks I’ve knit in the past.

  9. Debbie R. says:

    The Traveling Trellis design sounds fascinating. I am looking forward to trying this technique. When I think of a trellis I picture it full of pretty blue morning glory blooms open to the beginning of a new day.

  10. Jackie says:

    As an individual reentering into the knitting world the idea of a trelis sock sounds amazing even if it may be very ambitious. I am so glad I found this podcast it has really made my lunches at work fly by. Thank-you!

  11. Priscilla says:

    What a great technique I love how you cared the trellis pattern stitches through the projects in your new book.

  12. Jude H. says:

    I enjoy listening to your podcasts, they make my commute fun and productive. I would love to add the Betty’s technique to my knowledge base. I think of each new technique as a bloom on a garden trellis, each filling in the framework to form a colorful sanctuary.

  13. Debra says:

    I am currently working on a pair of socks!! I would love to try some of Betty’s patterns. Her trellis socks sound like they would be neat to knit and have a very different architecture design to them.

Marly Bird

The One and Only, Marly

Marly is a knitwear and crochet designer (and yarn addict) that is here to help you learn how to knit and crochet in a way that's fun and approachable.

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