New Custom Socks Book by Kate Atherley

NEW Custom Socks, book by Kate Atherley was our HOT TOPIC on today’s Yarn Thing podcast with Marly Bird. Did I just hear you say ‘Sock it to me!’? OK, let’s go!

Kate Atherly profileThis was Kate’s first visit to the Yarn Thing podcast, which seems incredible until you think about how busy she’s been. She doesn’t remember a time that she did not know how to knit. Grandmother was a ‘hard-core’ crafter, who included Kate in the process of the sweaters made for her, as the fascination of that process gave her a life-long love.  As an adult after moving to Toronto, she resided in the neighborhood of Romney Wools, which she describes as ‘sucking her back into knitting’. She says as an adult, for the longest time she she was stuck in one cast-on and one bind-off, but loves that the internet and podcast have inspired her to increase her skill level. She says there is a story about her grandmother knitting socks for everyone in the neighborhood, and for the war effort, which can’t be confirmed as grandmother is gone. She thinks she would be proud of Kate’s work.

KA Custom Socks

As an adult she worked in computer software industry, knitting socks in her off-time. Kate says she knit a few socks before she realized that they weren’t fitting her well, and that discovery inspired her whole career. A co-worker shared that a friend of hers knits and is opening a yarn store to which Kate altered the course of her life by saying ‘I want to teach’. She spoke of her understanding her own misunderstandings have helped her teaching.

Kate transitioned fairly easily from the highly technical software industry to the highly technical editing of patterns with Knitty.com. When she began writing her own patterns, she included instructional information, that she hopes increases the knowledge of the knitter, as you would learn when taking a class.

The CURRENT excitement is her new book through Interweave Custom Socks: Knit to Fit Your Feet which is available in a lovely paperback edition and a e-book version. Following her desire to help us increase our skills she included tips and information: for instance for plain socks, often called Vanilla Socks, she’s added information for 9 gauges and 12 sizes, in both Toe-Up and Top-down. That is probably the most amazing part of this book!

Marly expressed her love for an early book that Kate authored, Pattern Writing for Knit Designers (which is currently out of print, being re-vamped and published again in early 2016, so watch for it at her website and at Interweave). Kate feels that a lot of pattern writing and tech editing requires the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s been very helpful for knitters to understand patterns as well.

At this point, Technical Difficulties tried to defeat us, but Marly was able to bring me, Tammy, on the line while she reconnected. I asked her if she has favorite yarns, specifically what she looks for in a yarn. She mentioned wool blends (75% wool/25% nylon) sock yarns, whether indie-dyed or factory made. She loves a blend with cashmere because she lives in a colder place and they make for softer, longer wear. If she does make socks with a all natural blend, she creates socks with a tighter stitch. Kate really emphasized that she has a habit of hand-washing a lot of her delicates, the nylon content will help protect if something is accidentally washed with the rest of her laundry. And air-drying always.

Blocking and fiber care is a big topic in one of her Craftsy Class, which Marly really wanted to have Kate share as she has taken Kate’s Craftsy Classes. Kate says the Sheep do love to get wet, that’s not the problem with washing your knitwear, it’s the agitation that the sheep don’t care for. Here are Marly’s affiliate links to Kate’s Classes in Craftsy too (Let’s our Awesome Sponsor know where you heard about them:) Here is Blocking Handknits and Perfect Knits Every Time: Understanding Knitting Patterns.

Kate’s website: www.kateatherley.com/ and this is the link to her Ravelry Designer page.

If you missed getting to hear this live, it is available as an archived episode: https://www.blogtalkradio.com/yarnthing/2015/09/24/new-custom-socks-book-by-kate-atherley or in iTunes


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  1. Kathy says:

    I love this week’s podcast. I loved hearing about a book that not only has great patterns but how to make a sock fit. I have had lots of problems getting socks to fit. I would love this book to learn how to make great socks.

  2. Debbie Rotondo says:

    I enjoyed listening to Kate and learned a lot of new info. I love to knit socks and am always trying to get a better fit for my size 10 wide feet. . Kate’s book sounds like a great way to help achieve this goal.

  3. Linda says:

    Listening to Kate on the podcast was very informative and entertaining. I’d love to own the book “Custom Socks: Knit to Fit Your Feet.”

  4. christi says:

    You gals were a hoot in this podcast. I found myself laughing as you were talking about washing wool garments. I can’t wait to check out this book, as I’d like to start knitting more socks, and get worried that spending all that time and energy on them might result in an imperfect fit.

  5. MimiD says:

    Great show! Kate’s approach isounds like a good fit for a methodical person like me. I would love to own the book and learn more.

  6. Erin in CA says:

    What a delightful guest! I have actually never knit a pair of socks, even though I’d love to, because I’m afraid they won’t fit. My feet are both long and wide, and my experiences with trying to buy shoes that fit has left me unwilling to spend a ton of time and money making pretty socks that I’d never be able to wear. So this book sounds like a lifesaver! (I’m also thrilled to hear Pattern Writing for Knit Designers is coming back. I would read that just for the fun of it!)

  7. Carol T says:

    It was great to hear all about Kate’s history and how she developed her knitting. Loved to hear the story behind the person. I have tried to knit several pairs of socks to get the right fit, but it always seems that I don’t quite get there. Kate’s book ‘Custom Socks’ sounds wonderful and I am sure that it would help me get the right fit on my socks for my feet. I am anxious to look through the book and trouble shoot where I’ve gone wrong the the past and then go forward to make the sock that is the perfect fit for me. Love, love, love your podcast, Marly. Thanks for all that you and Tammy do.

  8. Michelle says:

    This was a great interview. Especially LOVED the save in the middle by Tammy. She is a gem, for sure. I only knit because I NEEDED to know how to make socks. I now know how to make them but do they fit? Sometimes yes, sometime no! LOL Which means I must get Kate’s book.

  9. Laura says:

    Seriously Marly, you and your guests are going to force me to learn to knit! So much fun listening and sounds like I might be able to tackle socks and even make them fit. I’ve done crochet slippers for my mom and she loves them so this is the next logical step, right? =) I made them with cotton yarn but might have to look for a wool/nylon blend next time.

    Oh, and I am right there with you ladies on the blocking issue. I’m a bit new still so I wish designers would put what type of blocking they do on the instructions! Steam? Wet? Just a quick spray???

  10. Katherine Zammit says:

    I loved hearing from Kate and the various topics discussed today. Worrying about whether garments fit usually puts me off trying to make them at all. Looking forward to checking out Kate’s custom socks book.

  11. Renee' C. says:

    Fun show, Marly, as always! Kate made knitting socks sound almost doable for me and with her instructions, they just might fit me very well! Thanks, Marly!

  12. Katelyn M says:

    Thanks for another great show. I can’t wait to see Kate’s book. I will need to get this book before I make my first pair of socks. Maybe that way they will actually fit when I make them!

  13. Pam Maher says:

    I really enjoyed this show and getting to know Kate! I have small feet too and the first few socks I knit didn’t fit well so I know exactly what she is talking about. Plus, after she talked about sheep getting rained on, I couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen with some agitation: felted sheep. 🙂 I’m adding her books to my wish list!

  14. Abby M says:

    Kate was a great listen – it took me years to finally get a great fit for my socks. Had to try lots of heels to get one that worked. I can’t wait to see what her books says.

  15. Sheryl sanders says:

    Love the story about Kate. I would love to take her class if she is ever close to Kansas,
    She makes me want to get a good fit for my socks.Cant wait for her book.

  16. Suzanne says:

    I can’t imagine what would be better than having socks and garments that fit. Kate has a lot of amazing knowledge about knitting and designing. I wish I could spend some more time with her.

  17. Lisa Sauer says:

    I generally have had a good fit with my socks, but I have had a couple of heels lately that were a bit too snug. Kate’s book sounds like a great resource to get a great fit every time!

  18. Thekla says:

    I just bought a skein of sock yarn that I actually intend to knit socks from…this was a very good episode and I hope, with Kate’s help, to get the fit right this time…my first effort was not very successful…thanks again.

  19. Amy says:

    Very interesting interview with Kate. It made me want to delve into sock knitting. I’ve always been afraid that they wouldn’t fit after I got done, but maybe with Kate’s book, I could make it happen!

  20. Citabria Shipman says:

    I tried to make socks that fit me and lost my kojo. I can make baby socks with less difficulty. I was excited to hear about the multiple possibilities in your book. Can’t wait to check it out.

  21. Michele Byars says:

    I absolutely love making socks and am always looking for better fitting socks. This book is definitely on my wish list.

  22. roseruffolo says:

    Hi Ladies! I was thrilled that you had a fellow Canadian and Torontonian on your podcast today! It always makes me feel so proud and honoured to be a woman when you showcase such super intelligent women on your podcast. You are all a great “FIT”and an inspiration! Thank you for filling the world with such positive “vibes” and creativity :0)


  23. Leanne Holland says:

    Another great and informative podcast. I still need to learn how to knit socks and would love to learn how to make them to fit from the outset. It was great to hear about washing and finishing your projects because it is a scary task when you are new to this art.

  24. Kim Schroeder says:

    I live knitting socks. I am always interested in learning new techniques and ways to make them fit better.

  25. Nancy Smith says:

    What a great show – as usual! I’m now inspired again to try making socks that FIT! Kate is an inspiration, and I’d love to read her book. Thanks for having such a positive and educational podcast.

  26. Susan says:

    After taking one of Kate’s classes at the Interweave Yarnfest this past year, making my patterns “fit” properly has never been easier! It was a great podcast, I enjoyed it.

  27. Missy Schmidt says:

    I hate when I make a pair of socks that don’t fit quite right. So this is so exciting! Thanks for another wonderful podcast! 🙂

  28. hotknitter says:

    I love the idea of making socks that are TRULY custom fit. People’s feet, even those of the same size, have different configurations, and it would be wonderful to accommodate idiosyncrasies.

  29. SallyFromIdaho on rav says:

    I loved this podcast!
    I am always trying to find a way to make
    hand knit socks fit me better.

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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