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Friday, September 04, 2009

A Long Story, A Brief History Lesson, And A Surprise

A little less than 18 months ago, I received an email from Lark Books. They were putting together a sock pattern book and they were issuing a call for entries of sock designs. The book's title wasn't decided yet, but they wanted to make the sock book different from all the previous sock knitting books by somehow tying it in with sex (in a completely tasteful and playful way they assured us). I was thrilled at the chance to design for a book - a real book, with pages and pictures and something that would be sold at book stores, but on the other hand, I went around and around for days trying to figure out the socks and sex angle. If I did this, was I possibly going to be part of the first X rated sock knitting book? Was this going to be something I could show my son? My Mother? Finally, I sat down and decided that while the socks and sex angle for a knitting book was surprising, I knew Lark Books was a respected publisher of craft books, and when you get right down to it, how naughty can you really make an entire sock book? I mean they were looking at around 30 patterns for this book. 30 sock patterns can take up some serious page space and that doesn't leave much room for smut. Also, there were the assurances that this would be tastefully done - more of a glimpse of stocking and a giggle than say, full, frontal nudity.

So I decided to go for it. I had to figure out a design for the book and (at least in my own mind) I have a particular design style. This was a style that didn't really lend itself to a sock design called Thundering Loins of Love. I had to find a way to design a sock for this book while staying true to what I feel is the Pink Lemon style. Then it hit me. The themes for the first three Mystery Stoles that I designed were all based on mythical/fictional women. What if I chose a naughty woman - either fictional or real - to base the socks on for this book?

I dove into Google, read more Wikipedia than I care to remember, found some websites that probably shouldn't be out there at all and finally found my muse, my inspiration, my naughty sock girl. Lillie Langtry.

Lillie Langtry was born in 1853 on the island of Jersey (British Jersey, not New Jersey - just to clarify). Her nickname was The Jersey Lily. She married, but soon after began a career of infidelity that cut across the upper crust of British society to the very highest levels. She was even, for a few years, mistress to the married Prince of Wales, Albert Edward, son of Queen Victoria and future King Edward VII, himself. She became an actress in 1881 (scandalous in it's own right at the time, particularly for a woman of her "station."). In 1897 she became an American citizen and divorced her husband. She continued acting and collecting admirers in America, including Judge Roy Bean, Justice of the Peace of Val Verde County, Texas and the self proclaimed "Law West of the Pecos." He even named the saloon where he held his court proceedings, The Jersey Lily. She died in Monaco in 1929.

Once I had my theme and inspiration, I set about designing and knitting a sock. Pictures of the finished sock were sent to Lark Books for them to pick the designs for the new book. Several weeks later, I got an email that my design had been accepted! I quickly finished up the pattern, knit the second sock and sent everything off to Lark along with the request that if possible, I'd like my design to be both charted and written out in text format (see, I listen to you!)

All of this had happened over a year ago. There were a few emails clarifying the pattern instructions and I gave them our new address here in Texas. Then, earlier this Spring, I got the socks back. We had been told that the new book would be out in the Fall of 2009. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, a package arrived on my doorstep. When I opened it, I found this:
The new book! The Joy of Sox! It's lovely and tasteful and the photography is excellent and the models are all clothed and the socks are fabulous. They were able to print the stitch patterns for my design in both charted form and written out form (there are some other designs the same way, but some designs are only one format or the other). They also changed the name of the design to Chick Flick. Honestly, it took me a while to find my design because of the name change, but after seeing the book in it's finished, complete form, I can see that The Jersey Lily wouldn't have really fit the rest of the book and it would have needed an explanation as to who the Jersey Lily was and Chick Flick just works better in the context of the book. Want to see my socks? Here they are.
Finally, I have a little surprise for all of you. I have a copy of the book to give away. The contest is now closed but I'll announce the winner on Monday and email them privately, but even if you don't win, Amazon is now taking preorders for The Joy Of Sox.



Blogger Gale said...

They are lovely. Congratulations.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Bonney said...

I'm game, count me in!! (My go to sock is the basic sock from Yankee Knitter.)

10:41 AM  
Blogger Deborah said...

I had just heard of the book a few days ago and was already tempted, I would love to win! Congratulations on your newly published pattern!

11:08 AM  
Blogger Nic said...

What a lovely pair of socks ...

I think my favourite design is ... well, I don't really know. I'm working my way through Charlene Schurch's "Sensational Knitted Socks" and to choose just one design would be like choosing your favourite child/pet/book. Some fit better, some show off the yarn better, some were more fun to knit... I can't do it, sorry!

11:09 AM  
Blogger Trillian42 said...

Awesome - I picked that book up the other day (I had heard about it from YoYoKnits, who also has a design in there), but I didn't know you had one in there as well! It's a very cute book, with some lovely designs in it.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Aida Costa said...

Your socks are are so lovely! Very pretty and feminine :)

Strange concept for a book. Seems they simply wanted an attention-grabbing title to stand out from so many other sock books?

11:18 AM  
Blogger Fiber Floozie said...

Congrats on being included in a book.
I love to knit from Cat Bordhi New Pathways book. At first I had a hard time wrapping my head around her stuff but then, bamm, it made sense. I've made so many socks based on her ideas.

12:41 PM  
Blogger Awa said...

Hooray! My favorite pattern (this week) are the Sunday Swing Socks.

2:14 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Congratulations! So exciting!

5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pretty socks. The book sounds interesting. My favorite sock pattern? Basic old stockinette, top down with a heel flap. But I do enjoy Cookie A and Yarnissima patterns.

7:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have loved your "Elements" socks patterns, but I must confess...I knit from Charlotte Schurch's books all the time. I've made many, many pairs from both "Sensational Knitted Socks" and "More Sensational Knitted Socks."
However, I think I'm sufficiently hooked to knit your beautiful socks from the book - I will order it straight away - if the random picker passes me by!
Lovely, Melanie! Congratulation! I've been a fan ever since joining the last mystery stole!

9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh! Forgot to check the e-mail box!!! You have it now!

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh! Forgot to check the e-mail box!!! You have it now!

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Bruny said...

Beautiful socks! Congratulations, you are a talented knitter! Have a blessed day! Bruny

6:15 AM  
Blogger danièle said...

Guess what ? I already pre-ordered the book at Amazon. I saw your pattern and I loved it, it was one of the reason why I bought it at forst, even though I did not know it was yours.
Congratulations anyway.
Can't wait for the real thing.

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats, looks like a great book. My current favorite is Wendy Johnson's Socks form the Toe Up book. I prefer the toe up socks, seems my gussets just look neater.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Miss Dallas said...

That's so fantastic! Congratulations!

12:45 PM  
Blogger Trish said...

Favorite sock pattern is Priscilla Gibson-Robert's basic sock pattern.

Your Lily socks are lovely!

7:11 PM  
Blogger Suna said...

Too late for the contest, but I wanted to let you know that your pattern is really fun looking and I can't wait to get a copy of the book!

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think your design is lovely, and actually, YOUR name fits the sock perfectly!

5:52 PM  

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