Hi everybody it's Harry and I am so excited.
Because you know normally when we have a Guest Star visit Dolores gets to do the interview and all I get to do is sit in the next room in case they yell for help.
Well not today. Because it turns out that Dolores is having such an enlightened time at the ashram in Oregon that she did not come back yet and Franklin is in the room with the drawing board and the sign up that says ON DEADLINE DO NOT DISTURB UNLESS STEPHEN FRY IS AT THE FRONT DOOR NAKED AND HOLDING CASHMERE and so guess what I get to do the interview!
Our guest is Janel Laidman who wrote the The Eclectic Sole last time she wrote a book, and it was about socks. And now she wrote another book about socks which is The Enchanted Sole and when we got our copy I stayed up past my bed time reading it because it is very pretty and unusual, and so I have read the whole book. And also I am qualified to talk to Janel about knitting socks because as you know I am sock yarn.
And so anyway here is our chat which I hope you will enjoy or at least look at the pictures.
Harry: Hi, Janel! I hope you don’t mind if I do the interview. Dolores usually does them but Franklin asked if I would fill in, is that okay? I haven’t done it before but usually I get to watch Dolores so I know how I’m supposed to do it.
Janel: Well, Harry, I’m actually thrilled that you’re doing the interview. I’ve always had a bit of a secret crush on you. Dolores is all well and good with her antics and shenanigans, but I’ve always had a bit of a fondness for a guy who is clearly steady, useful and down to earth. If you ever need a place to get away from it all, I have a lovely stash you could come hang out with.
Harry: Oh gosh I am blushing! You are so cool, Dolores is going to be mad she didn't come home to do this interview! Okay, before we start would you like some milk and cookies? I made snickerdoodles and chocolate chip.
Janel: Mmmm…I’ll have the snickerdoodles, please. I mean really–snicker, doodle–how can I resist?
Harry: Excellent choice, madame. Now it's the question part so let me get my notebook. When you first tried knitting a sock, what sock was it? Was it plain or fancy? Did you think right away how cool it is to make your own socks, and dream you would make up your own sock patterns some day?
Janel: I first tried knitting a sock because I saw these really cool people called Danish schoolgirls and they were knitting socks in physics class! And somehow also learning physics, in Danish! I thought that must be the trickiest thing on earth and I decided I wanted to be a Danish schoolgirl too, so I tried knitting a sock.
It was a plain ribbed sock, and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I didn’t even know how to knit. It came out looking like an elephant might wear it if he liked mustard yellow cotton socks. I was in Denmark because I was an exchange student and I dreamed I would someday be a famous language expert and work for the United Nations. I had no idea that my special language would end up being the language of K and P.
Harry: I understand, because I really admire Danish too except when it's prune. So you have made two books now, and the new book is called The Enchanted Sole. It has a lot of patterns, and all of the patterns are based on make-believe. Like you have a Mermaid sock, and a Pixie sock, and a sock called Licorne which is unicorn when you are speaking French. So do you enjoy make-believe stories a whole lot?
Janel: Yes, especially when they end with lots of golden coins piled up in a vault with my name on it, and fairy princesses scattering flower petals and a magical fish dinner, with a goblet that sings…Where was I?
Harry: I don't know. I kind of got lost when you said magical fish.
Janel: Well, actually I just like stories a whole lot, both make-believe and stories of “true grit." I like to work with themes as an inspiration and this particular book had a make-believe story theme.
Harry: Do you have a most favorite make-believe story? Mine is the one about the shoemaker and the elves because I think it would be fun if elves did my chores, like if I made cookies they would come in after and load the dishwasher. I like to imagine that.
Janel: I always liked the one about the talking fish who grants wishes, and the stupid guy who wishes for sausages and his stupider wife who wishes they were stuck to the end of his nose. And I also like stories that are sad and a little wistful, yet the earnest and honest person gets the rewards in the end.
Harry: That's the best kind of story! When you were making your book, how did you get ideas? Did a story make you think of a new sock, or did you maybe see a good-looking ball of yarn and it made you think of a story that you read that would be an excellent sock?
Janel: Well, both actually. Sometimes it was the story, like for example with the Snow Queen sock which was inspired by Snow Queen stories, or the Tree of Life sock - that one was definitely inspired by the many stories with a tree of life in them.
Other times a handsome ball of yarn would come along and whisper what it wanted to be. The Tintagel sock was like that and so was the Atlantis sock. I knew when I saw that watery aqua color of Madeline Tosh yarn, it just had to be something about mystical water and the word Atlantis floated up into my brain. Sometimes I was inspired by the technique and then had to figure out which story it went with. Like the Traveler sock. I knew I wanted to make a sock with a secret pocket, but then I had to figure out who would be wearing that sock.
Harry: I love the one with the secret pocket! I'm going to make it for Franklin to wear when he goes to the nudist resort so he can have a place to put his room key.
Janel: I'm sorry...what?
Harry: Would you like some more cookies? I made tons and Franklin is on a diet.
Janel: Oh my, I’m on a diet too, but really it’s hard to resist. Snicker, doodle. Who named that cookie? Oh, alright, just one more.
Harry: Do you think it is a shame to make socks with pretty feet and then put them into a shoe and nobody gets to see the pretty part?
Janel: Well, I usually wear my socks with pretty feet in some kind of open shoes like Birkenstocks so I can be as much of a show-off as possible. But I think that sometimes it’s really delicious to have a secret pretty thing that only you know is there. It makes you walk around all day with a silly little Mona Lisa smile because you know that, secretly, you have princess feet.
Harry: I agree! Are there any make-believe characters that are too scary so you wouldn’t make a sock of them because while you are knitting you would get too scared and have to put all the lights on and call your best friend?
Janel: Well, usually I think the villains in the make-believe stories are more complex than they appear to be, so they don’t usually scare me too much. However, I don’t think I’d make a scary or ugly sock. I mean, there is just too much pretty out there to enjoy. I definitely wouldn’t make a sock from The Shining because that story made me put the lights on and stay up all night singing lalalalalalala.
Harry: Now these socks aren’t made out of scary stories but they might be scary to make. I will explain what mean. Like this one, Firebird, has a great big picture across the whole entire leg! If somebody is nervous about making a sock like that what would you say to be helpful and encouraging?
Janel: It’s actually not scary at all. Colorwork is a lot of fun because you can’t wait to see the picture emerging. And a colorwork sock is a much smaller project than that Henry VIII pullover by Ms. Starmore.
Most people are worried about getting the tension even doing colorwork on a small project like that. If you haven’t ever done a colorwork sock, try knitting it with the sock inside out so the floats are going around the outside, that makes the tension very even and allows for a little bit more stretch.
Also, that sock, and the other colorwork socks in the book have built in leg shaping so that they will fit the curvy part of your leg much better than a straight leg sock.
Harry: Okay, I think that is very comforting. Hey, do you only knit socks or do you knit other things, too?
Janel: I love to knit other things. It’s just that socks are kind of like potato chips, once you start it’s hard to stop.
Harry: Would you like to do more books about socks right away or do you need to rest for a little while?
Janel: My next two books will definitely not be about socks. I love socks, but I also love other items. I’m currently smitten by mittens and gloves so I think a book about those will be in order, and I’m also quite excited by lace, and textures and sweaters. I’ll come back again to socks some day, but I think my current books can keep sock knitters busy for quite a little while.
Harry: I think you're right! Janel, it sure was nice to meet you! Thank you for being interviewed. If you want you can take some cookies home as a souvenir.
Janel: Well, it was truly a treat meeting you Harry, remember what I said, if you ever need to get away for a while…
Okay everybody, that's the interview! If you want to get The Enchanted Sole you can go to Rustling Leaf Press or visit your friendly neighborhood yarn shop. And tell them Harry sent you and I said hi!