Canal du Midi syndrome

Remember those Canal du Midi socks I knit for my grandma? The photo in Knitting on the Road looked spectacularly craptastic, but the pattern had awesome potential. Beyond the yellow, crunchy-looking yarn was a gorgeous pair of socks.

While flipping through my sock pattern books, I found another ugly duckling:

Merino Lace Socks | Anne Woodbury | Favorite Socks

A perfect case of CdMS: Canal du Midi syndrome. The lower sock is completely out of focus, the side view doesn’t showcase the gorgeous pattern along the front of the foot, and the dark yarn hides the delicate lace pattern all too well. The charts*, however, told me everything I needed to know – there was something quite special behind the lackluster photo. A lighter yarn and sharper pictures would make everything all better.

*The first printing of the book has a mistake in one of the charts – make sure to check the corrections! (p. 41 for this pattern)

I’m back for more! I enjoyed knitting the Uptown Boot Socks so much, that I’m using Fleece Artist yarn again! This is a very mellow colorway – ivory with hints of yellow and gray – very subtle variegation, perfect for my grandma.

Both this “ivory” skein and the “russet” I used earlier were purchased at Tidal Brook Yarns (very nice folks!). Fleece Artist dyes yarns in very small batches, so don’t be surprised when you see nearly identical hanks sold under different names.

One might think that such a muted colorway cannot pool, and indeed I don’t think it can pool hideously. But any handpainted yarn, no matter how tame it looks, can misbehave slightly. So far the pattern looks to be behaving., and I’m hoping that the pattern and yarn combo continue to be pleasing. Until this is a certainty, I will be supervising ;).


44 thoughts on “Canal du Midi syndrome

  1. Pru

    I’ve seen these socks knitted up in a pale violet colourway and they looked sensational. Please keep us posted on this project!

  2. Meghann

    I knit this pattern this summer for my Sockapalooza pal. It’s a fun and interesting pattern and I love the patterning on the heel also. It went quickly for me, which was nice!

  3. Jennifer

    Gah! I’ve been planning to cast on for a scarf soon, but now I suddenly want to make socks! πŸ˜‰ Well, maybe not *that* suddenly, since knitting socks is always so fun.

  4. Emily

    Wow, your socks look a LOT better than the photo! I wonder why they would use photos that really don’t show the detail of the pattern? Seems like bad planning/editing to me…

  5. Karen S

    It’s going to be one very pretty sock! (and eventually a pair of stunning socks) πŸ˜‰

    I also really hate, when photos don’t show the socks details…

  6. Connie

    I am currently making these in Yarn Pirate’s frost colorway (blues/browns) and it is stunning. I think the picture makes them look manly, but mine are definitely feminine.

  7. amy

    I had the opposite experience. The picture made me want to knit these, but I was confused by the “lace” in the title. The picture looks more like a textured pattern to me. So, I went to the charts and realized they really were lacy. I can’t explain it, but I just have this block where I don’t want lacy holes in my socks.

  8. sarai.

    You may be interested to know that the Fleece Artist doesn’t distribute yarn with colourway names on the tags. The website says: “No two skeins are ever exactly alike, because of this we do not print colour names on our labels.” (from

    So, it’s possible that Buttercream and Straw are from the same batch, or two related batches, and were named by the seller. As you know, and as with all other hand dyed yarns, it’s hard to tell a lot about the yarn just by looking at a picture on a monitor…

  9. margaux

    I totally beleive there is an epidemic of bad model shots! I’m excited to see your socks and how they come out – I have been hesitant to get the Favorite Socks book but perhaps this will help me over the edge πŸ˜‰

  10. Cindy

    I just knit these socks, and love them. Especially the heel. I was confused too, by the name, and the picture, but since I’m slowly knitting my way through “Favorite Socks” I figured I’d just take the plunge. And I’m very happy that I did.

  11. deb

    Wow – who’d have thunk! I’ve looked at those so many times but the picture just turned me away. Time to re-look with different eyes. Thanks.

  12. June

    I made those a few years ago (while I was at HU) for an undergrad who was in my lab – now in the MD/PhD program at HU, ah, they grow up so fast. :b

    Anyway, I did those from the toe up, they were lovely. Have fun!

  13. KathrynGrace

    Good for you for seeing though the craptism! I fear that I sometimes overlook the good qualities of a pattern for it’s photo quality. (bad! bad! I know!)

    I’ve been enjoying your blog for a while, but just moved from Boston to Portland, OR and I’m still looking for nearby knitters like the ones I had in Boston. Still reading and loving though! πŸ™‚

  14. Jen

    I’m using the Fleece Artist Ivory on a lace scarf. At first I was unsure about the color, but it’s growing on me. Looks like old piano keys!

  15. Toby

    I completely agree. I never even noticed that pattern in the book until I saw it on someone’s blog and then I was in love! It’s high on my list of projects I want to start.

  16. Sarah

    Oh, I love that colorway! My friends always try to steer me away from it (I’ve been accused of wearing too much beige, and certain parties feel I’d be better off keeping it out of my knitting), but those socks will be beautiful with everything. Can’t wait to see them all knit up, and since it’s you knitting them, I know I won’t have to wait long!

  17. Rachel

    I like that lace pattern on the front. I’m coming to the conclusion that I like lace patterns in which increases and decreases are far from each other, so that columns of knit stitches end up slanting and/or curving between them. Does anyone know if there’s a name for stitch patterns of this type?

  18. Amanda

    I agree 100% about the lackluster photos of that pattern. A friend of mine was knitting this pattern and I was thoroughly confused when she said it was from Favorite Socks. I said “WHAT!? I surely couldn’t have missed such a nice pattern…” It’s definately on my ‘list’

  19. Samina

    That’s actually a great pattern to knit. I did mine in Regia silk, a dark blue color. I think you’ll be happy with them.

  20. amanda

    i knit these socks a while back and i agree… that picture does them absolutely no justice whatsoever! the pattern even goes down the back of the heel – so appealing to me! i’m sure they’ll look great in the ‘popcorn’ colorway you chose, too.

  21. Serenknitity

    Love those socks! I have the ‘Favourite Socks’ book and have thought that some of the colours chosen in some pics were so blah and muddy, it put me off. I must be that shallow. Thank goodness you saw through it all and I can go back to the book with renewed insight. Love the colour you chose btw.

  22. donna lee

    I love my Favorite Socks book but the photos suck. Those look like lovely socks in your photo but you would never know it from the book. Don’t they have editors for this sort of thing?

  23. Carolyn

    I too saw the beauty of these beyond the bad pic. I’m making them for my mother in a colorway called “Hummingbird” from Laughing Rat Studio. I think the colorway is too busy for this pattern, but I still love it and I’m sure they will be much prettier than the picture in “Favorite Socks” suggests.

  24. pamela wynne

    Really? Cause I’d totally written off that pattern — will have to take another look and see if I was just put off by the crappy photo. Thanks for being less shallow than me. πŸ™‚

  25. Laura

    I refuse to use Fleece Artist because the last time I bought the yarn, it had pieces all over it. So many knots everywhere. I had to send it back. I came out with 4 different skeins of yarn from one ball. For that yarn to do that and at the prices they charge…no way!

    These days, I use my own hand paints for socks and they turn out muy fantastico! No pooling of color at all. πŸ™‚ It just takes more time to paint it. It does pay to be picky!

  26. Elizabeth

    I’m right there with ya! I wasn’t interested in these socks at all until I read the pattern. I made them with STR semi-solid and they’re one of my favorite pairs this year. But my pictures were just as lackluster and uninspiring. Maybe these socks just aren’t photogenic?

  27. Hannah

    I agree that a lot of the photos in Favorite Socks are craptastic! Several of the socks are not even shown on actual feet, including a very stretchy pair that you just know looks totally different on a foot. I don’t know what kind of crazy chimpanzees/robots they have in their photo department, but it’s a shame because the patterns are mostly really lovely.

  28. Kate

    I find this so often, expecially with anything Nancy Bush. I look a the picure and think ‘meh’, and then I see it online, and it will be the most gorgeous pattern ever, a must-knit. At least these ones are *on* feet, as opposed to sock blockers or just lying there. Although I’d like a front view, too. but at least the potential is visible.

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