Friday, November 4, 2011

Book review: The Knitter’s Book of Socks

I posted this review on goodreads and wanted to share it here, as well.  Who else has gotten their hands on this book?  If you don’t already have it, it’s time to update your holiday wish list!


The Knitter's Book of Socks: The Yarn Lover's Ultimate Guide to Creating Socks That Fit Well, Feel Great, and Last a LifetimeThe Knitter's Book of Socks: The Yarn Lover's Ultimate Guide to Creating Socks That Fit Well, Feel Great, and Last a Lifetime by Clara Parkes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am a big fan of Clara Parkes - The Knitter's Review, her books, her classes. I was fortunate enough to take her classes at Sock Summits 2009 and 2011, and this book is both a summary and extension of everything she presented there. It is wonderful to have it all together in one place, and in such an attractive place, too! As usual, Potter Craft did a beautiful job on the book design and photography. I have been known to pet this book gently as I pass by it in a room. It's not going on the shelf anytime soon - it's staying on the coffee table, the nightstand, etc.

The first quarter of the book is like a textbook for mastering knowledge about sock yarn. Clara reviews the performance requirements of sock yarn (which differ from yarn for other garments). She goes into detail about the molecular structure of different fibers sometimes used in sock yarn, and takes care to highlight the strengths and drawbacks of each. This is especially useful if you want to spin your own sock yarn. She talks about twist and plies - again, helpful if you're creating your own yarn, but also informative for consumers of commercial sock yarn. You'll find yourself untwisting a bit of yarn in the store to learn how many plies it has before deciding whether to buy! And finally, Clara outlines how the stitches used in socks affect the ultimate performance of the sock. When should you use ribbing? When cables? When lace? How should these be combined for best effect? How can you make your socks fit perfectly? Clara's tips empower knitters to design their own sock patterns or to modify existing patterns for the better.

And that's just the first 25% of the book! Ahead lie the patterns - 20 delicious, tempting patterns that you will not be able to resist. Clara designed one herself (Stepping-Stones) and it is perfect for a new sock knitter (or an experienced knitter who wants a darn fine sock that is simple enough to knit in public). The Stepping-Stones pattern (free!) appeared in some promotional materials over the summer, so some knitters have already posted finished socks in Ravelry. The other 19 patterns are designed by the Sock Celebs - people like Cat Bordhi, Cookie A, Anne Hanson, Nancy Bush, Lucy Neatby, Ann Budd... the list goes on. What a treat to have such a fine collection between two covers.

And the patterns! How many of these do I want to make! Let me tell you about a few of my favorites:

Stepping-Stones. Yes, I'm one of those crazy Sock Summiteers that got the pattern in Portland and cast on right away. This is a rib variation pattern that is fairly simple but looks fantastic. Perfect for women or men. I'll knit this again (and this time, I'll try the extra cushy heel, which I skipped because I got to the heel flap during a meeting at work).

Darjeeling. This Cat Bordhi pattern has an unusual architecture (Cat's hallmark). I can't wait to try putting the arch expansion on the sole. The toe decreases are different, too - but very attractive.

Hickory. This Jane Cochran pattern looks like undulating bark on a tree, gorgeous in its subtlety. I'll knit this in a semi-solid - and soon.

Elm. Another tree pattern, this one from Cookie A. Elm features wide but flat faux cables which should fit wonderfully. The branching movement really makes these socks come alive.

Salted Caramels. Stephen Houghton has designed a super handsome cabled sock that would look great on a man or a woman. This one is knit from Trekking Pro Natura, a yarn I've knit with before and loved. I'll definitely make this sock.

The photographs in this book are just what I want - clear, beautifully styled, and plenty of them shot from different angles. Most of the socks appear to fit exceptionally well (the exceptions are the Neatby and Morgan Oakes designs, which have shorter cuffs that appear to sag around the ankle).

Are you getting the sense that I love this book? It's my ideal knitting book! I predict that Clara's latest contribution will have the staying power of Interweave's Favorite Socks, which has proved to be one of the most popular pattern books of all time. It's that good.

Thank you, Clara! I can't wait to see what you come up with next.

View all my reviews

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