Book Reviews: Socks!

I’ve got a thing for sock books. Despite the fact that it seems that I don’t knit a lot of socks these days, I still can’t read enough of them. In fact, I seem to be drowning in all the sock books I’ve gotten from the library lately.  I’ll be doing a handful of mini reviews this month in case you, like myself, are wondering which of the many new sock books out there might be worth a splurge. Sure, we all know Cookie A,  Cat Bohrdi, Wendy Johonson…but what about the rest? I’ll try to give you a quick run down on some of the lesser known books out there.

So the book for tonight? The Big Book of Socks, by Kathleen Taylor.

I really liked Kathleen’s felting books, so I was excited to see what she came up with for this book. For the 75 patterns alone, it’s a great deal, but is it really the ultimate guide??

I’d say she came pretty close, and the one exception might be more a mistake of the publisher rather than than author. There really is a bit of everything in here: basic tube socks (for those afraid of the heel), afterthought heel, flap and gusset heel, no wrap short row heel, tow down, toe up, stripes, cables, lace, fair isle and some “just for fun” projects.  It’s a nice progression from basic to advanced, although I would say that the majority of the projects lean towards the advanced beginner or intermediate knitter.

Paging through the book, I saw quite a few patterns I liked right away. She has a nice mix of  yarn weights with quite a few worsted patterns, nice for this time of the year when you might want to pound out a couple of pairs of quick socks for gifts. The Striped Knee Highs are cute, and I’m in love with the Argyle Socks. The lace patterns she has are not too complex and would be good for an advanced beginner ready to beef up her skills a bit. Kathleen’s fair isle socks are my favorite. The Mosaic Tile socks are stunners and the Holiday Garland socks would be nice this time of year. The thrummed slipper socks are a perfect quick Christmas knit.

So far so good, so what’s the problem?? I’m a very visual knitter. The first time I tried to knit a sock I had nothing more than the written directions. And it was a disaster. It wasn’t until I came across a book that had very clear pictures that I understood what the heck was going on with this whole heel turning thing. And that’s the mystery of this book. Despite the fact that it starts with something as basic as a tube sock, it is completely lacking in instructional pictures. There is one teeny-tiny drawing at the beginning diagramming the socks parts. But there is not one picture or diagram to walk you through a heel turn and that’s the trouble. I kept thinking, “there must be diagrams in here somewhere…” but nope, all you get is that little diagram in the beginning. Even the chapter on heel and toe variations in the back lack pictures. This might be okay for a knitter who knows the basics and just needs to read through the directions, but a novice knitter would be pretty lost. You do get one photo of each sock and charts, but that’s it.

Now granted, it does bill itself as a “beyond the basics” guide. But then why the tube socks? And all the detailed the directions on heels and toes? I felt a bit like the book didn’t quite know what it wants to be: the progression of pattens makes it a good candidate to be a great basics book, but the lack of detailed diagrams truly turns in into “beyond the basics.” But as I said in the introduction that could have been a publisher choice as well. In a nutshell, if you’re looking for a wide range of lovely patterns all in one book and you have some skills, this one’s for you. If you’ve never knit a sock, you’d be better to find a different book to start with and come back to this one later.

Who this book is for:

  • The budget conscious knitter who wants a ton of socks patterns.
  • An advanced knitter with knitting experience but no real sock experience.
  • A knitter who enjoys knitting socks in a variety of weights, from fingering to some speedy worsted weight socks.

Who this book is not for:

  • A very beginning knitter
  • A highly visual knitter
  • A knitter who prefers all her socks to be a fine weight.

I’ll be back in a few days with a review of The Joy of Sox. And a new Spinner sweater to share.

Enjoy your weekend!!



Filed under books, Uncategorized

6 responses to “Book Reviews: Socks!

  1. No heel turn pictures?! Oh oh…

  2. Guinifer

    You had me right up until the very end… I like my socks made up of a fine yarn. I find the worsted weight almost unwearable.

  3. on my blog, there’s a link to my friend’s blog, “Art food and motherhood” and her latest post is about a really cool knitted sweater that she received…you might like it, it is super cute and probably (for you) easy to do! If I were more savvy I’d just email you the link. But I’m not sure I know how to do that…hm…

  4. Abbey

    The Joy of Sox is awesome. That’s really all I have to say about the matter.

  5. I like sock pattern books with pictures, too. Looks interesting though.

  6. Have you seen Queen Kahuna’s book? I think it is called Crazy Toes and Heels. You can use any yarn, any needle, any gauge, any foot size with her one formula. Her website is kinda scary-hard on the eyes, lol: They can be knit toe up or top down. Toe up is kind of nice cuz you can try it on as you go.

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