IS#5: For Your Sock Knitting Library

Last week, I recommended a book for your spinning library. Now I’m feeling inspired by another book, this one for your knitting. Specifically, your sock knitting.

The Knitter’s Book of Socks by Clara Parkes

I have been a huge fan of Clara’s books and website for years now. Her first book, The Knitter’s Book of Yarn, taught me everything I wanted to know about yarn when I first started knitting. What were the differences between different kinds of yarn? Which would work best for which types of projects? What fibers do what, what are their characteristics? All of the mildly obsessive, detail-oriented patterns of questioning that make me a good scientist were being applied to my knitting and I couldn’t find answers anywhere, until I read Clara’s book. She is a thorough, concise, and engaging writer, and she gets into the knitty gritty details in a way that makes you want to know them all. Her website features weekly reviews of different brands of yarn, tools, and other books that I love reading because I trust her. If I’m about to try a new kind of yarn, I usually check to see if she’s reviewed it first, just to better know what I’m getting myself into.

She does a similar thing in The Knitter’s Book of Socks, giving you a condensed review of fiber types and how they affect the key characteristics of a good, well-wearing sock: strength, elasticity, and moisture control. She goes further and describes how different styles of yarn (singles, 2-ply, 3-ply, cabled) impact socks and, most interestingly, their design elements. The same pattern knit in a different style of yarn will look different, and most designers take this into account when they choose yarn for their patterns. It was fascinating to read this from a sock knitting point of view and I’m looking forward to exploring some of the things I learned in my own designs.

The best parts of the whole book are definitely the patterns. Clara created a collection of 20 gorgeous socks created by Big Name Designers: Ann Budd, Lucy Neatby, Cat Bordhi, Cookie A, Nancy Bush, Sivia Harding, Norah Gaughan, Ann Hanson, and Jared Flood, to name a few. (Clara links to all of these designers in her blog post about the book, here, and offers her own for download free.) Some of them are toe-up, some cuff-down, and they range from fingering to worsted weight. For each pattern she describes why the yarn works for the pattern and how it enhances the design elements or how the design elements play off the yarn. And as someone who sorta lost her sock mojo last year, I think this is just the book I needed to get it back. I love every design so much I’m tempted to say I’m going to try to knit them all… but that is pure folly, especially since I’ve tried 2 pairs of toe-up socks and didn’t like the process. However, this book has inspired me to add two more goals to my 2013 list:

  1. Knit a pair of toe-up socks, darn it, whether I like it or not.
  2. Knit a pair of colorwork socks, specifically these:
Strago by Jared Flood

These socks are made with worsted weight, so they should be a quicker, easier introduction to real stranded colorwork. Plus they are the only pattern in the book that feature a woolen-spun yarn (vs. a worsted-spun, like most sock yarns) and now that I spin and finally know what those things mean I’m excited to try them out.

Any books or socks patterns have you inspired lately? Anything else? Join your blog in the link below to share!

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11 thoughts on “IS#5: For Your Sock Knitting Library

  1. I love “Socks from the Toe Up” by Wendy. I own it and have only made one pattern from it. This book sounds like a lot of fun though, as do her others. I will have to look into them. And reading this makes me miss my book reviews, I'll have to start those again.

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  2. I recently checked this book out from the library, I learned some new things from it, but most of all I really love the sock patterns. The patterns all really appeal to me and I plan on knitting some of them in the future. I think you'll find toe-up socks interesting, although you may be a top-down kind of sock knitter too.

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  3. That book has been on my “to-buy” list for a few months now. I might have to make more of an effort.

    I recently got myself the Sock Knitting Master Class. I haven't had a chance to knit from it yet, but I'm impressed with the layout and the photography. And most of the knitters I know have been knitting socks from that book.

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  4. Definitely one of my favorite sock books! Clara is such an inspiration. I'm sure she'll help you get your sock mojo back. šŸ™‚ And I'm looking forward to following your journeys through toe-up sock land!

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  5. Pingback: IS #88: Ways with Wool and Words | Woolen Diversions

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