Functional Friday Review: The Ultimate Sock Book

Alrighty! Book review number two! Vogue Knitting The Ultimate Sock Book.

 The Ultimate Sock Book

As I anticipated, there is a much longer history in the sock book as compared to the hat book. There’s just much more known about the history of socks; from 8th Century BC, through the ages and up to modern day. Historical documents encouraging knitters to participate in war efforts, vintage pattern books and post cards were included as part of a gallery. Pictures with elaborate 17th century stockings and reincarnations of renaissance socks were inserted alongside text. It is quite easy to see the evolution of socks and hosiery and how the socks we wear today were innovated.

The next section is ‘Basic Techniques’. Most of the time when I speak to someone who has never knit a sock, they’re really intimidated by it. They think it is going to be very complicated and only people with a lot of experience could make something like that. This is completely false! Anyone can make socks and not all of them are difficult, even if they look like it.

Photo by: Piotr Jankowski

Photo by: Piotr Jankowski

The basic techniques are explained in very clear language all the while ensuring the reader doesn’t get discouraged or worried about the skill sets needed. I really liked the short introduction to the chapter because it essentially says what I’ve just reiterated. Don’t panic, just give it a try, it’s not that bad!

The instructional photos are well drawn and in colour, which is really great when something intricate is being portrayed. The knitting needles, yarn, waste yarn, darning needle and any other implement can all be different colours.

Blending in with ‘Basic Techniques’ is ‘The Anatomy of a Sock’. This section goes through the different parts of a sock, transitions into the construction of toes and a heel then moves to the next chapter ‘Designing Socks’.

This is my favourite part of the book. They’ve given you all the information you need about socks, and now they tell you how to make your own. There are details on taking measurements and a very large index for choosing yarn. Finally, the last thing in this chapter is universal toe-up and top-down patterns. You can essentially plug in a funky stitch and BAM, you’ve made your own sock pattern!

I’ll give you three guesses of what the next chapter holds, and the first two don’t count… ‘Stitch Patterns’! I suppose it would be quite cruel to hand over a universal sock pattern and no stitch patterns that will work for socks. I really like quite a few of the stitches provided and I can see they would work really well for socks. That saves anyone a little more inexperienced from choosing a stitch that, ultimately, will not work. See here for the scarf stitch catastrophe.

Finally in the very last chapter you are given pre-made sock patterns. There are a few plain ones, but most have something unique about them in order to recommend themselves over the sock patterns you are now able to make yourself. I saw the Sockies pattern and am going to make myself some to wear with my Toms. I saw a store selling the little socks, which you can’t see when wearing these really REALLY comfy shoes, but they were quite expensive. I am currently wearing my Toms with normal socks and long pants, so you can’t see anything but the tips of the shoes for now anyway! But I digress.

Overall, I really like Vogue Knitting The Ultimate Sock Book. I love that it allows you to create your own sock designs. It doesn’t just give you patterns, it gives you tools. The old saying ‘Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime’ is something I really believe in and I learn to ‘fish’ wherever I can… so to speak. There are many books out there filled with patterns you can blindly follow, but books that allow you to make your own path are a bit harder to come by.

The second reason I really liked this book is the flow. It smoothly transitioned from subject to subject and chapter to chapter. The very next chapter was exactly what you were looking for after reading the previous one. This is important to me because of my background in literature. When a book or pattern is not written well, it only deters people from following through with the content. Lumpy or jarring transitions do a great disservice to writing even if the writing is good… not that I would know anything about that personally… ahem.

This book is a good fit for an intermediate sock knitter looking for the next step in their hosiery and it is a great fit for first time sock knitters.

I usually recommend Glenna C’s A Nice Ribbed Sock as a first sock pattern; simply because it is extremely clear, well written and free. I know not everyone wants to run out and buy a book in order to make socks, but I would highly recommend THIS book.

I am going to break up the book reviews a little bit by reviewing the Soak box I won from Johanne’s Knit n’ Stitch. I’ve seen them around quite a few times, but haven’t taken the plunge and bought one. I’ll let you know how it is next week!