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Review: Socks from the Toe Up

toe-up_0001 copy

First, the facts:

Title: Socks from the Toe Up: Essential Techniques and Patterns from Wendy Knits

Author: Wendy D. Johnson

Published by: Potter Craft, 2009

Pages: 125

Type: Patterns and how-to, all about socks.


1. Toe-Up Essentials
2. Sock Patterns
Basic Socks
Lace Socks
Textured Gansey Socks
Cabled Socks
Sportweight Socks

socks from the toe up

Pattern Size Range: Small, Medium, Large

The In-Depth Look:

I don’t honestly know what took me so long to get this book. I love Wendy’s blog, liked her last book, have met and even interviewed her … why would I possibly dawdle about buying her book devoted to toe-up socks? Especially when they’re my personal favorite style of socks?

Yeah. I don’t know, either, except that I mostly just knit plain socks. Because I promise you won’t be disappointed.

The book is basically split into two parts–one, an in-depth look at the techniques you need to make toe-up socks, and two, a collection of patterns with all that pesky thinking done for you.

It’s the first section I like the best. (But, of course, you know I love reading the hows and whys of knitting construction.) I’m a huge fan of toe-up socks for an assortment of reasons. I like to know that I can’t truly run out of yarn–I might end up with shorter socks than I planned, but I’ll at least have two, finished feet. I like that they’re easier to try on, so there’s less guess work. I like that, if I’m starting to get bored, I can just call it quits with slightly shorter socks. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like to experiment.

It helps a lot that here, Wendy has done a lot of that experimentation for me. Don’t like the cast-on you’re currently using for your sock toes? Here are four more? Tired of short-row heels? Try gussets or slip-stitch heels. Need a new way to bind-off so that the tops of your socks are snug but still stretch over your heel when you put them on? Yep, that’s here, too. As are thoughts on yarns, stitches, gauge, size, and methods.

After all that exposition–really helpful exposition–she spells out three “Basic Vanilla” patterns, one for each heel style, just for you. Just in case you didn’t want to mix and match the instructions yourself.

Then the fun part begins–the patterns. As in, the socks with lace patterns, or cables. Or faux-cables. Socks for sport weight yarn, to make the socks warmer (and faster). These are all cute, pretty, attractive, wearable designs. Nothing too weird, nothing too crazy, but nothing boring or dull, either. They’re nice designs, all in single-color, solid-or-handpainted yarn to make them easy to carry with you. No two-color patterns, no self-striping yarns, no argyle. Nothing that would make them too complicated to commute with. All the lace, texture, and cable detail is given in charts, not spelled out row by row, if that matters to you.

The photography is great–all the socks are easy to see from an assortment of well-lit angles with backgrounds to add interest without being distracting. The patterns are listed in both the Table of Contents and in the Index, which makes my organized heart happy.

About the only complaint I have is that the line-drawings at the beginning of the book, while being clear in terms of showing rows of stitches, are less than clear for showing what you are trying to DO. I had to go back and forth between the “Figure 8 cast-on” and “Judy’s Magic cast-on” several times before I could figure out the difference, the illustrations looked so similar. They could have used some shading, color, arrows, or something to make the action-taken more clear for the reader. They’re not bad illustrations, exactly, but they’re not as good as they could have been.

All in all, this is a really good sock book. Between this one and Cookie A’s top-down book last Spring, they’ve got the angles covered!

This book is available at Amazon.com for $15.61.

Want to see bigger pictures? Click here.

My Gush: A thorough examination of all the ways to make my favorite-style socks? What’s not to love?

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  • Chris July 13, 2009, 7:38 am

    This is definitely on my to-buy list!

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