First, the facts:
Author: Clara Parkes
Published by: Potter Craft, 2011
Type: Patterns and how-to.
1. What a Sock Needs
2. Fiber Foundations
3. The Yarns
4. Stitch Tricks
5. The Patterns
The In-Depth Look:
Clara begins this book by saying,
Socks are the breakfast of our knitting diet, a physical and metaphorical underpinning to our day. They get us off to a good start, send us out into the world, and give a good indication of how the day will go. Is the cuff too tight? Frustration and discomfort from the get-go. Fabric won’t breathe? A stifled day. Has the foot sprouted a hole? Or two? A sense of sloppiness prevails–along with a fear that you’ll have to remove your shoes and expose your secret to the world. But when fiber, twist, ply, stitch, and foot unite in a wholesome, well-balanced, nutritious breakfast, the day is yours. You are proud, comfortable, confident. ‘Why yes,’ you quickly answer, hoisting up your pant leg and slipping off your shoe for a better view, ‘I did knit them myself. Aren’t they fabulous?’
Now, I don’t know that I’d put quite THAT much meaning on a pair of socks, but there’s no denying that nothing is quite so satisfying as handknit socks. There are reasons there are so many books about them, so many patterns and yarns. Because even if you don’t think of them as a metaphorical mirror to your day, they are the breakfast of knitting. Basic and satisfying, but still able to be embellished with the knitter’s equivalent of maple syrup or hot sauce.
Of course, this is Clara Parkes we’re talking about here. She’s already established herself as an expert on yarns with her reviews at Knitter’s Review and her two earlier books about yarn and wool. You would expect a book of hers about socks to not simply be a collection of patterns. You would expect more … and you’d get it.
There are some gorgeous patterns here–don’t ever doubt it–but the real beauty in this book is how she explains socks. What, you may be thinking, is there to explain about socks? You knit them and then you put them on your feet. Except it’s not that simple. All sorts of factors influence how well those socks are going to work. Do they fit snuggly enough that they’re not going to be rubbing blisters? Is the yarn elastic enough that the ribbing doesn’t fall down around your ankles? Is the fiber sufficiently long-wearing that these socks will last past their second wearing?
After all, if you’re going to put the time into knitting a pair of socks, you want them to LAST. Nothing is more depressing than finding a hole in a sock you labored over. (Especially if your darning skills are as shaky as mine. I can knit until the cows come home but I’m dreadful at mending.)
This is where this book’s true usefulness lies. The 20 sock patterns are gorgeous, but I appreciated learning about twist and fit and stretch and wear even more.
Honestly, I’d expect nothing less from Clara.
I’ll confess I didn’t always love the photos in the book. They’re pretty to look at but most of them are more of “scenes” than they are of the actual socks. There aren’t quite as many close-ups of stitch patterns as I’d like. I very much liked that there was a guide on how to care for your handknit socks at the back, though would actually have liked a guide for darning to go with it. (I did mention my lack of darning skills, right?) These are the merest of quibbles, though. Just like the “Wool” and “Yarn” books before it, “The Knitter’s Book of Socks” well deserves its place on my shelf.
If you are at all interested in making socks, you owe it to yourself to take a look at this book.
This review copy was kindly donated by Potter Craft. Thank you!
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