It may be hard to believe, but in just a couple of days SOS’08 will draw to a close. While I can’t say I’ll be sorry to see things come to their inevitable end, I can definitely say there have been some very fun moments and my Ravelry queue is stuffed to the gills with new socks I want to knit in the future. Among those new socks would definitely be a few from a book that I want to share with you today.
The Eclectic Sole: Socks for Adventurous Knitters by Janel Laidman is chock full of interesting patterns and constructions for socks of several different types. You’ll find 14 different designs within these self-published pages that could certain keep you knitting for a long time to come.
The book begins with the author’s homage to her love of sock knitting which includes statements that I could agree with more. Some of my favorites include:
“Socks are equally satisfying whether they are complicated or simple.”
“Socks make a perfect gift, they are both practical and extravagant at the same time”
“Socks make the perfect alternative to a ‘boyfriend sweater’ and of course they are a wonderful way to say ‘I love you’ to yourself!”
Most of us who are die hard sock knitters will nod along through these first pages while Ms. Laidman preaches to the choir and illuminates for the rest what makes sock knitting so great.
The book goes on give the sock knitting newbie a few hints including a discussion of swatching and gauge (your beginning can be your swatch!) and yarns and fibers. I was particularly interested in seeing a discussion of color following this basic advice, which defines color attributes such as hue and value and gives examples of how the patterns in the book and the suggestions for colors work together. Not something you find in most sock books!
I was also particularly pleased to find that the author acknowledges all three main methods for sock knitting (DPNs, Magic Loop AND Two Circs) and gives the reader some guidance as to how to make the patterns in the book work with each method. This section ends with a brief description of colorwork and basic sock anatomy.
The patterns themselves range from the simple such as Simplicity
to the more complex in texture such as Hope.
Here we run into my first main criticism of the designs and the book layout. The key to chart symbols is found on one page in the back of the book. While I understand this format for the sake of printing, it makes it more difficult for the knitter who will have to keep flipping back and forth as they learn each symbols meaning. While this isn’t uncommon, it’s definitely my personal preference to have the key with each pattern.
In addition to texture patterns, there are plenty of options that involve colorwork including Migration (which is worked toe up)
and Josephine (which is probably my personal favorite).
There are also two patterns that use very non-traditional constructions. April Fools is a sideways sock where the tube is knitted and grafted and an afterthought heel and toe are added at the end. Monterey is probably the most unique design of all. Another sideways sock it also contains large openings that the author hopes remind you of “bubbles and sea foam”.
Each pattern’s requirements include the standards of yarn, needles, gauge and notions, but they also include WPI measurements of the yarn used for the photographed samples (spinners can you hear me?!) and suggestions for color usage as discussed at the beginning of the book.
The book ends just as strongly as it began with the aforementioned chart key followed by some pictorial examples of the some of the stitches and more unusual techniques used (such as making a cluster). Depending on the complexity of the technique, there are one to several very clear pictures used to illustrate. Something else I appreciated in this book was the use of a slightly larger font than normal. Knitters who are feverishly working into the late night hours (perhaps finishing up the last of their SOS socks?! ) or perhaps need a little less eye strain in their lives will appreciate it too.
Overall, I found this to be a very interesting, very nicely done book. It’s a great size for tucking in your knitting bag while you hit the road for your next vacation. All of the major construction techniques are represented and there is a wide range of patterns, from beginner to advanced, to keep the knitter interested for many hours. Combine these with the color advice given within the pages and there will be many lovely socks coming of your needles and onto the feet of lucky recipients.
The winner of the Most Socks Contest will be getting a signed copy of this book along with their many other prize winnings, but I would encourage anyone to go get a copy for themselves! It’s well worth it!!
I’ll be back on Monday with the last of my SOS’08 socks to show you. Expect an announcement and wrap up of SOS’08 activities on Tuesday.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!
- Summer of Socks 2008!
- Summer just got started…
- Summer of Socks 2007 redux
- Summer of Socks 2007 – It’s on!!