Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sock Books

It has been mentioned to me that I am a bit of a fiber book addict. It is true that my considerable collection is straining my capacity to house them. So I have a new feature for my blog. Totally opinionated lists of fiber books. In the spirit of today's Guild meeting, I had thought to make the first one a list of dye books, but some of them are still out on loan. So today's theme is socks.

So here is an annotated list of my sock book "holdings":

1. Simple Socks,Plain and Fancy: a Short-Row Technique for Heel and Toe
Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts, Nomad Press, 2001

Priscilla Gibson-Roberts has been my knitting guru since I first picked up needles, and her no-nonsense, percentage-based, knitting techniques translate perfectly to socks. The short-row heel is smooth and comfortable to wear and looks especially nice in stripes. And no picking up of stitches is required. These are my standard socks. Extra bonus is the Zigzag bindoff technique that she borrowed from ancient Greek socks.

2. The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook: dyeing, painting, spinning, designing, knitting
Lynn Vogel, Interweave Press, 2002

This book is pure eye-candy. There are plenty of sock-knitting techniques, but the true value is in the wild colors and freeform stripes that are pictured throughout in glorious technicolor. One flip through and the reader is easily convinced that matching white socks are totally unnecessary and should be forever banned from taking up space in one's wardrobe. This book would also place near the top of any list of books on dyeing and includes detailed instructions on how to obtain all those glorious colors.

3. Sensational Knitted Socks
Charlene Schurch, Martingale and Company, 2005

Charlene Schurch's books and workshops have an analytical approach that takes out guesswork, yet encourages successful experimentation. Along with charts, the book includes line-by-line instructions for 4-needle, 5-needle, and 2-circular-needle knitting of each pattern. Added to this are a huge variety of rib patterns suitable for socks, each beautifully photographed to show their texture. This one book provides the knitter with an amazing number of variations to try.

4. Folk Socks: the history and techniques of handknitted footwear
Nancy Bush, Interweave Press, 1994

I have always been fascinated with the ethnography of textiles, and books that combine history and ethnography with modern patterns and techniques are impossible for me to resist. As a staple of my sock-knitting library, my favorite aspect of this book is the variety of heels and toes that are provided. Bored of the 'Shaped Common Heel'? Try the 'Balbriggan Heel' or maybe the 'Half-Handkerchief Heel'.

5. Knitting on the Road: Sock Patterns for the Traveling Knitter
Nancy Bush, Interweave Press, 2001

This is just a nice collection of interesting sock patterns inspired by the author's travels. I am particularly attracted to the pattern called Denmark, and hope to get around to trying it at some point. Minor drawback: the book is a funny shape, making it hard to find a good spot in my tightly-filled bookshelves.

6. Fancy Feet: Traditional Knitting Patterns of Turkey
Anna Zilboorg, Lark Books, 1994

More eye-candy. Bright, riotous colors in distinctive color-stranded patterns. The color-stranding makes them extremely warm and fairly bulky, so these make great slipper socks. The rhythmic patterns can be easily adapted to use in sweaters or other projects.

7. Knitting Vintage Socks: New Twists on Classic Patterns
Nancy Bush, Interweave Press, 2005

Several folks have extolled the value of this book to me, and indeed it includes lots of wonderfully classic patterns with elegant detailing in structure and knit pattern. I browse through the book occasionally and know I would treasure any of these socks. So why have I never attempted any of the patterns? Because they lean toward the 0 to 1 size needles (a far cry better than the 00, 000, or even 0000 needles in the patterns that inspired these). I'm typically a size-2-needle sock knitter. And although my spinning seems to get finer and finer, size 1 would be about it's finest, and since I am not a tight spinner, I would wear through that yarn way too fast.

8. And a Time to Knit Stockings
Katherine Pence, Pence Design Works, 1997

OK, I admit it - I am easily swayed by cool packaging. This smallish book (37 pages) came bound with a long bamboo knitting needle. The pages are punched for putting in a 3-ring binder, which you will need to do because before long the binding fell apart. Still, it was cool while it lasted. There is a sock pattern for each month of the year, plus a couple of extras. The Gansey Sock has a particularly nice looking heel that is based on the principles of gansey gusset shaping.

That wraps up my sock books. I have even more mitten books...


Sharon said...

I find Twisted Sisters to a dye book guide - not so much socks. It's the Simple Socks by Priscilla G.R. that I was slow to take to, but that I now find to be my sock bible. It's not colorful - again I tend to be shallow that way - but the information is right on. Thanks for giving me a copy.

Anonymous said...

I too use the Simple Socks by Priscilla G.R. as my bible. I use her elastic cast on every time I start a top down pair of socks or a pair of fingerless gloves. I have the Twisted Sister book and just love it for inspiration.