Tag Archives: sock book

Review: CoopKnits Socks by Rachel Coopey

This month’s review is from one of my favourite designers. CoopKnits Socks was the first book Rachel Coopey brought out in 2013 and I bought it almost immediately. It contains ten patterns, featuring lace, cables and stranded knitting.

CoopKnits Socks

CoopKnits Socks ©Rachel Gibbs

The patterns

The first pattern in the book is Dawlish, a cabled sock and I wrote a blog post about the pair I made last year. Next is Milfoil, a lacy sock with different patterns for leg and foot which alternate between the left and right socks. Rachel Coopey is a big fan of mirroring patterns between socks and different patterns within each sock. On Budleigh, each half of the sock has different cables.

There are all over patterns too, Pennycress has a small lace motif and Saltburn has cables with striped contrast cuffs and toes. Calamint is another favourite of mine with an elegant lace panel flanked by twisted rib. All the socks come in more than one size and while they tend to be more feminine, there are some that I would consider unisex.

All the socks

All the socks ©Rachel Gibbs

Most of the patterns have a flap and gusset heel, except Paignton which uses an after thought heel. There is a photo tutorial included at the end to help you pick up the stitches here. The socks are all worked cuff down.

Brighton is the only stranded sock, and also the only knee sock in the book, all the others being a standard mid-calf length. A short version is also included if you prefer that. As the colourwork is made in bands, this allows for decreases to accommodate calf shaping, which should ensure a good fit.

Saxifrage is another beautiful cabled sock and shows that you don’t need to use fancy hand dyed yarn to get a good result, being worked in Opal. The other patterns use a range of hand dyed and commercial kettle dyed yarns, such as Malabrigo, which show off the detailed designs well.

My socks

The other sock I have knit out of this book is Willowherb, another lace sock but one with strong geometrical lines. The pattern names seem split between wild flowers and seaside towns, giving a very British feel.

My Willowherb socks

My Willowherb socks ©Rachel Gibbs

I enjoyed knitting this, although I accidentally made two left feet (which some would say accurately reflects my dancing skills). My cast on is a little tight, but that’s entirely down to me. The leg is also rather long.

The patterns all have charts and some have corresponding written instructions. I do find the cable symbols a bit odd and the columns are only numbered on multiples of five, which might be annoying for some people. Other than that I found the patterns very clear and easy to knit.

Additional information

Why knit socks

Why knit socks ©Rachel Gibbs

At the end is a how- to section with a couple of photo tutorials and links to other tutorials. I’m a fan of the “Why knit socks” page with some words of wisdom to get good results, including a shoe size chart which is always useful when knitting for other people. A digital copy of the book is included with the print version, something I always appreciate.

CoopKnits Socks is a great book if you want to knit some pretty patterned socks. I like the photography, it shows everything you need to know and looks good.

If you like the look of these socks, but don’t think you’re up to knitting them, I have a new e-course that might help. Check out Level Up Your Socks for tips to grow your confidence in knitting patterned socks.

These are affiliate links, I get a small commission if you buy using these links.

 

Review: Sock Innovation by Cookie A

This months book, Sock Innovation: Knitting Techniques & Patterns for One-of-a-Kind Socks by Cookie A, is one of the first knitting books I ever bought, and one that I love and continue to use to this day (hence the slightly battered appearance).

Sock Innovation by Cookie A

Sock Innovation by Cookie A ©Rachel Gibbs

Background

I started really getting into knitting when I started Uni in 2007 (studying Electronic Engineering). I knit my first pair of socks a year later, from a Knitty pattern (this was in the very early days of Ravelry). They were not a beginners pattern but despite multiple mistakes and poor yarn/needle choice, I finished them on my 20th birthday (and IIRC was late to lectures because I was redoing a too tight cast off).

In October 2009 I bought my first sock book, Sock Innovation by Cookie A. I was attracted to the complex designs, but it’s the technique section that has made it one of my favourites.

The Patterns

Cookie A is famous for her patterned socks (although I seem to be the only person who has never made a pair of Monkeys) and this book has 15 socks full of lace, cables and texture. They are all named after people and I like the stories of how the socks were inspired by the people they’re named after.

Kai-Mei Socks by Cookie A

Kai-Mei Socks by Cookie A ©Rachel Gibbs

Some of my favourites are Vilai, which combines twisted stitches and lace into a very structural design, Cauchy, named after the famous mathematician (and a cat along the way) with a textured zigzag pattern and Kai-Mei with an iconic angled lace panel.

My Socks

The only socks I’ve ever made from Sock Innovation, however, are probably the most complicated: Bex. I love the three different sections of the pattern, and how they fit together into tessellating hexagons. Then, of course, there is the fact that they’re covered in cables and we know I have a thing for cables.

My Bex socks

My Bex socks ©Rachel Gibbs

I made my Bex between February and November 2010 (thanks, Ravelry project page). I used Cygnet Truly Wool Rich 4 Ply, as I was still relying on what was sold in John Lewis, a British department store which has never been particularly good for sock yarn, especially if you don’t want multicoloured Regia. It’s a bit fuzzy for cables, really, and produced quite an inflexible fabric. I had progressed to 2.25mm Knit Pro Symphonie DPNs, though, which was a vast improvement over the remnants of my Mum and Grandma’s metal and casein (did you know they used to make needles out of milk?) mismatched UK Size 14 (2mm) DPN collection which I started on.

I really enjoyed knitting them, though. The charts were complicated but clear, and I really liked the transitions between different parts of the pattern, such as leg to heel flap, something that has inspired my designing.

The Techniques

Sock Innovation is a very unusual book, in that as well as giving you patterns to knit, it shows you how to develop your own sock patterns. It has three sections – sock techniques, stitch techniques and sock design.

Contents page of Sock Innovation

Contents page of Sock Innovation ©Rachel Gibbs

It starts by describing the basic structure of a sock. All the patterns in the book are top down and most feature a flap and gusset heel, so this is what is focused on, although the book does include information on other heel types. One of the most useful things I’ve found is the chart of heel turn numbers for a large range of different stitch counts. Clear photos are included to show the different options. The art of placement is also discussed – how the same pattern can be placed in different ways on a sock for different effects.

Stitch techniques covers inverting stitches (going from knit to purl) and mirroring stitches. how to chart stitch patterns to include repeats and converting from working flat to in the round. It also covers how stitches affect the knitted fabric, which ones tend to be wider, or narrower and how elasticity is affected by stitch choice. It then covers adapting stitch patterns and transitioning between different patterns.

These techniques are then all pulled together into the final sock design section. This covers the important of gauge swatches (spoilers: very important) and how to put everything together to get a sock you like.

Conclusions

I have learnt so much from this book when it comes to what to think about when designing socks, as well as practical tips on how to do it. These are the things that can make a good sock pattern into a great one.

I love the patterns, there are some really attractive ones and while the instructions are concise, they give you all the necessary information. There is only one size option (usually 8″ leg circumference) given for each sock, which is a disadvantage, however, some include tips on how to change the sizing yourself.

If you like knitting complicated socks, and especially if you’ve ever thought of trying to design your own I would definitely recommend this book.

These are affiliate links, I get a small commission if you buy using these links.

 

Review: Lazy Sunday Socks by Jane Burns

This is the start of a series of new monthly blog posts reviewing some of my favourite knitting books. I’m going to begin by looking at Lazy Sunday Socks by Jane Burns. This is a book of five elegant beaded socks, all worked in Eden Cottage yarns.

The Book

Lazy Sunday Socks

Lazy Sunday Socks by Jane Burns ©Rachel Gibbs

I hadn’t made beaded socks before but I like the concept of socks for lazing around in. So often we worry about how our socks will wear and hide them away in shoes and boots. These socks are meant to be seen, and without the friction of rubbing against shoes and being walked around in all day they can use less practical but very pretty beaded designs and luxuriant yarn.

The book is an A5 sized paperback which comes complete with a code for the digital version, which is always a bonus. I prefer to read paper books but, especially for travel knitting, having the digital copy can be really helpful.

The Patterns

The five designs range in complexity – from Sitting in a Rainbow which is mainly stocking stitch with only 16 beads, No Room for Ravers which is simpler than it looks and up to No Mind to Worry. You could choose to make all of them without beads and still have lovely socks, but Jane Burns has placed the beads to accent the design very skillfully. All feature lace and some have cables too.

All the Lazy Sunday Socks patterns

All the Lazy Sunday Socks patterns ©Rachel Gibbs

The patterns are all cuff down, with a flap and gusset heel, which is also my preferred construction. The patterns have very clear charts, but if you prefer written instructions this may not be the book for you. The socks come in at least four sizes and both the finished sock size, and the to fit size are included.

The Yarn

I’ve been a fan of Eden Cottage yarns for a while. In fact, my Falling Petals Socks are made in their BFL Sock. Victoria makes beautiful muted colours in a range of bases, several of which are suitable for sock knitting. They complement the designs in Lazy Sunday Socks very well. Semi solid colours are well suited to the lace knitting and the colours match the feminine feel (I’m sure there are a few men who would like lacy beaded socks but if any type of sock pattern is primarily female, that would be it).

One pattern uses a typical Wool/Nylon sock mix, but the others are either MCN or Merino/Silk. While these yarns would not be recommended for socks that would be worn in work boots or to hike through a rain storm, for the eponymous lazing around they should stand up fine and feel wonderful on your feet. The socks probably shouldn’t be machine washed though, with the delicate yarn and beads. Jane includes tips on choosing yarn and beads to help you get good results.

My Socks

My favourite was the No Mind To Worry Socks and I decided to cast these on last Autumn. I used WooSheeps Doug in Serendipity and Debbie Abrahams size 6 beads in colour 606, both of which I bought at Fibre East in July. The colours work very well together, I love the complex blue/grey of the beads.

My sock

My sock in WooSheeps Doug ©Rachel Gibbs

I had knitted with beads once before, but it was quite some time ago and I appreciated that a guide to using beads was included in the book.  I used the crochet hook method to place the beads, and while using a 0.6mm crochet hook sounds terrifying it wasn’t  too bad apart from when it poked holes in my project bag. The beads are only placed every four rounds and only four beads at a time, which is quite manageable.

It bothered me slightly that the pattern wasn’t completely symmetrical on the foot, but that’s probably just me. Also, be aware that there is a minor errata for the chart.

My first No Mind to Worry Sock

My first No Mind to Worry Sock ©Rachel Gibbs

I’ve only made one sock so far. As much as I enjoyed beaded knitting, I wanted a break (especially as I got distracted by my own designs).  I’m looking forward to getting back to it some day when I’m in the mood to create something pretty and just go with the flow.

Conclusion

I really like Lazy Sunday Socks. The patterns are well thought out and Jane has included some good tips. The photography is beautiful, as are the socks. The book is even the perfect size to fit in my project bag. If you want to give beaded knitting a try I would recommend this book.

Review of Sock Architecture by Lara Neel #shareCPlove

I bought Sock Architecture a few months ago and it’s become one of my favourite reference books. While it includes some patterns, the main focus is on different methods of knitting socks. It has the most comprehensive selection of heels and toes I’ve ever seen. It’s maths heavy and includes equations on how to apply the methods to any number of stitches. I’m someone who likes to understand how things work so I find that really interesting.

I was particularly interested in the afterthought heel section. It had never occurred to me that most types of heel could be done as afterthought heels, even flap and gusset. I’ve been knitting lots of self striping socks lately and an afterthought heel allows the striping to go from the leg to the foot without a disruption to the stripes.

I made my Dad a pair of socks for Christmas using an afterthought heel with gusset and the extra needle technique. This involves using a provisional cast on for the gusset stitches and holding the heel stitches on a spare circular needle while knitting the foot (I tend to knit all my socks top down although the book includes instructions for toe up as well). I found it a little fiddly with the extra needle getting in the way but I really liked the results, I think in future I would use waste yarn instead of the extra needle. I decided to use a different yarn for the heel and toe which complemented the stripes, as the shorter rows affect the spacing of the stripes.

Last week the cold weather really set in (although being in the south I barely got any snow) and I decided this was the perfect opportunity to cast on some socks in Regia Snowflake. For these I used an afterthought heel without a gusset and the thumb joint flat top heel and toe. The only afterthought heel I made before had a hat top heel and I wasn’t happy with the fit as it left a point at the back of the heel so I wanted to try another option.

Afterthough heel

The process of an afterthought heel ©Rachel Gibbs

The heel stitches were knit with waste yarn and then picked up after the foot was complete. With some careful planning I was able to make the heel stripes flow seamlessly from the body of the sock. It fits well and I’m really happy with it. I’m sure by the time the second sock is finished the snow will have gone but hand knit socks are always welcome.

I would definitely recommend it if you have a geeky interest in sock composition. I wasn’t paid to review this book, I’m just a fan (although if you buy through the Amazon links below I get a small commission). This is part of #shareCPlove, a competition to promote the great publications from Cooperative Press.