You might have heard of Cookie A if you're a fan of Knitty, which published some of her more well-known sock patterns, including Monkey. If you haven't heard of her and you're a fan of sock knitting, prepare to get acquainted.
Cookie is an impresario of sock design, a master of mathematics and a wizard when it comes to combining stitch patterns and innovative sock design. Her book Sock Innovation: Knitting Techniques and Patterns for One-of-a-Kind Socks shows off those skills to an almost dizzying degree.
Sock Design School
The first thing it's worth noting about Sock Innovation is that it's not a book for beginners. If you've never knit a sock before, this is probably not the place to start. I know some new knitters are utterly fearless, but even those who aren't daunted by complexity may find that this book leaves you a little breathless.
For those with some experience with sock knitting, particularly if that includes some fancy stitch patterns, this book is a great choice, especially if you want to learn how to design your own socks.
The first part of the book focuses on how Cookie goes about designing socks and how you can, too. She explains the parts of a sock and how they go together, how to convert a flat knitting chart to one worked in the round, how to change pattern stitches to make them work with the gauge you need and more.
Some of this gets pretty complicated, but there are lots of charts to help guide you through, and it all really makes sense if you take the time to think about it and maybe chart out some of your own designs.
Spending some good quality time with this section will help you understand how a sock really goes together and how a stitch pattern can be altered so that it still looks good on the sock and makes a sock that will fit your foot.
The book includes 15 sock designs, all for women with "average" feet (that's a size 8) and all of which are worked on size 1 or 1.5 US needles.
They all include fancy stitch patterns, and just one, Sam, has a plain Stockinette Stitch foot (the cuff is covered with traveling cables). Cauchy, which has a zig-zag knit and purl motif, is probably the easiest pattern in the book and would be appropriate for those somewhat new to sock knitting.
I don't know how to pick favorite patterns out of this book because they're all interesting and the ones you like will depend on your taste. But a couple of ones I really would like to knit are Kai-Mei, which has a simple ribbed cuff and leg and an asymmetrical lace panel on the foot; Rick, with a swirling lace pattern around the leg and across the top of the foot; and Wanida, a relatively easy looking (since it's already been designed for you) diamond pattern.
(In case you were wondering, the patterns are all named after special people in her life.)
This book is a must for anyone who loves sock knitting, especially when it comes with a challenge, or for anyone who likes to design socks or would like to learn how to do so.
I wouldn't buy it for someone who's never knit socks before, but give them a little time. When you have a sock addict on your hands, slip them this book. They'll be glad you did.
Publication date: April 2009.