Besty Lee McCarthy's Knit Socks was originally published as one of a line of books that was shaped like the subject of the book (there's one on mittens, shaped like a mitten, and the sock book was shaped like a sock, for example). That was a cute idea, but not the most practical for storing on your shelf or working out of.
The revised edition, Knit Socks!: 17 Classic Patterns for Cozy Feet is shaped like a regular book and comes with more information than the original on making socks your own, whether you want to use a different weight of yarn, a different stitch pattern or a different configuration of needles than the pattern calls for.
The first part of Knit Socks! deals with considerations and necessary materials for knitting your socks. McCarthy covers issues such as choosing yarn and needles, making a circular gauge swatch, sock parts and ways to cast on, divide stitches, join in the round and beginning knitting whether you're working on double-pointed needles or one or two circulars.
She covers all the steps of making a sock, from knitting the leg to working the heel flap, turning the heel and shaping the gusset to working the foot and toe and closing up the toe with grafting. All of the patterns in the book are worked cuff down.
New in this version of the book is a chart detailing the number of stitches, stitch multiples and gauge for each of the sock patterns, along with tips for using the different patterns to make socks of different sizes. This is handy for people who, say, want to make kids' socks, because there are just two patterns in the book sized for small feet.
The 17 patterns in Knit Socks! offer a range of possibilities, from the basic Stockinette sock most new sock knitters start with to socks that include colorwork, lace and cables.
Most of the patterns are offered either in two sizes (say, for women and men) or the same size in two yarn weights (fingering and worsted). It's nice to have a choice to make thicker socks should you need them, and size variations are always welcome, too.
The patterns are generally pretty basic, though some of them do require intermediate knitting skills. I mean simple in the sense that most of them have an allover pattern stitch that doesn't change in different parts of the sock (though some, like the Winter Gardens sock pictured on the cover, have a lot going on: lace, colorwork and stripes).
The standout patterns in this collection to me are the funky multicolored Checkered Textures; the Classy Slip-Up, with columns of slipped stitches giving the sock a ribbed look; Shimmy Rib, which uses an undulating rib pattern that provides great texture; and Shadow Box, a rolled-cuff sock with purl ridges that form boxes on the sock.
Knit Socks! might not be a book that changes your knitting life, but it does provide good, clear instructions that can help you get started knitting socks if you're new to the craft, as well as relatively easy patterns and a couple of challenges for those who still consider themselves new sock knitters.
There's not a lot to attract knitters with more experience, unless you're fond of classic designs and socks for men (or socks for women that don't look feminine). In that case you will find some good, solid patterns you'll want to turn to again and again for great basic workhorse socks to wear every day (and wear out and knit again!).
Publication date: July 2010