Jonelle Raffino and Katherine Cade's first choose-your-own-sock-adventure book, Socks a la Carte, was a good book. The pages divided and cut into thirds made it easy to flip through and choose just the right cuff, leg, heel and toe combination to provide just the look you wanted for your socks.
But the book wasn't without its flaws, chief among them, in my mind, the fact that the samples were knit with multicolored skeins of Tofutsies sock yarn, which sometimes made it difficult to make out the patterns.
That problem has happily been remedied in the duo's second effort, Sock a la Carte 2 Toes Up!: Pick & Choose Patterns to Knit Socks Your Way. Samples in this book are all worked in a solid color yarn, making it much easier to see what's happening in different patterns.
Instruction and Inspiration
Socks a la Carte 2 starts with general techniques including four ways to cast on toe-up socks, but moves quickly on to individual patterns for feet (which include various methods for toe and heel shaping), legs and cuffs.
All of the feet shown in the "swatches" are plain Stockinette, but if you have a leg pattern in mind when you cast on you can easily add it to the top of the foot as well if you want.
The example foot patterns show lots of different combinations of toes and heels, such as the short row toe and short row heel, the star toe and steppin' out heel and the double up toe with origami heel. All the combinations couldn't possibly be represented, but it's easy enough to work the toe instructions from one example sock and the heel from another.
In all three sock sections patterns are illustrated with large photographs and line-by-line instructions are provided (there are no charts for the lace or cable patterns).
The leg patterns offer a nice variety of textured stitches, lace and even a couple of cable patterns (check out the adorable cables that look like owls, complete with beaded eyes!). Cuff patterns include eyelets, twisted stitches, beads, even a Garter Stitch entrelac design. Clearly these socks represent a range of skill levels as well as different styles.
Divide and Knit
The back of the book is made up of divided pages, with cuffs at the top, legs in the middle and feet (with both heels and toes) at the bottom. Each partial page illustrates a sock part explained earlier in the book.
The spiral binding allows knitters to easily flip and choose sock components and have a good idea of what the different parts will look like together.
Once you've settles on your selections, a band attached to the book can be put into place to hold the three partial pages -- another improvement from the first book.
Knitters will still have to flip back to the instructions at the front of the book to know how to knit the chosen sock, but that's easy enough.
A gallery at the back of the book shows off some of the many possible combinations worked in more colorful yarn so you can get a better idea of how your socks might look in the real world.
Individuality is one of the main reasons to knit socks, and both of the Socks a la Carte books make that a lot easier by providing lots of options and showing knitters how they combine into a potential sock.
Socks a la Carte 2 is a great book for someone who's knit toe-up socks before a couple of times (there's not a whole lot of instruction on the basic techniques involved) and wants to move beyond published patterns. It's also great for people who want to design socks because if allows you to see how different components of socks go together.
With a bit of study and knitting, knitters will begin to see what makes a sock successful and which elements don't go together as well -- vital knowledge for a designer of any sort of knit garments.
Publication date: July 2010