There are tons of sock knitting books out there, but many of them are geared to newer knitters and don't provide much of a challenge to the legions of sock knitters out there. That's starting to change, and one of the knitters involved in that change is Janel Laidman, who offers 20 delightfully detailed sock patterns in her book The Enchanted Sole: Legendary Socks for Adventurous Knitters.
The book is so titled because each of the sock patterns is inspired by a myth, legend or legendary person or symbol such as the labyrinth, tree of life, naiad, changeling, alchemist, pixie and more.
Making Socks Your Own
The Enchanted Sole begins with an overview of sock knitting tidbits, but these tips aren't like the basics you see in a lot of sock knitting books. Laidman emphasizes the importance of gauge, of course, and goes on to talk about yarn, fiber, color choice, needle choice, sizing and fit, cast ons and bind offs, heels, colorwork, adding beads and sideways sock construction.
The interesting part of all this is that the book encourages knitters to use different yarns than the ones used for the samples in the book, and it does this by providing plenty of information about the yarn that was used.
Often books will only include the name and color of the yarn in question, the weight, fiber content and the yardage required. This book has all that, but it also includes the wraps per inch for each yarn, so you can easily use a handspun yarn or get a really accurate idea of the ideal weight of yarn to use.
Each pattern also includes a recommendation on what kind of yarn to use in terms of color, such as solid, semi-solid and painted, so that you're sure you'll be able to see the sock pattern to its best advantage once you've worked the pattern in your chosen yarn.
This all takes a lot of the guesswork out of choosing yarn for a sock knitting project and helps ensure your success from the beginning.
The Enchanted Sole includes 20 patterns, sized for women's feet. Some patterns include a range of sizes (7.5 to 8.5 inch foot circumference is typical), while the more complicated colorwork and lacy patterns are for a single size only.
Skill levels are not listed, but I'd say all of them are for advanced knitters with a good grasp of sock knitting techniques. (Some of them could certainly be handled by intermediate knitters with patience as well.)
The patterns include a lot of detail such as large colorwork motifs, lace patterns, embroidery, beading and more. One sock has a lace up the back, another has a hidden pocket. Some are pretty standard sock length, while some go further up the calf and a couple could fairly be classified as knee socks. Toe up, cuff down and sideways construction methods are used in various patterns.
Some of my favorite patterns include Labyrinth, which has a labyrinth motif on the leg; Snow Queen, which features snowflake-like lace scattered randomly on the leg like falling snow; Alchemist, a long sock with intricate colorwork that looks more difficult than it is thanks to the use of a multicolored yarn; and Tree of Life, a gorgeous sock with a large tree motif and smaller leaves on the leg and the top of the foot.
Experienced sock knitters who are looking for something special to adorn their feet or the feet of someone they love will find a lot of good options in this book. For knitters who maybe aren't so experienced, this book is still fun to look at as a work of art and to give yourself something to aspire to if you keep working on your craft.
With socks like these, it's easy to see why people can get completely obsessed with handknit socks.
Publication date: October 2009.