After falling in love with the interesting and new to her stitch patterns found in Japanese knitting publications, Judy Sumner decided to share the designs with the rest of the world in the form of a book of sock patterns: Knitted Socks East and West: 30 Designs Inspired by Japanese Stitch Patterns.
The projects for all sorts of socks look like the socks we're all used to knitting, but the unique stitch patterns give them a new, fresh spin that should make them fun for even the most experienced sock knitters.
Because the stitch patterns used in Knitted Socks East and West are likely to be unfamiliar to many people who pick up the book, Sumner spends a lot of time talking about how she figured out the various stitches that are used in her patterns and explaining how to perform them in your own knitting projects.
She's named the special stitches pkok (pronounced peacock), wrap, twist/slip stitch and three-stitch lift. Illustrations and text explain how to perform these tricky stitches.
Following the basic instructions are 30 patterns for a variety of socks, from basic crew socks to knee socks, toeless pedicure socks, stirrups, shorty socks, a sock without toes or a heel (for practicing yoga) and a tabi sock with the big toe worked separately from the other toes.
Most of the patterns work for just one size, an average sized woman's foot. Because the Japanese stitch patterns used in the projects are often quite wide, it is difficult to resize the patterns and maintain the integrity of the design.
The projects are not ranked by skill level, but thanks to the long pattern repeats, involved stitchwork and unfamiliar maneuvering required, they're probably all best for intermediate to advanced knitters.
Some of my favorite patterns include Ikebana, a knee-length sock with a floral bobble pattern up the leg; Kabuki, a worsted weight sock embellished with easy cables; Tsunami, which features cables and a diamond pattern; and Kaiso, an easy pattern with blocks of lace separated by Garter Stitch bands.
One nice thing about this book is that the pattern stitches are described in knitter's shorthand as well as being illustrated in charts, so both knitters who like words and those who prefer pictures can easily work from these patterns.
Knitted Socks East and West is an interesting, creative book that is sure to pique your interest in learning more about the way knitting is different in different countries.
For sock knitters with some experience, these patterns will provide a fun stretch and some different design elements that you might not have seen before.
This book would make a nice gift for a prolific sock knitter who might be looking for new inspiration or for fans of the Eastern design aesthetic, even if they're not big fans of sock knitting. It just might inspire them to take a new look at the craft, and its sure to get any knitter thinking about the wide variety of ways knitters around the world combine knits and purls.
Publication date: September 2009.