If you've ever wanted to learn how to knit socks from the toe up but were intimidated by the process, Wendy D. Johnson's Socks from the Toe Up: Essential Techniques and Patterns from Wendy Knits is a wonderful guide to get you started.
And if you're someone who's already comfortable with the process of knitting toe-up socks, you're sure to love the creative and versatile patterns from well known blogger Wendy Knits.
Everything You Always Wanted to Know
The beginning of Socks from the Toe Up provides a good deal of instruction on how to go about knitting socks from the toe up for those who might not have done it (or used these particular techniques) before. It covers the basic tools of knitting and how to measure the foot and then goes on to describe various ways of putting a sock together.
There are five different options for working the toe, three methods for knitting the sock (on double-pointed needles, one circular or two, which is Johnson's preference), three different heels and three different bind offs, as well as a picot edging.
All of these techniques are illustrated with simple line drawings and enough text to make them sound doable.
The educational section is followed by three basic sock patterns: one using the short row toe and heel, one using the gusset heel and one using the slip stitch heel.
Beyond the "plain vanilla" patterns, Johnson offers 20 luscious designs, in the general categories of lace, textured gansey, cabled and sportweight socks. The cabled socks actually use traveling stitches rather than cables to cut down on the bulk so they're still useful.
The patterns are appropriate for a range of skill levels, though they probably tend more toward the intermediate and experienced knitter thanks to the design elements involved. Being able to read and follow a chart is vital for the successful completion of many of the projects.
All of the patterns offer at least two sizes, while several have three and one has four. They're all knit for and modeled by women, but several patterns would be appropriate for men as well.
One nice thing about these projects that you don't often see in sock knitting books is that Johnson notes when a pattern would be a good choice for a handpainted or multicolored yarn and when a solid sock yarn would be a better choice.
There are so many gorgeous patterns in this book it's difficult to pick favorites, but some that I would knit for myself if I had the time include the Diagonal Lace Socks, with a simple but lovely lace pattern; the Hearts and Flowers Socks (pictured on the cover); the Lace and Cable Socks, with a lattice lace on the top of the foot and tiny cables along the sides; and the Diamond Gansey Socks, featuring textured diamonds and Seed Stitch borders.
There's something her for just about any lover of sock knitting -- you'll probably easily find a pattern or two you can't resist.
The Bottom Line
Socks from the Toe Up is essential reading for anyone who is interested in trying out knitting toe-up socks, and it should be on the bookshelf of people who already enjoy this method of knitting socks as well.
The book is beautiful, well laid out, with good full-color pictures of the patterns that make it easy for you to decide which projects appeal to you.
They use a wide variety of sock yarns that are sure to send you to the yarn shop or your favorite online retailer to bulk up your sock yarn collection (as Johnson notes, sock yarn doesn't count as stash).
But it shouldn't stay bulked up for long, as you're sure to find these patterns irresistible to knit for gifts or for yourself.
Publication date: April 2009.