Thursday, 26 March 2009

The Review; week beginning 23 March

I'm late too with the review this week -- not because I couldn't think of anything to say, but on the subject of socks, it really is a case of what to leave out! Having checked through my craft-book library I discover I have twenty-two books on knitted and crocheted socks (with another three on pre-order) and therefore choosing just a couple to write about has been very difficult. Nonetheless, I have decided now (on three!) and I hope you'll think it is worth the wait.

The first is Easy Knitted Socks by Jeannette Trotman and has baby socks and bootees, ladies socks, legwarmers and slippers and some classic 'man' socks too. Nice photos that focus on the sock rather than the model, clear instructions and diagrams which include sock construction and how to knit in the round, and patterns that give you the gauge and yardage of the yarn used, rather than just a brand-name (although these are given in the back, and all of the yarns used are easily available in Scotland or over the internet from UK sources).

The second book is for those of you constantly producing baby-clothes for friends and loved ones: Cute Knits for Baby Feet by Sue Whiting has the most adorable bootees and socks for newborn to four-year-olds. Every expectant or new Mum would be delighted to receive an item from this book. My personal favourites are the ballet shoe socks and the zebra feet. All the patterns are made with Rowan yarn and so easily available and the diagrams (especially for grafting) are very clear.

And finally, Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn by Carol J Sulcoski has some fantastic patterns using gorgeous hand-dyed and hand painted yarn. Apart from great photos and good instructions, this book gives you the low-down on how changes of needle size, stitch number and where you start knitting will affect the way the colour pattern develops in your sock. I want to try every sock in this book, and if I ever finish the back orders, I 'll begin!

All of these books concentrate on the top-down DPN sock construction, but there are lots of books available on knitting socks on one or two circular needles, knitting two socks at the same time and crocheting socks. I'd like to give an honourable mention to Sensational Knitted Socks and More Sensational Knitted Socks as both of these have wonderful coloured and patterned socks the instructions for which are given for 4 or 5 DPNs and for circular needles, so you can choose the method you enjoy most. Also may I draw your attention to the range of craft books entitled: "The Little Box of..." all of these publications have patterns on individual cards, which means if you like to knit whilst travelling you don't have to take a heavy book with you. As well as socks, "The Little Box" publications are available for hats and scarves, sweaters, bags and ponchos and wraps.
This week's featured books are available from Amazon and Borders on-line shops at 20% discount off the retail price (and with free postage).

Once you've bought your book, you'll want to get some great sock yarn, and I'd like to recommend Modern Knitting's on-line shop as a great place to start. They have carefully gathered all their sock-yarns brands under one link, which saves loads of time trawling through search results or individual links. They have all the standards, Regia, Opal and Trekking, but also keep Noro sock wool, some delicious alpaca and hand-painted yarns and some great bargain sock wools especially for price conscious knitters (check out Zig-Zag at only £4 per 100gram ball, and Cygnet 4 Ply at £2.25 for 50 grams). I've knitted with both of these and they wash and wear beautifully. For something extra special, have a look at their Lorna Laces Shepherd Sock Wool; at £7 per 50 gram skein, this is not a cheap pair of socks, but it's wonderful to knit with and the resultant socks would make a lovely gift for some deserving soul! Spend over £15 and postage is free!

Modern Knitting offers more than just sock wool, they have an enormous range of yarn in all gauges, usually have some great 'Sale' offers, and can provide you with all the needles and accessories you might ever need. Their web site has some free patterns for socks, hats and a lovely preemy baby cardigan. Vanessa and Martin are extremely knowledgeable and helpful, and I trust them absolutely to choose colour combinations for me when I can't see what I want on the web. On-line shopping is secure and service is fast.

That's all for now folks, but in future reviews I shall be looking at interesting yarns to knit with, patchwork and quilting books and odd crafts to complement stitchers' skills.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Thanks for that Ginnie. Although I blame you for my spending over the last few days. I bought some more sock yarn from get knitted yesterday. Then today I bought more from Modern Knitting thanks to this review. My excuse is that one was to knit socks for my grans birthday. Then to make me feel better about buying something for myself I bought yarn for my mum.

I have the Easy Knitted Socks too and it does have some lovely patterns. Something to move onto when I am bored with the basic sock.