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61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
Exactly what you would expect from yarn expert Clara Parkes: a sock knitting book that focuses on yarn selection! The book starts with an explanation of what a sock needs. This is (1) lasting elasticity, (2) strength (tensile strength and ability to withstand abrasion), (3) moisture management (absorption and wicking), and (4) a willingness to be worked and worn. With these requirements in mind, Parkes then talks about the structural differences in various fiber types (protein, plant, regenerated cellulose, synthetic); and about the role that yarn construction (singles, 2-ply, 3-ply, 4-ply, S-on-S cables, true cables, core spun) plays in the choice of good yarns for socks.

Parkes includes a full chapter on stitch tricks for maximizing elasticity (using ribbing, stretchy increases, cables, faux cables), and for maximizing strength (using twisted stitches, fine gauge, slipped stitches, stranding and double knitting). In this chapter Parkes also discusses (1) the pros and cons of using nylon reinforcing yarn; (2) the choice of heel types for greater or lesser durability; and (3) the basics of ease required for proper sock fit.

In the remaining three quarters of the 208-page book, Parke presents 20 wonderful sock patterns, mostly charted, by famous sock designers: Cat Bordhi, Jane Cochran, Cookie A., Stephen Houghton, Jennifer Hagan, Norah Gaughan, Marlaina Bird, Anne Hanson, Jayme Stahl, Melissa Morgan-Oakes, Sivia Harding, Nancy Bird, Sandi Rosner, Cirilia Rose, Jared Flood, Lucy Neatby, Kathryn Alexander, A. Karen Aifke, Ann Budd, and Clara Parkes herself. There are descriptive introductions to each pattern, and there are brief designer biographies in the back of the book.

The most common size is Women's Medium, but many patterns include more than one size. The patterns include the finished measurements of the socks. Knitting skill level is intermediate to experienced (because socks are knitted in the round), but adventurous new knitters should be able to knit the patterns that have simple charts or no charts. Most of the patterns are written for a general type of yarn (usually fingering weight) but then include specific suggestions for commercial yarns (the yarns used in the models).

The only thing not to like about this copiously illustrated book is that the text and photos are not printed on glossy paper. Because this book is both a useful technical reference on sock yarns and a great collection of designer sock patterns, I give it an unqualified 5 stars. I also highly recommend Clara Parkes' first book on knitting yarns, The Knitter's Book of Yarn: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Using, and Enjoying Yarn.
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2011
I have been wanting this book for months and Santa obliged. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice book with some lovely info, but I had hoped for a more comprehensive tome. A lot of time is spent on the qualities of yarn. I had hoped an equal amount of space would be spent on components of socks---say a summary (with instructions & illustrations) of various toes and heels. The index is poorly done. For example, there aren't entries for each of the sock designers, nor is there one for toe-up or magic loop to name a few. For Judy Becker's magic cast on there are no illustrations, just suggestions to check Youtube videos. I'm considering returning this.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Hard to top the two reviews up - Lucy Neatby"s double knit socks - worth it for this pattern alone!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Best sock book I've bought since The Enchanted Sole! I've been knitting for 44 years and I'm a sock junkie and have well over 30 sock books.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
I love to knit socks and I just love a good sock knitting book. I can't think of anyone who could do a better job with this book than Clara Parkes. Her past two books are winners and I look forward to her blog, Knitter's Review, regularly. The book is a bible for anyone who knits socks or has wanted to try knitting them. It starts out with what a sock needs - lasting elasticity, brute strength, and moisture management. It then goes into Fiber Foundations - the language of sock fibers, protein fibers, silk, plant fibers, regenerated cellulose, and synthetic fibers. Then we come to the Yarns - Getting the right twist, singles, two plies, three plies, four and more plies, s-on-s cables, true cables, and core-spun. The knitter is then shown Stitch Tricks - Tricks for Elasticity and Tricks for Strength. Then come the wonderful patterns that Clara has put together and which I'll share with you a bit later. There is a section on Resources - Caring for Socks, Foot Length Tables, Materials Resources, Standard Yarn Weight System, and Recommended Reading. Last, but not least, is a section on the pattern designers.

Common questions for the sock knitter are answered such as Nylon Reinforcement or not, what kind of toes should be knit, how do we get the right fit. Clara goes into tricks for making the best socks. My favorite one is the part on how to use ribbing for elasticity. As she says, "A well-wearing sock will hold snug to your foot, minimizing any slippage in the shoe, so that foot, sock and shoe can move as one."

The patterns start out with the easiest and move on to the more advanced. My favorites are the following:

Hickory designed by Jane Cochran. It looks a bit like a basketbeave pattern and is knit in a lovely red out of fingering-weight yarn.

Firefly is designed by Jennifer Hagan. These are cabled socks, again in a red hue. The cables are separated by columns of purl stitches.

Buddleia, designed by Marlaina Bird, is the type of sock I'd love to knit but haven't tried as yet. It's knit in classic white using size one needles. The yarn used is Yak, with 15% nylon for protection and strength.

Veil of Roses is designed by Anne Hansol and are knit in silk and merino in a blue and yellow variegated colorway. The pattern is lace.

I immediately fell in love with Jayme Stahl's Isabella d'Este orange lace socks with lace cuffs and stockinette feet. They are luscious.

Kensington Socks are designed by Nancy Bush in a lovely off-white. She utilizes left and right crossing stitches, "the elaborate fine lines of lattice-filled diamonds, zigzagging columns, and overlapping cables - are all optical illusions created much more easily that you'd think by using traveling stitches.

Hummingbird is designed by Sandi Rosner and is for all the beautiful variegated colored yarn in your stash. It's lacy and and self-patterning.

Both Ann Budd and Karen Alfke designed 'indestructible' socks which are also aesthetic.

The photos in the book are clear and the patterns are easy to read. Most of them utilize charts which are not my favorite way to read patterns but I know I'm in the minority and it's just a matter of time till I'm turned around to a chart-user. This is a grand book, one every sock knitter should own. The resources are great and I know I'll be turning to this book again and again.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 5, 2011
Most knitters are already familiar with Clara Parkes, editor of the popular "Knitter's Review" newsletter and website/message boards. Parkes loves yarn and has written two prior books -- The Knitter's Book of Yarn and The Knitter's Book of Wool -- delivering valuable technical information about yarn, along with an excellent collection of patterns putting her advice into practice. Parkes hits another home run with The Knitter's Book of Socks, again combining several introductory chapers full of technical information about sock yarn -- how it's made, what qualities are desirable in a sock yarn, how different fibers behave, how to compensate for potential problems in a sock yarn -- with a selection of 20 sock patterns from top designers like Ann Budd, Cookie A and Melissa Morgan-Oakes.

This is not a book which teaches you how to knit socks, but rather a book for you to enjoy and peruse once you've already been bitten by the sock knitting bug. You will learn a great deal about the construction and behavior of sock yarn, enabling you to make better choices when it comes to purchasing sock yarn and matching a specific yarn with a specific pattern. You'll also undoubtedly have great fun trying out some of the creative and lovely patterns in the book, using all sorts of techniques from lace to cables to colorwork. Photography by Alexandra Grablewski is excellent and perfectly accentuates Parkes' accessible, clear writing style.

It's not an exaggeration to say that every seriously-obsessed knitter needs to own Clara Parkes' books. And certainly every seriously-obsessed sock knitter should own this book in particular, both for the information it will impart about yarn and for the terrific selection of patterns.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2012
Having read her book on wool from cover to cover and loving tio knit socks, this book had to be a winner! But it failed on my expectations.
The first 50 pages address issues on sock fitting. It describes yarn blends, size and technique. The remaining book, another 150 pages are sock pattern by famous designers. Good designs. But the book is not about pattern, other than explaining which type of patterns a suitable. I regret my purchase, it feels as "just another sock book, thrown together for a passionate knitter to loosen big change". Not even the pictures are impressive or the quality of the book.
I have been looking for a book, a bit old fashioned, that serves as a manual for technical options, where and how to afjust, some simple techniques, some old fashon methods. How about making socks larger as chilren grow, or how to reknit a worn heel.
The stars are for my favorite designers who contribute beautiful sock patterns such as cookie A, Lucy Neatby and Nancy Bush .
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2011
I am a huge fan of Clara's and must say this book, like her other two, is simply wonderful. The first four chapters provides knitters with lots of useful information, including yarns, stitch tricks, elasticity and moisture management. I also love how Clara also dedicated a chapter on sock fibers. This chapter covers the use of protein fibers, silk, plant fibers and synthetic fibers. To me this book is a must have for any sock knitting lover!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2012
My knitter spouse was fascinated by the yarn and stitch elements that the other reviewers referred to, and already has a couple patterns in her queue. The one problem is the scarcity of large patterns, and toe-up ones. We both have big feet (she mostly knits for only us). Fortunately, she is pretty good at altering a pattern to fit, but people who are more nervous about that or don't want to spend the effort involved might want to borrow this from their library to peruse rather than buy it outright, to see if any of the patterns work for them.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I think the true value of this book lies in the chapters about fibers and their performance for sock knitting. I can't tell you how many times I've knit a sock and found either the yarn was unsuitable (too tight for the type of knitting or too soft to be durable.) The fiber determines not only wear and elasticity but also if the stitch pattern you are using will show up well.

There are chapters on design, including the function of various types of stitches, from ribbings to twisted stitches and colorwork. The patterns are very pretty, and I want to knit quite a few of them, but the REAL value in this book, I believe, is for designers of new sock patterns. This thoughtful and well-organized book will give you a lot of help in choosing yarns and stitches to make a very good sock design. Recommended
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2011
While this may be an informative book about sock yarn, if you prefer toe-up patterns, be advised that only 5 of the 20 patterns are toe-up.
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