Customer Reviews: Knitted Socks East and West: 30 Designs Inspired by Japanese Stitch Patterns
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on August 12, 2009
This is a sock book for experience sock knitters or those looking for a challenge. Most of the patterns involve following a complex graph that spans 10-21 stitches and 15-30 rows. The socks require many different techniques, such as bobbles, cables, traveling stitch, lacework, wrapping groups of stitches and several techniques that will be new to most western knitters (pkok, twist/slip, and three-stitch lift). Most of this socks will look best with solid or nearly solid yarn to show off the complex stitches, although some of the all lace ones would be quite interesting with a variegated yarn. All but one of the socks is intended for women, with one pair written for men, and another written for both an adult and child. This are all standard socks, except for the one pedicure style pictured on the cover, a yoga sock, a leg warmer and a toe sock.

If you are a fan of complex socks, such as those of Cookie A, as I am, then you will love this book. My one criticism is that many of the socks would only fit a very large foot as written. The author noted that due to the large repeats she could only write them for one size but stated that they were really stretchy so they would fit most feet. Oddly she choose to make that one stretchy size for quite a few socks 8.5" circumference and a 10.5" length, and even a pair of leg warmers that are 9.5" at the narrowest point. This explains why most of the socks look so terrible on the model's feet, bagging and sagging everywhere. In comparison, a typical medium sized women's sock is usually knitted to 7-8" circumference and a 9-9.25 length. Many of this socks would benefit from a small stitch gauge, so resizing by going down needle sizes should work fine. Many of the socks are written to a 7.5" circumference that will work for most women's feet.
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on August 3, 2009
Judy Sumner doesn't claim to be an expert in Japanese knitting style; the thirty sock patterns in this book are the result of the years she spent puzzling over Japanese stitch dictionaries. While most of the designs incorporate different ways of working familiar stitches, several of the designs use techniques that will be new to most Westerners.

In the first dozen or so pages of her book, Sumner explains these techniques, allowing a full page for each with large, clearly drawn illustrations. Her directions are similarly clear and she includes the names and page numbers of relevant sock patterns.

This is not, however, a book for beginners. Early on, Sumner jumps right into the patterns. There are no notes for beginners, no glossary, no discussion of yarn weights, needles or basic techniques.

All patterns are both charted and narrated. Roughly two thirds of the thirty patterns call for fine yarn and small needles (1-3 U.S.); the remainder recommend worsted yarn and medium needles (4-6 U.S.) with one (named Sumo!) specifying bulky yarn and size 9 needles.

One thing I like in a book of knitting patterns that is missing here is a binding that will lie flat. My other criticism is that many of the socks in the photos don't seem to fit the models. Toes look bulky, heels wrinkle, and cuffs bag at the ankles. But don't be put off by the occasional mismatch of socks to foot - the socks are beautiful, and I found nothing in the patterns that would inherently produce droops and sags.

I repeat: this is not a book for beginners. But for the experienced knitter in search of something new, it is excellent, with fresh designs and clear instructions.
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This is a beautiful book and a wonderful addition to the library of anyone interested in knitting socks. It has a number of beautiful sock patterns that are Japanese inspired and that are bound to pique your interest. I know that there are already three pairs of socks that I want to knit from this book! The photographs are beautiful, the patterns are unique and easy to follow and the socks themselves have an ethnic quality that make them much more than run of the mill.

The names themselves conjure up Japan in the spring: Chouwa, Origami, Japanese Garden, Bonai, Hanami Lace, Biw, Kaiso, Tatami, etc.

The origami socks in red are one of my favorites. It is worked from the toe up and "the sock appears to have 'folds' where it goes in and out, much like the ornate folds of origami." (p.27). The 'Ikebana' socks are incredibly lovely. 'Ikebana' "is an ancient form of flower arranging" (p.35) and the socks conjure up this art. Dancers will appreciate the 'shiatsu' sock which is actually a leg warmer with a small strip under the foot to hold it in place. The 'bonsai' socks are delightful. The designer actually "attempted to re-create the feel of a decorative tree" in her design. (p. 61) I love the wavelike look of the 'Tsunammi' sock which the designer describes as "peaceful little islands of purl stitches interruped periodically by large cables, moving like waves" (p.77) My favorite may be the 'Karatsu' sock. It is modeled after a style of Japanese pottery that is noted for its glazes. "Like the pottery they're names for, these socks appear sophisticated, without being too fussy". P. 81). They are knit in a beautiful cobalt blue. The 'Karate' socks are near the top of by 'to be knit' pile. "The length and complexity of the cables in these socks bring the quick and unexpected movements of karate to mind, but knitting them can be meditative....." (p. 101) I also love the 'Karaoke' socks. The designer says that they "sing to me with their perky bobble, pkoks, and stitches moving to the right and left. It is not a difficult pattern.... (P. 126)

All in all, this is a book of BEAUTIFUL socks, probably not for the beginner or early intermediate knitter. It would be a great addition to any advanced intermediate or advanced knitter's library. I have looked at it repeatedly and am still not tired of it. The instructions are clear and there are charts as well as written instructions for most of the patterns. I love this book.
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VINE VOICEon September 3, 2009
I was hooked by the cover. Pure beauty in the deception of simple elegance. Decidedly for experienced knitters, this book is full of beautiful socks. The nice thing about socks is that since they are small, complicated patterns are not as tedious as if it were a large project such as a sweater or shawl. The photography is inspiring and beautiful.

The lack of beginner notes is a clue that this may not be for everyone. This is not the best choice for someone with only a few pairs of socks under their belt. The patterns are complicated, but oh, so lovely. Even if you hate the heal-turning part of socks, you'd be inspired to use the stitch patterns on fingerless mitts or wristlets or leg warmers. Beautiful, luxurious gifts abound!
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on August 13, 2009
I bought this book for the yoga sock pattern (heel-less and toe-less), really really fun! I was also very intrigued by the range of lace patterns that I would like to use on a knitted lace scarf project. Very different from anything I've seen before. My thanks to the author for her dedication in studying Japanese stitch patterns, making them easily accessable to an English speaking audience!
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on July 31, 2009
I have been waiting for Judy's project to be in print for a couple of years and now that it is here, it is magnificent. The patterns are beautiful and lend themselves to the Japanese lifestyle as depicted and to the western knitter. Everything from the cover shot of the Fuji pedicure socks to the inspiring Shiatsu, which look like leggings that a Samurai might wear. Judy was a pioneer with the Japanese stitch patterns and now this book is here to enthrall her fans.
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on August 8, 2009
This book is definitely a standout sock book - the designs are truly versatile and unique, the wonderful knitting styles (toe-up,cuff down) are there - and not just cover-your-toe socks, yarn weights vary from the fine to bulky, the stitch work is refreshing, readability is great, and love the photography!

I knew nothing of the author but now I realize that she's created a wonderful gem of a sock book! The intro is a good read also.
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on November 10, 2012
I bought this on an impulse because Amazon's price had it marked down so low (below three dollars, and free prime shipping). Even though I'm an avid bargain hunter, for once I can safely say I'd have been glad to pay full price. Unusual stitch patterns and unique socks. Some are especially interesting in the patterns on the back of the leg, which differ from the main pattern on the front. Pay no attention to the grumpy review. The author never stated they were Japanese socks; just that she was inspired by Japanese stitch patterns. As I have a few Japanese knitting stitch pattern books, I am thrilled to find someone who has taken some unique stitch patterns and placed them into a sock pattern for me. And the photography is beautiful. The other reviewer is completely wrong to state that the photos were taken from the vantage point of the sock wearer - there isn't a single photo like that in the entire book.
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on April 9, 2012
As dubbed at my LYS, I am the "Queen" of socks! I truly enjoy making socks and am always looking for different patterns. One of my fellow knitters had this book and I was looking through it one evening. I decided then and there that I HAD to have this book. It is full of beautiful illustrations and great patterns.
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on December 4, 2009
I bought this because of the gushing reviews I'd read here. I'm sorry to say that I was disappointed.

The "hook" for the book - in the words of the author "what would make my sock book different than the many that were already on the shelves" - is only developed in a very superficial way. She aspires to "introduce Western sock knitters to stitches and techniques they had never seen before". As it turns out, the three new stitches the author introduces are so clearly explained that if you've knit a few socks before - be it by Cookie A or Nancy Bush - this book will not present you with too much of a challenge. If, on the other hand, you've made your own forays into working sock-designs out for yourself, either thanks to Charlene Schurch or Cat Bordhi, you'll want to by-pass this book and get your hands on the Japanese Stitch Pattern books the author references.

The author's description of her "crash course in Japanese culture" makes for cringe-worthy reading, I'm afraid. It becomes painfully clear that she has never visited Japan; neither does she appear to have plans to anytime soon: "One simple word would lead me to the far corners of the Internet, and often through thousands of years of history." I'm sorry, thousands of years of history deserves more than a cursory nod.

The photography in this book may be beautiful but it is also completely useless. The photos are meant to be for a knitting book about socks and vastly different stitch patterns; and not a lifestyle book about sitting-around. The socks look baggy and unblocked; and many of the photos look like they were taken from the vantage point of the person wearing the socks.
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