17 Apr

My birthday present to me was a new pattern book ( Socktopus: 17 pairs of socks worth showing off by Alice Yu) – ok fine, it was late at night on a Friday, I was up too late on the internet, I got it in my head that a sock pattern book is simply what I need right now, and look, how convenient, it’s my birthday-ish.

Buying knitting books is not like it used to be for me. Used to be, I went to the bookstore and flipped through the half a dozen of books they had and if something looked half nice and I could afford it (I swear English books cost so much less back then) I got it. That’s how I ended up with several books I haven’t knitted anything out of.

Now I can’t justify getting a book unless I at first look through the patterns on Ravelry and love most of them (their absence there is in itself a bad sign for a book, unless it was just published and even then… meh). And then I read user reviews. In short, I now have to research this stuff.

xkcd has it right

Maybe that’s part of growing up, at least with the internet.

Well anyway, the good thing is this means that with more frequency than before, I now end up with The Perfect Book, like Socktopus.

Admittedly I only got my greedy paws on it earlier today, but having read through the general sections and eyed some of the patterns, I’m completely in love with this book.

I enjoyed the section on types of yarn and fiber in sock knitting, although failed to see the point of pages devoted to pictures of swatches.

However, I like that this book is clearly and bravely not aimed at someone who doesn’t yet know how to knit. Too often books for “advanced” knitters still have a tiny section about the basics of knitting, which always strikes me as odd. It seems like the authors or editors or someone doesn’t realize or believe that there is no such thing as hard knitting. I believe that just as soon as you know how to knit and purl, and maybe read your knitting, you can knit anything. But when they write a book for “advanced” knitters, they first market it as “a masterclass” or some such, but then add the technique section on knitting and purling in a feeble attempt to not scare off the more timid knitters.

I don’t think that works. That short an explanation is just useless if you don’t know how to knit at all, seems to take up room from other things which can frustrate those who didn’t want a technique book, and probably fails to convince the new or scared knitters to actually give the patterns a go if up until that point all they saw was “this is scary hard knitting but you, my superstar knitter, can do it!!1”. Seems to me to be useless, or worse, for everyone. So I’m glad this book skipped that entirely, and also doesn’t try to woo experienced knitters by choice of words. It does that by containing cool patterns that use (at least to me) new techniques.

The pictures are, on the whole, beautifully done. There were one or two patterns where I wished there were close up pictures of details like heels and toes, but then I figure, this sock may not have anything special going on in those sections. I guess I’ll find that out once I get ’round to knitting those patterns. Other than that, both the photography and the technique illustrations (for the new and/or rarer techniques that is) were clear and very helpful.

The weird thing about this book is that it’s apparently been published twice: I got this edition, published by Guild of Master Craftsman, while for some reason, this other edition, published a few weeks later, has all the reviews on Amazon. Maybe one was for the UK, one for the US, or it was first self-published and then picked up by a publishing company or whatever – the important bit is that as far as I can tell, the patterns are the same.

I look forward to learning many new techniques while getting to knit all these beautiful socks!


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