Book Review: Knitted Socks East and West

Every year as autumn rolls around I become obsessed with knitting socks.  Knitted Socks East and West by Judy Sumner is the first of 3 sock books I have bought this year, and my favorite!  The idea behind this book is to incorporate Japanese stitch patterns into socks.  The author opens by discussing her interest in Japanese stitch dictionaries (one that I happen to share!)  She explains several stitches that are common in Japanese patterns, with diagrams and written instructions.  The books quickly moves into the reason you’ve bought it – the patterns.  And they do not disappoint!  I’ve knit many a sock, and at a certain point sock patterns tend to blend together, but this book is different.

For one thing, many of the socks are knit in gauges larger than fingering weight.  I love detailed socks, but sometimes I want a nice pair of slipper socks that I don’t have to worry so much about snagging on my wooden floors.  The 2 pairs above are knit in worsted weight yarn, and there are others, even one for chunky yarn.  There are several patterns that call for a stockinette gauge of 24-26 st/4 inches also, making use of sport weight sock yarns.  My favorite patterns in the book are below.

The last 2 patterns call for fingering weight yarns, but the gauge is sport.  None of these stitch patterns are especially hard, but the results are lovely.  The photography in the book is beautiful, and most of the patterns have several clear photos in addition to the more artistic ones.  If I have a criticism it’s that they seem to have hired a model with very small feet – in many of the patterns the socks are obviously too big, and I do find it a little distracting.  There is a note at the beginning of the book that many of the stitch patterns are large and hard to take repeats out of, so perhaps this contributed to the problem.  That’s a small matter – this book is beautiful and a lovely addition to any sock knitting library.  I’m already planning my first pair, and I got out all my sock yarn to take stock:

Hmm… I need some red and yellow sock yarn to balance out all this blue and green (the seasonal peach Smooshy looks lonely!)  I can’t wait to start my first pair!