Comment permalink

Wendy Johnson, "Toe Up Socks For Every Body"

Wendy Johnson is one of the internet's earliest and most prominent knitting bloggers, and is well on her way to becoming one of its most prolific pattern designers.  Aside from her books (three at this time, I believe), Johnson has also released a ton of stand-alone patterns, mainly sock patterns.  

Naturally these are all knit from the toe up, as Johnson is also one of the most famous advocates for toe-up sock knitting.  Many a new sock knitter has started with the pattern known simply as "Wendy's Generic Toe-Up Sock."  This is a pretty great pattern, although I confess to never having gotten the knack of doing a crochet provisional cast on correctly so that you can unzip the stitches at the end.

This is her second book of sock patterns, and the most striking thing about it is the advanced nature of the patterns.  This is not a book for beginners.  Which is surprising, because I don't know if you've noticed, but pretty much EVERY knitting book is a book for beginners.  This is the fault of the publishing companies, who frequently turn down book proposals for more advanced knitting topics (or lean on their authors to dumb things down).  

I celebrate this book simply for the fact that it bucks that trend.

Judging by the odd spacing in the title (every body) I was expecting more variation in the sock patterns themselves.  There is one pattern for young children, one thigh-high pattern, and one pattern for men, and the rest seem to be the standard fit/model sock pattern.  

I have a lot of adjustments that I have to make to any given sock pattern in order to get it to fit, and Johnson does an excellent job of walking the reader through this process as well.  Ironically, a quick glance at her sock patterns shows that it would be difficult to re-jigger many of them to fit other sizes, due to the intricate patterning.  

These sock patterns break down into three basic categories: lace, cable, and colorwork.  Johnson has made her reputation as a lace knitter, and these patterns are no exception.  If I have one minor complaint with many of Johnson's sock patterns I've seen up until this point, it's that they all follow the same formula:
(Johnson's basic sock pattern) + (lace pattern from a stitch dictionary) = sock pattern

I was pleased to note that the patterns in this book go beyond that, with a lot of care given to flowing the pattern around the foot, shaping, little details in the heel, and so forth.  

These are what I think of as "showcase patterns."  A showcase pattern is one which results in a knitted item so awesome that you would be tempted to display it in a showcase, instead of wearing it.  Don't get me wrong, I knit all my own socks, and have worn hand-knit socks exclusively for the last three years or so.  But some of the designs in her book had me thinking "If I knit those socks, I could never bring myself to stuff them inside a sweaty old shoe!"