Thursday, January 28, 2010

Blog Tour: Toe Up! by Chrissy Gardiner -- and giveaway!

I'm pleased to be a stop on Chrissy Gardiner's blog tour for her new book, Toe-Up! Patterns and Worksheets to Whip Your Sock Knitting Into Shape. You might recall that Chrissy was one of the designers who contributed to Knitting Socks With Handpainted Yarns, and she's the founder of Gardiner Yarn Works, where you can find all sorts of lovely handknitting patterns.



Chrissy has recently released her book devoted to toe-up sock patterns, so let's jump right in and have a look. We start with the introduction, in which Chrissy explains how she became a convert to toe-up sock knitting, almost despite herself. Originally a cuff-down sock knitter, Chrissy was asked to design some toe-up socks, then to teach toe-up sock knitting at a LYS. She discovered that her toe-up class was significantly more popular with knitters than the traditional, cuff-down class, and before she knew it, she was knitting most of her socks the toe-up way.

Reading Toe-Up is like taking a class with Chrissy, as she shares all sorts of tips and techniques with the reader. It's this wealth of technical information that is one of the greatest strengths of Toe-Up. For example, the first chapter is called "Getting Started," and contains basic information about the tools you'll need, a comparison of the three methods of sock knitting (dpns vs. magic loop vs. two circulars -- with some explanatory photographs), a section on gauge and how it relates to the kind of fabric you'll want for your socks, a discussion of yarn choices (with attention to color & fiber choices), fit and last, a few words on revising the patterns in the book.


The Dude Abides socks

The technical info continues with

  • Chapter Two, a discussion of cast-on methods. You'll find explanations of "Judy's Magic Cast-on," a Turkish cast-on, and a "backwards loop" cast on, again with photos to show you exactly how.
  • Chapter Three discusses toes from the perspective of the toe-up knitter, giving the knitter several specific options -- Non-shaped Round Toe, Shaped Round Toe, Anatomical Round Toe, Star Toe, and Short-Row Toe --again, including illustrations, with sample worksheets to explain how the number for each toe are calculated.
  • Chapter Four discusses heels from the perspective of the toe-up knitter, again laying out several options: a Short-row Heel, a Hybrid Heel (combining short-rows and slip stitches) and an Afterthought Heel (knit after the main part of the sock is complete). Again, photos are used to illustrate each version, and sample worksheets show how to calculate the numbers you'll need.
  • Chapter Five is devoted to finishing, in particular, methods of binding off the socks at the top while retaining enough stretch to make the top of the sock easy to put on and take off. You'll find explanations of a Yarn-Over Bind-off, a Sewn Bind-Off, and a P2tog Bind-off with photos; in addition, you'll find a brief discussion of how to weave in ends and how to care for your finished socks.
  • Chapter Six discusses what Gardiner calls "Advanced Techniques": how to read charts, how to work cables without a cable needle and, alternatively, how to use a locking stitch marker, how to convert patterns from top-down to toe-up style, and how to knit two socks at once.
That's a lot of technical information, and terrific background for knitters who want to go beyond simply reading and following patterns so that they understand why their toe-up socks are constructed in a particular way. It also gives the knitter the knowledge she needs to be able to tweak patterns to suit her own tastes.


Vortex socks

The technical chapters take up over forty pages in the book, but don't worry: there's a generous selection of patterns for you to work on. The patterns are divided into two general categories: "Family Socks" and "Fancy Socks." The Family Socks section contains seven patterns, designed in a wide range of sizes so that they can be made for just about any member of the family. The patterns also use a variety of yarn weights -- chunky to fingering-- so that you can stashbust, or knit thicker socks to wear with boots or in bed or around the house. Specifically, you'll find the following patterns in the Family section: the Snuggalicious Slipper Socks (chunky weight), a Mix-and-Match Sock Recipe (sport weight), Syncopated Rib Boot Socks (worsted weight), Old School Knee Highs (DK weight), Gull Wing socks (fingering weight, using a slip-stitch pattern), Sydney (fingering weight; ruffled anklets), and the pretty Fjordland Socks (fingering weight, with a textured color pattern).


Fjordland socks

The Fancy Socks chapter contains eight patterns, featuring more complex patterning. Two of them are knit in sportweight yarn and the remainder in fingering weight. Diamond Lucy features a textural diamond pattern; The Dude Abides, named after a sweater seen in The Big Lebowski, is colorwork in chocolate and a warm red-orange multicolor yarn; Candelabra Socks uses cables to create a twining pattern; the Vortex socks, use a swirl of cables in a very pretty pattern running the length of the sock; the Great Plains socks uses a combination of eyelets, twisted stitches and smocking to show off a slightly fuzzy yarn; Spring in Oregon features lots of vertical panels of texture; Peace Lily features a floral motif; and Sakura is a cherry tree motif with complex patterning on both the instep and leg.


Peace Lily socks

Finally, the last chapter contains blank worksheets corresponding to the various toe and heel styles demonstrated in Chapters Three and Four, so that the knitter can implement them in her own knitting. There is a glossary of techniques, with photographs demostrating skills like the Kitchener Stitch, provisional cast-ons, working through the back loop, and so on.

Other details about the book: it's paperback, color, approximately 160 pages. It's full of charts and worksheets; contains lots of clear photos to help with the more technical skills; the typeface and layout are clear and easy-to-read. If I had one druther, I'd like to see bigger photos of some of the sock designs, but I understand that big photos take up space, and this book is already jam-packed with technical info. I can understand trading off lots of photos for more technical information, particularly since the Internet makes posting additional photos of the designs quick and easy. (Indeed, if you search for the Toe-Up patterns on Ravelry, you'll find that Chrissy has thoughtfully posted multiple shots of each design to give you a better feel for how they look.) Interestingly, Toe-Up is self-published, but don't be freaked out by that; it's not the kind of black-and-white, devoid of style self-published books you might have found a few years ago. On-demand publishing and related developments in the industry have made it possible to produce extremely high quality books like this one, sidestepping the conventional publishing route. MSRP is $24.95, and you can order the book via Amazon through this link.

Old School Knee Highs

Now for the exciting part: due to Chrissy's generosity, I've got an extra copy of Toe-Up! to give away to one lucky reader. All you have to do is leave a comment indicating that you'd like the book, and I'll use a random number generator to pick a winner. You've got to leave your comment by midnight, Friday, January 29th, and I'll pick the winner on Saturday.

Thanks to Chrissy, for including GKIYH on her blog tour, and make sure you stop at Stitch Marker tomorrow, for the next stop along the tour. (You can find the complete blog tour schedule, along with other information about the book, here.)

93 comments:

Laura said...

I don't knit on Shabbes!

Ok, I do - and I'd love to knit Chrissy's Lebowski socks.

Kelly-ann said...

I would love to venture into toe-up socks again since my first try was just mediocre. I have been avoiding toe-up socks ever since, but there are so many beautiful toe-up patterns.

Jenipurr said...

I've yet to try knitting socks from the toe up (I learned cuff down and I've done several dozen that way), so I'd love to win this book! I promise if I get the book, the next socks I knit will be toe-up (grin).

eadaoine said...

Definitely like "The Dude abides"!

margaret in manhattan said...

I would love a copy of the book - especially because I've been knitting sox toe-up for the longest time ... thanks for your blog!

Lady B said...

Conquering the sock - toe-up or cuff-down is a challenge I'm get to be brave enough to embark upon, but this book might give me the courage. Thanks!

Legal_Chick said...

I would love a copy of the book!

Tricia said...

Thanks for the detailed review: after that, I'd definitely like to win a copy!

Wendelene said...

please, please, choose meeeeeeee!

Thea said...

Hello: I love toe-up socks and would love to
try these socks!
Thanks,
Thea (TheaMidnight) on Ravelry

TLK said...

I've only knit socks from the cuff down to the toe. I'd like to learn to knit them in the opposite direction. The book sounds great!

Barb B. said...

Great review as usual. I always enjoy the depth you give to these.

I'd love to win the book. If I don't, I'll order it on Sunday. I am a cuff down person who keeps toying with trying toe up. I'd have to give it a shot if I owned the book!

Madingley said...

I would want to make the Dude Abides sock just for the name - but it's gorgeous as well.

Mary Ellen said...

I would love to own this book!

j hoyle said...

I'd love to have this book. I'm a novice sock knitter and this resource sounds invaluable.

Jane said...

I would love to learn how to knit socks from the toe up. I have tried other books in the past and for some reason I do not get it

puffthemagicrabbit said...

Oh oh oh- I want!

Corvi said...

I'd love a copy. The book sounds great! I still have some BBF yarn I need to turn into socks, too. My Aunt Jean awaits!

bethoff said...

Me, me, me! Just rediscovered my sock mojo after a long absence and I've never managed to knit a toe-up sock that fit me well. Maybe Chrissy's book could change that.

Stefanie said...

I just turned the heel on my Leyburn toe-up socks and would love to read about all these different toe & heel techniques. What a fabulous sounding book!

Elizabeth D said...

Of course I want to win this book! A question: is there info about tweaking heel to fit variant feet? I once had to return a masterpiece pair of socks made for me by a friend because the arch and instep, perfectly normal in size and construction, wouldn't go on my foot. . .

Suah said...

The book looks great! Can't wait to see it in real life!

Ann286 said...

Chrissy book looks like it has everything you want to know about toe-up sock construction. More specifically everything that I want to know.

I would love to own this book. I hope I am the lucky one.
Thanks for the great review too.

Ann286 said...

What a great review. I would really like to look at this book in person.

warm said...

Love all the designs and the patterns in varied colors and combinations.You are doing a marvelous job..opened your store online?

AmyP said...

I have heard fabulous things about this book everywhere! Might be time for me to check it out.

Bonney said...

Wow! Your review is most comprehensive!! This looks like a book that will finally reveal the secrets of toe up knitting that have escaped me so far!

sprite said...

I'm a big fan of Chrissy's patterns, so thanks for offering this up as a giveaway.

joan said...

I've been a cuff down sock knitter for decades (!) but took a mini class from Chrissy at Sock Summit and enjoyed the class and Chrissy very much. This book might convince me to change my ways.

Rachel said...

Great review - and thanks for the giveaway! I've been wanting to try toe-up - I've knit exclusively top-down, and this looks like a great intro.

nina said...

This books looks great! I've never knitted socks before (down or up) but I've gotten a few from the library sitting here, so I'm ready to start trying...

Tabitha said...

Dammit man, that rug really pulled the room together. Would love to win the book, sounds like a good one. - the artist formerly known as Evelyn

cpganz said...

Oh, I would so love this book. Looks amazing and I love sock books.

Elizabeth (hutchart on ravelry) said...

THE DUDE ABIDES? Those socks really pull the whole room together!

mellenknits said...

Every time I see a new sock book I add more patterns to my queue of things to try, and this book is no exception - it looks great!

Ack!Tivity said...

Delurking to say, ooooh, pick me! :) I'm a toe-up fanatic and would LOVE Chrissy's book!

vhw3d@virginia.edu said...

Would love to delve into toe-up socks! Thanks for the change to win it.

Bev said...

I love toe up! Pick me, pleeease. Bev

Anonymous said...

I would love to receive this book. Good Reason to buy more of your sock yarn!
Connie

dana said...

there is no such thing as too many sock books. and i don't have this one. yet.
and i'm willing to be converted to toe up. maybe even to two at a time sock knitting!

SingleMomKnits said...

I would love to have this book. I have never made toe up socks but I want to.

sherri said...

Toe-up is my favorite way to knit socks. I was always disappointed when I worked cuff down and ended up with left-over yarn because I could have made them longer! I would love to win the book!

Robin said...

Looks like a must-have book. Yes, please sign me up!

Quilting Mama said...

Beautiful pictures, fun socks, and a generous author - now that is a start to a perfect world.

Thanks -

Gale said...

I have been knitting socks for about a year and would love to have the book to learn how to do some sock knitting form the toe up. Thank you Gale

Bob & Phyllis said...

I generally lurk, but I would LOVE to have this book!
Phyllis
:)

Emily said...

I would love a copy of the book... especially if it can solver for me the neverending mystery of "where do I start the gusset on a toe-up sock".

LesleyD said...

OOO OOO ME Me!! I've been looking for a good toe up book like this and my birthday was yesterday. 1/27 Oh random number generator please pic me!

Jodi said...

What a fantastic sounding book! I would love to win it!

Charissa said...

I'd love a chance at Chrissy's new book. I've admired her designs for some time & have knit a few!

pendie said...

I love knitting socks toe-up; for some reason they don't take as long. I first learned to knit two at a time socks with Chrissy in a workshop she taught. She's awesome

Janelle said...

Okay, you've convinced me to knit my next sock toe up. Guess I need the book, huh? :) Great review!

stellamarys said...

Sign me up! You had me at The Dude Abides!

Deborah said...

Thanks for the chance to win the book. It looks fabulous!

bjrest said...

I'd love to add that book to my library :)

One Sheep said...

Please enter me for this wonderful book and thanks for the giveaway!

diane said...

Not a winner type, but would like to try toe up thanks

Kim W said...

I would love to win a copy of the book!

17th stitch said...

Please enter me in the drawing for the book - it looks fascinating and, as always, you've done a great job of promoting it!

turtlegirl76 said...

ooh ooh! Me please! I don't know how I haven't gotten my hands on this book yet.

Allison said...

Hiya! I'd love this book, I think, as I've been wrestling w/Turkish cast on AND I'm tired of misunderestimating the yarn I need when I go top-down! Thanks Carol and Chrissy!

Karen said...

I just love those Old School Knee Highs. This may be the book that will convert me to a toe up sock knitter.

Donna P said...

Would love this book! Might get me over my fear of toe-up socks!

Jill said...

I'd love to be entered in the drawing. I've seen some beautiful FOs coming out of that book! Thanks for your thorough book reviews!

Teresa C said...

That Knee-High sock looks just the thing I need to understand better calf shaping.

tattva1knits said...

Ooh, look at all the pretty! Dear Mr. Random number generator, pick me!

EVA S said...

I definitely need to try knotting toe-up and the patterns in this book looks beautiful

Kitten With a Whiplash said...

Every knitter should have one sock knitting book (st least one), and I'd like for this to be mine. Thanks for a chance to win it.

adw said...

Toe Up! sounds wonderful! The patterns are inspiring and the information covered will be so useful to sock knitters of all abilities.

Thank you both for the chance to enter this giveaway!

Sarah said...

I think my bookshelf has room for this, if the random number generator sees fit to choose me, eh?

sampling said...

I would love to give sock knitting a go but it all seems very complicated!?

Jennifer said...

I'd LOVE this book - socks are the only thing i've yet to knit - i just haven't even tried! so this would definitely give me the kick in the butt to do so!

Maryanne & Duke said...

Whenever I've started socks toe-up, I get stalled somehow. I've even converted top-down patterns that I wanted to try, just to avoid knitting them from the toe. This looks like the ultimate sock book for learning toe-up socks.

dianecus said...

Like, the Dude, I abide. Would love this book.

Melissa said...

Oh please oh please pick me; I'd love to have a copy of Chrissy's book. PS - Love your book too by the way!

LizzieK8 said...

Although I have "my way" of knitting toe ups, I'm about ready to branch out and learn some new techniques! I would love a copy to begin my adventure.

Jen said...

I'd love to win the book! I have never knitted toe up socks but now is the time to start.

Anonymous said...

Oooooh! Crossing my fngers! I haven't knit so many socks that I feel stuck in one method--the patterns are just scrumptious and Chrissy's book would be a great accompanimaent for yours.

obscure

Jersey Shore Deb said...

I would absolutely love this book! I have only made one pair of toe-up socks, but many cuff-down. I'd love to get more proficient at this technique and this book sounds like the perfect way to do that.

Carol Perecman said...

Looks like a great book! Thanks for the chance to win one...
Carol P

Amanda said...

I've been afraid of trying toe-up socks, but honestly I think that this book would convert me. From the preview love the book, and the patterns. Now which yarn to choose?

Janice said...

What a lot of info. I'm especially interested in different cast-ons, -offs, and the heels.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to win this book. Thanks for sharing your informed opinion. You've really helped me decide which books I need to add to my library!
Barbara M.

Joyce said...

Thanks for the chance to win this book. Your very thorough review definitely puts it on my "to buy" list.

blogless grace said...

Wonderful book--would love to have a copy.

Just watched the Big Lebowski last night; will have to watch again to look more closely at the sweater.

Dawn in NL said...

Oh I would love to see this book close up. Sounds like it would spice up my sock knitting.

All the best
Dawn

Kim said...

Looks like a great book! I'm ready to try the techniques.

Kira said...

I've tried to win a copy of this book every time I see a chance! Maybe this time I'll get lucky. Thanks!

ikkinlala said...

I'd like to be in the draw, please - I knit most of my socks cuff down, but I'd like to learn more about toe up.

Joanie said...

Is it wrong to delurk just because you made this book sound so cool? I hope not! Thanks!

/relurks

Gauss said...

I'm in! In haven't yet found a toe-up pattern that fits as well as my standard cuff-down pattern.

Alexis W said...

I've skimmed through this book before, and I'd love to have a copy to peruse at leisure.

pam1228 said...

I have never knit socks toe up. I guess if I win, I could certainly learn. Thanks for the chance. Pam