Monday, October 31, 2011

No-Bull Book Review & Giveaway: The Knitter's Book of Socks, by Clara Parkes

When she's not taking photographs of the artfully-swirled cream in her cup of java mochalatta, Clara Parkes writes books. Really excellent books, as a matter of fact. Today's No-Bull Book Review examines her latest, The Knitter's Book of Socks: The Yarn Lover's Ultimate Guide to Creating Socks That Fit Well, Feel Great, and Last a Lifetime (Potter Craft 2011; MSRP $30, available as of the time of this writing for $17.85 via the link).

I first encountered Clara Parkes through her excellent newsletter, Knitter's Review, and the message boards that accompanied it. I have always loved Clara's in-depth yarn reviews, her emphasis on small-producer and single-breed wools, and her willingness to share her technical expertise though both her newsletter and message boards. Clara's first two books (The Knitter's Book of Yarn and The Knitter's Book of Wool) are wonderful, information-packed volumes that should be on every knitter's bookshelf. They also feature some lovely patterns, too. It's no surprise that The Knitter's Book of Socks will take its place next to them, as a must-read book for the sock knitter. Let's take a closer look at what's inside.

Knitter's Book of Socks begins with a brief introduction, in which Clara sets out her goal: to educate readers about "the art, science, and sheer pleasure of knitting socks from the yarn up." By using the specific sock yarn as starting point, Parkes hopes to prevent sock knitting disasters that might result from a bad combination of sock and yarn.

Stepping Stones, by Clara Parkes

Chapter 1 is titled "What a Sock Needs," and we learn in the introductory section that a sock yarn needs three qualities: elasticity, strength and absorption. Parkes walks the reader through each of these qualities, discussing what elasticity is and how to measure it; different aspects of strength, including strength to resist abrasion and tensile strength; and moisture management. She finishes with a nod to a fourth, more abstract factor: what I think of as the yarn's charisma -- whether the yarn feels good to wear and work with.


Hickory, by Jane Cochran

Chapter 2 covers the fibers that are used to create sock yarns, not only covering types of fiber (wool and other protein fibers, plant-derived fibers like cotton, synthetic and others) but also issues like blends, the fineness of the fibers and staple length.

Chapter 3 looks at specific types of yarn, instructing the reader about twist, singles vs. plies, even cable-spun and corespun yarns -- all excellent stuff that often is overlooked in discussions of yarn.

Chapter 4 gives the knitter some tips on how to make adjustments to a yarn to compensate for natural tendencies that can affect its suitability as a sock yarn. For example, Parkes gives some guidance on how to use your stitchwork to increase the elasticity of the socks (if you are working with a less-than-elastic yarn); how to improve the strength of a less-durable yarn; and discusses the use of wooly nylon as reinforcement.


Veil of Rosebuds, by Anne Hanson

If your mind starts spinning from the vast amount of valuable information in the beginning chapters, you can always take a break and refer to Chapter 5, the patterns. Parkes presents a selection of 20 sock patterns from leading sock designers, including Cat Bhordi, Cookie A, Lucy Neatby, Nancy Bush and Ann Budd.



Buddleia by Marlaine Bird

There's a great variety of styles included, from stranded

Strago by Jared Flood

and eyelets

Prana, by Cirilia Rose

to cuffs

Lady Tryamour, by Sivia Harding

even unique multidirectional colorwork:

Percheron, by Kathryn Alexander

But of all the gorgeous patterns, my favorite is a lovely one called "Tutu," designed by Melissa Morgan-Oakes and knit up in Black Bunny Fibers Stella yarn:

Tutu, by MMO

The patterns feature charts (in color where appropriate); close-up shots to show off specific design features; notes to help the knitter with unusual techniques; and extensive descriptions that explain how the features of the specific design illustrate the technical information given in the beginning of the book. Sizing varies depending on the pattern; some of the more unusual designs are shown in one size only, but many include two or three different sizes.

The pattern section is followed by a "Resources" section detailing how to care for your socks; explanation of abbreviations and techniques; a chart showing foot size and how it relates to sock sizes; and a bibliography.

The book is hardcover; approximately 208 pages; with lots of photographs and inset boxes; and the mouth-watering photography is by Alexandra Grablewski.

When you really love yarn, especially sock yarn, like I do, it's a real treat to encounter a book as informative and easy to read as it is beautiful. The Knitter's Book of Socks is such a book, and thanks to the generosity of Potter Craft, I have a free copy of The Knitter's Book of Socks to give away. Leave a comment to this post by midnight, Wednesday, November 2. I will use the random number generator to pick a winner and announce it the next day. One comment per person, please! And makes sure you include an email or I can reach you through your Blogger comment login.

77 comments:

La Tricoteuse Heureuse said...

Ohhhh, please oh please! I saw this book at my local LYS and wanted it more desperately than I could afford it. I'd LOVE to win this giveaway. thank you so much for offering it!

Mel said...

Me! Me!

Ragga said...

Love Clara - love her books - would LOVE this one too :)
Best wishes from Reykjavík, Iceland,
Ragga

Doc Anne said...

Oh dear, probably bad luck to be first in line...but I would love this book. I am new to sock knitting and could use the knowledge.
Thanks!

Megan said...

Looks like a great book! Thanks for sharing and the opportunity to win!

nestra said...

I have both of her other books and love them! I would love to get my hot little hands on this one too!

Willietattoos said...

I so want to knit like YOU! Working on becoming a better sock knitter! peace!

Vanessa said...

Like everyone else I'd love s copy of this book! Just in case I don't win I've put it on my Christmas list! Thanks for the opportunity!

Anonymous said...

Pick me!! Pick me!!

Oh, wait. Sorry. That just slipped out. My more adult comment is, wow, that looks like a great book. Ok, that's not that much more adult, but I'm kind of speechless in the face of Clara Parkes and her genius.

Anoush on Ravelry

Janice said...

I so need to get this book and would love a chance to win it!

Aliceq said...

This looks like a fascinating book. I've knit socks for years, and have two full drawers of them, but I could always stand to learn some new tricks!

Rhian Drinkwater said...

Ooh, I need need need this book!

collegeknitting said...

That looks like such a great book- and I love knitting socks! Thanks so much for the giveaway.

ThatCleverClementine said...

I know I have a lot to learn from this book, so hope I am the winner! Thanks so much for the opportunity.

knottygnome said...

i have a lot of sock books, so i thought i might skip this one but your review has convinced me that the technical info is definitely worth a look, thanks!

knottygnome@gmail.com

virginia said...

This book looks so great, thanks for the review!

Debbie said...

I would love a copy of this book. I've had me eye on it, but can't afford to buy it. thanks!
Debbie h
gussek at hotmail dot com

Bee said...

would love to win .. looks like a great book!!

jlr said...

I have heard wonderful stuff about Clara's books, but have not yet gotten my hands on any of them. Must rectify that somehow!

Jocelyn said...

Would love to win this book!

Dodi Raz said...

I too would love to be the lucky winner. This book is high on my knitting wish list!

Thank you.

Ardosa said...

Beautiful, i think i want to knit Prana... i love the pattern

Penny said...

Me Want!

Josiane said...

I own The Knitter's Book of Yarn, and have found it to be a wonderful resource. From your review, it seems clear that this one would be a very welcome addition to my collection. Thank you for offering a chance at winning a copy of it!

Marianne said...

zomg. Now THAT's a handy book with a plethora of useful info regarding the yarn itself for socks. WoWzers! and holy smokes, fabulous designers, just picnic packed with gorgeous sock patterns!
I have her Book of Yarn, with Book of Wool on my List, this will be going on The List now for sure.. (unless you pick me ;^).)

Deena said...

What gorgeous socks!

Joanne said...

This book has been getting great reviews all over, it's going on my list :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, how I would love this book!

Emma in France said...

I'd love a copy of this book!

Michael said...

Count me in too!

Carrie said...

I love socks and I would love to have that book! Thanks for giving away a copy.

teabird said...

Oh, please pick me! I wanted to meet you at Rhinebeck, but you were gone when I got to the building (sigh) ... teabird on Ravelry

Diana H said...

I think I need this book. I knit my first sock and it doesn't even come CLOSE to fitting a real foot.

Carolyn said...

I would LOVE to win this book! I am sure that I would a learn a lot from it. I like all of the patterns that you showed in your review. Thanks!

Kitten With a Whiplash said...

Clara's yarn knowlege is a wonder, and is always helpful. The list of designers in this book is very inpressive.

Thanks for the giveaway, I can be emailed thru my blogger profile, should I be the lucky winner.

SparkCrafted said...

If there's one thing I craft-love more than spinning, it's a ClaraBook. I don't know how, but I missed this while at Rhinebeck! Hope I'm lucky number whatever.

helena said...

Love, love, LOVE. Knitter's book of Wool is a favourite of mine - I read it like a novel. Just amazing. This sequel in the series has been on my wishlist for ages, and I'd be just tickled to own a copy.

skipeight @t gm@il d0t c0m

Jersey Shore Deb said...

I love Clara's other books and this one is definitely on my list. I just heard her on "Ready, Set, Knit" and I would love to win this book!

Diana said...

As a dyed-in-the-wool sock knitter, I would cherish this book. Thanks for the giveaway!

memphish said...

What a great addition to any knitting library. I hope it's mine!

Debra said...

The book looks fabulous. I am new to sock knitting so really need the help. Please pick me.

deblyn153@hotmail.com

AllisonInPhilly said...

Great review, Carol! I'd love to complete my Parkes trilogy! xo

Anonymous said...

I have resolved to collect as many sock books as I have skeins of yarn, thus I NEED this book.

Not only that - but there are a few patterns that would look smashing under my wellies.

This Little Piggy (you know where to find me if my name comes up!)

Jane said...

This book looks great. I know I would learn new sock knitting skills. Thank you for this opportunity.

ginevra / occasional glimpses said...

Ooo, wow, I'd love that book! I really enjoyed the detail in the Knitter's Book of Wool, it'd be fascinating to see that level of detail about socks.

alles [AT] ginevra [DOT] org

Thanks for offering the giveaway!

Natalie Servant said...

I'd love a copy! They were all gone at Rhinebeck.

Sewfast said...

Oooh...I love a good sock book and it's even dearer if I win it! Thanks for a great giveaway.

christen said...

What a great, in-depth review. I am staggered by CP's detail and wealth of information. I read all of The Book of Yarn and I still can't keep it all straight. It would be lovely to own this book. On my Xmas wish list, for sure.

Anonymous said...

Would love to win a copy - there are some stunning patterns in there.

missmuffetnz on ravelry

dana said...

this would be a great addition to my knitting library.
dana.mary at yahoodotcom

Elaine in NYC said...

I'd be delighted to have this lovely book.

asp said...

I'm a long time reader of Knitter's Review and love Knitter's book of Wool. Would love to win this socks book.

Jackie Njeri said...

What a lovely book. I love all the different patterns.
njerijacquline(@)yahoo(dot)com

Anonymous said...

Love the book reviews - this looks like a good one! Clara always does a great job.
Karen
(Woolyminded on Ravelry)

KnittingViolets said...

It would be a treat to have this book!

Debbi Lynn said...

lovely book! It would be a great addition to my library ;-)

debbilynn42 on ravelry

Jo Anne W-M said...

Sounds like a winner of a book.

Joan said...

Oh gimmie, gimmie, gimmie! Don't I sound greedy? C'mon, random number generator, otherwise I have to wait until Christmas!!!

(Thank you, Carol, for this opportunity)

joan(daht)rigg(aht)gmail(daht)com

Sara said...

I read Clara's other books - cover to cover! And now they are a great reference source. sarabyron@att.net

ChiLibrarian said...

It's a really lovely book. I checked it out from the library and was thinking of buying it, but I'd love to win it even more!

lisa said...

Love Clara's books and this one looks just as good as the others. I bet thy will be collectors books one day. I would love a copy, my birthday is 11/3, just sayin' ;)

Bev said...

If this book is anywhere as good as Clara's others, it will be most awesome. Can't wait to add this to my library!

mellenknits said...

Clara's first two books are great treasures - I can only imagine this one will bring more of the same! I'd love to own it!

Jane Meierhenry said...

This is just the book I need!

Elledub said...

Thanks for the great review! Would love to win a copy.

WillyG said...

Comment! Your overview was helpful and enticing. Congrats on having your yarn in the book!

ccr in MA said...

I've been on a one-pattern sock knitting jag for over a year (pair #8 is almost done). I love it, but maybe it's going to break soon? And I'll need inspiration! Pick me!

Gwyndolyn O'Shaughnessy said...

I love your No-bull Book Reviews, and i'd love to see this book on my shelf. Thank you for offering a contest!

Gwyndolyn O'Shaughnessy (rav)

Anonymous said...

Clara parkes is one of my heroes! Mary in Cincinnati

Aubrey said...

I haven't wanted to buy any new knitting books for a while, now - but this one I would (and will, if I don't win it). I've been away from socks for a while, and reading this, realized that I missed the little darlings... Will you autograph it by "your" sock? Hugs!

Rooie said...

I've been waiting for this book since Amazon first waved it under my nose. My birthday is Friday and this would make a lovely present...ahem.

Great review...you've cemented my desire for the book.

Janice said...

Oh random number generator, please pick me. Looks like there are great patterns in this book!

Gina said...

This book definitely sounds like its stuffed full of stuff - from good info to good patterns. There's nothing more disappointing than knitting the perfect project with a very less than perfect yarn for it!

Mary Beth said...

Oooh! Pretty! I love those pattern.

Captain Sharmie said...

i'd love a chance to win! this book looks awesome!

Marilyn said...

Just started knitting socks, would love this book!

Jill B. said...

I'd love to win this book! Thanks!

jborders(at)ucla(dot)edu