Think Outside the Sox – A Review

So, Food Friday went a bit wrong, and the pie still isn’t made, sorry about that!

Today, seeing as I’ve been knitting and mentioning on Crafterways some of the socks from it, I thought I’d do a review of the Think Outside the Sox book.

The socks on the front cover are fantastic. They, along with the name, immediately inspire thoughts of colourful, unusual designs, and, for the most part, the book doesn’t disappoint.

Think Outside the Sox

The designs in the book (61 of them!) are the winners from a contest run by Knitter’s Magazine. The judges were Cat Bordhi, Lucy Neatby and Sandi Rosner, some fairly well known names in the knitting world. In total there were 296 pairs of socks entered into the competition.

Think Outside the Sox is divided up into five sections: Classic, Holes in my Socks, Twist & Turn, Playing with Color and Outside the Box. The contents page usefully shows a small picture of each pair of socks, their category and difficulty, as well as the page where they can be found.

The first few pages of the book are a quick guide on the anatomy and construction of socks. This is quite useful, and I think would enable even a beginner to get to grips with socks just from the information in the book. It explains toe up/toe down, different methods of knitting (DPNs, circulars, magic loop) and has a picture of the names of the different parts of a sock and how they are typically created. There are also brief notes on yarn, sizing and adapting the pattern for different types of needles/methods.

On each pattern page is the difficulty, gauge, yarn weight, suggested needles, and which yarn the socks are shown in. The patterns are divided into the different parts of the sock, and each pair has at least two photos displayed. I do find that some parts of the sock aren’t always shown in any of the photos, like the cuff or the sole, and I think sometimes it would be useful to have these shown. I haven’t knitted anywhere near all the patterns, but I found that on one, Split Reed, the stitch pattern of the heel shown doesn’t match the pattern instructions.

Edit: Apparently the photo for Split Reed is correct, I just completely didn’t notice that the picture is actually the bottom of the socks, not the back of the socks!

I also found that there were no descriptions included with any of the patterns. I think, especially on the more complicated designs, an overview of the construction would have been nice. I also think that, especially on the colourwork patterns, there should be at least a note about the reduced stretchiness of a colourwork sock. For instance I made part of Mirrored Fair Isle before realising that although the size and gauge was coming out as suggested in the pattern, the reduced stretchiness (even though I was leaving the floats fairly loose) made the sock impossible to put on. There is also no guide on how to work colourwork, although pretty much any other technique required is explained very well in the back of the book.

At the back of Think Outside the Sox many techniques are described. These include what abbreviations mean, cast-ons, bind-offs, decreases, increases, and all sorts of other techniques. There is even a section on how to double knit in colour included in one of the patterns, so it surprises me even more that there is no mention of normal colourwork at all.

The socks themselves are generally very appealing, and the patterns well written. There are a few pairs that I would never even consider making due to their impracticality, but I’m sure some people would find them useful. I like that all of the socks are made to be worn, not just to look nice. The feel of a sock inside a shoe is taken into consideration, and although a few of the patterns would probably annoy me when worn inside a shoe, I’m sure many people would have no problem, as I just hate any type of lump or seam in a sock.

At the back of the book is a gallery of other socks that deserved a mention from the competition, but didn’t make the final cut. Unfortunately there is no pattern included for these, which is a real shame as some of them are really quite wonderful.

The one major problem with the book is errors. There aren’t a huge amount, but they certainly exist, and in some of the patterns, such as the more complicated In the Peaceful Forest, would make me think twice about making the socks. The errata can be found here.

Think Outside the Sox provides a very good way of learning many different methods and techniques of making socks. It provides appealing patterns suitable for woman, men and children. Although there are a few minor points that could have been improved, such as a description for each pattern, better photographs and less errors, I highly recommend this book for both beginners and more advanced knitters.

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