book review

Vogue Knitting Ultimate Sock Book

I went through stages of delight and disappointment with Vogue Knitting The Ultimate Sock Book. When it comes down to it, would I recommend it? Maybe. Here, let me explain.

I’ve had this book in my library for a couple years and I loved it. Yesterday when I sat down with it, I thought I’d be writing how much I crush on this book and why. But when I took an actual read through it cover to cover, it was lacking in the basics.


The introduction was superb. The way the editor talks about socks is poetry. Chapter 1 is all history and chapter 6 regional techniques. I learned a pile of interesting information that I hadn’t previously known. Is it the ultimate guide to sock knitting history? No, but it’s written in a way that’s approachable and this isn’t a history of textiles book, like my other current read Textiles: The Whole Story. So I was really pleased with the amount of info in these chapters.

Chapter 2-5 is basic sock 101 stuff. This is the part of the book that didn’t quite cut it in terms of the word “ultimate.” I really feel like of all the parts of the book, this should have been where that word came into play.

According to the intro, it’s supposed to have the basics + things to tantalize advanced knitter. There are patterns written by amazing designers that do tantalize the advanced knitter, but I found the basics to be confusing.

Writing a generic sock knitting pattern can be hard, heck, I’m revising mine for clarity because of this very issue. But this is a book on sock knitting and it seems like that should have been the thing that’s spot on.

I also know from my experience teaching knitting classes, and working at a yarn shop, that most people attempting their first sock are going to have a hard time following the basic patterns presented. In fact, they just might not make it. The sock that is.

My other issue with this chapter is that all the references to advanced sock knitting, are just “see so-and-so’s design” for a “so and so technique”. I’d rather have those techniques spelled-out in detail here and then have the patterns reference back to the chapter. Something like, “see page xx, for detailed instructions and illustrations on how this heel/toe/gusset/ankle comes together”.

Then there’s a guide to sock yarn weights by brand, which is also helpful, but then some of the yarns listed in the book’s patterns aren’t listed. So, hmm. And it also seems like that might be a list that goes out of date pretty quickly since yarn brands, weights, and compositions are ever changing.

I love the sock patterns in the book that are based on regional traditions. I’m looking forward to knitting through just about each and every one of them.

It is a really great pattern book with a focus on history and culture. On the basic level of my $5 a pattern rule, this book won me over because I want to knit 8 different socks and the book’s only $12. But, from what I’ve read of other reviews, many of these sock patterns are actually from previous issues of Vogue Knitting magazine, so if you’re a subscriber, you might already have them in your pattern stash. Do a search on ravelry to see which ones are and aren’t.

So, do I recommend Vogue Knitting The Ultimate Sock Book? If you love the patterns like I do (and you don’t already have the magazines) and enjoy historical context, absolutely. If you are looking to learn how to knit a sock, no.

Truth is, there just isn’t a book out there that really covers everything and if you want to learn everything about sock knitting you’re going to have to throw down some cash, or take several trips to the library.

What sock books would I recommend?

  • For historical sock constructions – Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush (who actually has a pattern in Vogue Knitting’s Ultimate Sock Book).
  • Sock making techniques and design, I’d get Sock Innovation by Cookie A.
  • How to knit two socks at the same time OR sock from the toe up, I’d go with 2-at-a-Time Toe Up Socks – which is a great balance of fun designs and walk-though basics.

What sock knitting book do you turn to over and over again?

Happy Knitting!
Kristin

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