Sock Knitting Master Class by Ann Budd, Interweave Press: 2013, 184 pages. Paperback, Kindle, and PDF editions available. Grade: A
I bought Ann Budd’s Sock Knitting Master Class a couple of years ago. I decided to get it because it offers patterns to be knit cuff-down and toe-up. I’ve even knit up a pair of socks included in the patterns: Cookie A’s “Asymmetrical Cables.”
If you’re looking for inspiration, this title has it all with innovative ways to create stylish stockings. There are enough techniques to keep a knitter busy for ages. Just a few examples to consider are: Intarsia in-the-round, instep and sole knit together in a modular fashion, and entrelac.
Of course, Ann Budd did not design all these unusual socks on her own even though two of hers are included: “Mock Cables and Lace” and “Toe-up Travelers.” As far as the patterns go, they’re very well written. One drawback for some of them is the limited sizing. There are patterns that include instructions for three sizes and a few of them are only written for one. The assumption here is that the knitter can adapt the patterns to fit any foot. For me, this is pretty easy to do with most of them. I’ve found maybe two others that I would need to think carefully before daring to cast on a sock for a foot size different from the suggested ones. Let’s take, for example, the “Twisted-Stitch
Stockings” written by Meg Swanson, which I really like. I am more than certain it can be adapted to my clunky feet. My only issue is that it’s based on Elizabeth Zimmerman’s “Moccasin Sock,” an unusual construction that I am still not familiar with. Adapting numbers for a different size seems more complicated for me than if it were a “normal” in-the-round sock because I have never actually made “Moccasin Socks.” I doubt there’s a lot of mystery to it, but still, I’ll have to sit down and think a bit before trying.
This weakness, however, reflects a trend in sock patterns we see just about everywhere. The designer writes up the pattern for one size and lets the knitter figure out the rest. Because it’s a practice so in fashion, I suppose we should be forgiving. Furthermore, this flaw is by no means a deal-breaker. In fact, I personally believe that Sock Knitting Master Class should be on any sock enthusiast’s bookshelf or digital collection. The patterns are very challenging and original. We need more complex knitting patterns in a world with a glut of “quick and easy” fair. Like anyone else, I love to knit easy things, but I also like to challenge myself and knit difficult, and equally beautiful, items.
The sock patterns offered are so varied that the author includes an extensive Introduction to explain heels, toes, and all sorts of other important details. Then, the book is divided into two sections, according to the direction of knitting: first come the cuff-down patterns and then the toe-up ones. Before each section there are instructions to cast on and bind off using an ample range of methods. Along with these directions, the author discusses the advantages and disadvantages of knitting cuff-down and toe-up, respectively.
In addition to the patterns, the clear explanations of all things related to sock knitting, and general instructions about techniques, the yarn guru Clara Parks discusses the yarns chosen and why the designers used them. Her little “blurbs” about each individual yarn come at the beginning of each pattern. There is a lot to learn from these tidbits of advice if you find that sort of thing interesting. I think spinners just as much as “yarn shoppers” would enjoy these little boxes of wool thoughts.
I would recommend this title to sock knitting enthusiasts with some experience. The purpose of Sock Knitting Master Class is to help knitters take it to the next level. It is written in such a way as to be helpful to beginners, as well. I say this because a lot of the information included in the Introduction wasn’t really new to me. Furthermore, the little snippets of advice were not exactly ground-breaking stuff for me, but they would be of interest to knitters somewhat new to stitching up socks.
Overall, I think this deserves a grade of A because it’s not very often that one finds so many challenging and unusual sock patterns all together in one book. It’s thorough. All of the techniques called for are explained clearly with illustrations. When we consider the price – I believe the PDF download is about $9.95 – it’s a bargain considering all the useful information and fun patterns it includes. But, a word of caution: some of the patterns in this book are reprinted and appear in other older publications. I didn’t have any of them in my collection, so for me this was a good option.